Monday, December 6, 2021

Day 23: Water Magic!

May 13: I slept in late this morning hoping that Pez--or maybe Evenstar--would catch up to my campsite, but by 7:30, I'd given up and headed out alone.

The first several miles were uneventful, until I reached a large van parked on the side of the gravel road. The back was open, and I started chatting with the man standing back there--kind of wondering if he broke down here in the middle of nowhere. Why else would someone be parked out here?

It seemed like a strange place to find a van. Was it broken down? Out here in the middle of nowhere? Nope!

But no, he and his wife were riding mountain bikes along the Continental Divide. They would take turns, one of them biking the route while the other would drive their own support vehicle. Cozy!

His wife wasn't there since she had already started her ride for the day, and he was just about packed up and ready to drive out to where he planned to meet her at the end of the day.

Then he asked if there was anything I needed. Strictly speaking, no.... but I was low on water, and could see the cattle trough ahead that marked the next water source. It didn't seem like good water. "Do you have any water?" I asked. It would be awesome if I didn't have to drink cow water.

And he had a large tank of it, so I filled up with a few more liters. Awesome! So much better than the cow water!

I hung around chatting with him some more, and before long, more hikers started arriving. One after the other. Where were they all coming from?! Most of them weren't people I had ever met before: Road Runner, Brown Streak (Brown Streak?!), Bug, Little Dipper and a few others whose names I quickly forgot because they blew by so quickly never to be seen again. Actually, Bug I had run into before three weeks earlier, but we hadn't talked for more than about 5 minutes.

And then both Pez and Evenstar arrived! Hey! =) As it turned out, Evenstar and Little Dipper had actually met before when they thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail years earlier. Small world!

I was happy to know that Evenstar wasn't wandering around lost on the trail. I wasn't especially concerned, but after losing her yesterday and knowing her navigation devices, it wasn't out of the realm of possibility that she had gotten badly off track.

Pez was a bit low on food and got a few extra snacks from the trail angel to supplement his meager supplies.

Then we were off again.

Late in the day, I stopped by a spring to fill up with 6 liters of water for a 20+ mile dry stretch coming up. I didn't expect to see anymore water until late tomorrow. Ugh. I stopped and chatted a bit with Bug and Little Dipper at the water source, then they headed out ahead of me. Pez had passed me a little earlier when I took an hour-long break, and Evenstar generally trailed behind me but would catch up and join me at all my rest breaks.

Bug and Little Dipper, taking a break at the spring near the end of the day.

I finally got moving again, and the skies started turning dark and stormy. The wind picked up and a cold chill settled in. The weather forecast hadn't called for rain, but I was having my doubts and picked up my pace, wanting to find a protected place to set up camp.

Except at this point, the trail decided to follow a steep, exposed ridge that had suffered from a bad wildfire. There was nowhere protected to camp! And I couldn't even walk every quickly along this section of trail. It was very rugged--AT rugged!--with lots of blowdowns.

I heard thunder in the distance. This exposed ridge wasn't a good place to be. I needed to keep going.

Looking at my maps, I decided to shoot for a saddle ahead. That looked like the only place that might have a flat place to camp for the next several miles and sunset was imminent. If it wasn't a good campsite, I might have to use it anyhow.

When I arrived, I found Bug and Little Dipper already camped at the best campsite on the saddle. There was space for more tents on the other side of the trail, but I didn't much like that location since it was completely exposed to the strong winds, so I scouted down the back side of the ridge for a spot. The ridge broke the wind so it wasn't so windy, but the downside was that there wasn't much flat ground to be found.

The clouds turned menacing by the end of the day, and the trail became quite rugged and slow-going.

I finally spotted a place that I liked. It was next to a tree, and the tree seemed to hold up that portion of the hillside creating a small, mostly-flat area on the uphill side of the tree. It looked small, but cozy. Not very windy at all. I'll take it!

I still was not sure if it was going to rain, but I didn't set up my tarp for the time being. I'd worry about that if it did start sprinkling. But I did walk back to the top of the saddle where I asked Bug and Little Dipper to send Evenstar down in my direction if she happened to reach this point. There was another nearby tree with a flattish area she could use if she needed somewhere to camp. My campsite was off-trail and entirely invisible to anyone on the trail. Evenstar could walk past me without ever knowing I was here unless someone told her I was down there.

Pez was still somewhere ahead. I was a little surprised not to find him camped somewhere at the saddle, but he must have chosen to push onward. I was done, though.

And Evenstar did show up about a half hour later. I heard her calling out, "Green Tortuga! Where are you?!"

"Over here!" I shouted back, eventually leading her to my secret camp. I think she had her doubts descending from the top of the saddle thinking that there couldn't possibly by anywhere flat to camp on this slope, but was suitably impressed with my find and set up camp by the adjacent tree. The best part about the camp was the lack of wind. It was so windy at the top of the saddle, and here, just 30 feet below, it was almost entirely calm.

And thus ended my 23rd day on the trail...... The rain never materialized, so I never worried about setting up my tarp.

I set up camp at this mostly flat area on the uphill side of the tree.

I filled up with 6 liters of water from this covered spring. The cover was nice since it kept out the cattle and other dirt and bugs from the water.


Evenstar said...


PS That was my bear sound on the NOLS trip, too. Scared the sh!t out of anyone directly in front of me.

Every. Time.


Evenstar said...

::gathers a breath deep into my belly:: "WOO!!"

PS That was my bear sound on the NOLS trip, too. Scared the sh!t out of anyone directly in front of me.

Every. Time.


Michael said...

Thanks Evanstar for jumping in. I always wonder what items Green Tortuga misses. I think bear noises certainly qualify.