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Posts Tagged ‘ED’

After noting the location of the fifty cent soda machine as a GPS waypoint, we quickly found pizza and beer, then headed to the house of some trail angels in Eureka, Nikki and Jeremy. They graciously let us shower and sleep in their unfinished basement that evening.

In the morning, we began the usual chores cycle including laundry, resupplying, general laziness, watching The Princess Bride, and another trip to the post office to send some unnecessary snow stuff home.

We topped off Eureka with a visit to the brewery whereby we had some delicious brews and a rousing game of checkers. Jeremy showed us an old rails to trails way to meet up with the PNT instead of walking seven road miles. It also conveniently lead to a bar seven miles in.

Rails to Trails

The next day we meandered along the old railroad trail talking about nothing and everything. One topic was graying hair.

Coyote: I wonder which goes grey first…the top of your head or your pubes.

ED: In my observations, the pubes are the last part to go gray.

Everyone stares.

ED: I take care of old people for a living…

We camped near the lake that night, waking up to rain at 3:30am, and upon seeing crappy weather, hitched back into town for another zero. Our hitch laughed at our story.

Wendy: Well, no good story starts with “I ate a salad…”

In the morning, we got a ride back to where we hitched from and walked the road over to Webb mountain. We still had quite a few rounds of thunderstorms to contend with that day. Right before we hit the trail, we had to cross Lake Koocanusa on a bridge. Naturally, we hopped underneath it to eat lunch.

Right as we were finishing, we looked across the lake to the rumbling thunder of a storm coming quickly straight toward us.

Crosby: Ohhh…

ED: That’s moving right at us…

Me: We could wait this one out…

Karma: It’s not wet in the middle, let’s clear it out.

Crosby: We could read some Lisa Jackson and find out about the illegitimate children.

Under the bridge chilling.

We sat under the bridge while Crosby read us two more chapters. He even had separate voices for each character, including a raspy one for Gina, the protagonist.

When the storm ceased, we started climbing up Webb Mountain finding a few Juneberries and tons of huckleberries. Half way up, another storm started and Crosby found a neat little overhang to hide under.

With many huckleberry stops, we eventually reached the top to a locked lookout tower. We could see a huge amount of the lake, including the bridge we hunkered under. We also saw the next storm coming in.

Since the lookout tower was locked, all five of us moved into the privy to wait that one out.

Me: This will smell great…

Crosby: All I smell are the Fritos you’re eating.

That storm passed quickly and we kept hiking. We were heading to Boulder Lake to camp, but stopped at a stream to cook to prevent the food smell from being near our campsite. On the way, we passed a white pick up truck with several piles of used toilet paper underneath.

While we were eating, a group of five gun toting, cowboy hat wearing Montanans walked up.

Cowboy 1: Where y’all camping tonight?

Coyote: A bit further down the trail. How far did you all go?

Cowboy 2: All the way to the lake.

(Only 0.9 miles further…)

Karma: Nice, we were thinking of heading there.

Cowboy 1: We were fishing there, all you will have to do is throw some wood on our fire and it’ll blaze right up.

Our not fish gutted campsite.

All of us exchanged uncomfortable glances. None of us liked the idea of them having fished, cooked, and left a fire smoldering. Moreover, given their used toilet paper under the truck, we suspected that they probably left fish guts everywhere too, a major bear attractant.

We ended up going another quarter mile to put distance between our cook site and their fish guts, finding a flatish spot and camped in time for another chapter of the trashy romance novel.

In the morning, we woke up, packed up, and continued onward. None of us were really feeling it and decided to attempt a short cut down an unmaintained trail to some old logging roads to get to Yaak, Montana.

We should have taken the fact that we had trouble identifying which unmaintained trail to take as a sign, but once we found it, we went for it. Of course, it was slightly off from two sets of maps and Gaia.

The first half mile of this three mile short cut was fine. Slightly overgrown, a few blowdowns, but fine. Then it got less and less traily and we saw some really old stumps leftover from logging. Eventually, we popped out on a really old “road” that no one could drive on anymore. At this point, we could not find the unmaintained trail at all, so we opted for the “roads.” This track supposedly dropped into a bigger road which would connect to the trail later on, slightly longer than the original three miles.

