5/21: mile 642.5-665.7
Total trip miles: 523.1
With a 100% chance of rain wouldn't your first choice be to leave your friendly hotel and hit the trail? Well actually yes, I was itching to leave.
I had thought to wake up early and get going, not that I'm in any particular rush but town can be quite the vortex and I was antsy. But when I heard people moving around in the room all I wanted was the warm blanket. Oh well, a hot shower was pretty sweet too. Between the packing and the showering we did t manage to leave the room until after 8. Funsize, Bigfoot, Mountain Spice and I all headed over to McDonald's for last minute wifi and coffee. Chatting and stalling over an hour later saw us actually leaving town. Thatch wasn't feeling well and will hopefully catch us soon.
Surprise, surprise the trail started with a road walk. The first 7 or so miles were paved and passed quietly through a rural part of town. For awhile my goal was just to say hello to all the animals. Lots of horses and a even a dog came limping down the road. He was a total sweetheart and after pulling the cactus out of his foot I just sat and pet the handsome guy. He was loose but wouldn't stray to far from one driveway so hopefully he's okay.
Then it was time to climb. At least it became a dirt road, full of more horses and wild flowers and then finally wilderness area. I even startled an elk on the way up, that was fun to see. The trail became a genuine trail and man was it pretty!
The climb had started slow but all told would be around 3000 ft over about 7 miles with the trail ending up over 10000 ft. Even more fun than the climb was the constant water. Such a treat after so many long dry stretches.
We had all started the climb at our own pace and I was happily flying. There is something utterly addicting and amazing about charging up mountains. Sweat pours and your lungs burn as you push. Miles fly, pushing through streams that used to be trail, this way and that around blow downs feeling your legs push propelling you up both flat and ridiculous grades. I feel strong and amazing, jamming to the music in my head it's some of my favorite times out here.
The climb wasn't quite over but the main climb ended at an intersection and I was hungry. I'd forgotten to put any snacks accessible firing the climb so a break seemed perfect. Funsize wasn't too far behind and we happily chatted and snacked enjoying the views. Breaks are nice but with my feet starting to freeze (you just give up dodging water, it's hopeless) I didn't hang around too long after the other two showed up.
As we turned the corner I just kept stopping and taking pictures. It felt like a whole different state. Washington and the Sierras kept coming to mind. This state just continues to amaze me. I'd started seeing snow on the way up and soon enough we were crossing patches constantly. The snow was soft so there was plenty of postholing. Thankfully it wasn't 100% snow covered but it definitely slowed us down.
I had been in amazing mood during the climb but had fallen into a bit of a sulk after. Not sure why but I was not a happy camper. It didn't help that we were so busy looking around and avoiding snow that we got a bit lost and it took a fair bit of cross country to correct.
More postholing and my mood just got worse. Back on the trail it started to rain. Not exactly something to get super cheerful about. The trail finally started to head downhill and of course we got lost again. Everyone has been very busy talking about snow but no one had mentioned the state of this section of trail. The blow downs were intense and definitely tiring and frustrating.
We were sort of on trail and I was getting sick of my own cranky self so I put in some music and tried to cheer up. It worked a little but once I passed everyone it all clicked back into place. I was singing and running down the tail, bouncing off all the blow downs having a grand time. The rain started in earnest but I was having a ball and just didn't care.
I finally got to where we had talked about stopping but there weren't great campsite options and I couldn't find the spring (I really didn't look very hard). Instead I waited for the others to catch up and we headed a mile further to more water and then found a nice campsite in the trees. We tried to eat together but the rain started up again so it was bit of a fail. We're only 30 miles from Ghost Ranch, our next resupply stop. But I don't think we'll push to get there tomorrow. Probably just a 25 mile or so day and then a nice short morning in. Then we can easily catch the all you can eat lunch and enjoy another nice long day off.
I still can't believe how great the climb and the mountain was today, so very unexpected. The only casualty seems to have been my umbrella. I used it on and off so much today that I wasn't clipping it on like usual and I'm pretty sure I lost it bouncing down the mountain. Oh well, guess I get to buy a new one