FS Rd 543(36.2) to Section 5 Trailhead(57.2) 21mi
Total Miles: 99.3
I didn’t get much sleep last night. There was a very persistent critter that kept trying to get to my food. I had hung my food bag off of a tree limb to keep rodents away, but I forgot that I still had snacks in my hip belt and fanny pack. Every time is drifted of to sleep I could here it rustling around next to my head. After the fourth time it woke my up I finally got up and hung my fanny pack up next to my food sack. That solved the problem and I was able to go back to sleep.
I’m starting to get into my normal morning routine. I decided to leave my new backpack at home and use my trusty Zpacks Arc Blast. That pack served me well on the PCT and CDT. I just couldn’t manage carrying seven days worth of food in an ultralight frameless pack. I was out of camp by 6:30. I knew today was going to be rough and I didn’t have high hopes for my daily mileage. I knew I had to go at least 15.7 miles if I wanted to make my life easier in regards to water. As you can see from the elevation profile I went uphill for a little over 10 miles.
Early morning in the forest
The good news was the entire time I was climbing I had tree cover so it wasn’t too hot. I was also going above 10,000ft and high elevation always helps with the heat. The day was broken up into 3 big climbs. The first was about 1,200ft over 4 miles. The second was about 1,200ft over three miles. The last was about 1,450ft over 2.4 miles. I have really been struggling to gain any type of elevation on this trail. On day one I was only making it uphill 100 yards at a time before having to stop and take a break. In general I’ve been really down on myself for how poorly I’ve been hiking. Every day has seemed to be more of a struggle than the day before. I’m not sure what was different about today. I guess I just decided to stop making excuses for myself and just get the job done. On each of the three climbs I was able to keep going without having to stop and take a break. After each climb I gained back a little more of my confidence. I was utterly spent after the last climb, but kept hiking for another mile past the summit instead of collapsing at the top. I just wanted to prove to myself that I could. I’ve got close to 9,000 miles of experience under my belt and I drew on that today. I finally felt like I found my rhythm. I strung together a couple of hours keeping up a 3mph pace. My body and feet kept trying to tell me that I couldn’t do it, but I just ignored that and got it done.
Part of climb #1
Climb #3 (there was a trail around this :-)
I meet a few new people today which was nice. At one of my water breaks I got to talking to a guy named Gravy. He has done the AT twice and about a third of the PCT. He had gone into town the night before and was just getting back in trail. I was trying to talk myself in eating a Little Debbie snack when he pulled out a huge ziplock bag full of pizza and offered me a slice. I gladly accepted. Either I’m not hungry enough to eat my usual trail food or I’m too disgusted by it. Nothing in my food bag has been appealing, except for the Ramen, since I started in Durango. I was hoping that after a few days of being on trail I would be hungry enough to eat this crap food, but it just isn’t happening. I’d better get over it soon because I have 4 resupply boxes full of this crap. By the way the pizza was delicious. It had a ton of meat and veggies, including mushrooms and black olives, on it. I didn’t even pick off the olives. I just devoured it since I was so hungry. The game changer today was I food some electrolyte powder in my food bag. After adding that to my water I felt 100% better. My appetite returned a little and I was able to choke down a granola bar. Around mile 15, I came across trail magic! All day long I was fantasizing about an ice cold soda. I didn’t even care what kind of soda, just as long as it wasn’t diet. I stopped briefly at a water source and was trying to decide if I actually needed water and how much further I was going to hike today. The stream was located next to a bunch of people dispersed camping. I watched two ladies break away from their car with a couple of coolers. I was praying that they were coming to bring me a cold drink. I couldn’t believe it when my hopes came true. Sparkles had hiked the trail in 2018, she had received trail magic at that location and decided to keep the tradition alive. I enjoyed an ice cold Mountain Dew, I probably haven’t had one of those since the CDT, and was able to throw away my trash. Day three of going SoBo and I got trail magic!
Great late afternoon treat
Sparkles and friend
I decided to go another couple of miles for the day. If I stopped at 18 miles I could have water close to camp and a nice wide open field, with a good chance of an awesome sunrise. That would have been great, but today seemed like a day of relearning past lessons. One of the things that I both loved and hated about hiking the CDT with Straws and Pinata, was that they always insisted on doing just “one more mile” at the end of the day. Pinata’s logic was that if everyday you did one extra mile you could finish weeks faster than planned. After all one extra mile over 120 days, gets you done at least 120 miles faster. You can’t fault him on his logic. A lot of times that was last mile would turn into two or three miles and Pinata always got an energy spike at the end of the day. We would usually end up following his lead, for the first and only time of the day, while he kept up a brutal 3-3.5mph pace. Those were good lessons and experiences for me. I really felt like that helped me grow as a hiker. I decided to end my day Straws and Pinata style. I went an extra 3 miles and kept up a 3mph pace. I broke the twenty mile mark today, which was totally unexpected. I could hardly walk as I set about getting my camp chores done, but I had a great sense of self satisfaction.
Beautiful meadow I hiked thru for 6 or 7 miles
“Even when we have physical hardships, we can be very happy.”
- Dalai Lama