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Day 16 8/9/17 Just below Hat Pass to Shadow Lake

Miles: 23 Steps: 49,514 Vertical gain: Strava Liquid consumed: 120 oz feeling really hydrated for once! Wildlife: Chipmunk, long tailed weasel(just as I was thinking I hadn't seen any unusual wildlife in a couple days), a super cute baby bird I almost stepped on next to the river. I didn't take a photo or video because it was obviously scared for its life, doing its baby walk thing Faith in Humanity: Met some really nice people on trail today and got some great encouragement for my journey! Brrrr, it's cold in my tent as I write this! I'm camped above a stream on a small side trip I'll be completing tomorrow morning: Cirque of the Towers. Supposed to be absolutely beautiful and I'm excited. It just started to rain, however, hopefully it will stop before too long. The first 2 weeks of the trip I've been setting alarms on my watch. The last couple days I've thought: "why?" So today I woke up without an alarm and hit the trail by the ungodly hour of 8am. I do like the real early morning, especially when it's hot out, but that hasn't been a worry the last few days. And it stays light out until 9pm still so I should relax a little..: done. I met a southbound CDT hiker named Patrick who is a nice guy. We chatted about prior hikes, his journey, my journey, etc. I ran into him a couple of times throughout the day for a couple of minutes each time which was nice. I also chatted with 2 northbound CDT hikers: Green Bay and Arrow who had hiked the AT previously and were fun and easy to talk to. We exchanged info. About the upcoming trail and discussed a variety of topics. Ill be sure to check out their blog at I could have chatted with them all day, but we were going different directions so we stopped after 20 minutes or so. Hiking can be interesting like that: lots of brief conversations and friendships. Everyone goes their own pace, direction, etc. and a lot of times it's not the same as yours. It's all good, but sometimes you'll meet someone and think "I'll probably never see them again, but I sure hope I do". Life in constant motion... The hiking in the Winds has been unique. Alpine Lake after lake after lake as I've described, but my route seems to vary between 9,500 and 10,500 feet pretty consistently. Like you're just in this rolling lake filled Basin, And it's so exposed! Somewhere like Colorado you have a whole mountainside next to you. Here it's like you're in this zone that's right between where you're above or below treeline. All the time. You can't really run to lower elevation like you can in CO, your always stick at that treeline level. Can be nerve racking, especially when clouds start to build or your looking for a campsite. I mean some places are less exposed than others, but they're all exposed! To the east you can frequently see the towering mountains of the Continental Divide, which is cool. It'd be fun if the trail crossed the divide more, but it looks like pretty gnarly terrain mainly, and I'm already talking about how exposed it is down lower... tomorrow though, I'll cross the divide twice to check out Cirque of the Towers. It's rumored to. E gorgeous and I'm excited to check it out for myself. I found an iPhone on the trail with the owners info written on it so I'll send it back when I can, which might not be for a while! Well I'm going to study my maps a bit and go to bed, it's almost 9pm!

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