Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Day 107- People, Finally

Monday July 30, 2018 Aldous Lake TH(2133.2) to Boatman Springs Rd(2161.7) 28.5 Miles
Total Miles: 1881.1 
Elevation: 7,282 feet

In a recent blog post I talked about my desire to make it to camp early and to be asleep before dark. Well, last night I got my wish. I was asleep before 9:30, which is when it gets dark. I felt very refreshed when I woke up. I packed up quickly and I even got to use the privy instead of digging a hole. I was hiking north by six thirty. When I got pack on trail I saw several tents at the trail head. I even saw somebody cowboy camped on top of a picnic table. Without a doubt these were fellow thruhikers. I haven’t seen another NoBo hiker since I left Dubois. I was hoping a few of them might catch up to me. Shortly after leaving the trailhead the trail climbed to Aldous Lake. I was glad I didn’t camp there. The lake wasn’t very pleasant looking. 


A few miles after I passed the lake I hit another bushwhack section of trail. I don’t know why I bother calling it a trail. All I had to go on was a general route. I climbed up and over a saddle then dropped down through an entire hillside of downed trees. It was very slow going. I hoping that this isn’t my new normal. The mosquitos have been better, but the biting flies are just as bad. I’m constantly amazed at what I can get used to, but I’m hoping that bushwhacking my way to Canada isn’t in the cards. 

No visible trail 

As I was taking a break and trying to figure out where the trail went two hikers caught up to me. Grasshopper and Anchor are two new faces for me. Grasshopper is from France and Anchor is from Switzerland. Anchor hiked the PCT in 2016, but our paths never crossed. We would leapfrog each other for the rest of the day. I enjoyed having other hikers to chat with during my breaks. I also saw two SoBos today. I’m definitely seeing the SoBo hiking bubble now. I think that I have seen at least one per day since leaving Yellowstone. 

Seriously overgrown trail 

Once the bushwhack was over with I had a pretty substantial climb to contend with. It was in the middle of a fourteen mile dry stretch. I wish I had grabbed a little more water from the last source. The day was warming up quickly and the climb was more exposed than I thought it would be. I had less than a quarter of a liter, 3.6 miles until more water, and close to 1,500 feet of elevation gain. I pushed through the climb as quickly as possible. It was much easier than the elevation profile lead me to believe. 

Dry looking territory ahead

New trail construction 

The spring I was heading towards had a few interesting comments written about it on my navigation app. Apparently this is a main water source for the sheep experiment station. When the sheep are grazing here they use this water source. Anytime the sheep are present so are the guard dogs. A few days ago a hiker posted that there was over 500 sheep and 10 dogs. The dogs were very aggressive and the hiker was scared to get water. I could see how this could be a major issue since the next listed water source is over thirty miles away. I was a little apprehensive as I approached, but there were no sheep or dogs there today. I did see a cowboy with his horse and mule. It looked like he had a pretty permanent camp set up. I grabbed a few liters of water and had a snack break. I had to wait 20 minutes to drink my water because it takes awhile for the bleach to purify it. Usually this isn’t an issue because I never show up to a water source with empty water bottles. I only had a few swallows left when I got to the spring. I sat down in the shade while I waited for the bleach to do its job. One of the southbounders that I spoke with told me about an unlisted water source about thirteen miles away. That information saved me from having to carry an extra two liters, which weighs 4.4 lbs. I left the spring with a liter and a half. I also drank a liter while I was there. 

No sheep today 

The rest of the afternoon was spent hiking up and down. Most of the climbs were short, but I had one steep one. I pride myself on how fast I can move uphill. Not too many people I have come across can outpace me on a good uphill climb. Well today I got absolutely destroyed. Grasshopper flew past me like I was standing still. I’m not sure I could have overtaken him if I had dropped my pack and started running. I was very impressed. When I finally caught up to him I piled on the praise. It was very impressive. He said that was pretty unusual for him to hike that fast uphill. He just really enjoyed this particular climb. I’m not sure if he was just being humble or if it was a one time kind of thing. I think it was probably the former. 

View from the top

The rest of the late afternoon passed rather quickly. I took one last break before my final push into camp. I didn’t take very many breaks today. I was feeling really well rested and energized. I wish I could always get eight hours of sleep. I could really tell a big difference. The last four miles of the day was spent hiking on a dirt road. The cdt follows this road for fifteen miles total. I’m also back into cattle country. It has been a long time since I have been hiking through this type of terrain. This particular herd is huge and spread out over several miles. I think I’m going to have to pick up a Sawyer water filter ASAP. Bleach is great unless I’m sharing a water source with hundreds of cows. 

Oh joy

Such s beautiful road 

Back in the land of Moo

Interesting brand 

What I have left of the trail 

I found great spot to camp in. I thought I would be in between the herds of cattle, but that didn’t quite work out. I am overlooking some rolling hills and big mountains. I feel pretty safe cowboy camping and not hanging my food tonight. This allowed me to set up and start eating dinner quickly. Eventually Grasshopper and Anchor showed up. They liked my campsite so much that they stayed. Then a guy named Snake Farmer showed up, he liked my choice as well and he stayed. I hadn’t finished eating yet when Enigma, Slingshot, and Cleansweep arrived. They liked my spot, but there were no more flat spots in the area. They hiked a little closer to the interstate before setting up camp. I haven’t seen Cleansweep and Slingshot since Twin Lakes. It was great to catch up. After so many days of not seeing anyone going nourthbound it was a little overwhelming to have so many people arrive in my camp within minutes of each other. I haven’t camped with anyone else since just before Grand Lake. We will all try to get a ride into Lima, MT tomorrow morning. 

Pretty sweet campsite 

I can’t wait to take a shower 

Small part of the herd moving in 

Calf moved in really close 

“He who has a why to live can bear almost any how.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche

Monday, July 30, 2018

Day 106- The One With The Bear Box

Sunday July 29, 2018
Lillian Lake(2109.4) to Aldous Lake TH(2133.2) 
23.8 Miles
Total Miles: 1852.6
Elevation: 7050 feet

I was moving pretty slow when I woke up this morning. It took awhile to convince myself to get up and get moving. I was very happy to be done with the alternate. It was not very pleasant and I wish I had hiked the official trail through that section. I have fine tuned my morning routine. I pack up everything including my tent, then I retrieve my pack, which I put at least 100 feet from my tent, and finally I get my bear bag. Mace Windu accompanies me while I do this. I make my breakfast shake and drink it while I put everything in my pack. I’m only about 5-10 minutes slower leaving camp. My Subway sandwich that I had for dinner last night left me really thirsty. I drank all of my water. This is one of the few times that I was completely out of water leaving camp. I could have treated some lake water, but I prefer sources that are flowing. There was a nice spring about a mile from camp. After that I had a twenty mile dry stretch. I was pretty well hydrated, so I figured I could get by with carrying two liters until the next source. Just before the stream I spotted a moose on the trail. It was the first female moose I have seen. She was standing on the trail about fifty yards above the spring. I shouted at her to get her attention, but she couldn’t have cared less that I was there. Since she wasn’t moving anytime soon I decided to get my water. Once I was done filling up my bottles and adding my bleach I tried again to get her to move. I yelled a bunch, but nothing happened. Finally when I took s few more steps her way she ran off. I guess she had a certain distance in her mind for what was too close. I know that moose can be more aggressive than bears, but that is usually during their rutting season. I’m pretty careful about how close I will get to any animal. 

Zero cares given

The moose encounter was the most exciting part of the day. It was all uphill from there. The trail was overgrown in a lot of areas or nonexistent. I got pretty good at picking a bearing and following it. I had to be careful with my water consumption. It has been a lot of miles since I had to worry about my next water source. I actually seem to stay more hydrated when I’m in a dry stretch. When there is water all around I never feel like stopping to collect more. When it is dry I ration my water per mile so I tend to drink the proper amount. I’m not sure if that makes since or not. The uphill sections of my day were all very gradual climbs. I made my way up to the divide and then walked along a long ridge line. Eventually I had to drop back down into a valley. The descent was very gradual, with a lot of switchbacks down old, overgrown logging roads. 

