“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


October 2016

Day 163: Canada

Miles: 20

Total CDT miles: 2720

9/28/2016 3:00pm

I keep meaning to go back and write more about this day…but life in the “real” world has been keeping me occupied. As soon as I can I plan to write a couple of reflections on the trail. The blog isn’t over yet, but on a brief pause.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of one of the happiest days of my life! Thanks for following my travels!

The whole gang (minus Titan)
How it really felt

Day 162: I Can See Canada From My Tent!

Miles: 20

Camp: My CDT mile 2590

I find it hard to fathom that this will be our last night on trail. The day started out normal enough, aside from a new pain that has arisen in my glute. I honestly couldn’t make this stuff up if I tried. I’ve put my body under some stress for sure and with only 15 miles remaining, I will be ready for a good rest to follow.

Despite my usual aches and pains, the day captivated me. The scenery was unreal; magical. Every moment filled my senses with beauty, the surroundings constantly attention grabbing. It was so special, our last full day on trail. Tomorrow we walk into Canada and off of the CDT. Tomorrow we must say goodbye to all of this. For this reason, I spent so much of the day trying to soak in everything. Every little thing.

Titan pointed out that we crossed the divide for the last time today and that hit me hard. This has been all I have known for a short overall time, but it will stay with me forever. I’ll always long to be back here, no matter what the aches, pains and hurdles it takes to be here, the Divide is home. I’m struggling with walking away, with accepting that it is soon to be over. I’m broke, broken and tired, but I’m also whole, happy and feeling accomplished. What even comes next? Funny how this experience can’t answer that question…I only want to do this. Nothing else is worth the pain and discomfort, because the reward out here is worth more than any paycheck. If only it paid the bills.

With that thought, I want to lay here and listen to the wind blow through camp. I probably won’t sleep due to the excitement of this night being what it is…tomorrow being the end. I’m sappy sentimental and ready to curl up with my memories and the wind.

Dinner: last ever rom bomb with bacon and cheese added.

Almost the whole gang in a blurry view of the sunset. I’m gonna miss these folks!

Day 161: 15 Miles For The Win

Miles: 15

Camp: My CDT mile 2570

If only life were made of 15 mile days. I could be happy forever on days like today. I hiked alone most of the day, but had a couple of good breaks with Bumerang, Sunrise, Dragon and Uberdude. There was enough “traffic” on the trail that I didn’t worry about bears and the scenery was truly unbelievable. Glacier is one of those places that you can’t believe exists, even when it is right in front of you. It seems impossible and yet here it is, just kinda hanging out in Montana. What a treat!

I spent some time reflecting on the trail today, realizing how it has changed my entire mind about myself. I honestly didn’t think I would make it, I really thought I didn’t have it in me and suddenly I’m 35 miles from Canada. The finish line is within reach and I don’t know which feeling is stronger; run or drag my heels. 

The icing on the cake of today was the trail magic we got in Many Glacier. Uberdude’s parents came to meet us and brought a great spread with them. We had beer, soda, vegetables, guacamole, muffins, pecan pie, a campfire and Baggins even caught a couple of trout. The mood has been relaxed, celebratory, reminiscent and all around delighted by Glacier National Park. This whole thing is ending on such a sweet note. I look forward to the last two days at the same time I resent them…but alas, all good things come to an end, sore toes and all.

Dinner: trail magic!

A little Magic before leaving camp.

Day 160: Relaxed

Miles: 15

Camp: My CDT mile 2555

It was such a wonderful feeling to wake up knowing I didn’t have to spring into action. I could take my time and enjoy the beautiful morning by the lake. I made breakfast with Sunrise and Baggins, then chatted with Judd and Titan before ambling out of camp. The air was warm and cool at just the right moments, the mountains as dazzling as ever. It was a beautiful day.

I hiked with and without purpose, taking time to stop and look at my surroundings. The day was perfectly fall, perfectly mine. I felt a longing for these days pull at me from the future; a sense that my days were numbered out here. I began thinking of how I feel like I need this and that no other life fills me like this one; I felt an urgent need to find a calling that keeps me here instead of in the city. How can I stay?

About 2 miles before camp I was passing by a waterfall that some day hikers were visiting. I decided to take a quick moment before moving on when I noticed a familiar face. It was Wilderness! She was there with a friend who lives nearby (she finished the trail last week) and I happened to cross paths with her! Bumerang and Sunrise came by as well and we hung out for about an hour. It was a wonderful and serendipitous reunion. I’m really having a hard time imagining life without these characters.

The next 2 miles were easy and I was in camp at 5:30. That hasn’t happened in so long! I set up my tent and joined Deco, Dragon and Chris (Deco’s brother) for dinner. Bumerang and Sunrise joined and Limey was off somewhere taking a nap. I thought it late in the day for a nap, but whatever makes you happy…I say do it.

The guys rolled into camp after we had all eaten. We were having a rare campfire and sat around for a while catching up on the day. I felt tired early though, so dodged the party for a nice early bedtime. Some days are just that way.

So, that is it for today. It is 8:30 and I’m going in for sleep. Tomorrow is rumored to be even more beautiful. I simply can’t imagine that.

Dinner: mac and cheese with tomatoes, green beans, squash, bacon and extra cheese.

St. Mary Lake

Day 159: I’ll Pass On The Snow

Miles: 23

Camp: My CDT mile 2540

It was a pleasant morning that only became better by the multitude of blueberries and huckleberries growing alongside the trail. I stopped frequently to indulge in the late season fruit, so delicious. 

