Category: Hiking

Rayburn Trails AKA Colton Road Conservation Area (Millbury, MA)

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Writing about my local trails lately has been a fun endeavor. It makes exploring new areas more worthwhile when I can share the journey with others who may want to go themselves!

The Rayburn Trails are a series of mountain bike trails in a deeply residential area of Millbury. It seems improbable that someone had the resources and drive to create an expansive system in such a small area of land, but it's been said that the system could have up to 10 miles of trail. I think it's less than that, but it's a formidable area to explore on bike or on foot.

It's all very windy, tight single track for the most part, although there are some wider trails outside of the main area that are more suitable for being on foot as opposed to being on a mountain bike. Once I fix my bike, I will be back to explore!

Total Time: ~45 minutesTotal Distance: ~3 miles, with road run (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus, very likely an inaccurate distance)Total Elevation Gain: ~288 ..

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Writing about my local trails lately has been a fun endeavor. It makes exploring new areas more worthwhile when I can share the journey with others who may want to go themselves!

The Rayburn Trails are a series of mountain bike trails in a deeply residential area of Millbury. It seems improbable that someone had the resources and drive to create an expansive system in such a small area of land, but it's been said that the system could have up to 10 miles of trail. I think it's less than that, but it's a formidable area to explore on bike or on foot.

It's all very windy, tight single track for the most part, although there are some wider trails outside of the main area that are more suitable for being on foot as opposed to being on a mountain bike. Once I fix my bike, I will be back to explore!



Total Time: ~45 minutesTotal Distance: ~3 miles, with road run (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus, very likely an inaccurate distance)Total Elevation Gain: ~288 vertical gain

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CDT Day 73 – Leaving Rawlins

Date: 9/4/20

Daily Miles: 25

Total Miles: 1325

We ended up taking an unplanned zero day on Rawlins. As we looked at the weather forecast, we saw that there is a winter storm coming early next week. We had already been planning to take a rest day in our next town stop (Encampment), but with the storm, that would have been pushed out to two days. Instead of taking two zero days in Encampment, we decided to spread them out and do one in Rawlins and one in Encampment.

So, we got to relax all day yesterday. We enjoyed our time in Rawlins and found the folks very friendly. We had several people at the grocery store and at McDonald’s ask if we were hiking the CDT and wish us well.

Leaving Rawlins this morning, the main focus was on water. We headed out into our longest waterless stretch of the trail…32 miles. Between us, we were carrying 11 liters of water. Our packs felt quite heavy with the water and four days of food.

As we got out of town, we contemplated whether to walk the officia..

Date: 9/4/20

Daily Miles: 25

Total Miles: 1325

We ended up taking an unplanned zero day on Rawlins. As we looked at the weather forecast, we saw that there is a winter storm coming early next week. We had already been planning to take a rest day in our next town stop (Encampment), but with the storm, that would have been pushed out to two days. Instead of taking two zero days in Encampment, we decided to spread them out and do one in Rawlins and one in Encampment.

So, we got to relax all day yesterday. We enjoyed our time in Rawlins and found the folks very friendly. We had several people at the grocery store and at McDonald’s ask if we were hiking the CDT and wish us well.

Leaving Rawlins this morning, the main focus was on water. We headed out into our longest waterless stretch of the trail…32 miles. Between us, we were carrying 11 liters of water. Our packs felt quite heavy with the water and four days of food.

As we got out of town, we contemplated whether to walk the official CDT or an alternate (from Jonathon Leys’s maps) which would knock about 20 miles off this next stretch. The downside of the alternate is that it is completely on paved road…36 miles. Yuck. Plus, it would miss our first water source, so our 32 mile water carry would turn into a 41 mile water carry.

Based on the water alone, we decided to walk the official CDT. About 15 miles into the day, the trail and the road came within a half mile of each other. At that same point, there was a water cache that still had a bit of water in it. We decided at that point, to take enough water from the cache (another 2L each) so that we could take the road alternate. That will ensure that we can make it to Encampment before the winter storm arrives.

It was incredibly hot today. What a difference from just a few days ago when we were chilled all day on the trail. There was rarely a breeze, so we just felt like we were being baked by the sun all day. It feels like this area is all about extreme temperatures…either very cold or very hot.

