Day 134: A Dry Shelter in the Rain
Thursday, September 15, 2022 8:27 pm
Location: Cadotte Pass Yurt (1994.8 miles)

After a walk along several ridges and the heaviest rainstorm I’ve had on the CDT, I arrived at a ridgetop yurt, my first on-trail indoor shelter on the CDT.

I didn’t really sleep all that well last night, so I was a bit tired this morning when I got up. Most likely, that was a result of having a bottle of soda with my dinner at 9 pm.

Not surprisingly, Wild Man and Fuck-It were the first out, followed by Sprouts and Velveeta. I was pretty slow packing up to leave, taking my time to let my tent and sleeping bag “dry” — it was cold and very humid overnight — while I chatted with Recon, Flame, and Waves. I was the last person out by a good margin, starting shortly before 9.

Shortly after leaving the trailhead, I crossed Flesher Pass (the actual pass, not just the trailhead), and the road we took to get to and from Lincoln last night. The trail then began climbing up the mountain on the other side of the road, the first of a few long and steep climbs today.

With a layer of clouds, the sun was having trouble warming things up, so thanks to the overnight humidity, pretty much every surface had condensation on it.

The trail started off in forest, and then opened up as it neared a ridge with a fairly extensive rock outcrop above the trail.

Rock Outcrop on a Ridge
Rock Outcrop on a Ridge

After passing the outcrop, the trail founds its way onto a ridge, and it largely stated on or near the ridge for a good portion of the day until it dropped down to Rogers Pass.

10 am Selfie Day 134
10 am Selfie Day 134

Once on the ridge, the sun had risen high enough above the clouds to actually warm things up. With the humidity still in the air, I quickly became hot and sweaty. I skipped the opportunity to summit a peak fairly close to the trail partially because of that, but more because the weather forecast called for rain later today, and I wanted to get as far as possible before the rain started. Rain while on top of a ridge wouldn’t be fun, and some darker fluffy clouds began to accumulate.

Ridgetop Trail
Ridgetop Trail

Once up on the ridge, spurred on by racing against dark clouds, I managed to catch up with and pass most of the rest of the group — Sprouts, Recon, Flame, and Waves.

I got delayed briefly by a group of horses. I didn’t want to stop, so I dropped a bit below the trail to give the horses plenty of room to pass. I paused briefly to make sure this was okay and I wasn’t spooking the horses, and the leader of the group waved me on. However, there seemed to have been several beginner riders who were having a little difficulty controlling their horses, and one had to jump off his horse to keep from falling off. The leader of the group had to dismount and move to help calm a couple of the horses, and commented that this hadn’t happened with the other group of hikers they passed earlier (which I took to be Fuck-It, Velveeta, and Wild Man).

Nearing Rogers Pass, the trail dropped down from the ridge via a steep set of switchbacks that passed a creek several times. The foliage along the trail here began to take on oranges and yellows; fall color is arriving. It should only get more prominent as I continue north and the first day of fall inch closer.

Fall Color
Fall ColorIt might not yet be autumn, but the plants are starting to change colors.

Eventually, I arrived at the Rogers Pass trailhead, with a large parking lot, a pit toilet (with trash can inside!) and a large display sign. According to the sign, the record coldest temperature in the US was set at Rogers Pass, -70° F on Jan 20, 1954. This is still the contiguous US record; it dropped to -79.8° F in Alaska in 1971.

I stopped for a longish break there, to collect water from the creek flowing near the parking lot, and to chat with Flame and Waves, who are flipping south to continue from where they left to hike with us.

With thunder crackling and rain falling, I left the trailhead in a bit of a hurry; Recon and Sprouts remained, waiting for Velveeta to return from town. As I reached the highway going through Rogers Pass, I saw two people ahead of me; I thought one looked like Fuck-It, but I wasn’t sure at the time.

On the north side of the pass, the trail continued through a forest, climbing up the side of the pass with steep switchbacks. I passed Wild Man, heading back to the pass with another guy parked at the pass, to go into town. He confirmed that it was Fuck-It ahead; they’d spent a while at the pass trying to hitch in, to no avail, and the rain convinced them to move on. I was also offered a ride to town, but, having gotten my resupply yesterday, I declined.

As I climbed up the switchbacks, the thunder intensified, and the rain switched to pea-sized hail. Water flooding the trail slowed my progress a bit, even as the hail and rain gradually came to a stop. The trail became overgrown, so if my feet hadn’t already gotten soaked from the heavy rain, they would have by absorbing water from the leaves.

The switchbacks led up to a ridge, which the trail began following. Once I followed the ridge for a little while, it appeared that it hadn’t rained at all. If I’d cut my break 20 or 30 minutes shorter, I might have made it through the day without getting rained on.

The rain and hail today might have been the worst rain I’ve gotten on the CDT, though all told, it only rained for half an hour.

I reached the yurt near Cadotte Pass to find Fuck-It lounging in a folding chair, playing his ukulele. Located on a bald saddle with steep drop-offs on both sides, it seemed like the area could easily get very windy, so I was glad for the shelter. (Though, were the yurt not here, a more treed location would make for a better campsite in all but the best weather.)

Constructed by the Wildlife Research Institute of Julian, CA to aid in their study of raptors, but unlocked and available for use by CDT hikers, the yurt is a circular, two-story wooden building. A series of small windows all around, with one large window, and a double door provide a nearly 360-degree view of the ridge. It has a toilet and shower, though they are not operational. (That also didn’t didn’t stop someone from trying, and we kept the bathroom door tightly shut to keep the odor confined!) It has solar panels, but the system seemed disabled. Two folding tables, several chairs, two cots, and plenty of storage space filled out the inside, making a nice, cozy place to stay.

Cadotte Pass Yurt
Cadotte Pass YurtFuck-It plays his ukulele in front of the yurt.

Fuck-it and I claimed the two cots since we were here first, though Fuck-It doubted that anyone else was going to show up because of the rain. (He was right; no one else showed up this evening.) This is the first time I’ve stayed inside while on the trail (as opposed to, in town), but it’s the second on-trail roof I’ve had over my head.

It rained for a bit longer this evening, and the weather forecast when I was still at Rogers Pass suggested there’d be more rain tomorrow. I had the thought of zeroing in the yurt if the weather tomorrow was awful — I do have the food to do that — but unless the weather is really bad, I don’t expect to. The next 20 miles include 6,000 feet of gain and 5,000 feet of descent, so it’s going to be a rough day tomorrow regardless. But, if it’s not raining in the morning, it ought to be easier to get moving since I’m starting from inside.