CDT Day 42: Mile 1651.4 – 1664.7 ( 13.3 miles – 21.3 km)

Tuesday May 28, 2019

Embrace the brutality is the motto of the CDT. Although the day started off rather well, today brutality had a companion called misery.

It was lovely to wake up to birdsong, despite the grey sky. It rained through the night but as it wasn’t windy it went so bad and everything stayed dry. Today is predicted to be the worst of the weather. There is a winter storm warning for the area, with predictions of up to 15 inches of snow at elevations in the Wind River Range to our north. Top temperature was predicted to be 6°C (43F) and 0°C (32F) overnight. It seems that this winter is just not wanting to leave.

We broke camp and were on our way by 6.30am. The trail followed a jeep track created in the sage brush which defined the flat landscape almost to the horizon. It was pleasant hiking conditions as we set out. Low grey cloud hung close to the ridges in the distance ahead of us. We were delighted that the morning did not meet the weather predictions. There were huge patches of blue sky and some sunshine. But this did not last.

The overnight rain had turned the trail into a quagmire in places. Mud clung to our shoes and built up like heavy platforms. It was very slippery. A few flying f’s were issued by Hammer, which is very unusual for him. I commented that at least it was not overly cold, it was not raining and the birds were twittering…it was not so bad. My comments were not appreciated.

Mid-morning we stopped at Bull Springs to filter some water. It is a solar well which was not running today. The water trough had some strange coloured water sitting in it. Not sure what created the distasteful look, but once scooped up it did not look so bad.

By the time we left the spring, the weather had arrived. It started to rain with a persistent strong wind cutting across our path. And what a path! The trail still followed the jeep road which stretched out in front of us as far as we could see. It was on a gradual rise which every so often would have a small hump. Rising to the top of each of these little humps and seeing that the trail still continued in a straight line was very dispiriting. There was was nowhere to hide from the wind and the driving rain. There was no respite. It was like being at mile 20 in a marathon with no finish line.

We had our wet weather gear on but it was enough to protect us. My feet were getting wet and cold. Hammer said he was OK, his shoes were waterproof.

Dark thoughts started to gather in my mind as I plowed into the driving rain and wind. I was questioning what on earth I was doing here. Serious thoughts of quitting the trail were uppermost in my mind.

Embrace the brutality indeed. And so far that is exactly what this trail has been, brutal with little respite.

When you commit to the CDT thru hike you don’t sign up for a curated adventure. You got to take it as it comes and make decisions which will keep you moving forward in the long term.

I couldn’t imagine that the environment of the Great Divide Basin would be any more welcoming in the heat of the summer months. Today turned into such terrible conditions that even the antelope and the wild horses disappeared. It fekt like it was just the two us wondering this wild open land. I realised that everything would be better in the morning and the best option for us was to cut our losses for today and set up camp, get out of the wind and get dry and warm. But in this barren open landscape that was not going to be so easy. We were out in the open and exposed to the wind and rain. There was nowhere to escape it. I wondered if the Big Agnes tent would be able to withstand the blustering wind. Just as we decided to call it quits on the days hiking, a young rancher drove up towards us. He stopped and asked where we were going. His look reflected what I was thinking – what are these stupid people doing out here? He offered us a ride in the direction we had come from. There was no point in going back there, the conditions were the same. He couldn’t do anymore so he drove away.

About a mile further in we passed a grassy area cleared of sage brush. That was going to provide at least flat ground to set up a tent. In one corner of this cleared area was a fenced solar panel. That would have to do to provide little shelter from the wind.

We set up camp, got out of our wet clothes and into warm sleeping bags . Within 5 minutes I was fast asleep. It was only 1pm. Hammer listened to a podcast before he too fell asleep

We woke later in the afternoon, Big Agnes was still upright and dry inside. Such a relief to be out this miserable weather. By 7pm the wind was unabated but the rain had stopped. We were in for a bumpy night.