Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Day 88: Ships Passing in the Night

July 17: I woke up to a beautiful morning! Whatever rodents inhabited the shelter hadn't caused any problems during the night, and I was up and hiking a little after 6:30am.

The trail started with a steep downhill, but that was expected since I had camped at the very peak of Parkview Mountain. Any direction I walked would have been downhill, and all of the routes were relatively steep! It was steep enough that I had to take it slow to make sure I didn't twist an ankle or otherwise hurt myself.


Sunrise was gorgeous from the top of Parkview Mountain!

The views along the route were lovely but the route was otherwise uneventful. There weren't any areas thick with people, and I wasn't aware of any thru-hikers on the trail nearby except for Haiku and Prada who were probably only a few miles ahead of me, but I had no reason to think I'd catch up with them.

So I had the trail completely to myself until early in the afternoon when I ran into a lone backpacker heading southbound. We stopped to chat for what I expected to last a few minutes but wound up turning into three hours!

It was along a largely exposed ridge with wonderful views. She introduced herself as Colonel--or maybe it was Kernel? I'm not actually sure. She had thru-hiked the trail back in 2019 but had skipped much of Colorado because it had been a bad snow year and it was covered with dangerous levels of snow. Now she was back in the states to hit at least some of the sections she had missed before.

Wait...what? I was a little surprised that she was "back" in the states. I had assumed she was American with an American accent, but it turned out that she was actually from Ireland! She explained that the main reason she had come back to the states was to get vaccinated for COVID since vaccinations weren't available in Ireland as of yet. At least not for her. She had an uncle or some relative who lived somewhere nearby, and she figured this could also be a good time see some of the CDT that she missed while waiting the necessary time between the first and second vaccinations. Seemed like a good way to spend time to me! =)

The accent sounded very American, though, which threw me off. Although the longer I chatted with her, I'd occasionally hear her say a word that didn't use an American accent. I had to listen really closely to detect it, though. Her American accent was almost flawless.

After about 5 minutes of chatting, I set my pack down, not wanting it carry it while not going anywhere. I didn't know how long this conversation would last, but I figured that even if only lasted another 5 minutes, I'd use it as a 5-minute break and I never wear my pack while taking a break!

This is Colonel, who I wound up stopping to chat with for three hours! She was hiking southbound, in the opposite direction as myself so we couldn't really walk and talk at the same time, so we both wound up taking an unplanned 3-hour break.

After another 10 minutes of chatting, Colonel put her own pack down and I, having grown tired of standing but not going anywhere, sat down nearby and we continued chatting. And chatting. And chatting.

And it was a lot of fun. I felt like I hadn't really had a good, long conversation in forever! And I wasn't in any particular rush, so I was happy to keep on chatting, and apparently she was in no big rush as well. So our conversation just kept going and going....

A couple of hours into it, Just Awesome passed by on the trail. I had met Just Awesome briefly earlier but didn't really remember him particularly well. The main thing I remembered about him was actually a drawing that Skunkbear made of him while they were hiking together earlier and that he got his trailname while hiking the PCT and kept thinking everything was "just awesome!" He'd see a tree and exclaim, "Wow! That's just awesome!"

So he stopped to chat for a bit, but he seemed like he was in more of a rush and pushed onward after a few minutes. Or maybe he didn't find the conversation very interesting. =)

Colonel was meeting her uncle at a trailhead a few miles further down the trial and offered to take whatever trash I was carrying and throw it out. I didn't have a particularly large amount of it since I had just left town the day before, but I was happy to hand over what little I did have.

It was along this ridge where I where I wound up taking an expected 3-hour break.

I also wound up giving her a bag of Skittles that she had been looking longingly at. "Here," I said, handing over the bag. "Take the whole bag! I have more where that came from."

And I did. When I resupplied yesterday, I had overlooked a rather large bag of Skittles in my pack and wound up buying way too much of them. Giving her a whole bag of them would lighten my load by half a pound! She was doing me a favor by taking them! She seemed a little hesitant to take that much, though, and I pulled out from my pack the other bags (plural--that is not a typo!) of Skittles I had. "Trust me, I really don't need this. Take it! Please! You'd be doing me a favor!"

Over the course of the three hours we chatted, the topic of my temporary tattoos came up when she saw the one I had applied to myself yesterday, and I asked if she wanted one. "Absolutely!" So she got a tattoo of a hog dog. =)

If we had been hiking in the same direction, I have no doubt that our conversation would have wound up lasting the whole day and we'd have camped together somewhere and talked long into the night. As it was, however, we were hiking in opposite directions which was why we couldn't really hike and talk at the same time.

Anyhow, after three hours of chatting, I was ready to keep on chatting, but the sun was starting to get low and I didn't want to camp on this exposed ridge. And, more importantly, I needed water and there was definitely no water at the top of that exposed ridge. At the very least, I needed to reach the next water source, still located a few miles away. And her uncle was still expecting her to arrive at camp that day, so we eventually said goodbye and continued on in our separate directions, never to cross paths again.

At this point, I had to hike at a pretty good pace. My slow walking and taking my time had come to an end. Now I needed to reach the next water source and a campsite before sunset! Well, technically, I could hike in the dark, but that makes it a lot harder to get photos, so the plan was to reach camp before dark.

So I raced down the trail, hiking quickly and making no additional stops. But after a three-hour break, I didn't really need any rests either! I had been very well-rested!

The trail quickly descended off the ridge I had been on, diving below tree line and near sunset, I reached a creek with plenty of camping spots nearby. Just Awesome had already set up camp there, and I set up my own camp a stone's throw away from him. (Not that I threw any stones at him, though--it's just a figure of speech!)

It wasn't supposed to rain during the night so I decided to cowboy camp, and by the time I finished cooking dinner, brushing my teeth and writing in my journal, it was completely dark and time for sleep. The end of another day! I wound up only covering about 15 miles for the day, but I had still found it a very pleasant day of hiking overall, and I really enjoyed the company of Colonel for a few hours, not even realizing how lonely I had been until we started chatting. It was a shame that we hadn't been hiking in the same direction.

I noticed this camp near the trail. In hindsight, I think it might have been Colonel's uncle. It was the only trailhead I had seen all day and was where she had planned to stop for the night. But I took this photo before I had run into her and didn't know anything about it.

1 comment:

GG said...

Colonel may be one of those people who have such a good ear for language that she easily picks up the local accent.