July 23, 2017
PNT mile 228.5
Camp: Another forest road in Idaho
We had to wake up pretty early to make this epic day possible, a 5:30 alarm and a great deal of motivating force. Our plan was to get moving right away and make it to the first water 4 miles away before making breakfast. It was hard to get up, but I knew it would pay off later.
The morning walk was along a dirt road, nicely shaded and graded for easy enough walking. It brought us to the trailhead for the northwest peaks scenic area. It takes us an extra 2 plus miles over a technical ridge walk with views that should be up in the top I’ve ever seen.
The climb up was steady through the forest before turning to loose rock. We had to do some climbing with hands up the steep ascent and we’re soon rewarded with the Northwest Peak lookout tower and views all of the way to Canada.
We then had to scramble on down another steep rocky slope only to climb another, descend and repeat a few more times. It was extremely windy at times and you had to keep constant attention on your hands and feet. Many rocks looked stable, but would soon slide away from underfoot and you better hope you were hanging on somewhere else. One rock even split in half under my weight and took my leg down against a sharp edge. I was fine and lucky to be so. There may be some bumps and bruises to tell the story later and besides a little twist of my left foot that caused minor swelling…I came out unscathed if not exhausted.
We climbed several peaks on the ridge in this fashion before starting a downhill bushwack back to the main trail. It was steep and brushy, but wildflowers filled the alpine meadows and we would occasionally find faint trail to follow. It was tiring and sometimes so brushy you couldn’t see where you were setting foot.
Once on trail it was a huge relief to know we only had a mostly downhill dirt road walk to camp. We had to get to water which was a bit more of a push than we wanted, but water is life. We had little choice.
Once we reached water it was also apparent there would be no camping there, for it was basically fed by a swamp. That meant 6 more miles on barking dogs to the next source if we wanted to sleep. It was already after 8:30pm by the time we hiked on.
We finally arrived in the dark to a dirt road where we set up for the night. Some of the guys literally slept right in the ditches on the road shoulder, but Pink and I found a small pullout for a bit more comfort. Exhaustion would win though. Almost 25 miles on technical terrain is about all we could take in one day. But boy, what a day!