The road we are walking on was just paved for the first time two years ago. Given that, we have been surprised by the amount of traffic. There is usually a car passing every ten minutes or less.

We stopped to make dinner when we saw a culvert where we could go to find some shade. We realized that the culvert was the perfect spot for sleeping tonight, but we wanted to make more miles today, so we left there and hoped for another culvert down the road.

As we were walking, we saw a cooler on the other side of the road. We walked over to check it out and saw a sign that there was water for bikers and walkers. We each drank down a small bottle of water from the cooler. We immediately felt better with the extra fluids. We are trying to make sure we drink a liter for every six miles we walk, but with the heat, that doesn’t always feel like enough.

We were lucky to find another culvert for sleeping tonight. We had hoped to walk another mile or so, but when we saw the culvert, we decided to stop. Luckily the cars going by over us are not very loud, and there aren’t many cars.

We are planning to get up in the dark tomorrow morning. We’d like to get as many road miles done in the cool morning air as possible. It is supposed to be just as hot tomorrow as it was today.

Defunct picnic area turned shooting range
Defunct picnic area turned shooting range

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CDT Day 74 – Out of the Basin

Date: 9/5/20

Daily Miles: 25

Total Miles: 1350

Today felt like a marathon day.

We got up in the dark this morning. We had thought that it was going to be a warm night, but it seemed that our culvert turned into a wind tunnel and it was quite cold. Once we were walking on the road, it didn’t feel nearly as cold as it was in the culvert.

We were woken up before our alarm by coyotes which sounded quite close. We both had the thought race through our minds that we hoped the coyotes didn’t use the culvert to cross under the road. Luckily they didn’t come any closer, but they were very loud way too early.

As we started walking, we got to see the nighttime stars for about twenty minutes before we could see the horizon turning colors for the sunrise. It was pretty cool to be out walking at that time to see the sky change from night to day.

We expected the day to get pretty hot, which is why we started walking in the dark. Even by 7:30am, we could feel it starting to get hot. When it is..

Date: 9/5/20

Daily Miles: 25

Total Miles: 1350

Today felt like a marathon day.

We got up in the dark this morning. We had thought that it was going to be a warm night, but it seemed that our culvert turned into a wind tunnel and it was quite cold. Once we were walking on the road, it didn’t feel nearly as cold as it was in the culvert.

We were woken up before our alarm by coyotes which sounded quite close. We both had the thought race through our minds that we hoped the coyotes didn’t use the culvert to cross under the road. Luckily they didn’t come any closer, but they were very loud way too early.

As we started walking, we got to see the nighttime stars for about twenty minutes before we could see the horizon turning colors for the sunrise. It was pretty cool to be out walking at that time to see the sky change from night to day.

We expected the day to get pretty hot, which is why we started walking in the dark. Even by 7:30am, we could feel it starting to get hot. When it is hot that early, you know you’re in for a scorcher of a day. In fact, it ended up being about ninety degrees today.

We managed to finish up our road walk by noon and reconnect back into the CDT. Our feet were glad to be done with the paved road…luckily no lasting pain in our feet. We were also glad to finally see trees again! And once we were back on trail, we were even walking in the trees! Yeah! After a week of no trees, it felt really good to walk in the shade of trees again.

By mid-afternoon, we finally came to our first natural water source since leaving Rawlins. We were down to our final sips of water (and the water in our bottles was hot from the sun), so we were grateful to find some clear and very cold water. We sat down in the shade for a long break and drank some of our new water.

We realized that we were closer to our next town stop than we had expected. In fact, it looked like we would have no problem getting into Encampment tomorrow instead of the day after. We will still plan to wait out the winter storm in town, but now we will have an extra rest day.

In our final miles of the day, we ran across two hunters near the trail. Turns out that bow season for elk and deer just started a few days ago. We chatted with them for a few minutes and then headed on to find a place to camp.

We finally made it to camp around 7:00pm…much too long of a day. We set up our tent again for the last time (until the very southern part of New Mexico). While we have appreciated having the tent during the windy nights in the Basin, we will be very happy to go back to our hammocks after Encampment.

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CDT Day 75 – Encampment

Date: 9/6/20

Daily Miles: 13

Total Miles: 1363

Last night was probably our warmest night on the trail. It is pretty crazy to think of the temperature swings in the area. Less than a week ago, we had ice on our tent and in a few days, snow is expected. But this morning was very warm.