After bushwhacking down the “road” for about twenty minutes through thick Adler stands that were at the prefect height to smack all of us perpetually in the face, we paused.

Crosby: Veggie, when are we going to hit that first service road?

Me: Ummm, we’ve been on it for the last ten minutes…

We looked at the maps and decided to continue bushwhacking on the “roads” because at least our feet were clear and we could plow through the Alders with our arms up. Eventually, we reached an option for another “road” that would take us directly back to the trail and we took it. It was slightly easier bushwhacking than the last one, and not long after, we reached the trail, plopped down, and all took large swigs of whiskey.

Hiking down to water, we all examined our options as we munched. We planned to take the Vinal Creek Trail over to a forest service road after that and at that point, our previous short cut might have taken more time than if we’d have stayed on the primary route.

The Vinal Creek Trail was beautiful in contrast. It had old growth cedars, a few thimble berries, a few raspberries, and a few huckleberries. The road was actually a dirt road and Crosby read to us while walking.

We found a stream to cook near and a dirty pull off to camp in that evening. We used the reflective umbrellas near any potential traffic to prevent getting run over.

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In Polebridge, we immediately hit the fruit stand for something fresh. We quickly realized that the town guide did not lie when saying this town was off the grid. We decided we needed food and beer first, so we went to the singular restaurant to discover pizza night. Unclean with boxes and packs, we found a table farther outside and promptly ordered some beer.

Part way through, Mosey wandered over. He had hiked the AT in 2014 and was now booking the Montana section of the divide with his daughter-in-law. After chatting with us he asked us if we’d had much trail magic yet. We hadn’t, but we were only four days in. When we went to pay, the waitress said Mosey had taken care of it. Now that’s doing amazing first trail magic for the PNT!

We wandered over to the Merc, bought some beers, and were trying to take a picture of us in front of the Merc, when another guy came over. He said he’d hiked the AT in 1991 and his trail name was Bare Necessities.

We found both of them at they hostel where we camped and grabbed showers from Oliver. Oliver turned the electricity from either solar panels or a generator on for brief wifi. We escaped the mosquitoes in the screened in porch for awhile as we tracked down Crosby’s hiking poles which he had left in the restaurant. We were getting mixed responses and apparently someone named Steven took them back to where he was camping.

In the morning, we lazily lingered to dry the dew off of our sleeping bags then went back to the Merc. We found Coyote there chowing down on various foods. She was trying to find a computer to use then possibly stay the night.

We thought she would just follow us after getting some email done. Without electricity and no way to charge things, we knew we had to start heading toward Eureka and conserve phones and external batteries. We did, however, find a free library on the side of the road from which we extracted a place based romance novel to take turns reading out load. Heading out of Polebridge, we had a decently long road walk of which, we decided to do a minor cut through the woods.

After walking for awhile jamming to music from Karma’s phone amplified through a frisbee, we found a shady spot to eat lunch. We figured if we took some breaks, Coyote would catch up. A few miles later, she did. We got through a bit of the ultra light romance novel while walking the road which seemed to like the word “illegitimate” a little too much. The novel has several other instances that lack vocabulary variety and obscure details completely unnecessary to the plot as well.

When Coyote caught us, the songs started. She knows more songs than anyone can shake a stick at and sings well too.

We plugged away at the mix of dirt roads, smashing mosquitoes, and found a spot to camp on a bridge over the creek coming out of Hay Lake. We read another riveting chapter of the book out loud to fall asleep to.

The morning brought condensation, but not as much as expected and we hiked on to a water source. The four of us reached the source according to Gaia and our maps, but the trail seemed to fizzle out. We cooed for Coyote who appeared about three hundred yards above us. She didn’t seem to want to move, so eventually, we came to the conclusion that she was being stubborn for a reason and we went to her. ED and Crosby went back down the dirty track to the junction in question not far back, while Karma and I bushwhacked straight up. We beat the road.

The five of us continued on for a bouncy ridge that day. There, we met three day hikers, Brian, Heidi, and their son Kyle. When Brian learned we were hiking the PNT, he looked elated.

Brian: No way! I hiked the CDT in ’93!

All of our jaws dropped.

ED: Was there even a trail then?