Cool view from the top of the ridge. I love how the clouds reflected in the lake

Awesome trail construction. I wonder how many hours it took to clear all of the rocks 

Overgrown trail. Wildflowers=biting flies

So much green

The area I’m currently hiking through is part of some kind of sheep experiment. A sign that I passed stated that the “US Sheep Station seeks to improve the genetic merit, nutrition, health, and reproductive efficiency of the sheep”. They graze on almost 17,000 acres in the area. I didn’t see a single sheep today. It was disappointing. The sheep are guarded by very aggressive dogs, so maybe it was a good thing I didn’t see any. 

That’s one happy looking sheep 

Apparently these dogs are mean

The only other thing of note that happened today was the wildfires I could see in the distance. It looked like there were five different fires. I could see large columns of smoke rising in the distance. I couldn’t tell if they were in Idaho or Montana because I’m never sure what state I’m in. Just one time all day I hit a USGS marker for the borders. I was in Montana for all of 65 feet before heading back into Idaho. I’m sure that I was in Montana a few other times as well. 

USGS survey marker

I enjoyed the hiking today. It was nice to be back in the open and above treeline. The views I had were a little hazy from the fires, but it sure beats the views I had yesterday. 

Not sure if you can make out the columns of smoke

Cool panoramic shot 

Notice the carpet of purple wildflowers 

I couldn’t decide on where to camp tonight. I started the day 55 miles from town so that complicated things. It can be a difficult hitch into the town of Lima. There is s hotel that has a shuttle at 9:30, 12:00, and 5:30. Even if I pushed hard today and tomorrow I couldn’t make it there until the last shuttle tomorrow night. I really dislike paying for a hotel when all I’ll really have time to do is sleep there. It made since to hike a few less miles today and tomorrow and nero in on Tuesday. I figured I would hike 28 miles today and 23 miles tomorrow. Well, I hit 23 miles today at five o’clock and there was a stream, privy, picnic tables, and a bear box. As soon as I saw the bear box my mind was made up. The picnic table and privy was just icing on the cake. Not having to hang my food might just be my new favorite on trail delight. Previously that honor went to finding a trash can on trail. 

Bear box

I originally planned on just cooking dinner and hiking a few more miles, but that just did not make since. I felt like such a slacker for only hiking 23.8 miles today. I could have gotten in at least another 7 miles. I’m sure that when I have a full day in town instead of just an evening it will seem like the best decision ever. 

“A person who doubts himself is like a man who would enlist in the ranks of his enemies and bear arms against himself. He makes his failure certain by himself being the first person to be convinced of it.” 
- Alexandre Dumas

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Day 105- Eat My Dust

Saturday July 28, 2018 
Side of Fish Creek Rd( Alt mile 3.2) to Lillian Lake(2109.4) 29.4 Miles 
Total Miles: 1828.8
Elevation: 7803 feet

I had a picture in my head of how today was going to play out. I thought I had a pretty good idea of what was ahead of me. I could not have been more wrong. The first part of the day went exactly how I thought it would. Shortly after noon everything went to hell. 

I woke up ready to bust out some miles. Before I even got out of my tent I heard something go running by me on the road. It was a cute little fox. She had a dead mouse in her mouth. As I watched her go by two baby foxes came out of the woods. The momma fox gave them the mouse and ran by me again, probably going to hunt for more food. It was a really cool thing to witness. I packed everything up and went to retrieve my bear bag. I was hiking by 6:30. The first 13 miles of the day flew by. I hiked on a combination of gravel and paved roads. 

Going to feed her young

So cute 

I actually had cell service for most of the morning. As I hiked I finished yesterday’s blog, I had fallen asleep while writing again. Once I finished the blog and got it posted I downloaded a new audiobook, and watched a few videos on how to hang a bear bag using two cords. This is a better method of hanging food when all you have are pine trees to choose from. Hiking on a flat gravel road made it easy to multitask. I even managed to keep up a 3.3 mph pace while I looked at my phone. At one point I looked up and saw a sign that said junction ahead. For the rest of the day I had the School House Rock song, Conjunction Junction stick in my head. This was a bummer because the only part I could remember was, “conjunction junction what’s your function.” This single line was stuck on repeat in my head for over twelve hours. 

Very easy morning

Conjunction Junction

The total surprise of the day was that I hiked past a Subway restaurant. I took a two hour break to grab lunch and charge my phone. I even packed out a foot long sub to eat for dinner. This made my entire morning. I can’t believe nobody commented on our Guthook app that the trail passes a Subway. That is definitely something every hiker should know about. 


