Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Day 50: A Day Without GPS

Dark gray clouds blanketed the sky. Moments after we started hiking, the rain began with a steady drizzle that would continue all day. 

CDT markers, rock cairns, and ribbons are the siren song of the CDT, luring unsuspecting hikers off established trails onto the unmarked official CDT route.  We dutifully followed, relying heavily on GPS to stay on track. Shoes squishing, rain soaked pants clinging to our legs, we slowly pushed our way through waist high willow, sage, and grasses, scrambled over scorched logs and branches, teetered precariously on thick mud sole platforms. 

Loud screeches, shrieks, and caws filled our ears. The warning cries of elk. Moments later a large herd thundered across the trail ahead. 

Unfortunately, the GPS gave out before noon, abruptly powering down when the battery indicator read 20%. With no hope of sunlight on such a dreary day, our backup power source, a solar charger, was useless, leaving us to blindly follow sporadic CDT markers and other obscure trail markers. 

Sierra slipped on a mossy rock and toppled over backward into the creek, soaking herself and dunking her pack. Thankfully her down sleeping bag was safely stowed in a waterproof cuben fiber dry bag lined with a plastic trash bag so it did not get wet. 

After meandering through the forest on barely discernible paths all afternoon, the trail joined a series of forest service roads. We reached a clear cut section and all trail markers disappeared, presumably cut down with the trees.  We camped in the trees just beyond the logging operations in a wet, muddy camp next to the trail.

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