We continued to see a lot of hunters today. Most were driving by us in quads or four-wheelers…only one was walking on the trail. We have seen zero elk and only three deer since leaving the Winds. There must be a lot out in the woods though, because there are a lot of hunters coming to this area.

Since we only had 13 miles to hike today and two full rest days ahead of us, we didn’t really feel rushed to get into town today and we took several long breaks in the shade. Also, since we were getting into town a day early, that meant that we had extra food we could eat, so we always seemed to be snacking on something.

We made it down to the road by 1:30pm and started hitching. We only had to wait a few minu..

Date: 9/6/20

Daily Miles: 13

Total Miles: 1363

Last night was probably our warmest night on the trail. It is pretty crazy to think of the temperature swings in the area. Less than a week ago, we had ice on our tent and in a few days, snow is expected. But this morning was very warm.

We continued to see a lot of hunters today. Most were driving by us in quads or four-wheelers…only one was walking on the trail. We have seen zero elk and only three deer since leaving the Winds. There must be a lot out in the woods though, because there are a lot of hunters coming to this area.

Since we only had 13 miles to hike today and two full rest days ahead of us, we didn’t really feel rushed to get into town today and we took several long breaks in the shade. Also, since we were getting into town a day early, that meant that we had extra food we could eat, so we always seemed to be snacking on something.

We made it down to the road by 1:30pm and started hitching. We only had to wait a few minutes before getting a ride. The couple had actually already driven by us, but then turned around and picked us up. We continue to be grateful for all the quick hitches we have gotten this summer.

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Hello September

Welcome to what “Hello September” looks like to me!
My SketchesAs I delve more into the world of color pencil sketching, the more I am enjoying it. After trying my hand at landscapes, people, birds, animals, food, scenery, not one theme stands out as a favourite. Not yet anyway. First sketching other people's pictures via video tutorials, then sketching my own photos, it is now time to sit out in nature and sketch what I see. I better do that sooner rather than later or I will be sketching winter white scenes. These are my most recent projects.
Fish Creek Park Birthday CelebrationHappy Birthday to a special friend! It was necessary for our visit to be outside so we were very thankful to be afforded a beautiful day. Fish Creek Park has paved paths, lots of wide open spaces, many big benches to relax on, walkways, an artists garden, flowers, trees and little picket fences. It's good to be outside, it's good to be social and we found a perfect part of the Park that we coul..

Welcome to what "Hello September" looks like to me!
My SketchesAs I delve more into the world of color pencil sketching, the more I am enjoying it. After trying my hand at landscapes, people, birds, animals, food, scenery, not one theme stands out as a favourite. Not yet anyway. First sketching other people's pictures via video tutorials, then sketching my own photos, it is now time to sit out in nature and sketch what I see. I better do that sooner rather than later or I will be sketching winter white scenes. These are my most recent projects.
Fish Creek Park Birthday CelebrationHappy Birthday to a special friend! It was necessary for our visit to be outside so we were very thankful to be afforded a beautiful day. Fish Creek Park has paved paths, lots of wide open spaces, many big benches to relax on, walkways, an artists garden, flowers, trees and little picket fences. It's good to be outside, it's good to be social and we found a perfect part of the Park that we could share hours celebrating her birthday. It was a very different way to celebrate yet we made it enjoyable with a stroll around seeing the sights, a picnic lunch, a present to open, people watching, basquing in the sun and topping it all off savouring orange creamsickle floats with dreamwhip and a cherry!
Bowness & Baker ParksA morning walk around Bowness and Baker Parks was where we settled on to spend time catching up on life's happenings. A walk & talk, that's it! There's lots of areas to walk here and that's good because we had lots to talk about so needed lots of ground to cover. It was a beautiful day to be by The Lagoon and along the Bow River, pair that with sharing hours with a fellow Bluenoser, it was a win win opportunity! It got even better when we were joined by another friend and we three then added speciality drinks and sweets to the mix. I like when friendly conversations spark new ideas!
Nose Hill RompIt is between seasons up on Nose Hill. The flowers are saying good-bye summer, the lake level is low, the greens are turning beige and brown. This week's visit was more of a romp all over the place attacking the hills rather than focusing on photo opportunities. No matter what the season up on The Hill, it feels like a mini escape and fills the heart and soul with all that is good.
Forgetmenot Pond SunriseI had all intentions of spending time hanging out at Forgetmenot Pond but it was not happening and time was passing by. I had an open window of a few hours on this morning and those hours corresponded with sunrise. It was time to get on out there! It was me and the sunrise and it was perfect! Two laps around the Pond admiring the day as it began, then breakfast at my favourite table filled those few hours. Each time I visit Forgetmenot Pond is memorable!

