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Archive for August, 2015

After Leadore, we awoke to the frequent morning rain shower, which meant that we all rolled over and got some extra sleep, then tried to procrastinate getting out of the tent as long as possible.

I was in the process of procrastinating and tweeting to find more stuff to do in the tent when the rain stopped. On cue, I popped out of my tent and quickly packed it up.

Thinking it would just be another day of on and off again rain and thunderstorms, I began to mentally prepare myself for being generally uncomfortable. We had camped almost at the top of a 9500 ft ridge and had a few miles of bumpy exposed ridge before dropping down to 8000 ft.

Almost at the top, I ran into a nobo, Jon Z, whose pack I couldn’t see because it was so tiny. I asked him where his pack was and he had to turn so I could see it. We did the customary exchange of beta for about 200 miles in either direction, then kept going.

On top of the ridge, I suddenly became aware that the temperature was plummeting drastically as the rain began again. I quickly added a mid layer underneath my rain shell and kept waking to stay warm. Only my feet were wet.

One bump on the ridge complete. The wind picked up and the rain began to pelt me sideways. I tilted my hat to protect the side of my face, tightened my shell and kept walking.

The Darkness came up behind me. She had asked Jon Z if he was trail running because she hadn’t seen his pack either. Her hands were pulled up into her shell and she said she had to walk faster to keep warm, so I let her pass me.

Two bumps on the ridge down. Scallywag comes up, hands jammed into his pockets and poles strapped to his chest because the metal poles were too cold to touch. I was suddenly extremely thankful for my laziness in not bouncing my felted wool mittens and awesome over-mitts made by my crafty mother.
Scallywag and I talked to try to not focus on the bad weather which consumed our thoughts. The sideways rain turned to sideways sleet. Awesome.

Then it started snowing. Happy July 27th Birthday to Scallywag…snow!

Three bumps on the ridge down.

“Cooooey!”

Scallywag looks at me, but I hadn’t cooied. We look around. We saw The Darkness shivering under her tyvek against a lone downed tree. We went over and sat on either side to warm her up.

It wasn’t working and the temperature continued to drop. We had to either get up and hike the four miles down to the lake at 8000 ft or set up a tent because she was quickly progressing from mild hypothermia to moderate hypothermia.

She decided a tent would be better, but hers was at the bottom of her pack and her hands were too cold to set it up. I had a one person tent so that wouldn’t fit all three of us. Scallywag grabbed his and the two of us quickly set it up and threw The Darkness inside it. We got our two sleeping pads and our sleeping bags, dove inside and set up. The Big Agnes Fly Creek 2 is technically a two person tent, but in reality, it’s a one and a half person tent. All three of us were inside.

Since only my feet were wet under my rain gear, all I had to do was change socks, but the other two were wet straight through and had to put on their sleep clothes and any dry layers they had. Then we wrapped ourselves up in a blanket of down.

It took about two hours for The Darkness to stop shivering sandwiched in the middle. In that time, I found it too hot and had to take my puffy off which I then used as a pillow to take a nap. Might as well rest as the snow piled on top of the tent. We all thought E.D. was the smart one who stayed in her tent in the morning through the storm.

Several hours later in a break in the storm, we heard voices and called out. E.D., Hiker Box, and Heartbreaker walked up. They had all hunkered down.

Heartbreaker: “When things get rough, I just tell myself, at least I’m not pregnant!”

Then the storm started anew and Hiker Box and Heartbreaker went toward the lake while E.D. dove into the tent with us, making four people in the two person tent. We listened to some podcasts, took naps, and all had to roll over at the same time.


Finally, around 4:30pm, the storm seemed to subside enough to dash down to the lake. I was so ready to be out of a tent, I took the opportunity and E.D. jumped out too. The Darkness and Scallywag feared getting their only dry clothes wet or putting on their soaking wet layers and getting too cold again, so they stayed.

The snow had stopped and we made it down to the lake just fine to find Action, Shortstack, Andy, and Leah there. We camped with them and took our time getting up in the morning to give The Darkness and Scallywag more of a chance to catch up to us.
The next day was cold, but sunny and we navigated over some great alpine terrain. Scallywag and The Darkness managed to catch us by dinner.

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Still hiking…

Hello there!
I apologize for not blogging for awhile. I am currently trying not to go insane walking through the basin, so I’m attempting to blog while walking without stepping in cow shit.

Since I’m so far behind on the blog, I’m going to do a few highlight posts from the past 600 miles or so to catch up. Then, I’ll try and stay caught up.

Never fear, lots of adventures on the divide are happening everyday!

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Leaving Darby with five days of food, we headed back up to Chief Joesph Pass in the back of a pickup truck. The trail followed a dirt four wheel drive track for about five miles of pleasant grades before turning into a trail which The Darkness and I swore was designed by an east coaster. It picked the highest point around, went straight up it, then shot us back down and repeated the process. However, unlike the east coast, most of it was burned and the sun shone bright and hot that day.

On one of those bumps, I met a character named Swanson. He said that he had run into eight or nine other thru hikers that day and regaled me with information on each. I asked him to let Scallywag and E.D know that we were going to try and camp at Big Hole Pass. Scallywag and E.D had to pick up boxes quickly in Sula, so they were a bit behind and we didn’t see them until camp. Swanson mentioned a that there was a guy parked there camping who would talk my ear off.  However, when I got there, it was just after nine and it appeared he was already in bed so my ear did not get talked off.

