“Wander a whole summer if you can…time will not be taken from the sum of life. Instead of shortening, it will definitely lengthen it and make you truly immortal.” John Muir


August 2016

Day 129-130: The Vortex of Magic

Miles: 25 + 0

Camp: My CDT mile 2033

It has been no easy task getting out of our warm cocoons in the morning as it has been below freezing every night. It is hard, but necessary and takes about all of the willpower. That said, we had 25 miles between us and our goal of Bannock Pass today, where Judd and his parents would be awaiting us with trail magic.

As the trail took us up and down the surrounding hills, we stayed focused. The views were fabulous, as they tend to be when we are up on the actual divide, the temperature going from hot to cold all day. If the sun was out and the air was still, it was stifling; any cloud or breeze, however offered a biting chill. I dreamed all day of being warm again. I hate the cold. (Embrace the brutality, they say)

We made it to the pass at 8:00 and were soon swept up by Judd and his dad, Scott. They offered cold beer and a ride into Leadore. The truck was warm and cozy, our spirits high with the reunion and the beginning of some great magic. 

The town of Leadore consists of a store, post office, restaurant/bar, motel and rv park. The buildings are old, falling apart over time as the town lost it’s prosperity of the past. We go through so many towns like this, once booming in the days of a successful mine…now hanging on with old nails clinging to old wooden boards. Signs falling off of buildings and in this case the only remnants of the bank an old vault in a field.

When we arrived at the rv park we were delighted to find a large group of hikers already there: Baggins, Scorpion, Animal, Dragon, Deco and Cheetah! Judd’s sister Whitney and mom Jenny greeted us with smiles and plates of pasta, salad, bread and watermelon. There was such a great spread waiting for us! We dove in and ate all we could, drinking beer with our friends and laughing…always laughing.

We stayed up late playing cards and all slept scattered around our angels in their camper. Morning came and they kept the magic going with coffee, potatoes and pancakes. I made pancakes for all as Scott drove everyone that had been there a day already back to the trail. The rest of us had packages to aquire, resupply to finish and calories to consume. 

We did this at the restaurant as a message came in from Titan. He was only a couple of hours away…but we were planning on hiking out. It was clear that we had to wait for our friend though. He has been sick with giardia and still managed to hike 35-40 miles a day just to catch up with us. He is a machine, that Titan, and as our friend we decided we would wait.

Judd, Righton and Whitney went to surprise him at the pass as Uber and I checked out the local redneck bar. I’d post pictures, but it is literally too offensive. Ask me personally and I’ll share…but I’m not going to publicly connect myself to the dis plays in there. The people are nice enough of course, definitely aware of how much money hikers bring to their tiny struggling town…but they are a bit behind on a few issues. To put it briefly, this town loves Trump.

After we had Titan back in our fold we unanimously decided to turn the day into a zero. It was late already and we wanted him to have some rest from his crazy period of catching up. We ate lots more food and then decided to take a random stab at seeing if Limey had made it to the pass. We piled in the car to go on a Limey hunt…and we found him in his tent at the pass! He has been struggling with knee pain and it slowed him down dramatically. We were happy to have found him and brought him down for magic from the amazing Calvins. Shadow also showed up and joined the fun…it’s amazing how many of us are still here. I’m feeling good about this group, and excited to finish the trail with them.

It has been a super fun time here with them, but we are going to have to get hiking tomorrow. Limey has to go to a bigger town to hunt down some knee braces, so we are losing him for a bit. I hope he solves the problem soon. For now, we sleep like sardines in a cuddle puddle at the foot of the rv. So much happiness here. I never know how to express such profound gratitude for people like Judd’s folks…but we are more than blessed by their generosity. Thank you to the moon and back Jenny, Scott and Whitney!

As for the rest of you, goodnight!

Day 128: Back On High

Miles: 26

Camp: My CDT mile 2018

It was painfully cold all night and extra difficult to get out of my sleeping quilt. I made the effort a little later than usual, boiling water for coffee for the first time in a while. It is easier to drink it cold, but today I knew I could use the extra motivation of hot coffee. It got me up and moving, but not on trail until 8.

I hiked fast to drum up some extra body heat, had to wait for the guys because we were taking another detour off map detour. Finding our own way has been fun and helped make this section a bit less tedious.

Soon we climbed up a mountain pass that brought us back up to the divide. I feel like I haven’t been on the divide in a while and it was like visiting an old friend. We walked along the ridges feeling on top of the world, views enormous all around us. 

