CDT day 55: heat wave got me like

June 28
Mileage: 21.5
1,020 miles hiked

At eight a.m. I meet Frodo at the car rental place, drop off the keys to the rental car and climb into her sweet camper van for the ride back to Mcdonald pass. Frodo is gonna hang at the trailhead this morning to wait for a few other hikers, so it works out perfectly for me re: getting back to the trail. Thank you Frodo!

It’s a little hazy this morning but soon that burns off and it is so. fucking. hot. I slept maybe five hours last night. My sleep deprivation, combined with the heat, creates a fatigue so profound I feel as though I’ve been drugged. On top of that, my dear friends the biting flies are out in full force. I slap them off my legs but I can’t get them all, and their bites are really painful. Motherfucker!

I’m in the forest, climbing up to the ridges and down- at one point I lose the trail, as one does on the CDT, and end up bushwhacking for a full mile, climbing carefully over the blowdowns. No more puncture wounds! I startle a herd of twenty or so elk and watch them stream around me, through the trees. One of them bugles. Their antlers are so velvety and brown. I’m hiking solo, so the forest is extra peaceful and enchanted seeming- even with the flies and the heat.

Around midday the trail joins a dirt road and follows it, and now I’m roasting in the sun with no shade at all. I’m too warm to really eat or drink much, which doesn’t help my energy level. What is this, a hundred degrees? At one point I realize that I can do a short day if I want to, and relief floods over me.

Camp is at what was described in my data as a “spring” but which is actually a small, mucky pond filled with tall grasses. I walk out on a log to gather water and watch the frogs plop away around me. The broth-colored water is full of pollywogs and other transitional creatures going about their business. I treat the water. It tastes like dirt, but not in a bad way. Miraculously, there are no mosquitos at this pond. The pollywogs must eat the larvae. Yay!

I make my dinner and chase the narrow bands of shade thrown by the spindly pines along the bank of the pond. It’s almost evening but the sun just will not quit with the roasting. After dinner I set up my tarp and string up my bug net, creating a magical biting-fly-free space. It’s only 7 p.m. but I crawl inside and lay on my back, feeling my spine sink into the earth. It’s too hot to even take my sleeping bag from its stuff sack.

Photos on instagram