CDT Day 77: Medicine Bow to Huston Park – Bugle Camp to Lost Sock Camp
Miles hiked: 18 + 8 bonus sock recovery miles
Total miles: 1369
Oooooh boy. What a day. SpiceRack and I made quick work of our last town stop in Wyoming, but not before my carelessness cost us a few hours and me a bucket load of effort. All in the name of foot care. Still 18 miles and a meal in town equals a good day. Next stop Colorado!
The sun was already poking through the trees when we got moving a little after 7am. A dirt road took us on a rollercoaster ride up a ridge, steeply at times, until the occasional bald spot afforded us views north back into the desert basin, or south into mountainous Colorado. It’s in view now. Not far away at all. My stubbed toe felt like garbage, forcing me to limp a little, but I was feeling too good about leaving Wyoming behind to give it much thought. Just another minor pain of the trail.
At a break about four miles from camp, I made the horrible realization that I was missing one of my socks that I’d been hanging from my pack to air out. Shoot. I only had two pairs to begin with. I really didn’t want to make that 1.5 pairs. Nope, Spice hadn’t seen it on the road coming up behind me. It must have fallen out when I took my first drink. I’ve lost socks on trail before. I’ve lost sunglasses. Not this time! I stashed my pack, grabbed my phone, and took off at a jog northbound. “I’ll see you sometime,” I called to Spice.
The run was easy and actually enjoyable for the first few miles. But no sock. Before I knew it, I was turning off trail into the bushes towards our campsite. I nearly cried when I found it to be empty. I must have lost it when we were night hiking yesterday. With little hope left, I turned back to the trail. But following the same route I took leaving camp the first time, there it was, not 20 feet from trail. The small victory was bittersweet. I should not have come back so far for one measly sock.
It took me 50 minutes of hard jogging to make it back to my pack. I was gassed, nothing left in my legs and my feet were in rough shape. But there was no time for a break. I had to catch Spice, or at least make up some of my lost time. I threw on my pack and got to walking.
It was mostly flat now on top of the ridge. I still moved slow, limping more than ever. I realized that I wasn’t gaining on anybody like that so I stopped for some medical attention and food. I took off my socks, losing a lot of skin in the process, and taped some things up. It helped immensely, and I turned on some tunes and literally ran down the trail.
My shoulders were tired by the time I made it to the highway. Spice was there with Crunch and Roost, and some new faces, surprised by my commitment to a single sock and by how sweaty I was. The others hiked out while we caught a ride to Encampment for a resupply run.
We dumped a lot of food from our boxes into the hiker box. How hungry did we think we were going to be? A walk down the road to Riverside produced some cool stickers from the visitor center and an expertly ordered custom vegan meal at the only restaurant in town. Cowboy, the elderly fellow running the visitor center then made good on his promise to drive us back to trail after closing for the evening. He was a hoot and I learned a lot in the short ride up to the Divide. We parted as friends with a promise to send a photo when we make it to the border.
Spice and I managed to make it 8 more miles by hiking into the night, getting lost a few times when the trail disappeared into a rocky meadow. I was frustrated by the end, with aching feet and tired mind. The first flattish spot Spice found looked good enough for me. Cowboy camped and the owner of two full pairs of socks. Those things are just fine. We hang on to the little things out here.