Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Day 148: Hunters! Hunters! Everywhere!

September 15: I didn't sleep well during the night. Super strong wind gusts picked up, which not only generated a lot of disturbing noise, but also left me worrying about the stakes holding down my tarp getting ripped out. Although the stakes did hold, it still left me largely sleepless for most of the night.

I lingered in camp until about 8:30am. It was a beautiful albeit windy morning. The trail headed down a steep valley before largely leveling out the rest of the day.


The Spotted Bear alternate route that I followed eventually recombined with the red main-line CDT route in the early afternoon, and now that I was back on the main route, I took a look at the Guthook mileage and realized that I was about 10 miles behind the schedule I thought I had been following. Oops! So I mentally added an extra 5 miles to today's hike. Instead of the planned 15 miles I'd do for the day, I'd shoot for closer to 20. I'd do the same for tomorrow as well.

With an extra two-or-so hours of hiking to do, I wished I had started a bit earlier. Perhaps at 7:30am instead of the 8:30am when I actually started. That would have better suited me, but there was no changing the past--I'd have to live with my mistake. At least the problem wasn't critical.

In the early afternoon, I passed one CDT hiker heading southbound, a fellow who had started hiking from the Mexican border then flip-flopped to Canada to get through that section before the snows started. I hadn't crossed paths with him before, though. We talked for a few minutes before continuing on our separate ways.

Given how late in the hiking season it was getting, I figured I'd be passing all sorts of people who were flip-flopping, but they were surprisingly scarce. In all, I could count on one hand the number of flip-floppers I would pass on the trail with lots of fingers to spare. I wondered how many hikers were still behind me. I knew there were some, but it couldn't be very many, nor very far back. Anyone more than a week or two behind me would almost certainly have to flip-flop in order to be assured of finishing the trail this year, but they just weren't flip-flopping which made me think that there weren't many people that far back. I was near the back of the pack.

Late in the afternoon, I passed quite a few hunters on the trail, walking around with their giant rifles and leading or riding horses along the trail. Generally speaking, they were friendly and always asked if I saw any elk today, but I hadn't and told them as such. Apparently, elk hunting season started today according to the guys I talked to. Good to know, and that would certainly explain the sudden presence of so many hunters after seeing none for so long.

Two of the hunters I met up with reported that they shot a 7-point buck and were now heading back to their campsite to get their horses. They needed the horses to help carry the 1,200-pound carcass back to the trailhead. They had planned to be out there for the better part of a week, but now that they got their elk, that was out the window. They'd pick up the buck and go home. I think their permit only allowed them to shoot one animal so once they got it, they basically had to stop hunting, and they seemed almost a little disappointed about the fact--despite being so happy about getting themselves a 7-point buck.

Late in the day, the trail passed through a large burn area, so I had trouble once again finding a good area to set up camp away from all the burned and dead tree trunks. The trail passed by one small patch that the wildfire somehow missed, but the trees were relatively thin and short and didn't provide as much protection from the wind as I would have preferred. It was the best option available, however, so I grudgingly took it.

Both rain and wind were in the forecast, so I set up my tarp which is when I discovered that one of my tent stakes was missing. Noooo! It must have somehow gotten left behind at my campsite this morning. With the strong gusts of wind, I needed every stake I had to help pin down my tarp, so I wasn't happy about this discovery. When the air is calm, I usually don't use stakes to pin down the middle of my tarp along the sides, but this was definitely not one of those nights. Nothing I could do about that now, though, except live without it. 

This small patch of trees were the only unburned trees for miles in every direction, so I tried to make the best of them to protect me against the wind and rain. But they were very thin and didn't provide much protection. At least I could be happy knowing that there weren't any dead trees close enough to fall down on me during the night! See that "divot" at the bottom in the middle of my tarp? That's a stake holding it down. The other side, however, didn't have that because I lost the stake! Booo! The other side was mostly flapping free!

This patrol cabin was locked up tight, but there was a register in the front that hikers could sign. Inside the register, other hikers had written that the outhouse behind the building had quite a nice view and gave it two thumbs up, so I went and tried it out....

I don't know how the view from the outhouse was, however, because I got absolutely engrossed by the Bugle magazine I found as reading material inside. ;o) You do have to leave the door open when you do your business, however, because otherwise it's completely dark inside. Usually there are small windows to let in the light, but this one was completely and totally dark unless you left the door open a bit.

Run, little fellow! Run! There are hunters everywhere!

This burn area was huge!

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