After leaving Subway I expected the day to continue to be easy and boring. I knew that I had another 9 miles on a road. What I didn’t bother checking was the elevation profile for those miles. I had a 3,000 foot climb. It was an easy climb since all of the elevation gain took place over 9 miles, but I would rather climb 3,000 feet over three miles than nine. I find long gradual climbs mentally taxing. I make things even more interesting the road changed from pavement to dirt. There was a ton of traffic along the road. Every time a car or ATV went by, and that a constant occurrence, it kicked up a giant cloud of dust. I now know where the phrase, Eat my dust came from. I quickly became frustrated and was not enjoying myself. It was really hot out and I was choking on all of the dust in the air. 
Cloud of dust after an ATV passed me. 

I probably had over 250 cars, trucks, and ATVs pass me by. The one bright spot of the hike up to Sawtelle Peak was a guy that stopped and offered me some water. I had been drinking more than I had allocated because of all the dust in my mouth so I gladly accepted. He had hiked up to the peak Beira and realized how bad the dust could be. I was in a big tourist area and driving up to the peak is a poppy thing to do. The mountain has several radio and cell towers. I’m not sure what the draw for tourists to go up there other than it must be a fun drive. 

Trying to keep the dust out of my mouth

Reason I had such good cell reception today 

I turned off of the road well before the actual summit. I was stoked to be hiking on actual trail again, but my excitement was short lived. I had to hike a 3.5 mile section that was described a a bushwhack. I thought I knew what that would entail, but I was not even in the ballpark. I thought it would be overgrown trail, but the trail was almost nonexistent. It should have been described as a cross country bushwhack. It took me several hours to hike three and a half miles. I got way off “trail” several times and had to backtrack. With less than a mile to go the fun really started. I had to bushwhack through willow and a bunch of creeks/streams. I had to say goodbye to my dream of having dry feet two days in a row. Of course it had to be st the end of the day so there was no chance to get my feet dry before making camp. 

Sawtelle Peak Road

Weird sky due to a fire in the area 

Almost a sign of trail during the bushwhack 

Picked up a few hitchhikers 

Hell Roaring Creek, most remote source of the entire Missouri/Mississippi River system 

I know for a fact that I will look at my route tomorrow with more care. I don’t like surprises like the ones that cropped up today. 

I hit the 1,800 mile marker shortly after starting out this morning 

“Endurance is not just the ability to bear a hard thing, but to turn it into glory.”
- William Barclay

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Day 104- Fantastic Friday

Friday July 27, 2018
Old Faithful Village(2016.6) to Side of Fish Creek Rd(2043.2) 26.6 Miles 
Total Miles: 1799.4
Elevation: 7,487 feet 

What a marvelous and spectacular day! When I woke up this morning I was able to get my blog posted. Yesterday I had four bars of Verizon service, but with only one tower and thousands of people in the park I couldn’t do anything that needed data service. That meant no posting on my blog. This morning I was up before most of the tourists. That meant a brief period where my data went through. I had planned on getting up and leaving the village right away, but I couldn’t resist getting breakfast before I left. I decided against the buffet. I knew that I would over eat and be uncomfortable while I was hiking. I settled for some chocolate chip pancakes, sausage links, and coffee. My lunch server from yesterday, Kristen, was working. She came over to say hello and I thanked her for setting me up with Andrea and Eric last night. 

Breakfast of champions

I didn’t eat all of my breakfast. I didn’t want to be miserable while I hiked this morning. My server never presented a check. I had to ask for it. She informed me that someone had paid for my bill, but they wished to remain anonymous. Thanks to whoever took care of it. That was really nice. During my brief period of data service I noticed a problem with my blog. Day 99 double posted and day 98 was deleted. I hope at some point in the near future I have time to rewrite and post it. I had thanked several people in it, so in case I don’t get that day up soon I’d like to thank them again. To Kris and Ed Foster, thank you very much for the birthday present. It was very generous and appreciated. Chris Morris, thanks for the Amazon gift card. I will put it to good use. It was great to hear from you again. Brigid, thanks for the generous donation/birthday gift via PayPal. I plan on getting new shoes with it sometime in the next several hundred miles. Arlene and Dan Williams, thanks for the kind and thoughtful birthday gift. I’m going to treat myself with it in the next town. Anthony, Lauren, and Parker, thanks for lunch in Yellowstone. I also plan on getting a hotel room and dinner in my next town. I really enjoyed our conversation on my birthday. Thanks for being so great. Mom and Dad thanks for everything. I enjoyed our visits and as always you took great care of me. 

