CDT Day 149 Brutally Cold

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13th September

26.5 miles

Elbow Creek (2515.7) to Bushcamp (2542.2)

Again it was very cold overnight. Sleep eluded me as I failed to stay warm enough. The tent was frozen inside and out, my shoes were frozen solid as were my socks. My water bottle popped it’s lid as it tried to freeze overnight leaving a trail of frozen water inside my tent. This was by far the coldest night of the whole trail, probably around 10F (-12C). My sleeping bag is rated to 15F! This guy from the tropics is struggling.

I am struggling to cope with the extreme cold. Temperatures well below freezing. But some primal part of me is both comfortable with the struggle and thriving. I can’t explain it, I think I need more time to philosophise about my situation. And why I’m enjoying it so much. I’m actually enjoying this a lot. Much more than a good day at work. Maybe that’s why I haven’t quit the trail when I had many legitimate reasons to do so.

It took me a long time to leave the comforts of my tent. Putting my frozen shoes onto my frozen socks was not enjoyable. To defrost them I warmed them with the heat of my gas stove. Not recommended. My tent poles were frozen together. Each individual pole was an effort to separate. My hands froze in the process.

It was a blue sky, sunny day. Not a cloud in the sky. I guess the clouds disappeared last night which might account for the extreme cold. All I had to do was hike to a patch of sun to warm up.

For the most part the trail was snow free. But it took a while for my frozen socks and shoes to warm up. But slowly they warmed and slowly but surely I forgot about the pain and enjoyed the scenery. It was rather pleasant to look up at the snow covered mountain against the bright, warm blue sky.

I stopped on a hill in the warmth of the midday sun. My gear was damp and needed to be dried out. Specially my sleeping bag. The moisture was enough to stop the down from lofting properly. And my tent was still frozen.

While resting and waiting for gear to dry another appeared from nowhere. It was Boston Chris. He had a black eye and cuts on his face. It looked like he had a fight with a bear. Turns out he took a nasty fall and used his head to break his fall. He was fine. Turns out everyone has been suffering with this unexpected weather.

We set off hiking together but soon he was well ahead of me. I aimed to hike to a campground near the main highway in Glacier National Park but time and daylight worked against me. I set up camp on a high ridge as it was getting dark. Tomorrow I’ll be in the town of East Glacier. Hopefully ther will be some other hikers to talk to.

Next – Day 150 To East Glacier

Everything you need to know about hiking the CDT:
Complete Guide to Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
CDT Resupply Guide
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  1. I am certainly jealous of your hike. I wish I could hit the trail. Alas my days are now office bound. Something I am questioning the value of … I miss the freedom I found in my 2.5 years of travel. Your blog is helping me keep honest and questioning. I’ve only been at work 4 months so there’s still time to change track

    1. I made the choice to trade in money and career for travel and experiences. I have zero regrets. I can’t see myself stopping in the foreseeable future but if and when it happens I’m sure I’ll be fine with it.

  2. Can’t imagine setting off with frozen socks and shoes, but the sunshine must have been a welcomed sight. Almost looks like Spring again after the last few snowy days! You and your tenacity are remarkable!

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