Injury recovery. Walking has never felt so liberating! Uinta Wilderness, Utah. Green River Lakes to Knapsack Col in the Wind River Range of Wyoming. Columbia Gorge to Mount Hood along the Pacific Crest Trail in Oregon.
“That which hurts only makes me stronger”, or so said the back of my team rowing shirt in high school.
This summer has been a tough one. The stress fracture I did to my tibia in May while hiking the beginning of the Continental Divide Trail took me out of commission for months. It was early August before I went on my first real hike. But once I started I couldn’t stop. I went backpacking every weekend, in fact I only slept in a bed one weekend in all of August and September.
In August I adventured around the nearby Uinta mountains, so much so that the lady at the US Forestry Service fee station on Mirror Lake Highway knew my car as it drove up. The first few weekends I spent discovering some beautiful off-the-map lakes I’ve never been to before, first a 1.5 mile out-and-back to Whiskey Lake, then 4.5 miles to Peter Lake near Notch Pass, then 6 miles to Cuberant Lakes and the Lofty Lake loop. The final weekend in August my leg was ready for 9 miles each direction and so I revisited one of my favorite basins in the Uintas, 4 Lakes Basin. There wasn’t an hour that went by on the trail that I didn’t pause to feel grateful to have my hiking legs back! I felt like I was waking after a long hibernation. It felt so good to be back outside! Here are some pictures from my Uinta adventures:
Two week’s later I was at a tech conference in Portland, Oregon and took off afterwards for 50 incredible miles on the Pacific Crest Trail. I hiked from the Columbia River to Mt Hood, in pure northwest beauty. The first 13 miles up the Eagle Creek Trail was simply stunning with dense, lush green forests and waterfalls everywhere. The highlight was Tunnel Falls where the trail passed behind a waterfall.
I spent a lot of time on the PCT thinking about the CDT next summer. Should I go northbound (nobo) or southbound (sobo)? This year most of the hikers i started with did a nobosoboflip, which means they started northbound in New Mexico, but hit massive snows in the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado, so flipped up to Montana and then hiked back southbound to finish in Colorado, or some variation of that. Some pushed through the snow or sat out patiently to wait for the snow to recede to complete a straight nobo hike. I followed along everyone’s journey via facebook and blogs. There wasn’t a photo that was posted that I didn’t wish I was in. From reading of the adventures, the CDT didn’t disappoint this summer, it had it all… big scenery, nasty lightening storms, beautiful alpine streams, wildfires, wonderful trail angels, long waits for a hitch to town, beautiful trail, challenging navigation, record May snowfall in Colorado, light snowpack in Montana. It posed its challengers with the full gamut of joys and frustrations. Would I be lucky enough to be one of them next year? I hope so!
I think I’d like to hike sobo next year, start in Montana and finish in New Mexico. With all this talk of a super El Nino year, that could mean a lot of snow in the south and a warmer, drier north. So a sobo hike might just be the ticket in 2016. What the trail did teach me in 2015 is that it doesn’t care what my plans are, while good planning will help me to enjoy the experience a little more, there’s no way I’ll have the luxury to stick to it. So, I’m going to wait and see how the winter develops and make a call mid-winter. A sobo hike would start late June and finish about mid-late November, whereas a nobo or nobosoboflip would follow the schedule I planned for this summer ie. late April start, with a mid-late September finish. One thing I do know for sure, I will be back in 2016 to settle the score with the CDT.
A cool thing about this summer is that on every adventure I went on, the pika was present. So I was able to submit a bunch of field reports on the pika and its habitat to the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation group. They’re providing pika habitat data to various climate change studies. Here’s a cute little guy at Whiskey Lake, look closely, he’s sunning himself on a rock:
I’ll post a few pre-trip training and planning updates over the next 6 months. Thanks for reading!