After breakfast I hung around the Inn for about thirty minutes. I have finally learned that it is best to let my meal digest a little before beginning to hike. The trail followed the Upper Getser Basin for a few miles. I got to see some different geysers and the first part of my hike was awesome. I really needed to make some miles, but I met a really nice couple from Norman, OK who wanted to chat about hiking. They were just too friendly to refuse. I didn’t catch their names or get a picture, but I hope they enjoy the rest of their vacation. I really enjoyed talking to them. My time in Yellowstone made me feel like a rockstar. People were just so taken by what I think of as ordinary. I forget sometimes just how huge of an adventure I’m on. Thruhiking just seems normal to me. 

Tourist grade trail to start the day

So blue

So gold 

Sapphire Pools 

The actual hiking part of my day was pretty ho hum. After I left behind the mass of humanity I hiked to Summit Lake. I had one stream crossing and managed to keep my feet dry. After leaving the lake the mosquitos practically disappeared. Today was the first day in well over 300 miles that my feet remained dry. I almost forgot what it felt like to have happy dry feet. I only encountered a few biting flies and that was next to the lake. I was down right comfy while hiking on flat terrain. What a fantastic Friday! 

Summit Lake 

Last geyser section 

Eight miles after leaving the lake behind I also left Wyoming behind. I can’t say that I enjoyed the mud, mosquitos, or biting flies, but the Cowboy State was pretty cool. The Wind River Range exceeded expectations. Yellowstone ranks on the top of my list for favorite National Parks. Shortly after entering Idaho my time in Yellowstone was officially over. So far every time I have crossed into a different state it has rained and I had to deal with a lot of downed trees. Today was only slightly better. There were a lot of downed trees, but they were all easy to get around or to hop over. Thunderstorms were building all around me, but the force was with me. I managed to stay completely dry. At one point it began to sprinkle hard enough for me to put on my rain jacket, but as soon as I stopped and got it on the rain stopped too. 


Downed trees greeted me at the state boarder(again)

Hello Idaho(Land of Potatoes 

Idaho is a new state for me. I have never been here before. Of the five stares I’ll hike on this trail Idaho and Wyoming were new for me. I need to figure out what the state slogan is. I’m pretty sure it has something to do with potatoes. New Mexico is The Land of Enchantment. Then you have Colorful Colorado. Wyoming is known as The Cowboy State. Montana rounds off the list as Big Sky. So far all Idaho had to offer me was hiking on dirt and gravel roads. This used to drive me crazy, but now I’m kind of a fan. It is easy and fast hiking. For the next few days I’ll actually be bouncing back and forth between the Idaho-Montana border. 

Last section of trail for 40 miles. I’ll be on Forest Service roads 

I’m hiking an alternate for 32 miles. This shaved off 40 miles of CDT. I chose this route due to water concerns. I didn’t want to carry water for 38 miles. Both routes are primarily on FS roads so I took the one that had water along the way. The area I’m in is known for its snow mobile tracks. Some of the roads have these huge berms built along them every 100 yards or so. It is kind of a pain to hike around. 

Giant berm

Shortly before setting up camp I met two Southbound(SoBo) hikers. We exchanged trail info. It was nice to get reports of what the next 35 days hold in store for me. They confirmed that I do in fact need to hike with Mace Windu and continue to hang my food every night until I make it to Canada. I really wish that wasn’t the case. I don’t mind carrying the mace, but hanging my food is a royal pain. I’m usually surrounded by pine trees and I haven’t figured out how to hang my food in a pine tree. More research will be needed to figure that out. 

Really cool sky as I ate dinner 

“Here is the rule to remember in the future, when anything tempts you to be bitter: not, 'This is a misfortune' but 'To bear this worthily is good fortune.'”
- Marcus Aurelius