Daily Miles: 20
Total Miles: 20
Holy cow, what a way to start the CDT! We decided that today was one of the most picturesque “first days” of a trail we have hiked. We were surrounded by mountains and pine trees, wild flowers and snow. There were so many pretty spots, including deep aqua alpine lakes, it made the day a little bit easier.
We also decided that today was definitely the hardest “first day” of any trail we have hiked. It felt like 90% of our day qualified as totally epic. It was a complete beat-down if a day.
Beardoh’s mom, Bonnie, dropped us off at the trail around 7:30am. We took the obligatory “start” photos with a broken CDT sign. We’ll see Bonnie again at the end of this section in five days.
We headed out and started to climb on a dirt road. We were starting around 7,000 feet of elevation and would peak out today at the high of 10,000 feet. We even had great views of the Grand Tetons in the distance.
The day felt hard from the beginning. For sure the elevation was an issue for all four of us, since we all have been living at a low elevation. Having five days of food for the first stretch is also a challenge as it is quite heavy. And to make things really tough, we just haven’t been able to get the physical training we would have wanted for the trail.
Our pace was pretty slow all day. Even when the trail was nice, but climbing, we tended to go pretty slow. SweetPea really seemed to be affected by the elevation. She had pretty bad heart burn most of the day, which is very unusual for her. Luckily, Beardoh and MountainMan have both had this problem before, so SweetPea was able to pop some anti acids throughout the day.
We started to see some patchy snow around 8,000 feet, but as we hiked from 9,000 to 10,000 feet, the snow was pretty constant. We mostly gave up trying to follow any kind of trail, and just looked for the path of least resistance. This meant we were either climbing or descending very steep slopes of either snow or rocky, muddy dirt. Everyone, except MountainMan, ended up taking at least one big fall. Ace’s was the worst, with a big gash in her knee from slipping on hard snow.
The snow was not really easy to walk on most of the time. There was a lot of post-holing and slipping down slopes. It was extremely exhausting walking and not terribly fun.
We finally made it up to Targhee Pass (our high point for the day) a little before 5pm. We were so tired and excited to have made it to that point. We decided to cook dinner there and then walk our remaining 6+ miles to where we wanted to camp.
After dinner, as we headed down the other side of Targhee Pass, we were disappointed to see that it was also filled with snow. We had been hopeful that because it is south-facing, the snow would be gone, but that was definitely not the case.
After descending 1,000 feet or so, the trail started to open up and was snow free for large stretches. It felt so nice to just be able to walk normally after having spent hours of the day on snow. The trail was a nice set of sweeping switchbacks that brought us down to a valley.
Our final few miles were filled with snow again, as well as the results of an avalanche that probably happened this past winter. There was a lot of downed trees and debris from the trees.
We finally made it to our planned campsite around 8:30pm. We were so tired by the end of the day, it felt like we were drunk. We will probably all sleep very soundly tonight after the day we’ve had. Hopefully the trail will be a bit kinder to us tomorrow.