I didn’t really feel like getting up this morning. It was cold, the inner tent was beaded with condensation. I heard the alarm, but slept in until 7. And then I watched some videos and didn’t start packing until 8.
I had pulled everything under the flap before sleeping the previous night when I heard the rain start, but I was surprised to see an inch of snow stuck to everything when I emerged from my tent. Everything except my tent and the area around it because I had pitched my tent under a fir tree (which I don’t usually do because the sap on the ground sticks to everything). I had also forgotten to pull my Packa under the flap and it was soaking wet. I spread it out in the open area next to the road for the sun to dry. This turned out to be a mistake.
I decided, since there were plenty of trees between my campsite and the road, to dig a cathole not far from my tent. Everything goes well. I’m wiping. A truck goes by. No problem. I’m in the trees. But then the truck slows down, pulls off the road, stops. So they’re gonna see me, obviously. I rush to get my shorts back up as an old man gets out of the truck.
What’s going on? He’s talking to someone. The phone? Probably not. No service here. Someone else in the truck. I finally understand some of what he’s saying.
“Maybe a walker left it.”
I finally notice that he’s picked up my Packa.
Decent enough now, I call out. “That’s mine.”
Surprised he looks around until he locates me in the woods.
“I thought someone left it.”
“Leave it right there. I put it out to dry in the sun.”
“I was going to hang it up.”
He drops it and drives off, and I go back to lay it out properly again. Nonetheless, it’s still wet when I go back to pack it up. Unfortunately, there just wasn’t much sun. The sky was smothered in clouds for the entire morning and into the mid-afternoon. It had cleared up when I took my lunch at 2:30, but the damage was already done. The sun didn’t get to the ground to warm it, so it couldn’t warm the air. Snow stayed on the north sides of mountains all day and icicles stayed on the trees. And I wore my down jacket the whole time I was hiking, despite the fact that the first five miles were all uphill and I got a bit toasty in those rare moments the sun came out and the wind stopped blowing.
I guess it was nice to have relatively clear skies when I came up onto the top of the open ridge and got to see the incredible views.
Near the end of the high ridge, I missed a turn onto a proper foot trail and kept going down the road. I ended up going more than mile, mostly downhill, on the wrong side of the ridge. The only way to get back to the trail was climb the hill again. But there was one upside to this mistake. I decided to take a shortcut to cut off a half mile by going around the back side of the ridge, which briefly put me on a bare steep slope with the most incredible view of the day. Then I worked my way diagonally down through the woods until I hit the trail.
It was getting late and the light was fading at this point, and since I was now on the north side of the slope I was surrounded by snow, even in the trail. Which meant it was rapidly getting colder. Also I now had quite a few blowdowns to contend with, which meant I couldn’t just always keep my hands in my pockets to maintain feeling in my fingers. Eventually, it got cold and dark enough that I stopped to put on my long underwear and headlamp. That did make hiking a lot more comfortable.
I went on another mile or so into the valley before finally coming to a rushing creek with some falls that made it easy to catch some water. That’s the Cross Creek in the title. Just beyond this, the trail turned to climb straight up to another ridge. It looked like it would be miles to a good campsite, but there seemed to be a pretty good one under some trees right next to the junction. It was too early to sleep, but I hadn’t had dinner and it was definitely cold enough to warrant cooking in the vestibule, so I stopped to make camp.
After trading my boots for an extra pair of socks, I climbed into my toasty sleeping bag and started the water boiling just outside my inner tent flap. After cooking and eating, I started boiling the water from the creek. I didn’t want to risk ruining my filter by hanging it up with water running through it in temperatures cold enough to freeze, so boiling all the water seemed the better option.
Got to sleep well before eleven. Short day, but pack’s heavy, weather’s cold, and I did do those two bonus miles on accident…
Trail miles: 14.0
Distance to Grand Lake: 64.5 miles