July 29, 2017

Miles: 11

PNT mile 273

Camp: Upper Ball Lake, Idaho

We intended to wake up early, but the late night caused us to hit the snooze button. Fortunately the sun came up and cooked us out of our tents by 7am. Not terrible since we had a short day today. Tomorrow is a notorious bushwack that is 10 miles long and may take all day. Tonight we could only go as far as the start of the bushwack, so we could afford a little bit of a lazy day today.

We were on trail by 8:15, walking through an area that burned in 2015. This is supposedly why people avoid this section, but it wasn’t that bad. Although burn areas sadden me, they also offer up a special kind of peacefulness. They are super quiet places, yet abuzz with the new life of a young forest. I heard at least 3 woodpeckers communicating with a series of knocks. They seemed to surround me in the stillness of morning and it was fun to stand and hear them “chat.”

I think something about the burn area woke me up again; it offered me a peace, a moment of stillness that reconnected me to the trail. Right before I got sick I felt a little off and disconnected from the hike and today brought me back to life. 

The burn area didn’t last long and we were soon walking through alpine forest and meadows. It was a hot day, but we managed to find shade and stopped to enjoy occasional breezes. We carried ample water and stopped frequently for breaks and snacks. We don’t know if we have enough food for this section, but we can’t really tell how long it will take until we complete the bushwack tomorrow. That is the wild card. Until then we are trying to feed our newly growing hunger. 

It’s finally happening! I’m hungry again! The kind of hungry where I fantasize about food all day and nothing I eat is enough. I want to eat everything. This is one of my favorite things about hiking because I love food. Now I can eat all I want for 2 short months so I better enjoy it. I am so on the opposite end of sick it feels great.

The hiking was generally easy today, but we took our time because of the heat. Time was on our side, and we even made it to camp by 5pm. We walked through some really beautiful and stark terrain, granite peaks all around, the trail following the top of the Selkirk Crest. It was the reason we took the route we chose and we are so happy we did. That kind of terrain is my kind of hiking. I felt on top of the world all day and the views were persistently stunning.

Our camp is on Upper Ball Lake and it is pretty picture perfect. Pink called it the kind of campsite you write home about. It’s right by the crystal clear water, cliffs rising in a cirque that is filled with white granite and yellow bear grass. The air is cool and calm as night approaches.

It is almost hiker midnight and for the first time on this trail, I’ll be ready to turn in early. Today was pretty great.

Early alarm tomorrow.