Daily Log: Day 69

Meetup: Day 69 – Saturday 9/19/2020 – 2213.0 – sunny, breezy, cool. I woke and packed up. I tried to sleep in but only got to 5:20 am. Oh well I tried on my last day. I put on my puffy to get warmer. I had my last on-trail pop tart breakfast sitting against the Jeep ‘s back tire. Then I was off at 6:10 am. Up the road by another campsite. I hiked quietly by them to not wake their dogs. I came to a gate blocking the road and walked around. The road walk was easy and now it was light enough to see. I went by a closed camping area trailhead and two small lakes. I had plenty of water so I didn’t stop. The trail began to climb. Easily I ascended. At about 7 am I was warmed up and stopped to take off my headlight, headband and puffy. I was disappointed that I had only gone 3 miles. Oh well I only had 7 more and I would be done. I started listening to my audio book Nine Perfect Strangers to help pass the time. Then at 8:15 am I stopped for my first snack. I was again surprised because now I had only 4 miles left. Where did the time and miles go? I must have been moving faster or misread the earlier mileage. The trail was up on the crest of a hill and became very rocky. Carefully I placed each foot. I was trying to make good speed. Nearly there I saw two mountain bikers approach. I said hi and they said they had met my son – a typical refrain but a good one for the last day – ha! I was only 1/2 mile to go. But I made a bad turn coming down the hill and when I looked at Guthooks I was a few tenths if a mile beyond. So I climbed back up the hill, went by the horse corral, by Ken’s camp but didn’t see his truck, and started down to the forest road to the intersection. I saw the Jeep. I yelled a big loud “Hello” and saw Justin waving. A moment later a big hug, lots of smiles, selfies and I WAS DONE, WE WERE DONE, IT IS DONE.

Hiking into camp where we had been stranded for three days in the snowstorm. This completes my goal of section-hiking over 1000 miles in 69 days from South Pass City WY to Cuba NM where I had gotten off trail in 2016. What remains is to hike from South Pass City WY to Glacier National Park and the Canadian border. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
I am happy. I am done. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Time to sit down, drink a celebratory Coke, and … (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
tell Justin that I couldn’t have done it without him. Thank you son! (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Marking the end I send my last Garmin InReach daily message: “I’m checking in, everything is ok.” As they would say in the movies: It’s a wrap. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Done

I completed my LASH (long ass section hike) today. It’s been a hectic week and a half. On Tuesday September 8th we were hit but an early season snow storm. It caused us to hunker down until Friday September 11th when we escaped.

So instead of hiking it all southbound I flip-flopped from mile 2213 to my planned endpoint at Cuba NM at mile 2362 and hiked northbound.

Today I arrived back at mile 2213 and the scene of our three day snow blockage. Finally I was done hiking. I have hiked 1060.6 miles and Justin and I are now heading home to Austin.

We got 12-15” of snow and 4-6” the next day. My tent was behind the Jeep but the second and third nights I slept in the Jeep while Justin slept above. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
At the spring 15 miles south if Cuba NM where I ended my 2016 thru-hike. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Happy to complete the long-ass section hike. What remains is about 1250 miles from South Pass City Wyoming to Glacier National Park and the Canadian border

Daily Log: Day 68

Meetup: Day 68 – Friday 9/18/2020 – 2223.5 – cloudy, some sun, cool. My typical 5 am sit up, get out of sleeping bag, pack it away, pack my pillow bag, do potty, pack backpack, put tent away, and eat breakfast. On trail at 5:45 am. Several medium climbs but with the day pack they were easy. I quickly passed two bow hunters coming the other way. I went through lots of meadows, pines, and aspens. I went from one mesa to the next. I arrived at Justin and the Jeep at about 2:40 pm. I set up tent, and prepped for tomorrow. TOMORROW IS THE LAST DAY! Only 10 more miles. I will be returning to the spot were we were snowed-in for three days.

Hiking into camp on the eve of the last day. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Setting up my tent has become an easy habit. Only one more night after this one. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
With the tent up in the background the master chef, Justin, smiles and gets to work making another tasty and nutritious dinner: tortillas stuffed with carnitas, corn chips and bean dip. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Justin moves the trusty Jeep into a level position to pop the roof-top tent. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 67

