Today started with the attack of the killer chipmunk, it then proceeded to some “We’re not lost, we just can’t find the trail,” followed by some lovely trail, after which we partook in some good old fashioned hike-a-bike, found a dead chipmunk in our reliable water source, hike-a-biked downhill, had a “we’re not lost, we’re just not on the trail” moment, hiked back up the trail I’d just hiked down, continued to hike down to the pass only to hike back up the other side, rode some lovely fenceline trails high on the mesa, and then finally hit roads to fly down to just shy of the highway.
It was a very exciting day that started right around midnight. By that time I’d blown up my sleeping pad, which apparently had picked up a hole, at least seven times. Scott eventually gave me his down jacket to sleep on. It was not a comfortable sleeping situation.
Sleeping in bear country creates the bad habit of listening for any noises in the woods. We were both awakened by rustling next to me. Silouetted in the moon was a chipmunk.
“Shoo!” I told it. It took off. I laid back down on hard ground. Minutes later it was back, rustling around my dry bag.
“Get! We have no food, let us sleep!” I laid down wondering what it could possibly want. Salt. It came to me. My socks were right there. I sat up and turned my light on to illuminate the log where I’d laid my two socks a few hours earlier. One was gone.
“That little #$^$@!” I got up, turned my light on bright and went searching for my sock. We were camped by a boulder field and rocks were everywhere, as were downed trees. My sock, nowhere to be found. I gave up eventually, hoping that it was just hidden under our groundsheet/tarp.
Minutes later, rustle, rustle, rustle. This time on Scott side. “SHOO!” Back to my side to try to drag my helmet away. “GET!”
This went on for several hours. We awoke late in the morning, both tired from the chipmunk antics. We found Scott’s helmet chewed on and my sock no where to be found. I unleashed a string of profanity towards the chippy, who was no longer anywhere to be seen.
I generally like to think of myself as being able to express myself more eloquently than needing to use general profanity, but sometimes it just feels good to swear like a sailor. I put on Scott’s sleeping socks for the day.
The trail started out more steeply. We were off hiking pretty quick. Gone were the gentle-ish grades and switchbacks from yesterday.
At one point in time, Scott pointed over a gentle ridge 50 feet above us. “The trails just on the other side of this, if I were a hiker, I’d totally short cut it rather than go around here and drop down to climb back up.”
We proceeded down a nice trail, wrapping around a finger of a mountain. Then came the first tree down. And a second. And a third. “Hmmm. We’re not on the GPS line any more.”
We left our little game trail and started straight up the mountain towards where the GPS wanted us to be. No trail there either. We continued our bushwack.
“I’m going to guess that the people who use this trail regularly take the shortcut,” I surmised.
When we finally re-found some semblance of trail, Scott pulled his phone out. “Doh! Ley has the route going over the ridge. That would have been way easier.” (For those not familiar with CDT mapping, there’s the Ley maps, which give a “recommended red route” and then has purple alternates, then there’s the Bear Creek maps which give one route, there’s the GPS data put out by Bear Creek Survey, there’s the Guthook phone app based on the Bear Creek maps, and then there’s what’s marked on the ground, which sometimes doesn’t correspond to any of the above. Choose your own adventure.)
“We just took the more adventurous route,” I decided.
We rode some more semi-ridable trail to Salamander lake where I used the body of water to find the tear in my sleeping pad. I swear, next time, Z-rest. I’ve over inflatable pads.
The trail for the rest of the day was…challenging. It reminded me of being in band in 6th grade (I played the clarinet and was (and still am) completely musically inept) when the teacher had us compose something on our own. I thought it would be really cool to do something with lots of transitions between high and low notes because it would showcase my skills and be challenging to play. It sounded terrible. I had no skills. Similarly, the trail seemed to want to go as steeply as possible up and down every incline, going out of its way to do so.
Just because it could. If it’s not as hard as possible, everyone would do it?
A 900 vertical hike-a-bike took us to Rock Springs. Water wasn’t flowing into the trough and there was a dead chipmunk in it.
“I’ll drink dead lizard water, but I draw the line at dead chipmunk water,” I declared. Still, we filled our spare bottles, just in case. Luckily we found water just a mile down the road, dumping what we had and filling up.
A short bit of climbing took us to the “descent” to Pete’s Creek Pass. While playful and fun at first, it quickly turned steep. Like, hike-a-bike steep for me. We kept following signs for Pete’s Creek until Scott stopped short. “We’re not on the GPS line any more, did you see another trail at the sign up there?”
So we hiked back up what I had hiked down.
We eventually made it down to the pass and saw the trail continuing. “Look, there it is, straight back up!” It seriously went straight up for 900 feet. The CDT’s official motto is “Embrace the brutality.” It was uttered many times, often with a hint (just a hint) of sarcasm.
We rode what we could, but for the most part, we played the part of hiker with a bike along. The last 100 yards contoured nicely up to the ridge. You do know how to contour!
We are so spoiled rotten.
Some lovely fence line riding through the sage brought us to another trail register and release from the trail. Our wheels hit road for the first time today. We coasted happily along, found some water, and soon after a campsite.
We can see the interstate that’ll take us to Lima. 20 miles. We’re hoping to make it before Jan’s Cafe stops serving breakfast. I can’t wait!