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Mount Greylock and Saddle Ball Mountain via Old Adams, Appalachian, Cheshire Harbor Trail (MA)

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Lauren and I were joined by her classmates Jeremy and Katy for a nice jaunt up Greylock. This was my fourth time up to the summit from a new route. I broke off from the crew early on to start my run, but ended up meeting up with them later.

We started at the Cheshire Harbor trailhead and broke off at the junction with Old Adams Road. I began my run from here. The terrain was moderately steep, but it was on an easy dirt road which made for good traction.

Eventually, the trail meets up with the AT, where my run became a little more treacherous. I passed a backpacker as I huffed and puffed up steep terrain. I decided it was a little too steep for my liking, and began to slow down. I took a detour over to the Mark Noepel Shelter, which is a cool little area.

Eventually, the trail breaks up onto the ridgeline, following the ridge over the three Saddle Ball peaks. There isn't a ton of elevation change here, but there are some ups and downs.

Next I met up with..

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Lauren and I were joined by her classmates Jeremy and Katy for a nice jaunt up Greylock. This was my fourth time up to the summit from a new route. I broke off from the crew early on to start my run, but ended up meeting up with them later.


We started at the Cheshire Harbor trailhead and broke off at the junction with Old Adams Road. I began my run from here. The terrain was moderately steep, but it was on an easy dirt road which made for good traction.




Eventually, the trail meets up with the AT, where my run became a little more treacherous. I passed a backpacker as I huffed and puffed up steep terrain. I decided it was a little too steep for my liking, and began to slow down. I took a detour over to the Mark Noepel Shelter, which is a cool little area.


Eventually, the trail breaks up onto the ridgeline, following the ridge over the three Saddle Ball peaks. There isn't a ton of elevation change here, but there are some ups and downs.



Next I met up with the road, and crossed it, following the trail up the summit. It was at this time that I met back up with the group. It's a steep final push to the top.



While everyone descended the Gould Trail, I decided to go down the Cheshire Harbor Trail, because I had never done it. I would meet them via the Pecks Ravine Trail. Cheshire Harbor was an easily runnable trail downhill but it was a bit rocky and eroded. Pecks Ravine Trail fascinating. It was super eroded due to poor trail design, but descends steeply down toward the ravine. It then rises sharply up switchbacks to the Gould Trail.




Before meeting up with the crew, I stopped at the Pecks Brook Shelter, another nice area that would be worth the camping trip. Once I headed back to the junction, I met up with them and we descended Pecks Ravine over to Cheshire Harbor and back to the car!
This was an awesome variation loop that gets you White Mountains elevation gain and mileage simply by being creative with your trail choices. Surely I did some backtracking and tagged some shelter spurs, but it made for a lovely day in the hills.

Total Time: 4 hrs 6 mins

Total Distance: ~12.1 miles (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus)

Total Elevation Gain: ~3008 vertical gain

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Greeley Pond Trail, Big Pines, Timber Camp Trail (NH)

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As I continue my quest to hike every trail in the WMNF, I've stumbled upon some odds and ends. Big Pines Trail and Timber Camp were two of the few that I have left in the Waterville Valley region. So I made a nice tough trail run out of them.

I started from the Livermore Trail, one of my favorites in the Whites if only for its perfect grades.

Soon thereafter, I met up with the Big Pines Path and took it to its end. It's an easy and short trail with minimal elevation change, and ends at three huge pine trees, the trail's namesake.

Back at the junction, the trail gets a bit steeper as it climbs up to the Timber Camp Trail.

The Timber Camp Trail was just enough elevation gain to kick my butt, but not enough to kill me. It alternated between perfect single track and wider areas. Eventually, you come up to a massive pile of dirt, which I didn't realize initially is where the viewpoint is.

I continued forward to the trail's terminus, wh..

