Day 9 – Glacier National Park

I was woken up today by the dulcet tones of Chance puking his guts out. He got food poisoning from something yesterday. Fortunately, I felt fine.

We only had 10 miles to go to town in East Glacier but it was slow going. Chance was a trooper though and made it up the big climb to Scenic Point. I was getting a bit frustrated with the pace even so. Eventually I let Chance go ahead and then went normal pace to catch up. We had our first views East out onto the plains which was neat, but otherwise it was mostly just a slog. Eventually we kicked out into town behind a giant lodge. We went straight for a hostel behind Serranos, a Mexican restaurant, where we had had dinner before we started with Hailey and her parents.

Chance was feeling better in the evening and finally ate something. We met 3 other CDT hikers: Joel, Hui, and Vocal. Considering we weren’t really expecting to meet anyone, we were very surprised! They were incredibly hung over, but still chatted with us quite a bit. Vocal is a ridiculous character, giant beard with pointed moustaches and just talks all the time!

Daily Summary
Date: July 3, 2011
Daily Distance: 10.5 miles
Trip Distance: 111 miles

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Day 10 – Glacier National Park

Last night I barely slept due to mozzys buzzing around me in the hostel, and it was too hot to zip into my bag, so I mostly just got bit. Also there are tons of firecrackers going off as it was the night before the 4th of July.

We spent the morning doing errands, then split a pint of ice cream to prep for “slack packing” the hike. The plan was to leave most of our gear in the hostel, hitch to Marias Pass and then walk back. We spent 30 minutes trying to hitch until some State police came and told us to stop… Dispirited, we bought some beers and headed back to the hostel. During our first beer, we were complaining to an older guy staying there too that we were unable to get a ride, and he offered to take us!

We finished our beers and headed out. The trail was a bit hard to find the start of, but once we got rolling it was easy times. The bugs were horrendous though so we didn’t stop for 4 hours straight. We finally took a break and did the “get your jacket and bug net on as fast as possible” dance.

Not the most enjoyable walk overall, mostly just in a tunnel of trees. When we got back to the hostel more CDT hikers had arrived! Liv and Travis were there, and a guy named ET walked in right behind us. ET was super quiet so I didn’t get much of an impression, but the other two were entertaining. We drank our beers and listened to the 4th of July festivities.

Oh yeah, I called Amazon about my busted Kindle and they are sending me a replacement to Lincoln, MT, where I’ll be in a week and a half. Good times!

Daily Summary
Date: July 4, 2011
Day 10
Daily Distance: 14.8 miles
Trip Distance: 125.8 miles

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Day 11 – Bob Marshall Wilderness

Slept very well last night, but got up early to be at the post office when it opened. Sent 4 packages, including my snowshoes (woo I don’t have to carry them anymore!). Had breakfast at a cool little diner with the bar stools along the counter. We need more of those in Canada.

After that we packed up in a frenzy and headed out to hitch back out to Marias Pass again, except this time to head south! We have heard tons of bad things about The Bob, that the river crossings were really tough, the trail is super muddy, blah blah blah. Turns out we are lucky and it was super nice. The ground was dry, although it obviously gets ugly when its raining, it was sunny! We saw tons of wildflowers. The river crossings were numerous, but all very doable. I was not scared or in danger of dying at any point.

We crossed paths with two more CDT hikers today, Kevin and Piper. I think this makes it official that we have a herd of hikers :). We all ended up camped together right before a big stream crossing for the morning. Should be very cold…

Daily Summary
Date: July 5, 2011
Day 11
Daily Distance: 18.5 miles
Trip Distance: 144.3 miles

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Day 12 – Bob Marshall Wilderness

Today was a comedy of errors. Early on, we ran into unexpected snow, which made our morning slow and frustrating. It never got quite to the point where it was all snow, more like 20 feet of big snow drift, then the same of very wet trail. Climbing the side of each drift was tiring as they were from 4-8 feet high.

Later, a turn that was supposed to be on a river bank was actually under water, so we missed that. And of course, we shortcutted across what we thought was another river but turned out to be a channel in a lake, and the other side was an island! Still undaunted, we swam/waded off the island to the other side and rejoined the trail.

Finally, at lunch I managed to step on my trekking pole, snapping the lower section in half. This is particularly bad because I use a pole to hold up my tent, and of course I just love walking with them. Even worse, I figure I’m a week from being able to order a replacement.

Regardless of all that, the actual hiking on trail that we managed was fine. Doing 20 miles wasn’t too bad, and I’m going to have to get used to it!

Oh, here is a list of songs that I’ve been singing to myself ALL DAY:
-Memories from the musical Cats
-Some song from Little Mermaid
-various Christmas songs, particularly Baby It’s Cold Outside

Pretty impressive, no?

Daily Summary
Date: July 6, 2011
Day 12
Daily Distance: 20.5 miles
Trip Distance: 164.8 miles

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Day 13 – Bob Marshall Wilderness

A long day, so I will be brief. We had a very easy morning, had lunch on a sand bar by a stream. Afternoon saw us climbing into lots of snow, and then over Switchback Pass. We followed Kevin and Pipers footsteps most of the way, made our lives easier! We ended up camped with them tonight, at a ranger station.

Daily Summary
Date: July 7, 2011
Day 13
Daily Distance: 24.9 miles
Trip Distance: 189.7 miles

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Day 14 – Bob Marshall Wilderness

This morning we crossed Spotted Bear River twice, and it was a tough cross. Chance tried the first time himself, but quickly came back. Then we went together, with him upstream of me to break the current, and my job was to help stabilize him so he could move. It almost worked, but with the river breaking around his chest, he got pushed over and I barely was able to keep him from being dragged off. He ended up being just short of dunked before we got him standing again. We got to the other side and had a drying out in the sun, and decided the next time, I would get to go first. Second crossing went fine, further upstream so it had a bit less force, but we were very careful 🙂

Anyways, apart from the crossings, the morning was uneventful. Chance told me what each flavor of Skittles reminded him of…

After lunch we slogged our way through snow to the Chinese Wall! It was absolutely breathtaking.

