5/18: mile 602.8-629.9
Total trip miles: 487.3
I love cowboy camping, even if my sleeping bag is wet from all the condensation in the morning. The stars are worth it. Mountain Spice and I were up and hiking a little early, yesterday afternoon had been hot and we were hoping to take advantage of the cool morning. Kramers was still packing and Bigfoot was still all cocooned away when we left.
The elevation profile for the day had all sorts of dips and climbs, turns out it was a day of walking up and over mesas. This country is amazing.
Mountain Spice and I spent pretty much the whole day hiking together. Chattering away about nothing making miles slide by.
Our morning water was a bit of a downer though. The supposedly "flowing well" 3.5 miles from camp was bone dry. Oh well, at least the next option was only about 7 miles away. So off we went traipsing through sandstone up and over mesas.
We spent a good long time staring at footsteps and trying to recognize 2 hikers in the distance. We passed them and I officially met Frost and Has No Horse. Heading down the canyon we passed a super muddy pond, we passed it up hoping the well/tank that was 0.2 miles ahead was actually working. Thankfully it was, and it was delicious.
Gear dry, all full of water and snacks Mountain Spice and I headed off again. The pictures just don't do it justice, this is a beautiful section of trail.
Around 3:30 the clouds we had been watching all day came at us with a vengeance. Sprinkles of rain, big time wind and the scariest of all, thunder. Walking on top of a Mesa is not really the safest of bets for thunderstorms. So we booked it, half jogging we pushed to get off. Grit filled my eyes and mouth, apparently laughing while running in a super dusty storm will cause all sorts of trouble. The two of us got a little lower panting like idiots, our faces covered with grit. But hey no lightning strikes so it was a win.
We were starting to drag but we were so close to water that we pushed on. Jones Canyon was a nice spring, plus we got to say hi to Cookie Monster, Dayglow, and Lumber before they headed out. And we heard Moist and Nightcrawler were pushing to hit town tonight. I wanted to get in 5 more miles but everyone else wisely pointed out that there is a big time thunder/lightning storm predicted overnight and perhaps camping on top of a mesa wasn't the smartest idea. Instead we figured camp at the base just 2-3 miles away.
I let myself have a treat and actually put my headphones in and listened to a little music the last hour. I was flying down the trail and would have happily gone on. But now sitting all snug in my tent as it starts to rain and the thunder is so loud that ground literally shook seconds after lightning lit the sky I'm thinking it wasn't such a bad choice.
Today was a great day. It's hard to truly express how much I'm loving this trail right now. It's crazy and diverse and all the people have been so fantastic. I'm 13 miles from Cuba and then it's only 3 days to Ghost Ranch and then Colorado. Word is parts of the trail right after Ghost Ranch have at least a foot of snow on them with more coming. So while I wasn't planning on a whole lot of days off before Colorado there's some serious snow up ahead so a little extra time off may be happening. Either way tomorrow is town and now it's pouring so here's hoping I can get some sleep and survive the downpour to make it to Cuba.