A real struggle of a day.
Of course, it started out promising with an easy hitchhike out of Hanksville from a baseball Cardinals fan whose also an aspiring PCT thru hiker. We had easy conversation the whole way back to trail. But apparently I wasn’t ready to get back to walking because I couldn’t shake that post-town blues. Perhaps its because so much has been made (much of it from within my own head) of the daunting, snow covered Henry Mountains, which I’ll have to pass today. The uncertainty of the conditions ahead played with my mind, and I kept telling myself over and over that I’d walked through the snow covered Sierra, so this should be easy.
By 7500 feet the snow line surrounded me, and I’d spend the rest of the day walking through it, occasionally post-holing up to my thigh. I’d even chosen a low elevation alternate route to stay out of the deep stuff, but all things considered the trek wasnt so bad. As I topped out at 9000 feet I could see all the way back to the La Sal Range, where I’d began walking over 2 weeks ago. The red desert looked totally barren, so it was hard to believe my feet were numb and soaked from so much snow.
I put my head down and trudged forward, singing Bon Iver songs, making up my own songs, trying to keep mentally engaged as the wind began steadily increasing. Oh wind, I just never get used to you. The Henry Range is quite stunning, but it’s also very brief and soon I was on the western slopes, looking out over the the Waterpocket Fold and Capital Reef National Park. Shortly after passing the 20 mile mark for the day I found a site protected by tall pines and junipers, so I decided to call it for the day, unsure if the trail would be this sheltered further down the mountain. This appears to be the first forest I’ve passed through on trail, which is a major silver lining and certainly the highlight of the day. Not only that, but pine forests mean glorious, earthy, needle covered ground. Perfect for sleeping. It’s so un-sandy! It’s only 5 in the evening, 2 full hours before normal quitting time, but it seemed prudent to stop early given the difficulties of the day. A good meal and a good sleep should might be all I need.