The cold has not decided to leave us yet. Waking up with our water filters inside our sleeping bags and frozen water bottles in the tent vestibule did not phase us at this morning.
We had camped in a valley next to an algae filled creek. Just a hundred feet behind us, a herd of cattle wandered around eating their breakfast (which is the same as their lunch and dinner). We packed up, put our down jackets on and started walking to get to the spring. We cherished the moments on the road where sun light leaked through providing a slight warmth to our skin. Our only clean water source for the next twenty five miles was in five miles, so we were eager to get there. The other sources would be murky cow ponds and chewing water is never fun.
The spring had been turned into a cattle trough with an old tire. Just behind, a large drainage pipe had been inserted vertically over the spring and was filled with clean ice cold water. We loaded up and started up a steep gravel road towards the trail. That's right, trail.
It felt so good to be back on a single track dirt path. We did not even mind all of the fallen trees from a previous fire, or the sometimes excessive cairns and CDT signs. We had a footpath to walk. Searching for the trail for ten hours a day can be mentally exhausting. Now we could actually walk and ponder all of the things that someone ponders when they have all the time in the world. Religion, politics, or a scholarly article we once read in college? No, we had more time to think about how many snacks we had left in our backpacks and what kind of pie we thought the next town would have. The important things.
Around two in the afternoon we had covered about thirteen miles and decided to sit down and eat lunch. Earlier, we had notice small, wispy clouds rolling over John Kerr Peak. Now that we were closer and had a better view, we could tell that those clouds were part of a small forest fire that had begun. We could also tell that since we first saw the clouds, there were more, and they were denser and had a darker coloring at the forest line. After checking maps and seeing that no roads or trails led to where the fire was burning, we decided that it was strange and should be reported. We quickly ate and ran up the opposite facing mountain to try to get signal and call the forest service. Near the top, Critter got cell service and we called to let them know about the fire. A woman told us that a crew was on their way to investigate the fire and bring it under control. It was a huge relief for the rest of the day as we hiked and that night for camping.
We went about six more miles to a saddle in the mountains and had a beautiful view of the sunset. We set up camp under an huge alligator juniper.
Today had been beautiful. Most of the day we had walked a ridge that gave us views of distant mountains intertwined with vast prairies. The land here seemed to roll on forever without any trace of houses or paved roads. It's nice to know that there are still expanses of our populated country that continue to stay wild.
Stay wild, Friends!
Garbelly & Critter