Brian: No, I used forest service and BLM maps from 1917…

We all stopped for a break near Whitefish Mountain and picked his brain some more. We continued hiking and then stopped for a second break to hear more stories from ’93. It was awesome!

After they turned down a side trail, we continued through our first big water gap which meant we had six more miles without water. We climbed up and over a few more bumps before descending down to a great stream to cook dinner.

We decided to keep going another five miles down whereby Coyote told us riddles for most of the way and it ended up with her and Crosby singing, “The Ants Go Marching On.”

Camping that night near a river and a forest service road, we all slept well that night.

The morning brought two deer and border patrol moving slowly down the road. We didn’t realize we were less than fifteen miles from the border. As they passed, Coyote yelled, “Vive Mexico! Oops, wrong border!”

Since it was the fourth of July, we thought we’d try our luck right before we turned off the first service road at yogying beers while we dried stuff out. We had a full pack explosion and snack break going on in a pull off. We only got waves though.

Packing up, we went up toward Mount Wam. We had another ten mile water gap or so to contend with, but nothing major. The climb went faster than we expected and we met a bunch of people on the top. A local, Dave, had rented out the lookout tower on top and sat and chatted a lot with us while we ate lunch and enjoyed the view.

We did not take a long break and kept going. Some other day hikers went not long after in the same direction. At the next junction we stopped near the 100 mile mark. The day hikers caught up to us.

Day Hiker: Where’d you guys camp last night?

Me: At the junction of the dirt road and the blue something trail.

Day Hiker: Oooh, that’s where they used to put all of the barbed wire to catch and analyze grizzly hairs.

Great. We knocked on wood. Made it through that one.

After they left, we came to a series of confusing junctions. It was mostly confusing because sometimes the maps would have where we were and sometimes Gaia, but both were missing a few. I tracked it on Gaia as we walked it. We had decided to camp on Bluebird Lake, a mile and a half down the highline trail after the junction of trail 88. We had already decided to backtrack back to trail 88 to save some time and have slightly less of a road walk into town. That decision was reinforced by the amount of snow left on the mostly north facing highline trail past that. It was soft, but not post holey snow hanging onto the contoured trail. It made for a long and more tiring last piece of the day.

However, when we did make it to Bluebird Lake with soaking wet feet, we knew it was worth it. The lake had a clear reflection of a large wall behind it, no mosquitoes, and no wind. We had a campfire and stayed up reading and laughing for the fourth of July.

We took a lazy morning before navigating back to trail 88 through the snow. As soon as we got there, we were snow free, but had a few blowdowns to contend with through a recently burned area.

At the bottom of that trail, Coyote had the brilliant idea to call some local trail angels and see if they had time and room for us. We elected Crosby to do the smooth talking and we had a place to stay for the night.

With only seven miles of mostly dirt road walking into town, we began plugging away at it until we reached a section riddled with giant private property signs. To get around it, we had to bushwhack between dirt road segments for a quarter mile and we made it out.

The roads into town also had a few unsigned junctions, but we prevailed noting the order of how we’d get through town.

Bluebird Lake

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It started out as a piecemeal operation with a slew of texts. I was going on the PNT and thought I might be out alone for a bit. Then, I heard Karma was going, but slightly later. Then, Crosby decided that working was lame two and a half weeks before I wanted to leave. Then, ED got wind of this and put in her two weeks, booking a plane ticket for the 23rd. We started making a plan from there. When we weren’t leaving until later, Karma joined and booked a bus ticket for the 24th. After Crosby’s sisters wedding on the 26th, we would depart on the 27th.
Crosby and I picked up ED at the airport, then found The Darkness’s hide a key and started making dinner in her apartment. The next day, we meandered around Seattle until Karma’s bus got in. When it did, we grabbed him, went to REI, and caught the ferry over to my Mom’s house. Stumbling Norwegian and Honey Bee caught the same ferry to come over for dinner and let us pick their PNT brains since they had just hiked it in 2014.

After dinner and a bonfire, we had packed our brains full of pertinent information.

We had two more bonfires, helped Jane celebrate her birthday, went to Game of Thrones trivia, and left at 5:15am in Glen, my van. First stop was to pick up my Mom’s cousin Babs who was heading out with is to help my Mom get Glen back to her house.

