CDT Day 94 Mustangs and Pronghorns

20th July

31.1 miles

Bushcamp (1441.4) to Bushcamp (1472.5)

The wide open plains of the Great Wyoming Basin are amazing for this guy who loves the Aussie outback. I’m reminded of home. But one thing I don’t have at home is such long daylight hours. The twilight continued till around 10pm last night. And this morning it started around 4.30am. I was awake early.

I guess there was no highlight for the day. Just long hours of walking over flat terrain. Most hikers dislike this part of the trail. Calling it boring, uninteresting, featureless. I guess I see things differently. Take the several groups of Pronghorn Antelope, the fastest land animal in North America. Second fastest in the world behind the cheetah. Or the many large meat ant colonies. Or the group of seven wild mustang horses. Or the annoying horse flies which bought me nothing but large bloody welts on my legs. Yes I do enjoy the basin of Wyoming.

My foot felt fine, a far cry from the discomfort of yesterday. I stretched at every rest stop. Although I hiked over 30 miles today a had a couple of hour long rest breaks. And my whole body felt great. I could have hiked longer but I’ve got a heavy pack with a couple of extra days food and some long distances between water. I don’t want to break.

I caught up to Zorro and another hiker, called Charge. But after we left a water source at midday they hiked faster than me until there small shapes were no longer visible. Easyrider caught up to me near the end of the day but had been pushing hard so stopped and camped early. I continued plodding along till just after 8pm. Of note I met the first true southbound hiker today who started at Canada hiking south, Mammoth. He reckons there’s one other guy just ahead of him but I didn’t see him. Not long till I start to see lots of southbound hikers.

CDT Day 93 Sunset and Moonrise 

19th July

16.8 miles

Rawlins (1424.6) to Bushcamp (1441.4)

From the time I woke my mind was on one thing, and one thing only. The all you can eat Thai buffet at lunch. I love Thai food.

In the morning I packed two food resupply boxes to mail to myself further up the trail. To my surprise I learned that the UPS store didn’t open until 3pm. The kind staff at the hotel offered to drop the packages off for me in the afternoon.

With the packages dealt I bid farewell to Thomas and Mary who continue their cycling journey south on the Great Divide Cycling Route. I also bid farewell to Lucky who is taking some time off in Rawlins. I’m unsure if he will catch me again on trail.

As I arrived at the Thai restaurant a couple of hikers waved at me through the tinted windows of a car. I couldn’t make out who it was. Out jumped Boston and Zorro. They joined me for lunch.

Boston wasn’t feeling great so stayed in town another night. Giardia and a couple of broken ribs will do that to a hiker. So I set off hiking with Zorro. It wasn’t long before he was out of sight. Which is not easy to do on the flat open plains. My sore heal flaired up slowing me down. I stopped often to stretch but the minor irritation remained. It’s annoying but I’m doing my best to manage it on the days it flairs up. Lots of stretching.

After maybe 10 miles of hiking I enjoyed some rare trail magic. A hiker  was giving trail magic before heading back on trail. I forgot his name. Strawberries, cherries, snickers and a large bottle of Gatorade. I needed the Gatorade. I’d ran out of water an hour earlier and was a little thirsty. Three other hikers were there. Zorro, Easyrider and another hikers whose name I forgot. Thanks. I’m bad with names, sorry.

We all set off hiking at around the same time but all hiked alone. Until we reached a water source two miles away. The water had a taste and smell of cow poo. Embrace the brutality, I told myself. This trail isn’t easy.

I stayed at the water chatting with Easyrider. Most of the conversation revolved around hiking the Appalachian Trail. I haven’t even finished this trail and I’m planning the next. But it was getting late. Time to make a few miles and find a place to camp.

I hiked several more miles till I found a flat but if ground with expansive views. Wide open treeless plains. Big skies. I watched the sunset on my right and the moonrise on my left. I like Wyoming.

CDT Day 91-92 Rawlins town day

17-18th July

13 miles

Bushcamp (1411.6 ) to Rawlins (1424.6)

I slept like the dead. It was hard to wake. My body was rested and my sore left heal was not sore at all. That surprised me. I thought I’d wake up sore.

It only took a couple of easy hours to make it to Rawlins. I sent out a text message to Bambi. He arrived in town about an hour ahead of me. We made plans to split the cost of a hotel room.

I set up in the room then made plans to purchase 16 days worth of food to get me through the next couple of sections. A full backpack and several shopping bag full of food were deposited on the floor of the hotel to be sorted out. Not the fun part of hiking the trail. A rest day in town is not really a day of rest.

The following morning Bambi left to get back on trail. I was having a Zero day. No hiking for me. A text message from Lucky ensured I’d have somebody to split the hotel room with me for the night. 

I received a message from my Alaskan friends Thomas and Mary. They are cycling The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route. We’d been planning the possibility of meeting up somewhere for quite a while. Rawlins was the meet up Point. It was great to catch up with some friends and share and meal and stories. But tomorrow it’s back to the trail for me.

Dinner with Thomas and Mary who are cycling the divide

CDT Day 90 Into the Wyoming Basin

16th July

39 miles

Bushcamp (1372.6) to Bushcamp (1411.6)

I woke early and hit the trail. I could see fresh footprints. Another hiker was nearby. But who could it be. I couldn’t identify the tracks.

Initially there was a lot of blown down trees. At least 10 miles. Finally, finally, I was in the basin. That long hot  flat section of Wyoming. I couldn’t be happier. But there was a problem. I faced a 38 mile section with no water. I’ve never hiked that far with no water sources. I was in new territory. 

I’d hiked about 12 miles to my last water source. A small creek that flows under a road. I rested and cooked up a meal. With no water tonight I cooked my dinner meal for lunch. I filled up 5 litres of water and drank over 2 litres of water to hydrate myself as much as possible.

I was off. 38 waterless miles to the town of Rawlins. I was hiking in a minor dirt road. The hiking was fast and easy. The pain in my heal was non existent. I was happy. And the weather was cool and overcast. Things could not be better.

After a couple of hours I caught up to another hiker. It was Bambi. Nobody catches Bambi. Bambi catches other hikers. He is a speed hiking freak. We hiked together for a while until I saw a stand of trees on the open plain which made a great place for my ablution break. I didn’t see him again for the rest of the day.

I was in a great mood. The road was easy hiking. The weather cool but not cold and the flat terrain had me dreaming of the Australian outback. I walked till late. My body was strong. My body was filled with energy. My body didn’t want to stop hiking. Sunset came and went. I still didn’t want to stop. At 9pm I decided that night hiking on a road was no longer safe. Being a Saturday night it would be likely that a drunk driver might not see me. I made camp and took only minutes to get to sleep. A memorable day. And my longest day in the CDT. 39 miles or 63km. I had 2 litres of water left and 13 miles in the morning to town.

CDT Day 89 Back on track

15th July

13.4 miles

Highway 70 (1359.2) to Bushcamp (1372.6) 

With 7 people sleeping in the cabin it was only natural that we were all awake at 5am. But nobody wanted to move. By 6am everybody was alive, packing and ready for the trail.

I was in no rush to leave. I wanted to have a half day rest and use some of the fast wifi at the cafe. All the other hikers left early. I was the only one left in town. I stayed for an early lunch then tried my luck at hitch hiking. Only a 30 minute wait and I was dropped off at the trailhead by a friendly local. They are all aware of the CDT.

I walked for the afternoon through a mix of open woodland and clear mountain ridges. Some sections were single trail, some were jeep roads. But generally easy hiking. Unless you don’t pay attention and miss a turn off and walk 10 minutes in the wrong direction!!!

Camp was on a flat section of ground near am open plain. It threatened rain and the wind started to pick up as the sun set. The sky was on fire in a way that no photo could ever capture. Oh and my left foot feels ok today. Maybe it was the morning rest and low mileage today. Let’s hope it stays that way.

CDT Day 88 Hello Wyoming 

14th July

28.9 miles

Roadcamp (1330.3) to Highway 70 (1359.2)

It was still dark when I finished eating my breakfast. I wanted To make it 29 miles to highway 70 with enough time to hitch into the town of Encampment, Wyoming. It’s a notoriously difficult hitch due to the lack of traffic.

My left foot started to hurt as soon as I started hiking. Right on the heal. I stretched my calf but the minor pain stayed with me for the rest of the day.

It was about 8 miles to the Colorado/Wyoming border. A non descript piece of pine woodland and a modest sign welcoming me to Wyoming.

Colorado has been difficult. I must admit that in glad it’s behind me. It was certainly the most difficult hiking I’ve ever done. Attempting to hike the San Juan Mountains in late May/ early June was crazy. Just too much snow and too dangerous. Then the altitude affected me. And finally Giardia made me sick and weak. Yes I’m glad I survived. Most did not. Another hiker told me that the CDTC estimated that there are only 75 northbound hikers left on trail out of an approximate 300 hikers who started. I’m happy to be in the minority.

The trail was rather easy but navigation was needed as there wasn’t much of a trail in many places. Mud and swamp in many places. There is a wildfire burning on the Colorado/ Wyoming border. It’s not threatening the trail but I was only a couple of miles away.

I made it to the highway at 6.30pm. I didn’t fancy my chances of hitchhiking to the nearest town so late in the day. It took me an hour to get a lift, only 4 vehicles went past in that time.

I walked into the bar at the town of Riverside. Several other hikers were there. A couple of beers and a meal later I stretched out on the floor of a cabin with 7 other hikers. Hello Wyoming.

CDT Day 87 Last day in Colorado 

13th July

32.7 miles 

Ridgecamp (1297.6) to Roadcamp (1330.3)

I wanted to make some miles today so an early start was prudent. I enjoy watching the sunrise. The morning hiking was mainly on ridge tops with commanding views of my last full day in Colorado.

I keep having this random reoccurring heal pain. I believe it’s called Plantar fasciitis. It’s common among long distance hikers and force many hikers to abandon the trail. At the moment it’s random and the pain is mild. I’ll keep hiking and hoping that it doesn’t get worse. Although a search on Google has me thinking it will not go away anytime soon.

I was hiking alone all day until I met Paul and Chauntel. They were in low spirits. I hadn’t seen them in about 500 miles. We only chatted briefly. I hike faster than them and bigger miles each day so I continued on alone. I didn’t see any other hikers fir the rest of the day.

Camp was 7.9 miles from Wyoming. Another big day, I’m really getting quite tired. I hope my feet feel OK in the morning. I must say that Colorado has been the toughest hiking I’ve ever done.