The Darkness: “Did you talk to that weird dude?”

Me: “Yeah, he told me about the location of the spring and who’s ahead of us, did you?”

The Darkness: “No. I knew you would, so I didn’t bother.”

The spring was beautiful, piped, and not far. The beginning of the side trail to it though was hidden.

In the morning, I left first and headed up the dirt road looking for a tricky trail turn to the left where the side was supposedly hidden. I found it very quickly and began down the trail only to immediately be impaled in the face with a massive cob web. I took a step back and peeled it off, checking to make sure I didn’t have the spider on me. There were about two miles of woods trail before popping out on a closed (and therefore badly maintained) four wheel track. The entire time I pulled an old AT trick of waving one hiking pole up and down in front of me to knock down the cob webs. That only works so well though and I continually found myself peeling them off of my arms and face.

Later on, E.D came trotting down the trail.

E.D.: “Are The Darkness and Scallywag ahead?”

Me: “No…you’re the first person I’ve seen since leaving this morning and I’ve been on trail the whole time.”

 

The cabin and the wheel

We looked at each other and knew that something was wrong. E.D. had left with them, but paused for a morning bathroom break and hadn’t seen them since. We found a dilapidated old cabin, sat in front of it, and threw serotinous cones through the spikes of a rusty old wheel which reminded us of the old computer game about the Oregon Trail. We looked at the maps to see if they took a short cut and somehow got ahead of us. Nothing.

I placed my bet that they continued up the dirt road and missed the left turn.

We kept going, knowing that we had to make miles or face running low on food. A 3,000 ft climb came next which we broke up with lunch in the middle by a messy stream. We didn’t feel like having wet feet, so we found a log that was both several feet higher than the stream and barely the width of our feet. This was advanced stream crossing. E.D went first, stopped in the middle, chucked her poles across and straddled it across using one or two wiggly rocks underneath. As I watched, I extended my hiking poles and managed to walk across. The climb went steeply up for a long time, then finally began to have a better grade toward the top.

E.D. and I continued along the bumpy divide for quite some time until we stopped for dinner in hopes that the other two would catch up. In fact, they did roll up.

The Darkness: “We took the teal route…” (The maps show the actual CDT in red and the alternates in purple)

Me: “So, where did you get off trail?”

Scallywag: “We kept going all the way up Eagle Mountain instead of taking that hidden left turn…and then instead of going back down like smart people, we decided to bushwhack down and scramble down a talus field instead. It took awhile.”

We ended up going another few miles and camping at a lake with the Swiss Couple, Jeanine and Patrick who we hadn’t seen since the day before Lincoln, or about 200 miles. They had a small fire and were roasting marshmallows.

 

The lake campsite

The next morning, we all plodded down the trail and tried to work around the thunderstorms which kept trying to repeatedly explode above our heads right as we were going above treeline.

I kept noticing the thunder when it would appear as a wrong bass line in whatever music that I was trying to jam out to. The thunderstorm that day hit right before noon and was over quickly, but it was enough to push us into some trees to eat lunch.

We had as long decent down to a “parking lot” of a trail-head, which was really just a dirt road that you could move a car to the side of, out of the way. On the way down, we passed two beautifully blue lakes and it was hot out, so I took the opportunity to skinny dip for a moment to cool off.

From the “parking lot,” we had to climb. But this particular climb had recently been redone with wonderful switchbacks making the climb pleasant and not really a kick in the ass.

We kept going and found the last campsite close to Berry Creek. This campsite was not really a campsite, but it was mostly flat and was just wide enough for our tents. We had somehow gotten on a late schedule of leaving camp between 8-9am and camping at dusk, eating dinner at about 10pm. Oops.

From Berry Creek, we had a long climb upward again with something marked as “overlook” on Guthook, which was really just a pass, but it did have a good view. We roller-coastered around high up before dropping lower.

The next day, we had some high and exposed sections to go through as well. And there were…you guessed it, thunderstorms!

 

Right before one storm hit.

From Gibbon’s pass, which had a “spring” a bit off a side road (which was a puddle in the road itself) we went up a very exposed, but awesome peak. When I got to the top and thunder crashed across the sky, I looked at the dark mass of clouds coming my way and made it down as fast as my knees would let me on the loose rocks. I made it down to some trees, put my rain gear on and watched the storm pass. Scallywag and E.D waited with me in the trees, The Darkness had made it over the next exposed bump on the ridge.

That evening, we found a campsite that definitely only thru hikers would call a campsite and threw up our tents in a gap in the rain.

The next morning, we waited until another gap in the rain to pack up quickly and head toward Lemhi Pass. This part was surprisingly easy and we cruised through it to find the Swiss Couple and Crosby sitting there eating lunch.

Crosby had called Sam at Leadore Inn to pick him up there instead of the next, normal pass to get to town on, Bannock Pass. We all chatted and ate while Crosby waited for Sam.

When Sam came, we conveniently asked him if we could reserve two rooms for the next night and get a ride down from Bannock Pass the next day at 4pm. He said that sounded great and would see us then.

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