Daily Log: Day 19

Meetup: Day 19 – Friday 7/31/2929 – 1580.7 – clear, cold, hot, threatening rain but none, sunny. I woke at 4:45 am and was on trail at 5:40 am. I have two climbs today: 2500’ and the later 1000’ followed by many mini climbs. I sent Justin an inReach: [“been thinking about doing it in one day but I have a big climb 2500′ and a medium climb 1000′ to get to you. I’ll make the decision after the big one.” Jul 31, 2020 7:59 AM]. On the first climb my right ankle started to hurt. It was a muscle cramp. I had no problem descending only ascending. I just ignored it and kept going. I had lunch at mile 14 and committed to get to Justin today by doing an additional 7 miles. I sent him and inReach message: [“I am coming to you after lunch” Jul 31, 2020 12:51 PM]. I started to listen to an audio book to pass the time. The second climb was OK, but then the trail was on the side of mountains and rain clouds were starting to form. I did lots of ups and downs – choppy. They wore me out. I pushed hard to get to Justin. When I got to him I was in tears from pushing so hard. Another section hiker name Mappy, who I had met a few days ago, stopped by. Justin gave him refreshments and food. We chatted at dinner together. Tomorrow is another big climb – Parkview and it might rain.

Hiking along on a dirt road enjoying the wildflowers and the view.
Late afternoon on the side of a mountain and pushing to get done for the day
Our campsite on Troublesome Pass Trailhead. I camped behind the trees on the left to stay out of the wind. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 18

Day 18 – Thursday 7/30/2020 – 1559.2 – clear, cold, partially cloudy, late afternoon sprinkles. I was up at 4:45 am and on trail at 5:35 am. It is cold so I hiked with my hands in my pockets. I didn’t wear my vest. Once the sun came up I was fine. I started on single-track trail but soon was on dirt road then asphalt road. It was a long long road walk on a 65 mph highway with a narrow shoulder. I listened to my audio book. There was no place to camp at Grizzly Creek so on I went. Then I turned onto a dirt forest road heading to my next water stop. I got there and got water but I didn’t like the camping. So on I hiked and finally found a wind-protected spot among some trees. I set up my tent. Some late afternoon rain clouds dropped a few sprinkles. I did almost 22 miles today. I might be able to get to Troublesome Pass and Justin tomorrow – a day early.

Early morning view of wildflowers, lake, mountain, sky and clouds.
I passed the 300 mile mark today. Here is my campsite location beside the trail (red line).
Relaxing in my tent at the end of the day.

Daily Log: Day 17

Meetup: Day 17 – Wednesday 7/29/2020 – 1537.4 – clear, sunny, cool, windy. I stayed in my sleeping bag until 4:45 am and got on trail about 5:45 am. Overall it was an uneventful day. There were some climbs, but nothing major. It was cool and windy so I kept my down vest on and wore wool gloves too. It was so uneventful that I listened to audio book to help pass the time. My shoes and socks dried out. Near the end as I was approaching Justin several day hikers said “You must be Tartan” your son told us about you. This happened in the last three miles. One was a lady NOBO section hiker named Knock-out. I began to mention how tough yesterday was and how much I needed to see my son. As I spoke I got choked up, excused myself and quickly continued on my way. I don’t often get emotional but after the stress of yesterday I did. After a short climb I got to Justin. I was so relieved. The social and emotional connection is so important. I dropped my pack, my poles and hugged him. It felt so good. I had made it! Later this day Glider, a hiker, stopped by for a Coke and stayed over an hour telling us about his hiking, falling down on trail, ex-wife, life,… Each hiker has a story to tell, but his was a bit too much information.

Doing my chores after arriving at our meetup – resupplying my food for the next section from the plastic bins in the Jeep. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Setting up my tent is another daily chore. Here it is right next to the trail so I placed branches/logs to protect my guy lines. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Just across the dirt road from my tent the Jeep was parked with its root-top pop-up tent. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 16

Day 16 – Tuesday 7/28/2020 – 1522.8 – clear, windy, cold, rainy, hale, mist, clearing, threatening, rainy, windy, clear. I woke at 4:45 am, and was on trail at 5:33 am. Had MIO with a pop tart for my breakfast. I started to climb. It took me two hours to do 4 miles. I stopped for snack. I met a day hiker as I was snacking. About 2 miles before the cairn at the high point it was windy and cold. I got on my windbreaker/rain jacket and gloves. I got to the cairn and sent an InReach message to Justin so he’d know I made it this far: [“Here at cairn” Jul 28, 2020 10:44 AM]. In less than a mile a cold rain started. I’m still up high and need to descend to get protection. The trail stays up high for quite a while. I crossed two sloping snow fields that were over a hundred yards wide. I cross them always trying to stay on trail or find the trail. At noon under the cover of a couple trees I put on my vest, puffy and wool gloves to keep warm. My legs are soaked and I am chilled. My shoes and socks are soaked. I eat an apple and cheese. I’m getting worried. I’m still up too high. My phone screen is wet so I can’t make work. Argh! I need to climb to 11,600 next so I can finally descend, but then I goofed. At a trail marker I go the wrong way. I turn right instead of going straight. I go off trail over 0.7 mile down into a valley. Down and down I go. Finally I get my phone to work and realize it. I need to get back on trail. I’m not safe here. I start to cross country diagonally to get back to the trail. But I go further off trail. That was not smart in the mountains. I could have gotten stuck on a cliff. If I fell and got hurt. No one would think to check here. Finally I decided to go back up the valley to the original trail marker where I made the bad turn. It is a very long climb up. When I get there I breathed a sigh of relief. I on trail again and safe. Luckily the rain has finally stopped and the sun is coming out. I have several more long ascents and descents. Nothing today is easy. Several hours pass as I continue to hike onwards. In the distance I notice rain clouds forming. I am about 3 miles from my goal. It’ll take me 90 minutes. I sped up trying to get there before it rains again. I’m almost running. I passed two hikers and their dog, but I can’t stop because I want to get to my goal, get my tent up before it rains again, and not get any wetter than I am. I get there. It is beside a lake. The first rain drops are starting. I hurriedly find a flattish spot, and put up my tent. I toss my backpack inside. Quickly I get water at the lake while more drops are falling. Finally I get in my tent. The cold rain and wind come for the second time today. At least I’m covered by my tent this time. I send my daily InReach message. My vest and puffy are soaked with sweat. My shoes and socks are soaked. I switch to dry warm stuff. I arrange my stuff inside of my tent. Then the rain comes. The tent blows. Around 5:30 pm the rain and wind stop. I make dinner and have two suckers for dessert. I need the calories to stay warm. I’ll be OK, but what a day! New shoes, the weather, wet phone, major off trail, bad choices, chilled, a second rain. OMG!

