Sunday, September 7, 2008

CDT ST, day two

Scott still snoozin' at daybreak:


Next AM I was up at first light and casting onto a mirror smooth lake. Where had all the caddis gone? A few hits but not many fish moving had me disappointed at my hasty mistakes the previous night. Tiptoeing around the shoreline and trying to 'look more, move less' I felt a slight tickle on the side of my neck. I instinctively swatted but then my mind flipped out of 'mosquito mode' and into 'fishing mode' and I brought the palm of my hand up to see the caddis I had just mashed. Ooooo. Within minutes the lake was abuzz again with the hatch and this time I was ready. In the space of ~an hour I landed 4 rainbows, 4 or 5 cutthroats, and even (I think) a Dolly. Wahoo!

Scott's perspective of the morning's excitement:


After the first few catches I started to think about food--I'd smack-talkingly told Scott that I could probably catch breakfast faster than he could get a fire going to cook it. I'd brought foil and spices to cook the fish with, but Scott seemed antsy to get moving, no doubt fueled by the knowledge that the first ~half of today's route was known good trail. Grudgingly I put the rod away (despite the screaming protests of the fish) and broke camp as the sun crested the ridgeline.

We meandered up Deadman Creek for the next few hours:


Mostly mellow grades punctuated by a few steeper made-by-motors (or so it always seems to me) pitches brought us out into a meadow below this wall of peaks. I didn't know what their proper names were, but the words 'striking' and 'crenelated' leapt repeatedly to mind:


So stunning was the skyline that I had to forcefully move my gaze nearer lest the macro get missed entirely:








As we rolled through the saddle and began descending into the Nicholia drainage I didn't see any choice but to lift my gaze and enjoy the distant scenery for a spell.








All too soon we had left the high amphitheater and were meandering back into the desert.




And by 'meandering' I mean...


We spent a few hours regaining the divide after Harkness ("Heart o' darkness?") Lakes. Some of it was mellow and rideable but significant portions were not. As I crested the ridge Scott motioned towards three CDT thru-hikers coming our way. Our chat with them was brief and somehow strained. Hindsight reveals that we were all plum tuckered near the end of a difficult day, and there simply wasn't much energy left to converse.


We said our goodbyes and started pushing again. The next several miles would prove to be trailless as well as breathtaking. Late summer *and* evening light provided all the contrast a wannabe photog like me could hope for. Even better was that the cairn-to-cairn travel slowed Scott down enough to give me an extra minute to compose a few of these shots.










A frequent sight when touring with Scott: checking the GPS. He'll probably disagree, but it's *not* common for him to exude crepuscular rays from his right shoulder.


With the last of the sun we descended into a drainage (on *trail*!) and could instantly feel the coolness that presaged the sound of running water--we were both low and needed to fill. When the rivulet appeared I was having so much fun descending the techy, chunky singletrack that I just kept riding. My knee-jerk assumption was that we would follow the creek down, so there wasn't any urgency to stop *right now*. Ahem--you know what they say about assuming. Some backtracking was involved to water up, then we descended again to find a campsite on the first flattish spot we crossed.


I started my little alcohol burner with the last light in the sky, then we ate, hung the bear bag, and set up our tarps by headlamp. Actual sleep was fitful for most of the night--hordes of mosquitoes kept us inside of our bags despite the stuffy temps. Still, sleepless downtime is still downtime, right?