Glen, the van.

All of us settled into the van, taking naps, listening to cassette tapes, Babs’ camp songs, eating, and taking to the road. Glenn drove pretty well and had plenty of space. He also had plenty of electric plug ins to continually charge phones which allowed me to finish keeping up with my blog.

Eventually we made it to Glacier where we took a out stop at the CDT at Marias Pass to say hi to the trail. East Glacier was only a ten minute drive away so we were at Serranos/Backpackers Inn quickly.

There we found Laugh Track, Anchor, Top Shelf, and Bard, some fresh CDT sobos. We chatted with them, got our packs together and went to bed for an early morning at the Two Medicine Ranger Station.

The bottom of our permit.

We dutifully got there before it opened and got the exact permits we wanted. However, our permit said “itinerary not recommended” on out due to snow fields and a “water hazard”‘and the ranger using the permit continually twisted that we were a month early.

Mom and Babs dropped us off at Chief Mountain Trailhead and we began hiking after the requisite pictures. The trail wound down toward a river snaking through lush fields of wildflowers.

We took several breaks to enjoy the river, some shade, or flowers until we reached a sign that said “waterfall.” Taking the short trail down, we found a beautiful waterfall emptying into a crystal clear blue swimming hole. We only hesitated long enough to take a picture before wading into its cold depths. It was definitely cold. Right as we got out, Laugh Track, Anchor, Bard, and Top Shelf walked up and we all realized we were set to camp at the same site that night.

Chilling with some CDT sobos.

When we finally moved on, we did reach the campsite in decent time and found Coyote. We set up tents and tarps, then headed down to eat. Coyote was also hiking the PNT and we had been told to keep an eye out for her from Stumbling Norwegian and Honey Bee.

The four CDT sobos came not long after and we all had a blast hanging out and sharing a few things.

Anchor: Man, you guys packed out and are sharing beer and whiskey and we didn’t think to bring anything out.

Karma: I remember my first hike…

In the morning, we got a decent start waking up, eating, and leaving before the CDTers even woke up. Coyote came with us and we began going up Stony Indian Pass. The trail was so well graded that out made for a good first big climb. We passed lakes, wildflowers, and were grateful for switchbacks. 

We took a nice long break on top of the pass examining the snow we were about to go through. There was some, but not a shit ton.

Almost instantly, we crossed snow and put on micro spikes. It was a bit of bushwhacking mixed with trail bits. Part way down, we had to cross a neat little snow patch on the corner of the lake.

The lake was so awesome, we took another long break before descending down to the valley bottom. 

The CDT monument visit #2.

We encountered pesky mosquitoes, flustered border patrol agents, and a few boost tourists at goat haunt looking at us in a peculiar fashion. Coyote stayed there that night while Karma, ED, Crosby and I went to visit the CDT northern terminus. It was an extra 6.2 miles, but it was worth it to see it again. We saw a boat there with scuba divers and we tried to scheme our way into a ride. It unfortunately didn’t pan out.

Crosby: How’s it going?

Boat dude: Great!

Karma: Find anything?

Boat dude: Some beer cans…

We walked back and all crammed into one campsite again at Waterton River. Coyote found us the next morning as she headed toward the monument and Canada. We headed off toward Brown Pass.

Right beforehand, however, we found the perfect spot. A glacial lake with a jumping rock hurting out with nothing underneath. We scanned around. We could see the bottom just fine with no ledges or oddly placed rocks. We saw two ways out back up the bank nearby. Jump!!!

Jump!

After quite a few jumps and brains seemingly turning into slushies, we hit the top of the pass in no time and took another side trip up to see Hole In The Wall. It was an extra two miles one way, but it too was worth it. The trail climbed at ghee pretext grade and we walked up to find a good spot to sit and admire the wall of waterfalls. We saw no one and could not count the number of waterfalls-there were too many to count.

On the way back down, we began seeing a few other people, two of which admired our umbrellas. We hit the campground by Bowman Lake, found a spot, and sat down to cook. We met some peyote from Boston and one from Mississippi who we later learned had hiked the AT, named Porch.

After an amazing star viewing night on the crystal clear lake, we trotted down toward Polebridge, Montana.