It was a long day and we have another planned tomorrow to catch up with Judd and make up some time. It is supposed to be a roller coaster day, so we are in need of rest. We aren’t even playing cards tonight…straight sleep. Sounds perfect.

Dinner: mac and cheese with tomatoes from my friend Elaine’s garden, broccoli and bacon bits.

Day 127: Winter Is Coming

Miles: 26

Camp: My CDT mile 1992

It was super cold this morning in our little valley camp. A reminder that I prefer camping higher up since cold air settles in valleys. I had a dream that I was back in Portland and I was not ready to be off trail, so I decided to SOBO the PCT. It was the only way I knew to be happy. It isn’t going to happen though.

I was first out of camp, per usual, starting the day with a good long climb. This section is notorious for being a roller coaster with a lot of ups and downs…but our morning was easier after the climb. We traversed the mountains and found our way down in elevation before hitting more climbs followed by a valley, and on and on like that.

We saw a secret cave on the maps and went hunting for it at lunch. When we found it, it was full of animal bones, as they apparently get stuck in there and can’t get out. It was kind of sad and creepy, so Righton climbed right in. He noted that there were no skulls…so someone knows about it. Probably the folks connected to the mine nearby.

After lunch the roller coaster really kicked in. We found a couple of shortcuts which were quite steep, but cut out some of what we consider uneccesary trail. It was nice to make progress, though I was moving much slower than the guys. We did well at staying motivated and took shorter breaks. We also ran into Bumerang and Sunrise who found a super shortcut somewhere…as they were a day behind. We all rejoiced though, as it is great to see them on trail!

It was super cold most of the day and now all I want is to curl up in a cocoon. I hope everyone had a fantastic day!

Dinner: double ramen with salsa and ginger snaps for dessert.

Day 125-126: More Cows!

Miles: 13 + 18 (25 official miles, but we took a shortcut)

Camp: My CDT mile 1966

We all woke up at the same time, which I really enjoyed. Judd was in charge of the alarm and then he put music on his Bluetooth speaker to wake the rest of camp. We listened to music and definitely had some laughs before setting off to Lima, MT.

The day was mostly a dirt road walk where we spread out and did our own thing. I listened to a podcast called, ‘Lore,’ where the host explores spooky folklore. I find it fascinating. 

We reached the road by 12:30 but had failed to find a cell signal to call for the shuttle. Hitchhiking with 5 people is a whole new ball game with tough statistics. We can only hope that at least a couple get a ride at a time…but it isn’t easy…as we learned by all of the cars passing is by. Somehow Righton had a signal and managed to get ahold of the shuttle and they were on their way. We had 20 minutes of road sitting and decided to play cards in a turnout. The things that are normal to us…such a different world.

Once in Lima, we all got straight to eating, resupplying, showering and drinking. I found some hard seltzer that is relatively low in alcohol and was able to nurse some of those. It is too tempting to drink too much beer, it tastes so much better on trail. I managed to savor the seltzer and enjoy the night.

In the morning, I woke up and started making breakfast in our hotel room kitchen. We had coffee, bacon, sausage, eggs and English muffins. It was so good and filling that even 4 of us didn’t eat it all. A true success.

Righton, Uber, Baggins and I ended up hiking out together around 12. Judd hadn’t stayed with us because he has to meet his parents in the next town. We are going to catch up with them the following day. Limey had to stay and wait for a package, so we changed dynamics a bit…a fun element to the group thru.

Baggins and Shadow had been in town with us and we passed Bumerang and Sunrise as they were coming in. Our numbers are growing and I’m pleased with that. Everyone out here is like a big family and I want to be with them. It feels good.

The 4 of us who took the shuttle hiked together all day. We took a shortcut that surpassed what is affectionately called a roller coaster. It took 7 miles off of our day, but advanced us that far as well, which helps us gain ground on our friends ahead of us. We still got great views and had a lot of fun finding our way. There will be plenty of roller coaster in the days to come

Now it is getting late. Gotta rest.

Dinner: mac and cheese with dried tomatoes from my friend Elaine’s garden and freeze dried green beans sprinkled with a blend of turmeric, garlic, sea salt and black pepper. Super delicious meal!!

Hoping barbed wire fences again ala New Mexico

Day 124: Busted Shovel

Miles: 22

Camp: My CDT mile 1935

I can’t sing the praise of this metatarsal pad enough right now. It has been 3 days since I have taken ibuprofen for foot pain and that makes me so happy. I can enjoy the trail again!

