Wednesday, October 7, 2015

July 5- July 8 Day 70-73 Becoming a Stronger Hiker

We refused an offer to take a historical tour of Anaconda in order to get on trail. We felt ready now, to make miles, and rock the CDT. At least I felt that way. Between my little epiphany on the mountaintop and the admittance of our feelings about hiking, I was ready again. I was resetting my hike, and making more of what I wanted it to be. I was going to be the creator of my own experience. This being my first thru-hike, I didn't now what to expect and I certainly didn't know how I hiked. What style was MY style? What had I been doing because I had been hiking with Guy for so long vs what I would have done without that influence? What would I need to make this authentic to me? I wanted to push. I wanted to make my body a better version of what it was. I wanted that challenge that I love in the weight room at the gym. I wanted to PUSH!

And so that first day out of Anaconda, I kept up with Apache and Grim, the 2 fastest in the group, for the first time. For 18 miles after noon. I was proud. Now could I sustain this? I was in much better shape and my feet were well conditioned compared to the very start of trail when I was trying to keep up with the guys I was hiking with. I was so soft and not ready physically for the challenge of doing 20-30 mile days back to back. But I felt great now! I wanted this challenge now, by choice.

The day was threatening to storm, but we somehow missed all the thunderclouds.

On the 6th we did 24 miles with 3-4 mountain passes. It was quite a day. I felt powerful and appreciative, something I hadn't felt in a while, and it was great! The views were no longer repetitions of other great views, now they were beautiful again. The world had regained its glow. We had reconnected with the CDT by now after the Anaconda Cutoff. It's always a relief when you get back on the trail officially. Something about it is comforting.

At the top of a pass we found Warren Lake, our destination for the day. A very buggy place, but a beautiful lake that was a great temperature. Apache, Grim, Mehap, and I got there and set up a nice camp fire and found sweet tent spots. As a respite from the bugs Grim and I took a dip and cleaned off the days sweat. Beads, Kramers, and Papi arrived a bit later, having eaten dinner on trail. I am not personally a fan of eating dinner before getting into camp, but some people prefer it that way. It does give you a nice boost of energy for the last stretch. I'd rather get to camp earlier and enjoy a leisurely dinner completely relaxed, and I know I can happily eat my dinner in the dark in my tent or in the rain in my tent, but making the effort to cook and eat before dark and then potentially hiking in the dark and setting up my tent in the dark and/or's just not my style.

The bugs though! Man were the mosquitoes out in full force!

On the 7th we did 26 miles of upupup DOWN upupup DOWN hail and rain upupup DOWN drizzle drizzle up down repeat over and over again. Today I PUSHED. I was tired. My muscles were very ready for rest. I was trying to really press on the uphills to improve my aerobic mountain climbing skills. I've noticed that my old exercise induced asthma, which I haven't had encounters with in maybe a decade, reared its head in the cold dry air of mountain ascents. I could rock the downhills and straight aways, but those uphills put me in a state of slowness and gasping I wasn't pleased with. And so the pushing. The training. The getting better.
(Apache fishing)

When we arrived to the water source, there was no water. Great. Peachy. I was a tad too tired to care. Mehap and Apache were behind us somewhere as they had decided to go fishing in a lake we had had lunch at. They got ultra light fishing rods in Anaconda, and Beads, Kramers, and Papi were maybe behind them? Anyway, Grim and I were in a burn area with no water, and no water for at least 10 more miles or something. Grim was awesome and took a stroll down into the valley where this spring should have been and, thank goodness, eventually found it further down and away from the trail. We filled up and I didn't even care to cook. I just ate a cold dinner, tuna salad with avocado and tortilla. When I was alone, guarding the packs from animals, Elk or deer or something stormed through the area twice, scaring me so badly! Good thing it was just hooved animals....that weren't moose.

Eventually some of the others showed up and others did not. We slept in the burn, surrounded by bare trees and charred ground.

On the 8th we had pretty flat ground but a fair amount of blow-downs, trees strewn hither and thither on the trail, making it more treacherous for us short people. We did a very quick 24 miles today getting to the trail head we were aiming for to put put us 5 miles or so out from Darby, our next town stop tomorrow. It was pretty chill, made a fire, hung out, had some fun flying paper airplanes that we made out of our used Ley maps over the fire. I was surprised a bit that Guy had not caught up to us by this point. I wondered how far away he was and if I was willing to wait in Darby for him if everyone else headed out before he got there. I'd grown attached to this group and I was enjoying the freedom of not having a hiking partner. I'll explain more about that in the next post. This one has gotten long enough!

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