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** From November 2015**

The post master, who understood thru hikers, found the weight of the boxes we’d received hilarious. ED went to go get her package from the motel and I quickly opened and packed the resupply box from my Mom. I had asked her to make something for each of us as a surprise, so I had to get them into my pack unnoticed. She had dutifully found a bottle of Fireball and rebottled it into plastic bottles for us. I threw the rest in my food bag and trod down the road to meet the others at McDonald’s where they were grazing and bumming free wifi.
We all opened the boxes and laughed that our friends knew us well. Patch sent a bottle of Gentleman’s Jack with a note to each of us! The part to all of us said that a friend had given it to him, but he had stopped drinking awhile back, didn’t want it to go to waste and thought hikers should enjoy it. We were very excited. We opened Karma’s box to find another sweet note, three bottles of champagne, dark chocolate espresso beans, and candy! Over lunch we wondered how we got so lucky to have such awesome friends and how we were going to divide up the weight of it all agreeing that those had to stay in glass bottles.

Lucky for us, the restaurant Cranberries sucked, so we weren’t tempted to stay super long. We called Teresa to confirm the shuttle from the CDTC for a pickup, booked plane tickets and bus tickets. I had to argue a bit with the airline, so I took a little longer. 

We meandered to the first water cache from the CDTC and camped there. We made a tiny little fire to sit around for dinner and some booze. Along with the champagne meant for the border, the Fireball, the Gentleman’s Jack, we had also saved the peppermint schnapps and the spiced rum from Bams.

In the morning we continued on the “trail,” which at this point had no trail and simply 12 white signs about every two tenths of a mile. I say white signs because all the blue CDT symbols faced north for the northbounders. Basically, we would get to one and the between the five of us, we could find the next one and pick our way over there.

As time went on, the plants got continually spikier and spikier. It was all about not running into the spiky plants.

For a change of pace, we also had perfect weather for the last stretch. No rain in sight. The mornings were cold, but doable and we could morning night hike and hike into the night.

The second day, I found two crickets mating. I obviously had to get down on the ground to take a ground level photo when Crosby came up behind me.

The crickets.

I heard snickering, then Crosby busted out into “Let’s get together” by Al Greene.

On the third day at lunch, The Darkness took on a new mission.

The Darkness: Wonderer, have you ever had fluff?

Wonderer: Fluff?

The Darkness: Marshmallow fluff.

Wonderer: No…

The Darkness: How about a fluffer nutter?

Wonderer looked more and more confused, but mostly skeptical.

The Darkness: Would you eat one if I made you one?

Wonderer: …ok?

The Darkness made a fluffer nutter and handed it to Wonderer. Wonderer took a bit and comtorted his face to show several emotions, then he held up the sandwich.

Wonderer: … America…

The fourth day, we found an abandoned car. Border patrol had already searched it and marked it abandoned two months prior. ED immediately searched it herself and produced a very scratched CD that went into her pack for later examination.

That night, we camped two miles from the Mexican Border. We were going to get picked up early, but up the road eleven miles and we wanted plenty of time at the border. We set up examining our booze supplies for the next morning when we saw an orange glow in the sky.

ED: Guys…what the hell is that?

Crosby: No idea.

We watched the mysterious orange glow to the west.

Me: It’s getting bigger…and closer…

ED: Should we do something?

Wonderer made a curious noise and watched.

The Darkness: What would we do? We are in the middle of the desert? You want to hop the border into Mexico?

We gathered closer together sipped some peppermint schnapps and watched. Eventually it seemed to dissipate and the best theory we had was aliens.

We awoke at 5am and started walking expecting to cruise into the border for sunrise. However, the CDT had one more surprise for us. It wanted us to embrace the brutality one last time because we couldn’t find enough of the signs in the dark.

All of a sudden the worst plants on the trail appeared in the form of grape sized burrs that stuck to everything and ripped at skin. ED yelled slews of profanity as she gathered the biggest collection stuck to her leggings. At one point, we plowed straight though them because we’d hit them any way we tried to go.

The border monument.

