Day 15 8/8/17 Elkhart Trailhead to just below Hat Pass

Miles: 19 Steps: 38,497 Vertical gain: Strava Liquid consumed: 80 oz (started fully hydrated and cool cloudy day Wildlife: llamas, squirrels, really cute mouse/mole swimming in a tiny puddle then going into her den. Faith in Humanity: Darrell and Marietta Ward of Springfield, MO, again! Woke up a little after 6 and started putting away my tent and things and I hear "Breakfast is ready!" I excitedly entered the RV and my oh my what a spread! Scrambled eggs with ham chunks, 2 big hash browns, a sausage patty, several slices of bacon AND biscuits and gravy! Is this real?? Yup! I could barely finish it. So tasty and good. Marietta said it was like cooking for her grandkids. I stated and chatted for quite a while, then announced that I would leave soon and hear back on the trail. Darrell told me "I wish I could go with you". "Me too!" I responded. Marietta said "Don't be leaving without giving me a hug". What sweet, amazing people I was lucky enough to meet. Great conversation and fun to be around too! Thank you so much for your incredible hospitality! I hope we cross paths sometime again! Ended up starting hiking around 10am. The trail was really flat and rock-free for the first 10 miles of so. There was some rain though and I heard thunder in the distance for quite a bit of the day. After the 10 miles, I reached a sign and had to kind of guess which way to go. My main map source (Guthook) failed and my backup maps aren't the best, so I ended up guessing I should turn right. After a couple of miles I learned I guessed wrong. There was a big lake on my right but it should have been on my left! Oops! No big deal at all though, I just took another trail back to the CDT and ended up seeing more beautiful alpine lakes. No complaints here! I ran into a father and son from Boulder, CO and chatted with them in the rain for 10 minutes or so. Sounded like they were having quite the adventure in the Winds and they've been here several times because of how spectacular it is. I couldn't agree more. They were really interested in my trip and thought it was "really cool." I told them they were really cool. I gave them a business card too, of course. I've been doing good on handing them out whenever I chat about Walk the Parks and the other party seems interested. Their kind words were really appreciated and made me smile as I strolled onward down the trail. Have a safe trip home, gentlemen! Ended up doing 19 miles even with the late start today. I really found the terrain particularly easy going today. Im now camped just below Hat Pass. I have beautiful views of the towering peaks and Continental Divide to my East. Not the ideal campsite as it's a bit exposed but seriously everything is so very exposed around here. Never seen anything like it! I can barely keep my eyes open so I'm hitting the hay (almost 9pm after all!) Tomorrow looks like I'll set myself up for Cirque of the towers, a short cross country route that's apparently incredible!

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