Day 127: The Weminuche Wilderness

September 8
Mileage: 23.5
2,463 miles hiked

I’m almost, but not quite warm enough, and I toss and turn- but then at some point in the night the condensation on my tarp freezes, adding an extra bit of insulation, and I sleep like a baby. I wake tired. Tea and breakfast and the sunrise, melting the frost on the grass. Time to hike.

I’m having one of those days where I’m affected by the elevation- climbs are extra hard and I have a deep longing to nap. I realized yesterday, though, that I didn’t bring quite enough food for these 4.5 days, and that I have to ration. This means that I’ll be a little hungry until Wolf Creek Pass, where I can hitch into Pagosa Springs, and that there can’t be any extra-lazy days. So I hike.

So slowly though. There are three high passes to climb over today, each with about two thousand feet of elevation gain, plus some bonus climbs in between. I’m in the Weminuche wilderness now. Midway through the morning the CDT splits with the Colorado Trail, and I’m back on CDT tread. It’s almost comical how quickly the trail deteriorates. Suddenly the trail is heavily eroded, overgrown, or missing entirely. Ah ha! I remember this. Combined with the altitude and the elevation gain, it makes everything more of a struggle. Thick scratchy bushes over the trail, trail that goes straight down the mountain, full of loose rocks. Trail that dissapears completely in meadows or tall grass and then picks up again somewhere counter-intuitive. It’s slow going and I feel annoyed, although I’m not sure at who or what. I’m not actually on the CDT, anyway, but a trail whose specific name I do not know- the CDT is just a route that mostly takes advantage of already existing trails and jeep roads. I wonder who routed this trail I’m on, who built it and who, if anyone, maintains it. It’s not a system which I even pretend to understand.

It’s mostly sunny today and warm, and this feels wonderful. Then right before sunset I feel something start to shift and I think Oh fuck! because I’m up at 12k feet and it’ll be dark soon and that means that Antarctica is coming. I have to get down, down, down from this inhospitable planet, into the trees if possible. Luckily the trail dips and follows a stream down into a bowl, at the bottom of which is a broad valley. I know that the valley will be a freezing inversion, and that the ridge up high will be as cold as black empty space, but the forest in between- perfect. Unfortunately there is nothing flat and I end up pitching my tarp on a slant among some beetle kill, but if I lay just so on my neo-air I’m pretty comfortable. Almost.

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