Meetup: Day 67 – Thursday 9/17/2020 – 2245.0 – clear, sunny, warm/cool. I got up at my usual time of 5 am having awaken much earlier but laid there until 5 am. I packed up and ate breakfast. Justin got up at 5:30 am. We drove to the trailhead 0.8 miles away at 5:45 am. I was on trail at 5:50 am in the dark with my head lamp. I might have seen a bear ahead of me on the trail so began singing “She’ll be com in’ round the mountain”. The dark object ahead disappeared into the forest. If it was a bear then that was close. Whew! Today was a social day. I met Alex and her dog. She hadn’t seen anyone for 4 days. About 0.5 miles later I met six older (my age) hikers out for three days. I mentioned I had flipped to the spring near Cuba NM and they said that the last hiker maintains that section. I explained about ending my hike there in 2016 when two maintainers were working on the spring and that last hiker said it was he and his friend Charlie who was there that day. He said Charlie drove me to town. He remembered me! Think about that… meeting in the middle of the forest, chatting about 4 years ago, and to happen upon one of the guys who helped me. Wow! A big wow! A few miles later I had to cross a stream. It was probably 20’ across so I couldn’t jump it or step from rock to rock. There was a gigantic tree that had fallen across it about four feet above the stream with rushing water and sharp rocks below. My balance is not great and I very very slowly took steps to cross. I used my poles to help balance too. There were dead branches sticking out at various angles that were in the way. In the last few feet I began to wobble but luckily as I began to fall I was able to grab a branch and didn’t. Wow that was close! However my hands were shaking. Adrenaline! I had just made it. A little while later I met two more hikers named Sweet Pea and Beardo. They said “we met your son” and he gave us a soda! Justin the trail angel strikes again. They had flipped and flopped all around the CDT. At about 2:30 pm I completed my day’s hike arriving at the Jeep. Justin had been writing the snow blog entry. I went to set up my tent while he finished up. I asked him to read it to me and as he did he got choked up at the end. It was indeed our most exciting and difficult time on this overland adventure. We had brats for dinner. Only two more days.

Daily Log: Day 66

Meetup: Day 66 – Wednesday 9/16/2020 – 2265.4 – some clouds, sunny, warm. Sheesh, I can’t sleep in. I was up at 5 am. I packed up and was on trail at 5:45 am. Nowadays it is very dark out when I start to hike so used my headlamp for 45 min until dawn. Today was a very long but gentle climb. I went across wide grassy swaths. While hiking I stopped for snacks, and lunch. It’s the little things. I find it amazing that I’m out here in the middle of nowhere eating my lunch. I only had about 4 miles to go. I had been listening to Infidel audio book, I finished it and then moved on to 14 Minutes audio book about Alberto Salazar, the famous runner. I got to Justin about 2 pm – early afternoon. We chatted but we were both quiet. He hadn’t done or seen much today. He arrived early in the morning and did some writing. He also talked to some other people who were at the trailhead. After I arrived he drove me back to the camping area about a mile away. I set up my tent and did my chores for tomorrow. We had pancakes and bacon for dinner. Sugar high! He’ll have to wake early to drive me back to the trailhead. I only have about 50 miles to go. So close now. Only three days left.

Middle Canjilon Campground is funny looking when seen on Satellite view.

Daily Log: Day 65

Meetup: Day 65 – Tuesday 9/15/2020 – 2284.4 – clear, sunny, hot, windy and threatening clouds at end. I woke late at 5:25 am and rushed to pack up. I was on trail at 6:07 am. First thing was 3.7 mile climb to the top of the mesa. Then it was miles of walking on the edge of the mesa. The trail was confusing at times and I hand held my phone as I struggled to find the trail. Several times I was off trail and finally realized that I just needed to stay on the edge of the mesa. I descended and crossed Highway 84. I couldn’t find a gate. I had to climb under a barb wire fence on the other side of the road. I conserved water and used my platypus for the first two morning snacks. At lunch I guzzled my 0.7L bottle and another at my afternoon snack. I finished the day’s hike about 3:30 pm. At the Jeep I downed a number of cans of soda. Justin cooked pork tacos for dinner. I finished with a mini pecan pie, some cookies and tootsie roll pops for dessert. Overall it was a good day. Only have about 70 miles to go. It really looks like I’m gonna do this long ass section after all. Yippee! Tomorrow I’ll meet Justin at a road crossing and he’s going to drive me to a campground that’s 0.8 miles away.

Panoramic picture as sunrise lights up the distant mesas.
High on the edge of a mesa looking out as sunrise crawls across the geography below.
Setting up my tent beside an isolated forest road. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Time for bed. Only a few more days, a few more meetups, a few more dinners, and few more hikes. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 64

Meetup: Day 64 – Monday 9/14/2020 – 2305.9 – clear, sunny, hot. I woke at 5 am. I packed up, ate breakfast and was on trail about 5:45 am. I started with a descent and a flat. My first and only climb was steep and hard to follow. I had lost the trail. But then near the ridge’s top I saw a sign to my right “Horses left” and “Hikers right”. I had found the trail again. At top the ridge was flat. Later on I was trying to follow the trail but I lost it again. I was deep in the forest. The track was obscured by many blow downs. I wondered if I’d get lost in there, but I just keep pushing forward and using my Guthooks app to confirm my location and direction time and again. I made it through, but it slowed me down. I sent Justin an InReach message saying I’d be late [“At 2312.2, very slow going, expect me to be later than planned.” Sep 14, 2020 1:46 PM]. Then I had to cross a meandering stream a number of times. In the hot late afternoon I arrived at Rio Chama parking lot where I found Justin at 4 pm. It was a long day. We had PackIt Gourmet pizzas. I added pie, cookies and tootsie roll pops as dessert too. Tomorrow’s hike starts with a 3.7 mile climb. There is no water on this section so I’ll start with 3.7 L and conserve conserve conserve.

Meet up campsite beside the Rio Chama. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)