Dyer and Riches: CDT Thru-Hikers
July 23, 2000Day 82, 1368 MilesRawlins, Wyoming The end of Colorado was almost as impressive as the beginning, a mini-Weminuche you might say. The mountains were smaller but the above-treeline walking provided many delightful views, especially during the magic hours of dawn and dusk.
We came across a particularly interesting piece of trail, or lack of trail, in the Mount Zirkel Wilderness. Massive tree"blowdowns" had occurred in the area about three years ago when winds of up to 120 mph whipped through the area. The end result is areas of forest where virtually every tree is flattened, leaving a criss-crossed, tangled mess resembling an oversized pile of matches dropped on the floor. The trail we were following happened to disappear into such an area. Hmmm, I wonder if that's why someone had scratched the word "closed" into the sign at the trailhead. Half-a-mile and one hour after entering the debris we emerged having learnt a valuable lesson about blowdowns. It's lots of fun to jump from log to log and climb trees horizontally, but it's also a very time- and energy-consuming pastime.
As we crossed over the state line into Wyoming, nothing much seemed to change. But little did we know what lay ahead. Not long into Wyoming the forest suddenly became deafeningly quiet and still. Animals we once saw in abundance disappeared. The songbirds no longer sang. The trail became littered with broken logs and huge footprints with depressions a half-inch deep. Our hearts pounded with fearonly one kind of two-legged being was capable of such carnage. . .the dreaded Princes Warriors. We'd heard tell (on the trail telegraph) of an infamous pair of such women, Sarias and Adrionus (cleverly disguised as CDT thru-hikers). They were obviously close. Too damn close for our liking. What were we to do if we rounded the next corner and came face to face with them? We'd heard rumors of the dreadful things they'd done to those who dared to use the same trail, let alone attempt to pass them. We decided we had only two options should we meet them. Spray them in the eyes with bear spray and run as fast as we could, or show no fear, pretend we like them, and maybe share the trail until we see an opportunity to walk ahead as fast as our legs will carry us.
As it turns out we did meet them, and we chose option two, because we couldn't get the damn lid off the bear spray fast enough. Just kidding. I think we were lucky because they were not alone. They had a couple of prisoners already, Mr. Ed and a member of the "Graceland Hiking Club" called Daniel (who we like to refer to as "The Cormorant"). We joined the party for the next few days into Rawlins.
It was a great learning experience for us all, especially in the hiking diet department. Our vegetarian friends preached the values of whole foods while we swore by the virtues of whole boxes of Little Debbie Cakes, sugar, and Kool-Aid. We may differ in some areas, but we all agreed that an all-you-can-fit brunch at Pizza Hut was the best way to start our rest day as soon as we hit Rawlins.
And so a date was set for the inaugural CDT thru-hikers pizza-eating olympics. We arrived good and earlyall tables were bare. We left a couple of hours later, and all the tables were once again bare. The closing ceremonies saw an American standing on the center dais with a gold expression around his gills. Daniel had done his country and "Graceland Hiking Club" proud with his 20-something-slice performance. But in the team event (we decided there had to be a teams event once we realized neither of us could catch Daniel), the Commonwealth was victorious, and that's all that really matters anyway. (Pizza eating has always been a team sport.)
The trail from the border to Battle Pass is very well marked, although virtually unused. This section is well worth the effort.
Next stop Atlantic City.
Check out Simon and Darryl's reflections on New Mexico.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication