CDT Day 65: Island Lake to Halls Butte – Was it Worth it? Camp to Knapsack Hangover Camp
Miles hiked: 21.1
Total miles: 1113.3
After the ordeal of scrambling over Knapsack Col yesterday, we needed some uneventful trail. We got it, though it was still a grind to shake off the lingering effects of our mental and physical limit pushing. Not our strongest day on trail, but another day in these mountains can’t be a bad thing.
No alarm to interfere with our recovery this morning. We owed our legs at least that much. I woke naturally to see pink streaks in a brightening sky before burying my face in my quilt to put off the day a little longer. Hiking by 8am, surprised by how not sore I felt.
The air smelled a bit smoky as SpiceRack and I rejoined the official CDT and began the climb to Lester Pass. No news of a fire when we were in Pinedale, but this could be blowing in from Oregon for all I knew. The views from the top at 11,115ft were minimally impacted, but my nose felt stuffed up like I’d been standing next to a campfire all morning.
Sierra-y trail down by lakes, trees, and meadows. A couple PUDs tested our tired legs. My mind wandered to nowhere specific. We took a good lunch break at Fall Creek, lying beside a large boulder for shade. The smoke was dense enough to burn my eyes when I left, a half hour behind Spice.
I left a lot of sweat on the trail up to Hat Pass (10,856ft) where I found Spice on an Oreo break, waiting for me. The view ahead was encouraging, as tired as I was. The spine of the range extended into the distance, all jagged and cool, but it looked pretty flat where we were going. It was all we could do to make it a few more miles around endless lakes, under spitting clouds.
We set up camp near one of these lakes just in time to pile into the tent as the rain arrived. The drops hissed on the water’s surface as I gathered it for filtering. Lighting flashed as Spice and I lay in the gathering darkness, too tired to eat, emotionally drained. I did manage to force down a tortilla, but that’s it. The smoky air fit the day perfectly. Hopefully the rain clears that up and we can start fresh tomorrow.