The trail follows the wall for about 5 miles, so normally you’d just zip by it. Our trail was buried in snow, so we spent a good 4 hours walking by… Mostly with heads down as we tried to stay on balance in endless snow cups.

Today felt very hard. My feet have been continuously wet from snow or stream crossings since we entered The Bob, and I’m finally starting to see some ill effects. Blisters are forming under a couple toe nails, and I’m losing two more soon. Overall I can’t complain too much though… 2 weeks without any real issues in these conditions seems like a miracle 🙂

Daily Summary
Date: July 8, 2011
Day 14
Daily Distance: 21.4 miles
Trip Distance: 211.1 miles

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Day 15 – Bob Marshall Wilderness

Last night was very weird, I thought I was sick/feverish for sure. I fell asleep to the roaring creek we were beside. It sounded like opera singers belting out arias. That was the first clue I wasn’t doing well. I was also abnormally cold. I woke up throughout the night sweating and cold. In the morning, Chance said he had felt the same and it was just really cold ground, freezing us from the bottom.

The hike itself was really easy downhill all the way… We dropped into new terrain, very sandy and dry. It reminded me of the PCT a lot, we just flew through the miles. We passed a trail crew and a bunch of horse packers. Eventually, we reached Benchmark Ranch our resupply point after the end of the Bob. Our first road in 115 miles.

The ranch itself was a hot 2 miles of road off trail, and was totally deserted. We picked up our food, which we absolutely didn’t need – we had packed 8 days of food and only used 5. So now I have 6 days of food for a 2.5 day stretch to Lincoln.

The story behind the extra food is that there is a group ahead of us on the CDT, and they are blogging as they hike. We’ve been relying on their reports of trail conditions up until now, but they haven’t turned out to match what we’ve found in the wilderness. It’s probably a combination of factors that have made the difference: we are more risk taking, younger by 20+ years, and they are 10 days ahead (which affects stream and snow levels). Point is, I will be reading their journals for entertainment value in the future, not trail beta.

Daily Summary
Date: July 9, 2011
Day 15
Daily Distance: 19.7 miles
Trip Distance: 230.8 miles

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Day 16 – Scapegoat Wilderness

We had a lazy morning wake up, weren’t walking til 8am. It was another freezing/sweating night for Chance and I. Still no idea why.

Our excitements for the day were simple things. We shared a big thing of vanilla pudding, sitting on the porch of a ranger cabin. I went for a little swim, fully clothed (my own stench was starting to get to me). We chatted with a ranger on horseback.

Things I’ve learned on the CDT (incomplete):
-how to walk on steep snow
-that I can self-arrest with an ice axe outside of a class I took
-how to cross streams semi-safely
-what a pain walking on soft snow is
-people really say “howdy” as a greeting outside of Western movies

Things I am remembering from the PCT:
-how exciting outhouses are when you’re used to digging holes
-lying down across the trail is surprisingly comfortable if the trail is on a side hill
-obsessing about food I’m going to eat in town

Good times

Daily Summary
Date: July 10, 2011
Day 16
Daily Distance: 24.3 miles
Trip Distance: 255.1 miles

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Day 17 – Scapegoat Wilderness

Wow what a day! We climbed 5200 feet today, and finally got to walk on the divide itself for miles. Up til now we had only crossed it at passes. It was quite a rollercoaster, but the views were so rewarding! We could see out through the mountains to the plains. Looking south, a lot more mountains, but looking a bit more rolling.

We also met Jim(?) a 71 year old wrangler for a CDT Alliance trail crew that was working nearby. He told us lots of stuff, including that a horsemen can usually make 20 miles a day indefinitely, but 30 would require a rest day afterwards. I thought it was neat that a good hiker could outdistance a horse.

Chance and I also came up with our #1 quality for a thruhiker. His was stubbornness and mine was optimism.

Town tomorrow, quite excited for a shower and laundry.

Daily Summary
Date: July 11, 2011
Day 17
Daily Distance: 20 miles
Trip Distance: 275.1 miles

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Day 18

Into Lincoln today, so we were up early and eager at 6am. Overnight there had been some thunderstorms but it cleared up nicely for us. The miles were pretty tough and we were short on water for the first 2000 feet of elevation.

Eventually we dropped down nice switchbacks to Rogers Pass, where we started to try and hitch. The first car stopped, but they were hikers headed up the trail we had just come down. After about 30 minutes a girl in a Subaru with a bike on top stopped and took us 18 miles to Lincoln. She was pretty neat, lives off grid in a log cabin, and does triathlons in her spare time. Took us well out of her way too.

In town we ran into Piper and Kevin immediately. We chatted for a bit then got down to town chores, laundry and phone calls and food being the keys. I had a lot of gear orders to make too. It was all sorted by happy hour, so we went to the bar and started drinking.

By the end of happy hour, our bill for 4 people was $28 and 3 of us were drunk. Kevin and Chance hung around by themselves for another 3 hours drinking, while Piper and I were doing other chores. I came back to them in a deserted bar, holding the bartender hostage to their drunken ramblings. We were still in bed by 10pm. Big partiers we are 🙂

We are planning to be in Helena by Saturday morning and then stick around there til Monday. Possibly see the Harry Potter movie there too!

Daily Summary
Date: July 12, 2011
Day 18
Daily Distance: 7.9 miles
Trip Distance: 283 miles

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