Miles: 31

Camp: My CDT mile 2470

Today we had planned to go as many miles as we could. We are nearing East Glacier where we have our last town stop before the end of the trail. It is surreal to even go through the motions, but it is inevitably going to end soon and we are kind of ready for that. Ready in the sense that we haven’t had a lot of rest on this trail and it will feel good to relax, rest our bodies and see our friends/families again. On the other hand, I am not all that excited to go back to a “regular” life. No, this is regular now.

I walked alone all day, even though I said I wouldn’t. Sometimes I just have to keep moving. I think best in motion. The day was beautiful, though I began coming across bits of trash far too regularly; candy wrappers, bags from chips, bandaid and I kid you not, a handle of whiskey. It was strange and I did my best to pick up what I could…leaving the whiskey in the middle of the trail for the guys to find. They are way more into drinking on trail, which doesn’t really appeal to me.

As I was enjoying the day I began to notice some larger than average bear prints. They were certainly the biggest I have seen and definitely grizzly. I put some music on my Bluetooth speaker and walked somewhat carefully ahead when I spotted something gruesome and wickedly unsettling…a dead horse. It was laying contorted in a ditch by the trail, it’s face in a permanent grimace, it’s shoulder skinned completely. My heart immediately leapt into my throat as I instinctively reached for my bear spray.

The bear wasn’t within sight as I hurried on remembering the warning about being caught near a grizzly kill. It is the second place you never want to be aside from between a mom and her cubs. My blood pumped fiercely and I chose the loudest music to play on my speaker; my friends’ band, “My Life In Black And White.” I chose them because I could sing along, because they are loud and because it was somewhat soothing. My bear spray stayed poised in my hand as my eyes darted back and forth across the trail and trees, super alert to any and all movement nearby. A jumping squirrel nearly gave me a heart attack.

I wanted more than anything for one of the guys to appear, to see that Limey (who was ahead of me) was okay. My mouth tasted like fear.

I approached a river crossing and seeing no way to hop across immediately, I charged through the water. On the other side I was able to relax a bit, a river between myself and death. What a thing to have seen, to have experienced. It was really quite disturbing. I found Limey on the other side and was even more relieved…especially to find out that he had come across the bear feeding on the horse! He said it ran away immediately and was big enough to come up to his chest on all fours (he is 6′ tall). He said he wasn’t even scared. I don’t get it.

We hiked the rest of the miles until dark. My toe screamed in pain, with nothing I could do but keep walking. I’m exhausted from the miles and the adrenaline. It was really quite a day. Tomorrow we reach town where I can give my toe a chance to breath, where I can eat and where we can plan the last leg of our journey.

Dinner: mac and cheese with salsa, tuna and green beans.