97: Cirque of the Towers

Miles Hiked: 22.2

Total Milage: 1580.2

Location: Cirque of the Towers

Today I woke up at 5am at my parents campground. I started getting ready to hike and said goodbye to them. It was hard of course. I might potentially see them in my next town because they will still be on vacation but I’m not sure if I will be able to hike there fast enough or not yet. 12 pack and I left together around 5:30am. We road walked from the campground up to a trailhead where we got on a trail again. The day started out with an uphill climb. My pack felt crazy heavy. This is one of our longest food carries mile wide. We had a 120 mile food carry in New Mexico that took an equal number of days as I plan this to take.

There were lots of blown down trees on the trail. The increased the further we climbed. Eventually the trail did flatten out after we stopped for breakfast. The blow downs ended up getting so bad it was suggested that we bushwhack down to a lake, cross a dam, and bushwhack back to the trail. The bushwhack ended up being intense. There were just so many trees that we were having to constantly clamber over even though we were going downhill. I kept having to make big jumps that were a little rough on the knee joints. We took a break at the lake before skirting around it over lots of boulders to the dam.

When we crossed the dam 12 pack broke a trekking pole which was absolutely tragic. This was such a difficult section and we were carrying the heaviest packs of the whole trip. Almost immediately after I realized he was missing a croc. What a bad day, especially on a hard day. When we finally finished the crazy bushwhack through blown down trees back to the trail, it wasn’t much better. It took over a mile before we could see a trail regularly again. We walked along a beautiful valley with lots of colorful wildflowers and flowing water before going up our first pass.

When going up the pass, I couldn’t find a trail at all and it was extremely steep. I was practically using all fours to go upwards. It was so exhausting. The top of the pass was incredibly beautiful and remind me why the climb was worth it. I hung out at the top for a little bit before descending. The descent was very steep so I took my time. Steep stuff going downhill hurts my knees. Once I got to the bottom of the pass, I walked along some massive lakes. The rock walls towered all around me and occasionally I would look to see if I could find anyone rock climbing on them. There was a sea of purple lupine flowers I walked by that smelled so good I had to stop and get a photo of them. I continued going downhill until I took a break at a lake where 12 pack caught up to me. He got ahead of me on the descent and went to talk to a large group of boy scouts with horses. I was a little overwhelmed to see so many people in the back country at once so I just kept walking by them.

To end the day, we climbed up Jackass pass where we had dinner at the top. From there I had an amazing view of the mountains we just walked through and the cirque of towers for the first time. I think Jackass pass is my favorite place on the entire CDT so far. After the pass we went about 2 more miles to camp near lonesome lake. We hung our ursacks up and crawled in our tents to get away from the mosquitoes. It was 8pm and I was incredibly exhausted. My arms, back, abs, and every else hurt. If my upper body hurts I know i had a tough day. I think today was the hardest day we have had on the entire trail this far. I fell asleep so quickly because I was so tired.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

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