Hiking the CDT: Day 1

Day 1
End point approx 4 miles west Willie Pritchard’s approaching Route 11
Mileage 22

20130420-080528.jpg“There is no escaping it,” said Louis, as we pondered our fate on our first day of walking. We later learned that I-10 and Route 11 were both closed due to sandstorms and high winds.
I raised doubt as to the wisdom of holing up a day and waiting for the worst winds and sand storms to pass but Lee put the Kabosh on that plan.
D-Low coined the term ” Embrace the Brutality” in reference to the CDT and we had a hug with it today.
We started hiking at exactly noon and just made it to our campsite as the sun was setting. Inside my Tarptent everything is covered with fine grit-my hair, tent floor, even the threads of my water bottle. The winds were incessant, reaching a peak around 5 PM when gusts up to 50 MPH lifted the sands off the bleak desert and drove waves of visible sand at us, peppering our faces , eyes with tiny rocks. Thank God we all had sunglasses. Also , the force of the gusts pitched us around a bit. The roar of the wind in our ears drove us nuts.
The humidity here is exceedingly low, possibly in single numbers. Despite walking quickly with a pack that had 4 quarts if water, I never raised a sweat. Consequently we drank copiously, our first resupply at a cemetery on the outskirts of Columbus.
We saw not one sign marking the trail. Lee punctured both his Thermarest air mattress and his three quart Platypus today. There are huge thorns and needles everywhere, dead and alive.
The end of the day was close to a disaster. Yesterday Keith drove out into the desert to stash 4 quarts if water under a bush on the side of a jeep road. I had marked it as a GPS waypoint. The problem turned out to be finding it in the middle of a vast desert where everything looks the same in all directions as far as the eye can see. We followed our map but the water cache was off the route. I had been practicing with the GPS at home but not with this function, and it took us too long, but we did finally find it, just as the sun was setting. So we were exhausted, and the wind was now a very cold wind and it was getting dark. It was too windy to cook.
Lee and Louis slept cowboy style (no tent) in a shallow sandy draw, and Train and I put up our tents. The stakes were small and not holding mine, so I had to tie the tent to a small bush to keep it from blowing away. I ate my granola and dried milk for supper and collapsed into my wonderful, glorious safe cocoon of a tent.

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About tjamrog

I'm sixty-seven and live in the Maine woods. I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2007, the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010, Vermont's Long Trail in 2011, and the Continental Divide Trail in 2013 . I am outdoors every day. I offer guided backpacking trips and classes in Maine, through "Uncle Tom's Guided Adventures".
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