I stayed pretty close to the guys today, even for the climbs. I guess I had more in me than I thought, though I’m sure the lack of awful foot pain contributes to that. The miles were nice again, no road walking and beautiful views. That’s when I enjoy the trail most, when I really feel like I’ve hiked somewhere.

There were no events of note today, just a typical day of hiking. We got to take a break at a picnic table where we lingered longer than we should have. I’d say that’s why we didn’t make our 25 mile goal, but it was worth it. I’m really enjoying our group dynamic and I laugh way more with them then I ever did alone. 

I’m sorry that being with a group makes me write less, but it is just how it goes. I’m much happier and still pushing myself to be challenged, but the bar is set higher by my companions. I go to bed now, happy and fulfilled by all of this…and tomorrow we are in town again. 

Until then.

Dinner: mac and cheese with tuna, bacon and cheese.

I was just reminded that I broke my trowel this morning. It got stuck on a rock and I pushed too hard…RIP Deuce of Spades.

Day 123: Idaho/Montana Waltz

Miles: 23.9

Camp: My CDT mile 1913

This morning I was up and out of camp before anyone was awake. I was determined to catch Limey before he left his camp at the lake 2.6 miles ahead. I bushwacked through an area that had a large hidden swamp that I had luckily been warned about from a SOBO. I knew to stay to the right and got through with dry feet…a good thing considering the layer of frost on everything. It was cold!

I caught up to Limey and we looked at the maps. We noticed an 18 mile dry stretch with no water and decided to walk to the last water source to wait for the rest of the gang. The hiking was kind of great today as we are back on trail (instead of road) and there are ridge walks with great views again. To top it off the metatarsal pad really seems to be working. I haven’t taken ibuprofen in 2 days and have had no neuroma pain at all. Wanda, you really helped me with that, thank you so very much! I felt really darn good today.

Limey and I waited over an hour before deciding to keep hiking. The guys can sometimes drag their feet, but are generally fast so we knew they would catch up eventually. We spread out a little and I got to some of that solo walking I so enjoy. I figure it is more special now that I’ve aligned myself with a group for the rest of the trail. We are waiting for Titan to catch us so we will be 6 going into more grizzly country up ahead. We are in kind of a neutral zone at the moment, but there are more wild populations to come. Then we will have a fun group to finish with and I’m really learning that this experience is more enjoyable when shared.

That said, we all reunited for the last 6 miles to camp. I really enjoyed the walking today, right on the border of Idaho and Montana. I never knew which state I was in, but it didn’t matter. We are currently camped right on the border of the two states; our chores are done, social time is over and I’m tuckered out. Goodnight!

Dinner: Thanksgiving! (Stove top, idahoans, chicken, dried cranberries and crispy bell peppers). 

Day 122: The Blog That Was

Miles: 13

Camp: My CDT mile 1889.1

Unfortunately, this was a full length blog that got deleted by technical error. 

We left town late after eating Chinese food. It was a long, gradual and somewhat boring uphill. We played lots of cards, told lots of jokes and had fun with it. There were about 5 SOBOs and 1,000 ATVs…

I’m bummed this got deleted as I was a bit more in depth about group dynamics. I strive to keep a good record of my hike and will be more diligent henceforth.

Still having a blast!

Day 121: The Slow Road

Miles: 24

Camp: My CDT mile 1876.1

Apologies for no blog again. I’m hiking with my friends and we have been catching up and having tons of fun. We laugh a lot, play games and have cool conversations. I’m super happy and we have agreed to finish the trail together. It may mean shorter blogs, but who knows. Right now I’m craving the social atmosphere and drinking it up.

We ended up staying at an on trail motel at The Sawtelle Resort. We ate a lot of food at a local saloon, drank beers and played cards…if I had any time to spare in a day…There it goes. It’s worth it though, these guys are the best. We all have similar senses of humor and get along great. I hope it continues.

Uberdude and Judd were hesitant to cross state lines…
If only I wasn’t protecting my teeth…

Day 120: Old Faithful 

Miles: 21

Camp: My CDT mile 1852.1

So, I didn’t write a blog this day because it turned into a super social day. When we hiked into Old Faithful Village for breakfast we ran into Righton, Judd and Uberdude! I almost cried, I was so happy to see my friends again! Masshole and Stummy even showed up having been done with their section hike. Masshole was one of roommates in the hiker house and Stummy is his girlfriend. I like her a bunch and was happy to see them.

I ended up hiking out with Righton, Uber and Judd, catching up with Limey on the way. We never caught up with Dragon and Deco, but we made it to Idaho! It was dark so we took pictures the next day…stay tuned. 

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