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As I continue my quest to hike every trail in the WMNF, I've stumbled upon some odds and ends. Big Pines Trail and Timber Camp were two of the few that I have left in the Waterville Valley region. So I made a nice tough trail run out of them.

I started from the Livermore Trail, one of my favorites in the Whites if only for its perfect grades.


Soon thereafter, I met up with the Big Pines Path and took it to its end. It's an easy and short trail with minimal elevation change, and ends at three huge pine trees, the trail's namesake.


Back at the junction, the trail gets a bit steeper as it climbs up to the Timber Camp Trail.


The Timber Camp Trail was just enough elevation gain to kick my butt, but not enough to kill me. It alternated between perfect single track and wider areas. Eventually, you come up to a massive pile of dirt, which I didn't realize initially is where the viewpoint is.


I continued forward to the trail's terminus, where there is a large rock pile. However, I noticed it kept going forward.

I had minimal service, so I couldn't figure out where the trail went, but after the fact in reading Steve Smith's blog, it seems that there were a few old trails that ran back here. I actually went about 300-500 vertical up the trail before turning around. I wondered if it went all the way up to the Osceolas. Possibly, but it would likely be dangerous and would involve a lot of bushwhacking.


Retracing my steps, I caught the actual viewpoint that I had missed, looking out at scenic Waterville Valley. This was a worthy hike worth your time. For a full value day, add Goodrich Rock and some of the other nearby trails!


Total Time: 1 hr 18 mins
Total Distance: ~6.88 miles (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus)
Total Elevation Gain: ~1325 vertical gain

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NH 52 WAV and NEHH: Sandwich Dome via Tri-Town, Smarts Brook Trail

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Everytime I talk about Sandwich Dome, I talk about how it's not my favorite mountain. Surely, this has everything to do with its views from the summit, and not with the mountain itself. Because Sandwich Dome is a wonderful mountain that I'm appreciating more and more as I get to know it.

The Smarts Brook Trail is the ultimate trail running peak. One can run uphill for the first 3.5-4 miles of the peak before it gets prohibitively steep. The footing is great for the entire trail give or take a few spots. We started our hike by going up the Tri-Town Trail and eventually meeting up with the Smarts Brook Trail. This is a popular area with day hikers and mountain bikers.

Eventually we met back up with the perfect gravel road that is the Smarts Brook Trail.

The trail follows the brook through both wide trails and great single track trails at gentle slope.

The last mile or so does become quite steep, but the footing is not too bad. There are also a few blo..

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Everytime I talk about Sandwich Dome, I talk about how it's not my favorite mountain. Surely, this has everything to do with its views from the summit, and not with the mountain itself. Because Sandwich Dome is a wonderful mountain that I'm appreciating more and more as I get to know it.

The Smarts Brook Trail is the ultimate trail running peak. One can run uphill for the first 3.5-4 miles of the peak before it gets prohibitively steep. The footing is great for the entire trail give or take a few spots. We started our hike by going up the Tri-Town Trail and eventually meeting up with the Smarts Brook Trail. This is a popular area with day hikers and mountain bikers.



Eventually we met back up with the perfect gravel road that is the Smarts Brook Trail.

The trail follows the brook through both wide trails and great single track trails at gentle slope.



The last mile or so does become quite steep, but the footing is not too bad. There are also a few blowdowns that are easy to bypass.

At the junction, we turned up toward the peak and began the steep ascent.

When we first reached the top, it was too cloudy for views, but as is always the case in New England, wait a few minutes.

We made haste down the perfectly runnable trail after getting past the steep section, only stopping to take a quick dip in the river!


We finished the hike by continuing along the Smarts Brook Trail's gravel portion, which passes a very popular swimming hole about a mile or less from the road.


Total Time: 3 hrs 44 mins (not including river stop)
Total Distance: ~10.84 miles (Garmin Fenix 5x Plus)
Total Elevation Gain: ~3116 vertical gain

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CDT Day 72 – Rawlins

Date: 9/2/20

Daily Miles: 12

Total Miles: 1300

It was cold out again this morning, but definitely not as cold as the last few mornings. The sun was on us pretty quickly and it warmed up nicely. Of course, the wind continues to be a constant, but at least it was warm.

