Well, I guess if I didn’t have one good and solid meltdown this trip, then I would have finished it thinking that it wasn’t all that hard. But with the memory of a meltdown…it makes me remember that it was hard. Like, real hard.
I woke up to “Breakfast is served.” Scott had gotten up, cooked our oats, and added all the toppings without me even turning over. It was a good start to the day. I knew what was coming from pre-reading Scott’s blog: Several 9,000 ft passes before the drop down to Idaho. We’d gone over two of them before finding camp…I wasn’t particularly looking forward to them as they seemed to be an exercise in pushing my bike up a hill only to push it back down the other side.
We descended from our perch on the hillside on rocky and rowdy trail. It was a perfect bikepacking tech level, rideable, yet challenging. I was feeling pretty good about the next climb, as instead of going straight up and over the ridge, it contoured around it. I was starting to think that my stitching job of my pride, energy, and motivation was going to hold. The fabric was starting to look a bit thin…
We rode by the lovely Slag-a-melt lakes. Had it been 20 degrees warmer out, the perfectly clear water would have been perfect for swimming. Instead, we climbed yet another pass. Or, Scott rode, I pushed. Same went for the other side.
I started to unravel.
The trail was non-stop rocky from there on out. Awkward rocky. Frustrating rocky. To top it off, my experiment of trying to walk more flat footed instead of on my toes had led to a sore achilles. The legs and skills said no to pedaling. The ankle said no to walking.
Why were we here again?
Over the course of my bikepacking history, I’ve given myself permission to not enjoy every moment, but I did have to appreciate where I was and what I was doing. Appreciation was starting to waver.
After an extended walking section, I finally caught Scott. “I think I’m done. This isn’t fun any more.”
I laid down on the side of the trail. Forget the afternoon storms that were building, I was napping. I awoke to thunder. Shit. I still didn’t want to pedal, but I also didn’t want to get soaked. It was a conundrum and I was ready to set the tarp up there and call it a day at 1pm.
“Don’t be mad,” Scott held up his phone. He’d taken a picture of a very dejected looking me and put it on the Facebook, saying encouragement needed. The comments section was filled with encouragement and I scrolled through them. I very nearly cried.
Yes, I’m tired. Yes, my body hurts. Yes, sometimes I question motivations, but those comments made a world of difference. I have the best friends in the world.
We took off down the trail, knowing the storm was moving east and all we had to do was outrun it to the north. And we did!
From the top of the pass was one of the most stellar pieces of single track on the entire CDT. It had been reworked in recent years and was a beautifully constructed piece of contour trail snaking down into the valley.
Spirits were on the up.
And then it started raining. We hid under the tarp for a while. Deciding we were going to exercise our bailout option tomorrow because of impending weather, we ate a bunch of food, as tomorrow should be a short day.
We kept riding, finishing the descent and starting the 1,500 foot climb back up to the divide. There were raspberries! Everywhere! We ate our fill, stopping often to pick a few tasty morsels off the plants.
A new section of trail took us off the seemingly vertical road. Mercy singletrack, we called it. We thought we were winning at life until we turned a corner and saw black skies ahead of us. A clap of thunder confirmed the impending storm. First camp site we see, we take it, we decided. Unfortunately, we were on the side of a rather steep hill.
We rode up the hill as fast as we could, grateful for the new trail. As we reached the top of the pass and a flat camp spot, the rain started to come down. The tarp was up within minutes and we were huddled under it. The rain poured down for the better part of an hour as we made dams and drainage moats to keep the water our, cooked our dinner, and watched the clouds slowly clear out. The tarp did good.
Tomorrow, we head back down to Wisdom. There’s 30 miles of trail that we’re skipping, but the weather forecast looks dire and I’m tired. We might come back up and day ride it from Wisdom. We may not. It’s our trip and we’ll do what we want to.