This morning everything is wet. The inside of our tent is wet, the top of our sleeping bag is wet, our backpacks are wet. It is not a good way to start the day especially when there is frost on the ground and ice on some of the puddles.
There is nothing you can do about it except just get up and start walking to at least warm your body up and this is what we do.
The sun is up as we walk up the road and join back onto the trail. The trail this morning runs along the top of the ridge at about 10,000 feet with not too many ups and downs and so is relatively easy walking.
By 8:15 we have made it to a campground next to Hopewell lake. There is a picnic table that just seems to have our name on it as it is the perfect place to pull out all our gear and dry it in the bright morning sun.
We revel in the luxury of the campground, a table to sit at, fresh water that comes out of a tap, clean and safe to drink and a toilet. Breakfast is had sitting at the table with all our gear hanging in the small shrubs around us.
As we are leaving the campground a Forest Service guy pulls up in his truck and tells us that they are just putting in a new section of trail at the bottom of the campground that will meet the CDT and does not have the half mile walk along the highway. He is very keen to for us to use his new trail even though he is still in the process of building. He tells us if we head back up the campground and go down the trail past the lake we will hit his trail. He is obviously not a thru hiker as we never walk backwards when a quick short cut down the hill will get you to the trail and save some distance.
I always wondered about the trails we are following. Even when we cross open fields they weave back and forth like a cow path. I always thought that they must just find a stock path and then call it a trail but this morning I find out that they actually make the trail weave back and forth. The trail this guy was constructing was in an open field and with his ride on digging machine he was weaving around non existing obstacles.
As we take one last look at Hopewell lake and start to climb into the trees we come across a trail magic box hidden amongst the trees. We are excited to see what it contains but unfortunately we are too late to get some goodies. It does contain a trail register and it is always fun seeing where the people we have met have gotten to. In particular we are looking for Bumerang but he did not sign the book so we are still not sure where he has got to.
The day starts to cloud over and the storms roll around the mountain tops near us. Off in the distance we see lightning but none near us yet. We are traveling across a large open park and have set a mileage goal before we can have lunch. It becomes a race between our legs and the rain and in the end our legs win.
We make it to a ridge in the sun and start to look at what we have for lunch. Yeti is feeling like something substantial so we decide to cook some of the Mexican ground beef we dried and use our last two tortillas. Just as we get the stove set up the rain, moving like a curtain being pulled across the plain, gets to us and we scramble under the giant pines. We are not the first to shelter under the trees as the dirt has been freshly agitated and decorated by the local cattle. We smooth out the dust, move the cow pies and settle in for a delicious hot lunch. The wind whips past our shelter and the rain comes down. We have once again avoided the worst of the weather. At first the rain moves up from the west. We then get a small patch of sunshine and then the wind reverses direction and pushes the rain back from the east. It takes almost two hours for the rain storms to pass and we sit in the dust, wrapped up to keep warm,looking out at the mountains.
The trail skirts around a large private land holding and we run into the owners putting their fence back up, ready to bring their cattle back in for the summer. The father and his two children are out with their horses and have a lot of fence to cover as the property is 6000 acres. We chat with them for a while.
There is an alternate route that continues around their fence line and then drops to the bottom of the Rio San Antinio valley and we decide to take this to try and save some distance.
As we get further from the main trail we see a couple of herds of elk. It is a beautiful sight seeing these animals in their wild state. We have elk close to our home and it is not uncommon to see them but they are much tamer and not quite the same as seeing them in the wild. These elk are wary and wild and flee at the first sight of humans. We cross a hill high above a stream and see two deer feeding and drinking. We remain quiet and try to get closer but the older one soon picks up our smell and they leap up the steep hillside and soon disappear.
We keep pushing up the valley floor , following a small stream for several miles and reach the end of the river and climb out to higher ground. We find our home for the night amongst a patch of trees. We have covered 23 miles for the day after stoping for almost 4 hours to dry our stuff and settler from the rain.