The CDT is a trail of contrasts. Take the last 24 hours for example. I went from having one of the worst nights of my hiking career, to today, basking in the simple luxury of a well-run hotsprings with some pretty solid folks.
The speed at which things can turn bad or good out here is astounding. After I cursed my external battery for not working…having a phone that only had 20% charge left for the next 8 days of hiking (oh did I mention the battery needs to charge my bluetooth keyboard, headlamp, Ipod, InReach and phone which is my blogging device, camera, video camera and link to the outside world?) and decided the slice of clear sky I could see over my head was sign enough that I could cowboy camp tonight, I proceeded to derliously hit the hay…exausted from walking through the river over and over and over.
Cut to about midnight when I felt a few sprinkles. No worries, I simply whipped out my tarp and wrapped it around me, much like I did last week with a passing cloud. The drops continued, and continued, and continued. Soon i thought it was too late to get up and put the shelter up (no idea why in retrospect, I could have salvaged the night), but no. I stayed like that, realizing that things were slowly getting wet despite my best efforts to wrap myself tighter in the tarp. I know, Ill put my feet in my pack, and save the bottom of my down sleeping bag…already wet somehow. I know, I’ll put up my umbrella so my head isnt getting wet. At no time did I think it was a good idea to put up the tarp, everything was already wet. Shit.
To add another layer to the tale, when I arrived at the little spot against the Gila canyon wall I noticed a dead tree, broken and rotted at its trunk, ready to fall…its only saving grace the other tree on which it was leaning. To mitigate any risk of it falling on me, I wedged myself in between another tree and the old fire-ring of the abandoned camp. A fierce wind was ripping through, and I could hear the popping and cracking of the trunk about the give up its fight. I began pleading with the tree to stand for one last night. All night the wind would rush and the tree would crack. Why oh why did I stop here?
So I didn’t sleep due to the rain, wind, and tree. My phone was dead for all intents and purposes, and in a pause in the rain at day break I sat up, made my coffee…oh wait, the rain started again. Huddle under the umbrella. Start to pack…more rain. Finally I just made a run for it, put on my raincoat and cuben fiber rain skirt for the first time, and emerged in the gray and rainy day that had taken over the Gila River.
Start fording the river in my already wet shoes and socks. Stop to get gravel out of my shoe, bushwack to find trail, avoid poison oak. DON’T TOUCH THE POISON OAK!
I was hiking towards relief…towards the Gila Hotsprings and nothing was going to stop me, I had nothing to lose. At this point I came up with a poem, that Ive surely forgotten, but it included some swearing, some pleading with nature, some bargining…pretty pathatic…but putting that poem together took me to my first glimpse of three new hikers…Race, Genny and Seth (or Mini…maybe). Hikers!!! They looked as cold, wet, and over it as I was. But I followed them and talking helped ease the discomfort…and before I knew it the rain had stopped, and the closer we got to the hotsprings…blue sky!
And just like that I was at Doc Campbells store heating frozen buritto after frozen buritto, drying out all my gear in true yard-sale form, and wouldn’t you know it…the age old adage came true… I had just forgotten. When something doesnt work, hit it or kick it. I hit my external battery good and the lights blinked on. Well wouldn’t you know!
My tarp is now set up at the hotsprings, I’ve soaked multiple times, and I shared a package of hotdogs over a campfire with my other hikertrash. Axel, Kramers, Race, Commando, Seth, and Genny and I all hashed over the last two weeks with glee. What a difference from this morning.