Today was a great day! After a miserable night & early morning, it just kept getting better.
The wind did NOT die down last night—it howled & raged until mid-morning. Agnes was as sorely tested … I wasn’t worried about the tent blowing away w/my 135 pounds and all my gear weighting her down, but I was a tad worried the rain fly would rip against the pressure.
The worst thing about the wind wasn’t that it kept me awake all night, it was breaking camp in the morning. Everything was, of course, frozen solid when I got up—my shoes & socks were so hard I had to struggle to get them on. I almost lost Agnes, when the wind caught the underside of one end while I was dismantling her, and the stakes were ripped out and she blew into me (finding those precious stakes in the snow was a real treat—why don’t they paint them bright orange or pink?!). The wind blew my food bag (hung in a tree) on the ground & I thought an animal got it … nearly left without it until I saw it lying in the snow. Breaking camp was miserable, but things went uphill from there.
There was still snow everywhere, and finding the trail was tricky, BUT the cold overnight temps had firmed up the drifts, and I was able to walk on most of them without falling in. Once I realized that bonus deal, I moved as fast as I dared to try to get below the snow line before the sun warmed things up again. By about 0930, things were much easier, and by 1030, there was no more snow & I was at Kelly Tank filling up on water left by Desert Pete. As an added bonus, another trail angel had left bite-sized candy bars—sweet!
The down side of coming out of the mountains was that about 5 miles past Kelly Tank, the trail is on a dirt road for the next 15-16 miles. I don’t love hiking on roads, but I made great time, and the sun was shining, and the wind was tolerable. I rigged a system on my pack to dry out my socks as I hike (now I have TWO dry pairs!) I even listened to my first podcast of the trip! It was a nice diversion on those final miles.
I came into Cedar Ranch trail head about 3:45, knowing there was water there from Parker. This is the last water for 20+ miles, so I took an extra liter—just in case—which is heavy & makes me grumpy. Just as I was ready to close up the bear box, I saw some small, dark containers. Curious, I picked one up—Desert Pete has left me (and other hikers) wine! Single serve wine in disposable cups with lids! What comes after husband of the year?!
Since I had already exceeded my mileage goal for today, and camp sites were starting to look sparse, I quit a little early. I am now enjoying my wine (which I decided to pair w/‘Himalayan Lentils & Rice’ & an appetizer of corn nuts) while I sit in the sun (for the first time in weeks not freezing my keister off at dinner time) enjoying the view.
I’m back to loving the trail again!
Daily Miles: 23.3
AZT Miles: 627.3