CDT Day 76 — September 9
Lone Tree Creek to Medicine Bow
Thunderstorm Tunnel Camp to Bugle Camp
Miles hiked: 28.5
Total miles: 1351
Today SpiceRack and I finished the endless roadwalk as we climbed out of the Wyoming desert for good, eventually finding ourselves on some of that good ol’ singletrack. The weather was fine for desert walking so we didn’t endure any undue hardship, but I’m happy to leave it behind. I’ve had enough of that. At least until New Mexico.
Coyotes yipping nearby did more to rouse us than our alarms in the morning darkness. Color streaking in the sky, rustling hikers in the tunnel. We were back on the pavement before 7am. A cold wind whipped harshly so I had to hike fast to stay warm.
Fifteen more miles of following this same paved road. Apparently, last year it was still mostly dirt, but the infrastructure is being improved for an impending wind farm. That sounds like good progress to me, but I wish they had put it off one more year. Oh well. I understand why they’re building it here, though. The wind was relentless for the entire morning and into the afternoon as we climbed smoothly in long undulations to higher altitudes in the foothills of the Rockies. Dancing with Gronk Ball and tickle battles occupied the time. I also got pretty good a kicking pebbles off the side of the road. A break next to a stand of aspen(trees!) brought familiar smells of fall in Colorado. This didn’t make me too happy. No no no, it’s still summer!
We finally turned off of the asphalt for good after a cattle grate. A posted sign reminded me that it’s open range in Wyoming. Cows everywhere. The turn pointed us at some real mountains, tall enough to cast a shadow and covered in trees. Our navigation skills were so out of practice that we got off track numerous times, but eventually made it to the top of the ridge. The real Continental Divide once again.
On the ridge we said goodbye to the road, dirt or paved, that had carried us for about the last 150 miles through some of the harshest terrain I’ve ever experienced. It felt good to get back on a narrow strip of dirt that wobbles and wags where it needs to dodge the trees.
A sweet sunset stopped us for a moment as we traversed the exposed ridge, cairn to cairn. The headlamps came out back in the trees, and I followed Spice to a soft campsite somewhere in the woods. My big toe throbs after I kicked and invisible root. Cowboy camping in the mountains again. Trees. Wonderful trees. It’s good to have them frame the stars once again.