Day 86: Lightning Strikes

Miles Hiked: 19.6

Total Milage: 428.6

Location: San Juan National Forest

This morning I “woke up” at 6am. At this point I can’t even remember the last night I have actually had sleep. I think around 5am I finally drifted off but I had to get hiking. I can’t wait to get to town. I plan on getting incredibly stoned with some edibles that are specifically for making you fall asleep and hopefully falling asleep for 10 hours. Not sleeping when you hike 20+ miles everyday feels awful. Up until a week ago? Maybe longer, I had been sleeping great because I was using edibles to help knock me out every night but I have a feeling my tolerance is really high right now and I need to take a break. Usually I’m garanteed insomnia for a couple days when I quit using weed, I just haven’t been willing to take a risk of not sleeping on this trail when I know that edibles can get me to go to sleep pretty well. I think I’m going to look for a sleep aid for the first time when I get to town and use it while I take a long break from using weed to sleep. I’ve always had sleep issues since I was a kid but I’ve never seen a doctor for it. When I discovered that weed helps me get the best sleep ever and I actually started getting regular amounts of sleep, my life changed for the better. I can tell a very big difference in my physical performance capabilities now that I have been able to get a normal amount of sleep for a while. Since I feel like I haven’t had a REM cycle in over a week I’ve started to feel pretty crappy and fatigued everyday.

Around 6:30 I started hiking with 12 pack right behind me. We went up a pass and when we got to the top, I decided to try an alternative route called “The Window” basically instead of going down the other side of the pass, I had to cross country contour around this peak on a bunch of scree to get to “The Window” where I could go down the other side and connect back up with CDT. It does add miles but I saw the window from far away yesterday and it looked so cool! The scree was very loose and sliding everywhere. I kept reminding myself of something my friend Julia told me when we were doing some sketchy hiking before. “Remember, the rocks don’t have to hold you forever, only for a second at a time, long enough to put your other foot down before slipping”. When we rounded the corner and I could finally see the window up close, there was an unexpected snow chute that could be a cornice between me and the window. I decided to turn around and go backwards to the pass and take the actual trail. 12 pack followed me. When we got down the pass and to the other side of the mountain I could see the window from the other view. There was an actual trail up to it from this side! If I would have known I might have tried to just do an out and back to it.

12 pack and I had a long descent from the top of the pass down to a meadow. I stopped to take lots of flower pictures along the way. We had to walk through lots of overgrown bushes that were taller than me. I was quite literally walking in a green tunnel. There were a lot of blown down trees today. I had to climb over, under, and all around them. When we got down to the meadow, 12 pack and I took a lunch break before starting the biggest climb of the day.

I put on some music and started the big climb. The sky was pure blue when we were down in the meadow but now clouds were accumulating out of nowhere very fast. I hiked up the climb as fast as I could and I felt really strong doing it which was great. I dropped down to a saddle and waited for 12 pack to catch up to me. I could tell he was moving quite a bit slower than normal today and I thought the clouds looked particularly bad. Normally I wouldn’t take a break to wait out a storm but I considered it. I just had a feeling that these tunderheads would actually bring the rain and possibly lightning. One thing that cued me in a little bit is that I saw a massive herd of elk all laying down in the valley. I felt like they wouldn’t do that unless they knew a bad storm was coming. When we caught up, we decided to just keep hiking since it wasn’t actively storming yet. If we could just get over the last of the climb before it did we could drop down towards camp on the other side. It was long before my feeling about the storm being particularly bad came to be true. I saw a flash of lightning about 10 yards to my left and there was a very loud crack and boom. It scared me to death. 12 pack and I turned around and started running down the mountain together. We were heading towards the right side of the ridge since I knew that if things got really crazy we could bail off and hike a low route there. All of a sudden there was another flash of lightning in front of us exactly where I was running to. We changed directions and started bailing off the left side of the ridge.

When we got to a flat spot in a meadow we pitched our tents to wait out the storm. The sky kept getting worse and the thunder boomed more frequently. Now it looked like the storm was surrounding us in all directions. I decided to blow up my sleeping pad and get in my sleeping bag after it was clear that that storm was going to be a while. I ended up getting to close my eyes for about an hour which was really nice. When the storm finally let up after almost 2 hours, 12 pack and packed up camp and kept hiking. The sky was still grey and it was slightly rainy but there was no thunder and lightning!

We climbed up to an awesome ridge that we got to descend along into a very pretty valley with lots of lakes. At 5pm we reached a flat spot in a valley and I was feeling extra tired. We set up camp a little earlier than usual (milage wise) but from here the trail gains a lot of elevation which means less of a chance for a good camp spot. It’s nice to have a shorter day of hiking for once! I made some mashed potatoes and carnation breakfast for dinner and relaxed for the rest of the night.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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