Today’s goal was to camp as near to the western terminus as I could. But first, a recap of last night. Yesterday, I hit two high peaks where I was able to get cell service. I checked the weather forecast and saw there was a 50 percent chance of rain from about 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. I wasn’t too worried, as that would leave several hours for my tent to dry out.
When the sun went down I tucked into bed and had kind of a crazy night. First, I heard an odd noise twice. It’s really hard to describe, but it was from across the lake it sort of sounded like a loud, dull “whump.” It definitely wasn’t an animal noise. All I could think of was maybe a tree falling? But two sort of close together? Hmm.
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Heard more airplanes overnight – so odd way up here! Is this the flight pattern for flights from the Cities to Iceland?
Had a nightmare where I woke up screaming and trying to grab my mace. I was dreaming a horse (!) kept circling my tent, then was biting the roof to get at me. How bizarre.
And then it rained in the exact time frame predicated. It was a very light sprinkling, but steady for all of those hours.
Strategizing to Get to the Western Terminus
Got up this morning at 6:15 a.m. so I had plenty of time to reach the terminus area. Hopefully, anyway. Unfortunately, my rain fly was soaked in spots and had plastered itself against my tent. So both were pretty wet. Rats.
Hit the trail at 8:15 a.m. Wow, it was pretty crazy. Strup Lake must be the dividing line between all of the hills in the east and the easier terrain of the west. Not too long after leaving my campsite, I was clicking off 2.5 mph (4 kph) or faster with little effort.
It’s not that the terrain was easy per se. There were still plenty of rocks to trip you up. Just none of those steep uphills and downhills. It was a gray day, and it seemed like I spent most of the time looking down at the leaf-covered trail so I wouldn’t trip.
A Surprise at Noon
Shortly after stopping for lunch, the terrain dramatically changed. There must have been a huge storm or tornado through here at one point. Trees were downed everywhere, and I had to step over, climb over or crawl under so many downed trees. It was a pretty unsightly stretch, too, although that can’t be helped.
I had to cross at least two huge beaver dams, one of which was tricky. I did fall at one point, but at least not into the muck.
I’d calculated I could reach the western terminus by about 5 p.m., but you’re not supposed to camp at a parking spot. However, the terrain was so brushy and scruffy this entire time, I had little hope of finding a camping spot.
Nearing the End
With about 4 miles (6.4 km) to go, I saw on the map that I’d pass a “vista.” Not surprisingly, that entailed a climb. What was surprising (and annoying) was that the climb was SUPER steep, and not just one climb to the vista. The trail suddenly got quite hilly for a while, which was annoying when you’re so close to the end! I kept stubbing some toes, too, which are pretty beat up. Oh, and the vista wasn’t even anything special, as lots of trees blocked the view of the lake.
Incredibly, the landscape transitioned to rather open woods with about a mile (1.6 km) to go. I haven’t seen almost any places to pitch a tent the entire time, outside of the developed campsites, so I was pretty stoked. About a half-mile (1 km) from the western terminus, I started looking for camping spouts. I found one and was able to dry my tent out a fair amount, although it’s still damp in several spots.
Kekekabic/MN NCT miles today: 18 (29 km)
Total Kek miles to date: 39 (62.9 km)
Total Kek miles to go: .5 (.8 km)
MN NCT miles to date: 428.4 (689.4 km)
Total NCT miles to date: 1,785.9 (2,874.1 km)
Total NCT miles to go: 2,814.1 (4,528.9 km)
This is the Sea-to-Summit sleeping bag liner I love. It’s great for either warm nights when your quilt/bag is too warm, or cold nights when you need some extra warmth. I’m also using this Garmin inReach Mini to keep in touch with my hubby, since cell service is almost nonexistent. And here’s the mace I favor, plus my Big Agnes Copper Spur tent.