CDT mile 2624.4, miles hike 33.8
It poured all night, I woke up at 2:30 to the sound of rain but laid in my bag contemplating the end of this hike. I thought back to all the fun in New Mexico, the snow and challenging conditions of Colorado, Wyoming and its pleasant ways and Montana…wow Montana is one big bad ass state. I thought of the people I have met, the times I have woken to look at the Milky Way and how I’ll miss sleeping outside each night, well if I don’t play nice Suzy might make me sleep outside when I get home.
We had our morning coffee and went to the front porch to reassess ourselves, our heads and our gear to make sure we were ready to walk out in the dark in a driving rain to go the 33.8 miles to goat haunt. We gave each other the once over and then set off. The rain was cold and we trudged along knowing that today was our last hard day. We had to go over two high passes and then we were done with big climbs on the CDT.
The climb up to Swift Current Pass was a long one and we had everything from pouring cold rain at the bottom to hail, and eventually good old fashion snow. The clouds were low and obscuring the mountain peaks. We turned one switchback and there in front of us was a giant bighorn sheep and 5 of his buddies. We stopped and took pictures before they moved what an incredible moment in time for me.
We traversed the long walk up to Swift Current Pass and there we met the high line trail our route for the day which follows as close to the physical continental divide as possible. The trail traverses high on the mountain and all day we walked through some wonderful mountains but the crap weather. It snowed on and off most of the day, when not snowing it rained and now and again the sun would come out for 30 minutes before going away from a squall. Thoroughly soaked through all of our clothes we had to keep moving to stay warm. Thank the god we bought those fleece jackets because it was the only thing keeping me warm.
The trail was a good test, challenging us all along. Finally, at about 2 pm, we stood atop the final high climb of the CDT. The pass really has no name but it comes over 50 mountain. We took a photo and then walked down across the low saddle up its other side and descend into the lush rainforest-like downslope. We soon found the trail that was thick wet brush, and we got even more soaked as we pushed through. Luckily as we got lower it got slightly warmer and no longer as exposed to the wind.
We passed a guard station, a trail crew was inside eating dinner and we waved as we hiked by. We soon found the trail to be a sloppy, muddy mess from a pack train and then numerous people who had walked afterward. We slipped and slided and got covered in mud. As we slipped we reminded ourselves that the CDT does not give up her miles easily. Today was one last goodbye slap in the face to remind us to be humble as we walk through life after we leave her. We listened to some thunder and had a small flash or two of lightning as we got close the lake.
We found the side trail and soon passed some buildings, a ranger station and then saw the lake along wonderful body of water that tomorrow we walk along to reach Canada. It’s there just 4.5 miles more and I’ll have completed the CDT as a North Bound Thru-Hike. One long series of continuous steps from Mexico to Canada. It’s a journey that has changed me in so many ways for the better. It also challenged me to push harder than I ever have, but now I have learned new things about my endurance and I what I can actually put my body through.
I love you CDT and I’m going to miss you very much, thanks for the laughs, the smiles, the cold days, the post holing hell, and making me a desert rat. I’ll be back for you again someday after I have walked a few other trails and then need you to remind me how wonderful the long spine of the USA can be.