CDT Day 20: CDT Mile 431.8 – 456.2 + Route 117 Mile 25 – 27.2 (26.2 miles – 42 km)

Monday May 6, 2019

A rooster crowing made me realise we we were camped close to a ranchhouse. It was a surprisingly mild night till about 3am when cooler air seemed to settle around us. The sky was streaked in inky grey clouds as we broke camp and headed back to our super wide trail, i.e. a dirt road.

One of the downsides of walking this super wide trail is the dust clouds raised by vehicles when they go past. This morning the first car we saw were the lovely owners of the Pie Town Shop where we had the delicious strawberry cream pie yesterday. They stopped for a chat and I did get the pie maker, Ngaires secret to her nice crisp pie pastry.

Light cloud cover made for comfortable hiking temperature. The private ranches, with ‘No Trespassing’ signs seemed to just go on and on. We were in good spirits for the first few hours, the day was still new. But the tedium of the roadwalk started to wear us down. The owner of the TLC Ranch was driving away from her ranch and stopped us on the road to offer us water from her property. It seems she is setting up a hikers rest stop at her property. So comforting to know there is a place of refuge in this long tedious section.

We still had enough water so did not need to stop here. We were aiming to make our next indicated water source by lunchtime. We were leaving the Sawtooth Mountain range behind us and started a long gradual descent to a gravel road and then an open range.

It was nice to see the end of fences. The open range was a pleasant change at first. The pine trees were gone and landscape was dominated by grasses with little shrubs dotted in the fields.

The highlight of our midday was finding a solar powered water pump which wasn’t indicated on our maps as a source of water. Eureka, it was gushing beautiful cold and clear water. It seemed unreal. We drank almost a litre of water each and filtered an additional 4 litres for each of us to last for the section.

We decided to hike the Cebolla Alternate not the Chain of Volcanos route as we were uncertain about the water availability in the 55 mile section through the lava fields.

After lunch, loaded down with additional water we made gradual progress walking on the gravel road Although there is a certain beauty in the flat neverending plains, it was hard to stay in the moment.

Just as we were really beginning to flag along came Christopher and Amelie, the two French cyclist we met yesterday. They cycled alongside us for a mile, mile and a half. It was so lovely to chat to them about their extesive, world wide cycling travels and their plans for the future. It made the tedioum of the road walk go so much faster. Such beautiful people, we parted near the Cebolla alternate route turnoff.

As the sun started to dip on the horizon, the grass range became much more beautiful. The light gold of the grasses was illuminated by the angle of the light. The road walk was now a bit more interesting for me.

We decided to do an alternate to the alternate by following the gravel road all the way to State Route 117 which the Cebolla Alternate Route will join about 5 miles later. Either way we were in for a really long bitumen road walk, so what’s a little bit more. Route 117 is not a really busy road and a couple of miles along we found a camp spot just off the road. Something new for me, stealth camping by a bitumen road.