CT Day 2: 26 miles. County Rd 126 to random spot at mile 47.1 (elev. 10,526 ft)
Today was a day of mishaps that kept us humbled. Day 1 was such a fantastic day because we never got caught in horrible heat in the really exposed sections and we mostly missed the storms, staying dry and warm. Most of the other hikers we met got caught in pretty bad storms or scorching heat and we avoided both!
Today we had a little taste of everything. First thing this morning I randomly fell for no reason on trail that seemed pretty smooth. It was comical and I didn’t hurt myself at all.
After about 14 miles of hiking, we walked through a parking lot and continued down a trail that apparently wasn’t the CT. I remember reading something in the guidebook that when we entered a wilderness area at some point today we would see fewer “confidence markers” (little CT signs on the trees).
Sure enough we stopped seeing them. Then I started to realize that the water sources were WAY better and more frequent than what we had read about in Guthook (our guidebook app). The terrain was also more up and down and we were expecting an 8 mile sustained climb. We even took a 20 min foot elevation break and checked Guthook, but we were looking at it from the elevation profile view instead of the map view (which would have showed our location off course).
Eventually I took out Guthook while we were hiking on trail and looked at it in map view because I had a sinking feeling we were off trail, and sure enough we were way off trail. At least 3 miles off (if not more). We hustled back in the heat and decided we would regroup when we got back to the parking lot. It was a hot and demoralizing 3 hour and probably 6-7 mile detour that we really couldn’t afford. That would put us at 28-29 miles on our day if we made it to the planned campsite.
We regrouped in the parking lot. I got my sleeping pad out and elevated my feet and Red Stripe made a hot meal of couscous for herself. We both needed a little treat and for me that was laying down on my sleeping pad. Both of our feet hurt. The bottom pads were just tired and sore. We had been walking on a ton of crushed granite and it was taking its toll.
We knew we still had a big climb up to above 10k ft so we got to work. We kept our spirits high and started climbing. It was tough but luckily the temperature had dropped and it was in the 70s. We looked forward to a water source/creek for 4.5 miles. When we made it there we took a break and decided we would hike the 2 more vertical miles up the mountain and the 4.5 miles total to the campsites. We left that water stop at 6:45 pm so we knew we would be up against daylight as the sun sets at 8:30 pm.
As we got going we heard thunder and saw lightning all around us. Finally, with 0.8 miles left of climbing the rain started. We were quick to put pack covers on and take our dry shirts off and just wear our rain jackets. We pressed on but about 5 minutes later it started to hail. The hail was small so we kept going. We had previously talked about if we got caught in a hail storm we would set one of our tents up for shelter. We didn’t quite feel like we were at that point.
Then the hail and thunder started to pick up. We made the call to look for a spot to set up a tent. My tent was stowed on the top of my pack and the poles on the outside so it was easiest to get. The hail accumulated and looked like snow covering the ground and the pellets were coming down harder and hurting. While we were partway through setting up camp the hail let up for a minute. We wondered if we should pack it up and keep going or just set up both tents for the night. It was late, we were tired and we just made the call to set up our tents for the night. At this point it started to rain and we set up in the rain. We just had no way of knowing if the weather was only going to get worse.
I was able to get all my essentials in the tent and stake down the rainfly so most things stayed dry. I did notice a puddle underneath my tent that soaked through the bottom a little, but my sleeping pad protected me from it. First order of business was to take off all the wet clothes I was wearing and change into warm and dry clothes. Then I cooked in my vestibule (which I have heard plenty of horror stories about), but Red Stripe assured me it would be fine as long as I kept the flame away from the rainfly. I kept my flame low and was vigilant about touching the rainfly to make sure it wasn’t getting hot. I think the windscreen kept things pretty contained.
I cooked delicious hot ramen and it warmed me up inside! I had cell service so I hopped online for a bit. I waited anxiously for the rain to let up so I could run outside to pee. Eventually it did.
I went to bed later (like 10:30 pm), and we hoped to get a very early start tomorrow since we had 24 miles to hike to get into town for our resupply.
We would love to get there before the thunderstorms hit again!