A lot of the walking today was a continuation of the cross country walking of yesterday…with some dirt roads thrown in every once in awhile. We often had the highway in view, but it felt far away.

When we were walking this morning, we came upon three mule deer that were hanging out in some bushes near the trail. All three were bucks with really big racks. We were surprised at how close we got to them before they bounced away. We watched them run away and then hop over a fence. We have been waiting to see an animal jump one of the many fences out here, so we were happy to finally see it.

The trail finally popped us back out on the highway which we followed into town. We headed straight to McDonalds for an early lunch ..

Date: 9/2/20

Daily Miles: 12

Total Miles: 1300

It was cold out again this morning, but definitely not as cold as the last few mornings. The sun was on us pretty quickly and it warmed up nicely. Of course, the wind continues to be a constant, but at least it was warm.

A lot of the walking today was a continuation of the cross country walking of yesterday…with some dirt roads thrown in every once in awhile. We often had the highway in view, but it felt far away.

When we were walking this morning, we came upon three mule deer that were hanging out in some bushes near the trail. All three were bucks with really big racks. We were surprised at how close we got to them before they bounced away. We watched them run away and then hop over a fence. We have been waiting to see an animal jump one of the many fences out here, so we were happy to finally see it.

The trail finally popped us back out on the highway which we followed into town. We headed straight to McDonalds for an early lunch and then checked into a motel for the night. We are happy to be inside and out of the wind until tomorrow.

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CDT Day 69 – Alkali Creek

Date: 8/30/20

Daily Miles: 26

Total Miles: 1238

Before starting our hike across the Great Basin, we figured it was going to be pretty flat. While we certainly aren’t in the mountains, we are definitely in the hills. When you look out at the horizon, there are hills all around. A much more interesting landscape than expected.

This morning we got up at 6:00am. We had a beautiful sunrise and watched the glowing red sun come over the horizon. We figured we would wait until daylight before getting up, since we are getting used to packing up with a tent. It was a pretty restless night of sleep, which we expected with our first night on the ground this summer.

It was a pretty nice temperature out this morning and the air was still. We had about 10 miles to walk to our only water for the day. There is a maintained water cache where we were going to fill up our bottles.

We made it to the cache by 10:00am and took a break in the first bit of shade we had seen all day. There was an informa..

Date: 8/30/20

Daily Miles: 26

Total Miles: 1238

Before starting our hike across the Great Basin, we figured it was going to be pretty flat. While we certainly aren’t in the mountains, we are definitely in the hills. When you look out at the horizon, there are hills all around. A much more interesting landscape than expected.

This morning we got up at 6:00am. We had a beautiful sunrise and watched the glowing red sun come over the horizon. We figured we would wait until daylight before getting up, since we are getting used to packing up with a tent. It was a pretty restless night of sleep, which we expected with our first night on the ground this summer.

It was a pretty nice temperature out this morning and the air was still. We had about 10 miles to walk to our only water for the day. There is a maintained water cache where we were going to fill up our bottles.

We made it to the cache by 10:00am and took a break in the first bit of shade we had seen all day. There was an information board with a small overhang which gave a bit of shade.

Apparently the water cache is restocked every Sunday. Today is Sunday, but the water cache hadn’t been restocked, so we figured they probably come in the afternoon. Luckily there was still water for us, but there wasn’t much more remaining.

We headed back out after a short break. The wind started to blow and became pretty ferocious for the rest of the day. When we stopped for lunch, we walked down the side of a hill looking to get out of the wind, but it was hopeless. We ended up laying down to try and be out of the wind, which helped a little.

The rest of the day was spent trying the keep ourselves upright as the wind continued to try to push us over. It was blowing so hard and catching our backpacks, it would twist us to the side. Sometimes it felt like we had to walk sideways in order to go forward. SweetPea ended up using her bandana to tie her hat to her head, and Beardoh had to tie up his beard, because the hair kept getting whipped into his eyes.

That amount of unrelenting wind is brutal. And in this area, there is no escape…no rock or tree to hide behind. It can really wear you down.

We managed to find a relatively flat spot to camp. It is frequented by cows, but there weren’t any around now, so we’re hoping for a quiet night. We are tucked between several willows, so the wind is blocked a bit. The temperature really started to drop when we were setting up, so we decided to put up our tent for the added warmth and protection from the wind.

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