CDT CO Section 8

Day 22: Cherokee Lake

Knowing I was doing a short day for sure, I slept in an extra half hour and then spent some time sewing up my shoe and my glove. I started packing up at 7 when the sun first hit my tent and immediately started warming it up. At that same moment, flies started gathering on the outside of the rainfly. I started hiking between a quarter and half past eight.

I thought it was going to be miserable in the early part of the day with lots of blowdowns, but it wasn’t that bad. The only thing slowing me down was taking needlessly long breaks, but why not when you don’t intend to go far? Waldo passed me quietly and without a word during such a break. No idea he was behind me. Doubt I’ll see him again.

But from just before lunch onward, the trail was mostly exposed again, occasionally crossing rock fields filled with ankle breakers, but again not offering much shade. I did a little better with finding one tall tree to eat lunch under by hiking on a little longer and eating lunch later.

Luckily, though the sun was hot, the trail regularly passed snowbanks so that I could keep an ice pack on my neck the whole day.

I drank up the last of the water I collected in the morning in the middle of a series of annoying steep climbs that filled the afternoon, just before the longest steepest climb up the longest ridge that went on for miles. Though I wanted to take a break in the middle of it, I knew it was two miles to water, and I couldn’t eat supper without it.

While the past couple of days have featured afternoon storm clouds rolling through and providing some shade and a few drops of light rain, they usually dispersed as the evening went on. This time, though, they stuck around as I came over the highest point of the snow-lined ridge and began descending the narrow, rocky section toward where the trail finally left the ridge and found water. By the time I got to where the water first crossed the trail, it was lightly sprinkling and too cloudy for a hat and sunglasses. I heard thunder at one point, but I didn’t see the lightning.

Since there was no good place to sit on the hillside near the spring, I just unpacked and sat in the middle of the trail to make supper. I wasn’t expecting to see anyone during the hour I stopped to eat–I rarely did.

And yet an old man came hiking by just as my dinner was almost done cooking. I moved out of the way and he stopped to ask me about getting into Silverton.

I later found him having set up camp next to Cherokee Lake, right where I had planned to camp, so we got to chat a little about the weather and our experiences on the CDT so far. His name is Pilgrim.

I’m hoping we’ll hike out at the same time tomorrow so we can face that first big obstacle together. That steep, exposed snowbank on the other side of Knife Edge. He is carrying an ice axe, so maybe he can provide me some aid on the traversal or vice versa. But whatever happens with that will have to wait til tomorrow. For now, I’m just lucky to be able to camp at such a beautiful little mountain lake.

Trail miles: 13.3

Distance to Silverton: 50 miles

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