Tixler Spring (2360.3) to Chief Joseph Trailhead(2389.7) 29.4 Miles
Total Miles: 2105.3
Elevation: 7,265 feet
We camped in a less than ideal spot last night. I fully expected to wake up this morning and find everything wet from condensation. I was pleasantly surprised to find all of my gear remained dry. I knew that today was going to be a tough one. The cumulative miles and elevation change has really taken a toll on my body and mind. The last couple of days have really been a grind. Today was slightly less elevation gain, but it was much steeper climbs. The elevation loss was a whole lot more. We got started at 6:35. That has been our constant start time lately. We started off with a nice and gentle 2,500 foot descent. It looked really steep on the elevation profile, but in reality it was well graded. We hiked through a pretty river basin. There were a couple of dicey stream crossings, but we managed to rock hop and log walk our way across, keeping our feet dry. The surprise of the morning was all of the huckleberry bushes we hiked past. We grabbed as many berries as we could while still keeping up a brisk pace.
Pretty start to the day
Sour Straws and Piñata making their way through the river basin
We stopped a little earlier than normal to process some water. I don’t think anyone had expected to take a full break so early. I took my pack off to get something out of the back mesh pocket and Straws dropped her pack as well. That seemed to be the sign that we would take a break. A few miles farther down the trail we came across an old abandoned cabin. We were getting ready to climb up 2,000 feet and this seemed like an opportune time to take another break, this time to fuel up before the climb. Like I said earlier, we are all feeling the effects of these consistent big days.
I ate a ton of calories and could feel the energy coursing through my veins. I practically ran up the mountain. It was an Appalachian Trail type climb, meaning it was extremely steep and there was no view from the top. After the climb I went immediately back down to almost my original elevation.
Once st the bottom we had almost seven miles of roller coaster type terrain. A few of the ups looked almost vertical. We took another break at a trailhead and walked downhill to collect water. During our break a section hiker was dropped off at the trailhead. We talked with him briefly before starting uphill. The next seven miles went up and down through an exposed burn area. It was really hot out today and water was becoming scarce. I felt great during the first half of the climb. I kept up an absurdly fast pace. I think I did 1 mile in fifteen minutes. Even for me, that is crazy fast for a steep uphill climb. I waited for Piñata and Straws at the junction to a water source. It was .5 miles round trip. I had decided to skip it and stretch my water to the next and last source of the day. Since Straws and Piñata both needed water, Straws offered to grab me some. I couldn’t turn that offer down. The trail we have been hiking on was newly created. It was a dream to hike on it. The last two big climbs were very well graded. The trail engineers had even taken the time to remove a majority of the roots and rocks that have been making the last two days a living hell.
Hot and exposed
Big uphill ahead
Finally view after a big climb
The last two big climbs of the day were much easier than expected. It felt great to finally catch a break. I totally expected two miserable climbs. We were behind pace slightly. Our goal was to hike 27 or 28 miles today so we could hike 1 or two miles to the highway in the morning. We really wanted to have a nice, long, and relaxing day in town tomorrow. I came up with a different plan after lunch, but hadn’t mentioned it to Straws and Piñata yet. They haven’t had a zero day in a long time and don’t plan on taking anymore the rest of the trail. I also hadn’t planned on taking another zero. After our last water break I suggested hiking all the way to the highway tonight. By camping at the trailhead we could have a zero day, instead of a nero day. They were both on board.
Nice, new trail
The final five and s half miles into camp were grueling. The trail(dirt road) was easily graded and we should have crushed it. Instead we were all dragging. At least the road was perfect to hike three abreast, which allowed us to hike and talk more easily. Shortly before the end of the day I hit the 2,100 mile mark. I stopped very quickly to make my mile marker.
2,100 miles in 116 days!
I ate every single item remaining in my food bag. I had 1 ramen, which I added two slim jims to, two Payday candy bars, one snickers, a few handfuls of Flamin Hit Cheetos, and a handful of skittles. I have zero food remaining. I have never been so hungry before on trail. I am a bottomless pit. I’m not sure I can manage carrying more food, but I have a few long stretches ahead of me, so I had better figure it out quickly.
Free beer I found in the privy at the trailhead. I don’t drink IPAs so I let Piñata and Straws drink it
"Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind."