Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 62 – When things go wrong…

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Today didn’t go exactly as planned. It’s not that it was a bad day of touring on the CDT, it’s just, it wasn’t how one would imagine an ideal day.

It started around midnight.

“Scott, wake up. We’ve got to put the tarp up.”


“It’s starting to rain.”

Sure enough, a midnight storm had moved it and we raced, in our half asleep states, to get the tarp tied up, after we’d decided, while sitting with plenty of daylight at camp, that it wasn’t going to rain and that we wouldn’t have to put it up.

We listened to a brief downpour as lighting lit up our tarp and cracks of thunder moved across the sky. When the fireworks died down, we drifted off to sleep on our very not flat campsite.

Breakfast. Rolling.


“My GPS isn’t turning on,” said the GPS Master.

“I’ll turn mine on so at least we have a track to follow,” I said. “That’s funny, it’s turning on but the map screen is black.”

“Weird. Let me turn it off and on again.” Scott looked puzzled. “Now the screen is green.”

He did it again, red screen. And again, blue screen. No maps. No tracks. Fudge.

“I’ll figure out how to do a hard reset at the top of the pass,” Scott decided. “We’ll use the phone for now.”


Both of our legs lacked spunk. We independently spent the first 10 miles of the day thinking about going right on the highway and coasting into Encampment for breakfast rather than going left and climbing to Battle Pass and rejoining the trail.

But we turned left. And into the wind. Heinous wind, straight in our faces. We had seven miles to climb. I’d love to say I handled it with grace…but that would be a lie. I tried to make peace with it, we were in Wyoming after all, but it slowed our progress to nearly a standstill. Pavement. 2 mph.

We eventually reached the top and took shelter behind the outhouse. Scott interneted to figure out hard resets for the GPSs and tried mine first. Red screen. He moved on to his. Now it booted up…but to a blue map screen. Double fudge. He traced the problem down to a corrupt track that we were now close enough to that the GPS saw it…and crashed. We couldn’t delete them, we couldn’t turn them off.

It was to be a navigation by phone type of day.

Luckily, the trail was super well marked. Once we found it.


Ghetto sign

For good measure, it started with a hike-a-bike. What would a day be without some hike-a-bike. We gained the divide and the trail turned into a lovely little ATV track. Ups and downs, standard divide procedure, but nothing too bad. Well, if we’d had legs, it wouldn’t have been too bad.

After some time, we dove off onto actual 1-track. Quite possibly one of the best kept WY single track secrets. Zoom diggity down we went through the woods, stopping only occasionally to get over a downed tree. We both knew it couldn’t last, but we enjoyed it while we could.


After exiting Deep Jack Creek trail, things took a turn for the worse. When in the trees, the trail was full of trees. When out in meadows, there was no trail. We spent the next couple of hours climbing through meadows to a highpoint and then dropping down into some trees.



This went on until Divide Peak where the trail mercifully spit us out on a road. New trail had been built as a continuation of the ridge running, but we were more than happy to take the “old” CDT route and coast and pedal freely for the first time all afternoon.

Whooped, we knew we had to make it to water before calling it a day, so we continued onto the GDMBR and turned north.

“I think we’ve gone too far,” Scott said after a while. He pulled out his phone. “Yep. We overshot it, by almost a mile. I didn’t see a 2-track going off to the left, did you?”


We turned back, descending the mile that we’d just climbed, wondering how we’d missed the trail. Then we saw the marker. Behind a giant pile of construction dirt, like a 30 foot tall, 50 foot wide pile of dirt. Right. In. Front. of. the. sign.

Scott had some select names for the construction crew.


We followed our newly found 2-track down to the river where we set up for dinner in lush grass while watching sparrows play. While we wanted to camp there, river valley camping is never warm.

We unwrapped dinner #1, a burrito from Steamboat. Mold on the tortilla. Bugger. Two days was asking a lot of it…but it was supposed to be half of our dinner, and we were lowish on calories, so we unwrapped it and ate the innards anyway. We made the rest of our mac and cheese and pretended that we weren’t still hungry before pedaling our bikes to near the top of the mesa to set up camp.


We can see miles in all directions. There’s a good storm, complete with lighting far to the south. I guess all we can do is hope that it stays south as there’s nothing here but sage brush, so the best we could do in the rain is get in our bivies and burrito ourselves in the tarp. Here’s to hoping for a dry night!


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