Once I reached the top of the climb, the trail led around the back side of Mount Morgan. The trail there was suddenly covered in snow and before I knew it, I was traversing steep slopes and cliffs. At some point I lost the trail, but I kept a level head and hiked slowly. It was a little sketchy and I was honestly quite over it. I’m good on snow for a while and this only made that abundantly clear. At the very least, I have enough experience now to get through safely.

Once out of the snow I was hiking into a beautiful valley. Glacier is stealing my heart and enchanting me at every turn, even though the recurring pain in my knee and toe are ever present. I keep reminding myself how worth it this has been and how amazing it is to be here in Glacier for the end of this journey.

The day was long as the snowy traverse took a long time. It rained all afternoon as well, making my shoes into swimming pools which only aggravated my poor toe further. It won’t be long before I can give my body the rest it deserves.

I arrived to camp just after dark and there were lots of hikers there. We have quite the army headed to Canada…about 12 of us, and none of us want to see it end. Keeping this short to enjoy my friends. Enjoy the photos.

Dinner: knorr Spanish rice with bacon on a tortilla.

Day 158: The Beginning Of The End

Miles: 16

Camp: My CDT mile 2507

After breakfast we had to actually say goodbye to Cerveza, Cowboy Stripper, Handstand and Cheetah. It is hard to get used to the idea that we all go our separate ways soon, I’m still struggling with it. 

Our group hit the trail after a round of cards to see who would be first to carry the champagne we bought for the border. Limey lost and would take on the extra weight on one of the worst days to carry out; fresh resupply day. At least it is a shorter day.

Hiking into Glacier was amazing. The views become more and more surreal the deeper you go. It is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen, and so unique at the same time. The climb in was a bit long, but these are our last days so I’m trying to embrace it all; all through the throbbing reminder of my toe. It does not seem to be getting better…or worse for that matter, just as painful as ever. Woe is me I guess.

We got to camp right at dark in a light rain. Our permits will now dictate the mileage of the next 5 days and we have some relaxing on our hands. Our longest day is 23 miles tomorrow and then we have shorter miles to finish out the trail. It is supposed to be great weather and the scenery promises to keep staying awesome. These last days may end up being the best days.

Dinner: trail magic chicken soup from a nice lady with a cute dog. She came by with soup, crackers and beer as we were hanging around Two Medicine campground. People are awesome.

Looking at Two Medicine Lakes
These sheep were into eating fire ring remnants.

Day 157: Old Friends

Miles: 0

We had a most excellent final zero hanging out with our friends Cerveza, Handstand, Cowboy Stripper and Cheetah, who are all done with the trail. We got our errands done as the rain continued to fall and had a hiker potluck at the hostel. It was lovely and warm, a great reminder of the community we have built.

Tomorrow we head into Glacier National Park for the grand finale. I’m excited and sentimental tonight…this should be a beautiful section!

Me with Handstand and Cerveza. So great to catch up with them!

Day 156: Sometimes The Aspen Shine Brighter Than The Sun

Miles: 21

Camp: My CDT mile 2491

I was laying in my tent watching the day grow brighter when Limey informed me that it was 6:30. We wanted to get into East Glacier as early as possible, there was so much to do there. We have our last resupply there and then it is our last 100 miles to Canada. This should be our last day above 20 miles, but I’d be willing to wager that we throw some extra miles in somewhere…but only to take them off another day. We hope to take full advantage of Glacier National Park and our last days on trail.

Today though, we wanted to get to town. It was raining lightly all day, the air cool enough that I didn’t even warm up much on the climbs. It was refreshing in a way, kind of like the Pacific Northwest. I enjoyed it for the most part, but there was a growing pain in my toe all day. The toe got a blister under the toenail (the grossest thing that has happened to me in my 5,000 + miles of hiking) and now the toe isn’t able to heal. My feet are constantly wet and walking,  so there isn’t time. I began daydreaming of a zero.

When Judd and Righton caught up to me, one of the first things they asked was how I felt about a zero. “I’m in,” I said without hesitation.

We hiked only 7 miles out of town before our first break where we quickly ate something before hiking on. It was all business to East Glacier with the promise of heat, dry shelter, showers, laundry, FOOD! I got so extra hungry today, but also felt a bit off as my toe ached within my shoe. I felt helpless against the pain because I know it needs to dry out and I have to get to town before that can happen. It was tough. But in the end, it has all been tough and here I am, making it happen. I’ve got this.

By the time we got to town I couldn’t wait to rip my shoe off my foot…but first we had to walk to the farthest end of town for our hotel, then I walked to pick up a package…it all seemed to take forever. The package was so worth it! It was a care package from my dear friend, Jess with so many wonderful treats inside. We ate most of the snacks and I felt so human as I used the lovely shampoo and body oil she sent. Soon I can feel this clean regularly again! Thank you JGlo!! I love you!

In the end, it was a wonderful day. It rained harder as we hunkered into a comfy cabin for the night. Cowboy Stripper and Handstand were in town having just finished the trail and we all went out for Mexican food. It was bittersweet but awesome to see them! They will be around tomorrow as well and a lot of other hikers are here too! It’s a reunion and an end…and poor Uber spent all day in the emergency room waiting to get an earplug unlodged from his ear and still wasn’t back by the time I retired to my bunk (I stayed in the ladies dorm to get a better night of sleep).

Before bed I had a great conversation with the two other women in the bunkhouse. One was a life coach from Florida who is visiting over 26 national parks this summer, the other a wildlife biologist who was just up hiking for a few days in the park. It was cool to meet some other travelers, new people with a different kind of adventurous spirit. It feels good to connect with them. It will feel even better to fall asleep.

Dinner: A giant burrito and peanut butter fudge

The aspens keep the day from being too dreary

The final leg begins
These guys came out of nowhere
Care package goodies!

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