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Day 65: 9/27/17 At the border of Great Sand Dunes National Park!!!

Miles: 22 Steps: 46,891 Vertical gain: Strava Knows Liquid consumed: 111 oz. Wildlife: loud birds at camp, Elk bugling while I slept last night and some hiking this morning, didn’t notice much else in the rain Faith in Humanity: 3 vehicles chatted with me on the road! Couple from Washington chatted a good 10 minutes and group of guys from St. Louis gave me 3 beers, candy, peanut butter crackers and were super nice. So much faith today! A cold and rainy day: sounds horrible, right? Wrong! Today was a great day! I woke up and it was raining lightly and cold. Not exactly the best motivation to get up, but I slowly did and was on the trail by the late hour of 7:45. That’s actually pretty late for me. Oh well, I knew I was ahead of schedule so there was no reason to push. Lots of Elk bugling close to my camp last night and I heard a couple more while hiking. I finished up the Rainbow Trail today. Pretty cool moderate trail. I’m surprised only saw 1 dirt bike the whole way and all types of motorized vehicles such as ATVs are permitted on the trail. I know it’s midweek, but still I figured I’d see more than 1 for sure, but nope! It was “misting hard” for the first couple hours of my hike. Certainly not raining but stronger than just a mist. I took a break when. It stopped and ate some food. Here are some tips for hiking in the rain when temperatures are in the low 40s and high 30s(dangerous hypothermia conditions): 1) Be fit! Sometimes to avoid hypothermia you need to keep walking for a long time in these temperatures. Fitness really helps! 2) Go slow. Sure if you’re 5 miles from your destination go as fast as you want, but if you’re hiking all day you may not be able to take as many breaks without getting super cold so a slower pace will actually keep you warmer for longer. 3) Change your layers: you want to keep your layers as dry as possible and your body as warm as possible. I started out in a base layer, a mid layer, and rain jacket. I started sweating a little so took off the midlayer as soon as that happened. I also wore a buff and would switch pretty frequently between buff over ears and raincoat hood on to hold off to both hood off and buff down, depending on if I was hot or cold. Keep changing layers even if it seems annoying to maintain the correct body temp. 4) Be prepared: if you know it’s going to be a rainy, cold day, take a little extra time in camp have snacks all ready, in your hip belt pocket or very easily accessible. Each time you stop you immediately start to get colder, so it’s good to get whatever you need to done so you don’t get hypothermic. 5) Positive Attitude. This is probably the most important! Sadly, sometimes we are taught that rain is a horrible thing. Stop that nonsense! Not only do we need rain, it can make the scenery beautiful around you. Enjoy the different than normal view. Embrace the challenge of staying warm! The next time there’s sunshine you’ll appreciate it that much more. 6) put on your damn rain gear! As soon as it starts raining, stop and put your rain gear on. Yes it can seem annoying and a little time consuming but it’s better to put it in at the start than soak your base layers first, causing you to be colder. This seems common sense, but so many times you think “oh I can just go a bit farther. Don’t! Stop and put on your rain gear! Ok I’ll put the above in some sort of article or advice section on my website. In all seriousness today was and is a tiny bit intense. Very large storm coming through CO with wind, rain, and snow at higher elevations. It’s super windy and raining at my camp right now. Feels good to be in my sleeping bag! Every car except one stopped and talked to me that was on the road today. Not surprising as these are very low traffic roads and it’s raining and very uncommon to see a hiker. First peeps in a Tacoma were interested in my trip and wished me luck. 2nd car was a retired couple from Washington who were very nice and chatted for 10 minutes or so. They were trying to see all the national parks as a loose goal which I think is really cool! 3rd times the charm though: 4 guys from St. Louis. 2 of them chatted with me the whole time and were super nice. They really seemed to want to give me something. I declined the offer of a cheap tarp (although it was tempting knowing the next few days are so rainy in forecast!). Then they were kind of like : what can we give you. I joking said “beer” and they gave me 3 99 Shillings which were very tasty! They also hooked me up with some candy and some peanut butter crackers. That really made me super happy guys, thanks so much! Next up I got a little cold on the road walk but just kept on walking. I got to the actual National Park border and read the sign. I hadn’t read carefully enough as I thought I could camp without permit inside the park: nope! No big deal though, there was a designated campsite right at the border with a bear box and great shelter from some large trees. And it was almost 5pm: not as late as I usually camp, but not super early either. I quickly set up my tent and jumped inside to change into dry clothes, while drinking a beer if course! It kept raining and I stayed in my tent a while. Finally I decided I had to eat a hot meal. It was so cold out! I made some rice and beans with cheese and crackers mixed in. Mmmmm so good! So glad I did that. I essentially chugged the remaining beer which was fun and then jumped back in my tent. It’s still incredibly windy and quite rainy too. Kind of curious to see if I wake up to a Tom of snow tomorrow or what. Regardless, excited to reach my 4th National Park! Oh, one more thing: kind of funnily realized that I have started my epic road walk! Probably 500 miles or a bit more! Should be interesting, that’s for sure. I’m actually pretty excited about it. I hope I meet lots of cool people. Damn that’s a long entry! Excited to see what tomorrow brings!

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