Leaving town days are always hard for me, increasingly so as this trip goes on. Triply so if we’ve just done a really fun day ride and I remember how nice it is to ride unloaded.
I started the morning with: When we get off the trail, it’s going to be so nice to: Not worry about the weather forecast, to not have the uncertainty of having no clue what the trail is going to throw at us each day, to sleep in multiple days in a row, to eat salads with fresh veggies three times a day.
It’s a bad attitude to have, and I was doing my best to turn it around to: I can’t wait to ride my bike on potentially awesome trail in places I’ve never been. The gloom and doom weather forecast wasn’t helping my cause. But luckily, some sage advice from Chimp later in the day improved my outlook.
“Five months into the Appalachian Trail, I wanted nothing more than to be off the trail. Then you get to being a week from the finish, and you start thinking, “I need to slow down and savor this!”
I think I’m right on the cusp of that point, though I don’t know if we’re going to slow down because the fewer nights spent camped in grizzly country, the better.
We saw our first grizzly poop today, so we’ve entered the zone.
The morning was spent getting stuff together. Continental breakfast. Last minute computering. Take everything to the post office. We finally retired our bounce box. It probably should have been done a few bounces ago, but the safety of our stuff was starting to come into question. A new box cost us $3.50. Back to the hotel. Pack up bikes, Hanging5 for one more meal.
The rain started as we were headed over for lunch. Really? We spent the meal watching it rain and then stop as we headed out. We headed out on the same route that we took yesterday – it was a lot easier yesterday without three days worth of food.
We climbed the railroad to Homestake Pass and started in on the road to Delmoe Lake. Not 200 yards into it, hikers! Chimp and Tootsie! They had their umbrellas out as the rain was starting to sprinkle. I was jealous, I want an umbrella!
They told us of all the people getting off the trail, X and Y went to Burning Man, Z ran out of money, Q ran out of motivation. The trail is taking its toll. It was awesome to see them in good spirits and counting down their last month of hiking. Two weeks, we told them, we’re aiming for under two weeks from here.
A brief window of sun lead to a downpour that we waited out under a tree. More sun brought spirits back up. Clouds brought in darkness like the Nothing and we found ourselves under another tree before turning onto the Nez Perce trail.
“It’s open to motos,” Scott observed.
“Good, the trees will be cut out!”
“It could be fall-line up and down,” Scott warned.
“It’s the CDT, it’ll be fall line whether it’s open to motos or not.”
It actually ended up being not very fall line at all and all the trees were cut out. We ran into a group of motos who assured us of good trail and a long descent. They were right, for the most part.
500 feet of climbing brought us to our local high point from where we started down towards I-90. We picked up the first water we could and found a campsite as soon as the trail leveled out.
The days are getting shorter, we can’t get away with stopping at 7:30 anymore and still not having to use our headlamps. By the time dinner was cooked and eaten, it was solidly dark. By the time we broke the branch we were planning on hanging food from and got the line recast, it was biker midnight.
Tomorrow, the rest of the drop to the highway, then a climb to promised new trail, and then, in theory, we return to classic, old-school CDT and gain every highpoint for a while on fall-line trail. Should be a good time.