More Thunderstorms

Trail Creek (1870.7 R)
Day 109 – 8/8/17
Miles – 21.6
Total miles – 1660.7

It was a cold night but we were warm in our sleeping bags. Once again, the sky was a mix of clouds, which usually is an indication of bad weather is on its way.  As predicted, we would have to dry out tents and sleeping bags from last night’s heavy condensation. Today’s trail would keep us up high, getting above 11,000′ several times. This will be the last time we get above 11,000′ in all of Wyoming. We left camp and headed down a valley passing several lakes before starting our biggest climb for the day, Lester Pass. As we climbed up, the sun would come and go behind clouds. It took us several hours to reach the top and by then a thunderstorm was building to our left (southwest) and our right (northwest). Our trail continued to the West and then northwest. We passed many lakes, both big and small. The Ravens have fallen in love with the Winds Mountains. It quickly is becoming our favorite part of the entire CDT. We wish we could slow down and enjoy them more, but we do not have the luxury of time. Nonetheless, we hope that the thunderstorm around us would play out before we got there. Close to midday there was a large enough gap in the clouds to dry out the wet gear from last night. We quickly pulled everything out. Our gear dries fast in strong, mid day sun. It took only 15 minutes to complete. While we were eating and drying, the thunderstorm to the North started to sound out with big claps of rage. After we finished eating, we headed over a small ridge and we could see the storm. Straight in front of us, was one of the blackest storms we have ever seen. The near by mountains were completely obscured. Eventhough it was not raining yet, we put on full rain gear, because we knew what was coming our way. We set off toward the storm, hoping it would move east before we got there. No such luck for The Ravens. Instead, rain and hail hit us square on. Not too much, because we were at the end of the storm. However, as the first storm moved off, a second one, just as dark, moved directly over us. The hail came down hard and heavy.  Soon the ground was white with hail, it was beginning to look like a winter wonder land in August. Ledges on the surrounding mountains were white. It was nice to see but miserable to walk in. The hail covered pools of water, so we had to be very careful where we stepped. In no time, the feet were sloshing wet and were freezing. We kept moving as that storm moved off. We were heading up to the highest point for the day, 11,200′. As we worked our way up the valley, the sky was dark and the wind picked up. It was a very cold wind and it blew right down the valley towards us. We put on warmer clothes and continued on. What could make it worst? How about sleet being blown sideways. Or how about a deep river crossing we would have o take our shoes off, however at this point, the feet are already so wet, why not cross with shoes on. Mama Raven said absolutely no way to the river crossing in this horrible weather. Instead she found a different route. Papa Raven checked his GPS system, and it was dueable. We had to back track a little bit, but we did not have to cross the river. All four Ravens by this time were miserable to be exposed to such hideous conditions, but there was no where to go or nothing we could do but carry on. Freezing does not begin to describe how cold we were, and everyrhing we were wearing was starting to pentrate with water. We are not sure how long this went on for? It is hard to tell when you are in it. It seems like iternity. We estimate three to four hours of this weather. Slowly, the sky lightened and the rain let up, then it stopped. Next thing we knew the sun came out! Our entire moods of dismal dismay turned into uphoria. As that storm blew away to the east, we had a field of blue sky above us. There has never been a more glorious sight to us. The rest of the day was easy walking, but we got into camp late. We were trying to make up the low mile day due ro the bad weather. We are going to bed, hoping for a better day tomorrow!

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