The day begins overcast.
Heading into more clouds and higher elevations

Natural beauty

As you hike along the views are extraordinary.

The morning starts with no clouds. Then over time clouds begin to appear. Around noon and later in the afternoon the clouds can become threatening. They may even rain. By evening they’re gone. And it starts over again the next day. It’s “monsoon season“.

Afternoon clouds, leftover snow, up high, see for miles
Mountains and lakes.

Daily Log: Day 15

Meetup: Day 15 – Monday 7/27/2020 – 1505.9 – partially cloudy, sunny, hot in sun – I woke at 4:45 am and on trail at 5:35 am. My first climb was slow and steady. It was not bad. I took double breaths and small steps. I made it to the top without stopping to catch my breathe. There was a long descent and I tried to not use my poles. At about 7.5 miles I took a detour to skip a bridge that was out. I got water when the detour rejoined the actual trail. Most of the rest of the day I was hiking a single track trail. I listened to my audio book to make the time pass. The last climb had worried me but it was not bad. I met Mappy, a section hiker, part way up. The sun made it quite hot for the last little road walk. Justin was waiting at the trailhead. So so nice to see him. I immediately started doing chores – especially preparing to do laundry, but first a shower for stinky ol’ me. After my shower we sat in the shade as I washed and rinsed my clothes. I hung them all over the Jeep to dry. The hot sun made drying quick work. I’ve switched to new shoes and socks – Oboz and Injinjis. Our dinner was pork burritos. Yum! We’ve decided to combine the next two sections into one. So our next planned meetup is canceled at Buffalo Pass. If all goes well I’ll see him in two days at Rabbit Ear Pass. However I have my biggest climb yet – 3500 feet in 8 miles.

Early morning trail panoramic picture. I think my lens needs cleaning.
Yup, the lens definitely needs cleaning, grrr!
After a shower I washed my clothes and hung them all over the Jeep to dry including on a stretchy clothesline, the rear view mirror and the shower itself. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Up high

The trail is getting higher. I’m typically over 10,000 feet above sea level. For someone from Austin TX which is near sea level I’m still not fully adjusted. I find it is especially difficult getting enough oxygen when climbing. There are times when I have to just stop and try to gulp in enough air.

The view from the trail.

Daily Log: Day 14

Day 14 – Sunday 7/26/2020 – 1489.7 – partially cloudy, sunny, warm, no wind. I woke at 4:40 am and was on trail at 5:30 am. I wished farewell to my camp buddy, Justin. I took first climb very slowly and although I was sweating I wasn’t completely out of breathe. The trail was again easy to follow. I had been following several different shoe prints. I came to a marshy meadow. The grass was wet with dew and soaked my pants. The underlying marsh soaked my shoes. So much for keeping dry. I got lost crossing it which didn’t help either. On the other side of the meadow just as I found the trail I met a tent site of 7 hikers – a family. Thee women and four men. We chatted briefly, but soon I move on. On another climb I had to count 25s again. Ugh! I crossed into the great state of Colorado. At 10:30 am I met Mouse and Gangles, NOBO thru-hikers. They told me about camping in the saddle after the water stop. They also said there was a bridge out in 7-8 miles tomorrow. I got to my final climb and slowly got up to the stream that I was seeking. As I was eating lunch a dog ran up. It surprised me. A women came next and apologized about the dog. She said a 4×4 was coming up the rocky trail. So I moved my stuff from the center of the trail to the side. Here comes two more people driving up the stoney bumpy trail in a large vehicle. The noise kinda broke the natural peace and quiet along with the smell of engine exhaust. I finished up lunch after they passed. It was only a few minutes later that I was at the saddle and found a semi-level spot. I was done hiking for the day. I set up my tent. It’s on a slight slope but it’ll do. While setting up 6 trail motorcyclist passed by on the trail. This seems to be a busy section. I’ll meetup with Justin tomorrow – yay!

While I was hiking today Justin repositioned the Jeep to our next meetup point near South Fork Elk River. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)