July 28, 2017

Miles: 10

PNT mile 262

Camp: Parker Ridge, Idaho

We got up and moving this morning, heading straight back to the states to accomplish the chores we couldn’t do in Canada. The rest and relaxation was much called for under the circumstances, though we are both itching to get back on trail.

We decided not to make up the miles we missed in this case and had LB drop us off up the road a ways. The terrain ahead is challenging and with temperatures pushing 100 this week, we need to focus on the next section without adding from the last one. The miles missed total about 11 and they are all on roads so we aren’t missing any trail per say, just the chance to connect our footsteps. This doesn’t bother either of us, as we have both learned that isn’t what matters. We did what we had to do to address illness and now we are back on track. Purists, we are not…though we intend to hike every mile that we can, which will hopefully be all of the rest!

That said, we still had about 3 miles of road to walk to reach our trail. Our packs were heavy with resupply but we were light with the excitement of getting back to the business of hiking. We stopped at the base of our trail to collect water for the climb when a car pulled up.

“Which route are you taking?” A woman asked from a subaru.

“Parker Ridge.” We answered, already excited that we had chosen the higher, more difficult route to start the section. It goes up to follow the Selkirk Crest which is supposed to be a highlight of the PNT. There was a fire on the ridge in 2015 which makes it extra hot and exposed, plus the approach trail gains 3300′ in 4.4 miles, then continues climbing more gradually for about 6 miles. It’s listed as one of the PNT’s “epic climbs.” We can’t wait for the reward for this one!

The woman strongly encouraged us to do the alternate instead. It is 9 miles longer through a shaded canyon with ample water. She said another hiker had a tough time up there and came to her for help, but we had no interest in that. She continued to press the issue of the heat in the forecast, and I politely told her we had done our research and had our minds made up. We had a plan and are also both capable of a lot in extreme conditions.

She wasn’t convinced, but drove off telling us to come to her house if we changed our mind. After thanking her for what I’m sure were the best of intentions we continued on with our original plan. We are only planning 7 more miles today (it was already 5pm) and a short day the next 2 days to enjoy the hike and also take care of ourselves in the heat. We are confident in our decision.

Thankfully, we did begin the climb at 5pm. The sun had just hidden behind the ridge providing us with permanent shade. The trail started steep and despite the assistance of switchbacks, stayed steep. Sometimes you could only climb on your toes, but it all felt good, I felt good.

I can see where a climb like that would be particularly daunting with a full resupply in the full sun. We were dripping sweat on the shaded trail, the sun would be murder. It made me happy that we made the decision to come this way, it truly feels wonderful to climb a mountain again. 

We kept catching views of the valley below, still lit by the days sun, growing farther and farther behind us.

Finally, we reached a small spring where we planned to eat dinner. Unfortunately the spring was occupied by a million mosquitoes, so we had to eat 50 yards away. We would have to collect all of the water we could carry after dinner too, so we needed to stay closeby.

After dinner we hiked in the dark to camp. It gets darker earlier now…it would stay light until after 10 before Idaho, but we have changed time zones and it is now dark at 9. We hadn’t planned for that, but we had a late start so a little night hiking wasn’t going to hurt.

We set up to cowboy camp and as I lay mesmerized by the stars, it soon became apparent the mosquitoes weren’t going to let us sleep. We had to get up and set up our tents real fast for bug protection. 

Though I can no longer see the stars very clearly, it is okay. Sleep should come easy and I’m ready for it.

I feel really, really good and really, really happy to be back on trail.