We showed up to the border right at sunrise and pulled out the rest of the booze. I pulled out the surprise from my Mom of homemade crowns and we all put them on as we began drinking just before 6:30 in the morning. We picked burrs off, blasted some music, and began taking pictures. We were pretty drunk by 7am. Big thanks to my Mom, Karma, Patch, and Bams for the good times and booze.

Before we left, we flew Scout’s superman kite he passed to us in Chama.

On the way back, we found Juan from the CDTC. He gave us some much needed Gatorade and threw us all in the car. We bounced around for several hours before hitting a paved road. Juan informed us that now, we had to put on seat belts. All of is had them on, he was the only one who didn’t.

Not too long afterward Border Patrol pulled us over with smiles on their faces very uncharacteristically. One cleared his throat.

Patrol #1: Is everyone American?

ED: Yes…errr…

Wonderer: No, I am Japanese.

Patrol #1: OK, passport please.

Wonderer: Can I get it from my pack in the back?

Patrol #1: Yes.

The wiff of backpacks comes out.

Patrol #2: Whew! What have you guys been doing.

The Darkness: We hiked here from Canada.

Patrol #2: OK. Yeah. You guys are good.

We got back to Lordsburg and Juan dropped us off at a Mexican restaurant. We had celebratory margaritas. We headed toward the Econolodge and it felt like we were just in town and not done. We did all the normal chores except resupplying. We replaced that with buying a pinata and candy from the dollar store for The Darkness’s birthday the following day. We made her a cake from  station pound cakes, ice cream sandwiches, and caramel candies.

The next afternoon we left Lordsburg together on the Greyhound.

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**From November 2015**

Silver City treated us well. We did not want to leave. To make matters worse, it was hot out and we were hungover. We decided that we should get lunch at a gas station partly out of town to eliminate the ability to further distract ourselves. At the gas station, however, we got another message. This time, it was from Karma.

Karma: When are you all getting into Lordsburg?

Me: We’re just leaving Silver City now. Should be there in three days.

Karma: Should I send something for you all to the post office or the store?

Me: Whoa! We’ll be at the PO anyway, so there?

Our hangovers suddenly seemed better with a combination of that and a small collection of locals trying to buy us food. We kept going, finding the trail again and stayed together as group that night. Wonderer picked our campsite and we all camped close enough together that we could discuss our shit show while laying comfortably in sleeping bags.

We weaved in and out of small forested sections, open fields, and found some interesting water sources. There was one in which we had to crawl under a fence, move the slime off, and then filter. The cows nearby eyed us suspiciously as we shared their water.

As the days grew increasingly shorter, so did our breaks. We had to night hike to get in the miles we wanted, it was usually just a question of morning night hiking or hiking into the night. We managed to keep lunch to under 30 minutes.

Water.

We had some skeptical water sources coming up and I carried a bit more just in case. The trail wound around some hills and went on and off old dirt roads past a few windmills and cow troughs.

We wanted to get into Lordsburg early so we could actually go in and out of the town. Figuring that we’d spend more time there at the end as we figured out bus tickets, we didn’t want to stay too long. To do so, we had to night hike. We had a spectacular sunset which gave way to New Mexico’s specialty: brilliant stars. We hiked well into the evening with headlamps looking for a windmill.

At the GPS location we had for it, it was no where in our headlamp beams. We searched and searched. At that point, we have up, camped in some low trees to avoid the wind. The morning came fast and the stars were still out when we left. I set out first.

The unidentified dead thing in the water source.

About a quarter mile later, I found the missing windmill. Something smelled weird. I went to check it. The closer I got, the worse it smelled. I peered in. There was a very dead and very bloated unidentifiable small animal that was most likely a rat or opossum. Reluctantly, I fished it out with a hiking pole and set it near. I decided I could make it the fourteen miles to Lordsburg on the half liter I had left, slightly dehydrate myself, then rehydrate in town. Before I left, I wrote a note on Guthook.

We kept meandering down a mix of old dirt roads and “trail” which really just included signs in the general direction we needed to find a way between.

Going into Lordsburg.


Of course, it tried to rain on us again and we had some rain gear on, rain gear off moments. The sunrise in the morning made it worth it though.

ED and I got to town first and went to pick up boxes. Crosby, The Darkness, and Wonderer were not far behind however. We were looking to see what we’d been sent from my Mom, Karma, and Patch.

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