5/17: mile 575-602.8
Total trip miles: 460.2
I woke up once or twice to the sound of rain/hail but nothing to dramatic. By the time 6 am rolled around the skies were almost totally clear. Unfortunately my sleeping bag was pretty wet from condensation and my tent had a petty respectable layer of ice on it. Oh well what do I expect camping next to a meadow?
I packed up shivering and whining the whole time. Bigfoot was no where close to ready and waiting around wasn't going to happen so off I went. It actually took me a good half hour to get back on trail. I guess we had cut west to find a campsite right when the trail veered east. Not to hard to find just farther than expected. Based on my maps I had about 12 miles of dirt road ahead and hopefully some water in about 3.5.
Maybe 2 miles into the morning I rounded a corner and saw Kramers packing up camp and Mountain Spice heading down to road. I stopped at the mile marker for water and stared around.
Kramers caught up as I broke some ice on a puddle. Mountain Spice turned around and joined us for what turned into a solid hour long break. Even Bigfoot showed up. Quality water source is stretching it a bit, it's straight up described as shallow pools at the top of a canyon on our maps. We all use a few different data sources out here and it was great to find the water, just a little frustrating that the water report we have access to has totally wrong mileage (I looked for these pools 9 miles earlier).
The goal for today seemed to be to take as many breaks as possible, to make up for yesterday's pathetic lack of break time. So the morning rolled on. Mellow miles, lots of breaks. Moist and Nightcrawler showed up. It turns out we lost their footprints because one of the utility rooms up by the lookout tower had been unlocked abs they had stayed in there for hours. Bummer about missing the warmth but no big deal.
Passing through forest and old burns the trail eventually cut down and we descended over 1500 getting off the Mesa we had been traveling across and finally getting some more views. Taking a break partway down staring at a snow capped mountain in the distance Moist tries to figure out what mountain it is, holy shit guys Colorado is close. Yikes, yes it is. In fact it's less than 200 miles away.
Down towards the bottom we head down a spur towards our water for the rest of the day. Our maps said to check across the road from the cattle trough under the plywood. Well no plywood in sight but we did find at least something cleaner than the trough, and possibly the quicksand. It wasn't really that bad, just good and silty.
The views were just getting better and I was moving slow with all my new water. Our upcoming sources are a little questionable so I'm probably carrying too much water. Across down and over canyons and mesas we went. Totally different than anything we've seen before.
Bigfoot, Kramers, Mountain Spice and I decided to take advantage of the views and called it quits on top of a Mesa. Everyone seems to be having little foot or shin issues so stopping was pretty welcome. The bottom of my feet feel like they have friction burn, super strange. Hoping they feel happier tomorrow. For now it's cowboy camping under stars, and in 50 miles I'll be in Cuba.