Total distance: 982.4
I decided that I’m going to get started earlier in the mornings and enjoy the afternoon to rest and relax. I usually am awake by five anyway so getting up isn’t difficult, but getting out of my warm bag and into the frigid morning air is almost not worth the trade off. After a couple of groans I got up and made my way in the bitter cold down the trail.
The first few miles were smooth and flat, which I would normally love, but I wanted something that would make my body work hard and warm up. Snot was running down my nose and my hands felt like icicles. Everytime I yawned my nose gave me that feeling you get right before you cry and it would burn for a few seconds before going back to freezing.
I wondered through a few meadows as the small streams lifted steam into the morning air and the rays of light began to find their ways through the trees. Hiking in the morning is absolutely gorgeous and I’ve decided it’s worth the cold air.
Within the first few miles I crossed a couple of streams and my feet got wet from missing a rock and another time I tried to jump from a boulder across the water and landed almost in the middle as a tidal wave erupted from my feet and drenched my whole body. There would be about ten more fords today and every one after that I walked straight through.
The trail got gnarly quickly with vicious ups and downs and rugged terrain. Going over Benson pass was to be an easy experience with an elevation of only 10,000 feet, but the rocks and roots throughout the trail make it difficult on the climb and the heavy snow on the other made for slow movement as well.
After that pass the trail drops straight down and goes straight back up rock island pass and once again is filled with rugged trail and river crossings. I’m glad I’ve decided to hike slower and relax more or this would have been an extremely frustrating day. The views from both passes were worth the effort in that they were different from the epic mountain views from the previous passes and contained amazing contrast in rock color and formations met with pine forests and snow patches splattered randomly around.
Most of the day was in pine forests with those western whites and the mosquitos just dominated me. At one point I looked down and had at least ten on each legs and with one swat of my hands smeared red across my calf. They would continue to rule the day up until I crawled into my bug net.
After rock island the trail led slowly down a canyon with beautiful rock structures on either side and a heavy flowing, blue river rushing in between. Of course the trail crossed the river and led up another two mile climb to bring my right back down to the same river only to cross it again and find a couple hikers with a fire. I joined them and got my tent up quickly before eating dinner by the fire and sewing up my shoes in hopes they last another three hundred miles.
- Cheez-nut tacos.
I felt present and engaged with my surroundings most of the day and had little to no stress about time. If I wanted to I could have done more miles, but I enjoyed laying down on a rock by a river at lunch and sitting under a tree for a break in the afternoon without any worries of time or mileage. I figure if I start at 5 I’ll get thirty done easy and that’s all I need to get to Canada. Now for another night under the stars with the sounds of running water calming my pulse and the spastic buzz of mosquitos trying to murder me outside my tent.