Tuesday, October 20, 2015

July 27 Day 92 Luxury and Hardship

(Apache at lunch. Mehap missed the turn. He arrived an hour later so we got comfortable)

Trail magic is something given by someone wonderful. In this case it came from a lovely man in a white pick up truck with 2 thru-bikers in his car. He drove by us as we were on yet another dirt road walking down a mountain, approaching Sawtell, the resort town. He stopped to chat and see what we were up to. Looking suspiciously like hikers, we admitted that we were, in fact, hiking, and yes, it was as he had guessed, the CDT. After a longer than usual conversation about not all that much, we asked him if he knew of any good camping areas near town, which he replied with a cryptic "I just have to check on something up the mountain, but I'll catch you on the way down and let you know if I remember. I may have a solution for you."

That solution worked out luckily and he offered us a cabin to stay at! 
(The cabin living room the thru-bikers!)

He was managing some rental properties and the renters had just left that day and the cleaning service wouldn't be in until the next day to make the place ready for the next renters, which meant we could crash in this luxury rental cabin with laundry AND a HOT TUB!!!! We were so excited! Talk about magic! I caught a ride 2 miles down there to get all the information from him because he had to head to a nearby town soon. Once I scoped the place out, and got all the rules and regulation sorted, I walked to the restaurant in town and noshed on yummy food with everyone. Just as we were finishing up, Wonderer walked in! We hadn't seen him for a while and were not sure what had become of him or how to communicate our good fortune so he could benefit too. Boy was he lucky to have pushed a bit to get in!

We popped into the store and grabbed some resupply, donuts, and drinks, and headed to the cabin to take care of cleaning up and soaking in the hot tub. It felt great!

In the morning on the 27th we woke up from the nooks we had each taken over, scattered throughout the cabin and headed out. We had breakfast at the grocery store and an hour or so later had lunch at a Mexican Restaurant 3 miles down near Mack's Inn. We schedule our lives around food. It's a thing.

We had been able to check the weather and knew there was 100% chance of rain starting around noon, which is right when we left the restaurant. We had 18 more miles to do for the day, ending right on the border of Montana-Wyoming and right at the border of Yellowstone National Park. It was important that we made it because you're not allowed to camp within park boundaries without a permit and you have to camp at designated camp sites. So, realistically, we had to reach the border tonight, hike into Old Faithful Village tomorrow and get our permits, and hike out to a camp site. But first get through today.

The weather quickly turned dangerous as temperatures plummeted and a slow steady drizzle persisted. I was envious of Grim's umbrella. I was getting grumpy. I was getting cold. My rain gear wasn't enough to keep me dry, and my layers weren't enough to keep me warm. Apache and Grim were ahead while Guy, Mehap, Wonderer, and I were brining up the rear. Mehap and Apache didn't have pants to wear, and so they suffered the cold in their shorts. I don't know how they did it because I had a hard enough time WITH pants on!

About halfway through our trudge, when the rain had let up and turned to a light mist, we sat down to have a bit of food. It couldn't have been more than 15 minutes of shoving Cliff bars into our faces before I realized I might not be able to make it to the border. I could feel my core temperature dropping. I needed to get moving or I needed to set up my tarp and crawl into my dry sleeping bag. The heat of exertion would hopefully heat me up enough to get to camp, but sometimes that isn't enough, as I remembered from New Mexico and 9 years before in Alaska.

On we went, Guy trying to continually ask me for updates on my perceived state of being, and Mehap trying to distract Guy from doing so. I'll admit I had a very short fuse by this point and was grateful for Mehap's efforts. I had let myself cry a few times already today, once because my hands were so unresponsive from the cold that I couldn't button my pants up after peeing. They sagged below my hip bones, driving me crazy for the rest of the day. Another time when a thundercloud passed directly above us, a mere second or two between flash and rumble, pelting us with extraordinary amounts of hail, sleet, slush, and finally snow, which persisted for the rest of the evening.
(Apache surprised it's snowing in July)

We somehow managed to reach Grim and Apache, seeing their shelters peeking out from the trees. I found a spot somewhat sheltered under some branches near Grim and began the arduous task of setting up my tarp with frozen hands in the wet snow. Grim talking to me throughout the process to make sure I was still coherent. I found out the next day that he had made space in his tent in case I had gotten hypothermic and needed help bringing up my core temperature. That's why it's a good idea to hike with people, and that's why I love my hiking family.

I managed to heat up what little water I had left and make ramen for dinner. We were all dry, WE were wet, but we had no water left, and it was another 8 or so miles to the first water in Yellowstone tomorrow. Most people skipped cooking tonight, eating bars and snacks instead. I needed the heat. And so, with a belly full of warm noodles, I fell asleep to the soft sound of snow on my tarp.

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