CDT Day 70-74: Baby, It’s Cold Outside

CDT Day 70

Since I’m onnnnnnly camping around 9000 feet, I actually don’t wake up freezing! But the clouds are threatening and I know thunderstorms are forecast so I find a way to make my own route and stay low.

I take some county roads and end up on the highway to walk into town. Walking into town is always so nice compared to having to hitch and it’s nice to mix things up a bit and see all the interesting parts of civilization.

I end up talking to a few different people who have no idea about the CDT and they think what I’m doing is the craziest thing they’ve ever heard of. I know what I’m doing is a little different, but it’s really just walking! But it’s fun to share my story.

Walking along the highway is interesting. For miles, there are American flags on one side of the road on tons of different people’s properties.

Pretty cool.

So much trash. And roadkill. All the dead deer. Even a flat cow down in a ditch. But I get some good views of the mountains.

It starts sprinkling at some point, but feels good. It’s so nice to be able to look around and not stare at my feet for once! I make it to the town of Poncha Springs and find the best hostel ever to stay at.

The owners are previous thru-hikers so they know what’s up. I take a hot outdoor shower, throw on some loaner clothes, grab a crappy bike that ends up being the hardest workout of my life and ride into town to buy new shoes and food! Salida is the cutest town ever! After I struggle my way back to the hostel on the bike which I have to stand up on the entire time to get it to go, I have a relaxing evening hanging out with the three other guys at the hostel who are staying there. A frozen pizza, a bag of salad, a local draft beer because the hostel even has beer on tap! I set up my sleeping pad inside and crash out on the floor. Life is good.

CDT Day 71

Sleep in until 7. I consider that sleeping in now. The sky is still cloudy and the sunrise is glorious.

The guys and I work together and make a scrumptious breakfast of pancakes, scrambled eggs, and hashbrowns, all food courtesy of what other hikers have left and the eggs from the owners who own chickens. It’s so nice to eat real food. We lounge around and a couple of the guys take off, but I decide to finally take a zero day, (a day off). I watch half a movie until I get bored and then ride into town. But I can’t not hike, after walking for 70 days straight so I decide to climb the ‘S’ hill that overlooks the town.

It’s pretty easy and feels good to walk and the views are great.

I meet a local on top and he gives me the deets and history of the town. Then I wander around downtown.

I hit up one of the local breweries.

Then ride to Safeway to grab more food, duh. Then it’s a windy ride back to the hostel to watch another movie and eat all the food and actually relax. I know my body will be so thankful tomorrow after a day of rest and calorie surplus.

CDT Day 72

I let myself sleep in… until 7 am. Once the sun is up, it’s impossible to sleep. I have the hostel to myself and make all the coffee and then make myself a scrumptious breakfast of spinach and eggs, an avocado english muffin, and chocolate chip, peanut butter, banana, brown sugar oatmeal.

Yummy. Then I eat a bunch of the candy I bought yesterday cause it’s heavy and I dont want to pack it all out. I walk back to the highway and it takes three hitches, but I eventually make it back to the trail on Monarch Pass. It’s a cold and windy and overcast morning and I hike with my hoodie on all day, it takes a cold day to make me do that!

I see a bunch of mountain bikers and even run into a hiker I haven’t seen in weeks who is skipping around the trail, doing the Colorado sections he hasn’t done before. It’s so fun running into hikers you haven’t seen in forever! The hiking isn’t too hard today since the trail is still coinciding with the CT.

Not confusing at all.

I have big ridgetop walks.

And then dense forest walks.

I see a couple hunters in the afternoon, but that’s about it. I find a place to camp right in time for the rain drops to start. The sky is dark, but I’m praying it won’t get too wet tonight! I don’t feel too much different after taking a day off from hiking, but when I take my socks and shoes off my feet look way better than they normally do and then I realize I had almost no foot pain today! Guess they needed that rest day after all! Just as it’s getting dark I see something wandering by my tent and poke my head outside to see a fox staring back at me from ten feet away. So cool! As long as it doesn’t try to eat my food tonight.

CDT Day 73

At one point in the night I awake to a commotion of yipping and howling that goes on for awhile. Gotta love the wild. It rained enough before I went to bed for me to wake up with a wet tent and wet sleeping bag. The sky is still cloudy so no chance to dry things out, but it sure makes for a pretty sunrise.

A super cold morning, climbing up and over all the hills.

And then dropping into farmland. Dried cow patties are everywhere. Water is getting a little more scarce now that I’m out of the big mountains, but I still find trickles every now and then with the recent rain. The leaves on the trees are finally starting to change, turning a bit more yellow.

Definitely later than normal this year.

I pass a few northbound CT hikers, but don’t see any CDT hikers. Luckily the sun comes out in the afternoon so I can dry my gear out and I find a bit of a sheltered place in the trees to camp as the sun is setting. It’s not looking like it’s going to rain tonight, but the wind has been whipping hard this afternoon so it will probably be another chilly night. I’m pretty sure every night is going to be a chilly night from here on out until I get deep into New Mexico.

CDT Day 74

Gorgeous sunrise, cold morning. You know the drill. I wander through more farmland.

And then start following a beautiful creek up a valley. Even walk right by a moose!

He just stares at me. I walk along one creek and then another for most of the day. It’s the most water I’ve seen in while. I also see about 20 snakes because of all the water, way more than I’ve seen on the entire trail so far. The leaves on the trees are changing more and more each day.

I start climbing up a big pass and get wicked views of the rocky canyons.

So cool!

The trail is also very rocky and I stub my toes about a million times. Not so cool. I’ve had an insane headwind all day and my choices are either to camp low in a valley by water or up on a ridgetop.

I bank on the wind dying out and go for the ridgetop.

My hands are ice blocks by the time I climb out of the canyon and get to the ridge, but the wind seems to be calmer right here and I get one last glance of the sun to warm up before it sinks behind the mountains.

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