Yesterday was a highlight of the trip so far with blue bird skies and stunning vistas. Today was a lowlight for sure. Almost like the GDT had to take its pound of flesh for what it gave us yesterday. The bar has been raised for toughest day on the GDT. Now we’ll say “this ain’t no Kiwetinok Alternate”
We slept in a little and eventually decided to hike out in spite of the impending weather. The hike up to Kiwetinok Pass was nice and provided much the same as yesterday. However, on the way down the other side, the rain began.
Upon reaching treeline, we huddled together under some trees for about 30 minutes waiting for the storm to pass. Eventually, we got too cold and headed up to Kiwetinok gap in the drizzle.We had notes on the route which came from the GDTA but we were too cold and just decided to wing it. The result was a bushwhack very steeply up through very dense forest. Either way would have been a bushwack steeply up to the gap, but our path was probably harder than necessary. Anyway. We made it and broke for lunch at the pass with sunny skies and marvelous views.
Little did we know that the real fun was about to begin. We headed steeply down and followed the route description west of a forested mound in the alpine bowl and from there into a semi clearing just at treeline. From here things were not so clear and we began the bushwhack kind of paralleling a creek through dense forest full of blowdowns. We veered away from the creek for a bit because the GPS (Guthook app) track led us that direction. Finally reached a burned section described in the notes and began side hilling over hundreds of blowdowns. Sorry, no pictures, it was all I could do to maintain concentration and avoid breaking a leg. Eventually went straight down to the creek and then followed it (still bushwhacking) back to the official GDT. We reached the GDT 8 hours after starting covering only 6 miles. At the bottom I ceremoniously kissed the two track road/trail.
(Note added on 8/6) I am quite certain now that the GPS line is just that; a line that was drawn on a computer and not a route that someone has hiked. Might have been slightly better to keep closer to the creek, but we’ve spoken with other hikers who took the alternate and stayed closer to the creek yet their experience was no different from ours. In fact everyone we’ve met who took this alternate had the same experience of brutal 1 km per hour bushwhacking.
We did another 6 miles in the rain on the GDT which turned out to be quite bushwhacky in itself. At one point, I was checking the Guthook app on my phone and somehow caused a picture of Elly and Olivia to pop up. I was in such a state of exhaustion that just seeing them produced tears. I took many deep breaths and soldiered up to the pass. We searched around the pass and eventually found some lousy tent sites, but it is good to be laying down in a dry sleeping bag.
We certainly paid for the spectacular day yesterday. Seems to be the way of the GDT. Amazing experience, and weather for a day or two followed by a suffer fest the next. I still think yesterday was worth it.