AZT Day 21: Snow-pocalypse

Tuesday, October 16
Miles: 16.8
Starting/ending: 263.7/280.5
Camp elevation: 6841 ft

I wake early around 6. LOTS of snow weighing down the tent. I punch snow off the sagging tent walls from the inside. There must be 3-4 inches out there. Ok snow, we’ll hike – or slog – through you today. Oatmeal and coffee. Pack up. I put on all my layers today: t-shirt, wind jacket, down jacket, rain jacket. Shorts, hiking pants, wind/rain pants. Hat, gloves, wool socks, pants tucked into gaiters. Rolling up the tent is extra freezing for my hands in the cold snow. Folding up the cold metal tent pole is numbing. The four of us are all ready to go at 8. This stretch of trail is split – a new reroute and the red line on Guthook. Since we can’t actually see the trail, we opt for Guthook.

We have to slide under a barbed wire fence first thing in order to get back on the red line. Hike down the snowy road. We’re all in relatively good spirits. The snow is pretty. It’s cold but manageable. Our feet are dry. We somehow get off track and walk in a circle. Walk through the woods to get back on track. I’m warmed up and the down jacket goes into my pack. Pass a few cow ponds. On a snowy trail. Back on a snowy dirt road. Get off track again. Through the woods to find the trail. Sloppy dirt road. The air has warmed slightly, or maybe the ground is warm in spots, and there is slush to contend with. Our feet have also warmed our shoes making our feet wet, but still warm. Pause for a granola bar.

More roads. Then trail. We’re hungry and ready for water and lunch. Get off trail again and have to backtrack. It’s snowing. Soggy gloves. We eventually find the Pine Spring Tank. It’s windy and cold. I dip past the slush and get a few liters. Slide under another fence to find the trail. My feet are freezing. We find a decent enough spot for a lunch break under a tree. Morale is low. Down jacket back on. I eat a cold packet of tuna in a tortilla, Skittles, and a few peanut m&m’s. It’s so cold standing still. Have I mentioned that my feet are freezing? I try to filter the water but am struggling and the squeezing a cold bag full of slush water is just too much. I get about a cup, enough to keep dehydration to a minimum.

We get moving and my wet feet eventually warm up. It’s amazing how warming a few calories can be. Spirits are lifted. More slushy dirt roads. We’re losing some elevation and some snow is melting. Which means mud. Cakey, clayey mud. But less snow. Bar break mid afternoon. I eat Annie’s Poptarts and they are delicious. Dirt roads. Slog, slog. We filter water from a giant puddle/flowing stream that is not normally there just after 5. We find a way to cross.

Then find a good camp spot before 5:30. Under trees, snow free, flat, soft pine needley ground. I set up my wet tent. My feet are so wet. Group selfie. Change asap. I drink hot skratch electrolyte drink, boil water for my broccoli cheese potato soup, and eat from inside my tent. So happy for the hand warmer at my feet. Read. Write. Sleep.

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