June 9, 2017

Miles: 13.5

PNT mile: 26.6

Camp: Waterton River; Glacier National Park 

It was the deer who woke me first this morning: the salt licking, noise making, shorts stealing, trekking pole eating jerk deer. Those guys were in camp eyeballing us in our sleeping bags promptly at sunrise. I reacted by rolling over and going back to sleep, because it is the job of my alarm to do that and it hadn’t spoken yet.

As a matter of fact, the alarm didn’t go off when it was supposed to anyhow. I remember it doing that to me on the CDT…something about being in airplane mode. I woke not long after it was scheduled to go off and we got up and moving by 7…on trail about 8:30. That is all very late for my normal trail style, but I’m all about embracing change on this trail. Adaptation is important. And we are really in no hurry.

Our first order of business was to climb Stony Indian Pass. About 2400 feet of elevation gain and a lot of spectacular scenery. It is surreal to start a hike in such an epically beautiful place, I’m so used to going through my growing pains in the desert. This is such a treat! Water everywhere, easy to follow trail and some of the most amazing scenery in the country.

It’s too bad my blisters followed me, but hey, I expected them. I am having the same blister as I did on the ball of my foot last summer, but this time I’m on top of things and will hopefully avoid bigger problems down the trail. It’s an uncomfortable pain I’m all too familiar with which is the nature of thru hiking. The scenery is mighty and distracting though.

The trail stayed pretty easy after the pass and we took our time and lots of breaks; skipping stones on an alpine lake, eating our abundant snacks, admiring the views and killing as many bugs as possible…there is an infinite supply out here! Snowmelt season is mosquito season and the black flies are particularly bad, though particularly easy to kill. It is satisfying. We were able to find decent spots to take a break most of the time and it was a nice day.

We ended up at the Goat Haunt Ranger Station (1/4 mile from camp) where we stopped to enjoy the facilities. There is a giant covered gazebo, running water, trash cans and picnic tables…everything we need minus outlets. We even had a little bird bath in Waterton Lake before dinner. This was the last break I took on the CDT and now I’m here eating dinner at the beginning of a whole new adventure. What a way to connect my footsteps on both trails.

Another hiker named Analeise joined us in the gazebo for dinner and we all headed on to camp. When we came to the river we could see across to our designated site…but there was no bridge. We thought there might be a bridge ahead but investigation proved it would be pretty far if it existed at all. With mosquitoes swarming and light dwindling, we decided to ford the river to get to camp. 

The water was about crotch deep and pretty swift. My trekking poles proved harder to maneuver across with than my last pair, being much lighter the current tries to carry them away. Dang ultralight equipment sometimes! I struggled with it, but otherwise made it across with no problem.

Just before crossing we saw a mother and baby moose downstream. They were not close enough to get a photo, but that’s kind of how far you want to be from a mama and her baby. A safe distance.

On the other side it was a mad dash to hang food and set up tents before mosquitoes ate us alive. We are now safe behind mesh with full bellies, plenty of water and big smiles from a wonderful day on trail.