CDT day 40: high passes and giant burgers

June 13
Mileage 23
714.5 miles hiked

I wake once when the sun comes up at four, see that it’s clear, roll over in my soggy sleeping bag and go back to sleep. When I wake again it’s nearly 8, and still so cold, down here in this wet foggy valley in the dark forest- soon my hands are numb taking down my wet tarp, pulling the stakes from the ground, stuffing my sodden things away and then there is the business of getting my food down from the bear hang. Cold hands! Painfully cold. Just one of the many pleasurable sensations that a thru-hiker gets to enjoy.

By the time Spark and I eat breakfast and start hiking it’s 9. This is very late. But we only have 23 miles today until the campsite we have a permit for, and it’s light until ten p.m.! We plan to make the best of it. No sign of the other boys- they must’ve pick a different itinerary. We’ll see em in East Glacier.

Today the wonder that is Glacier Park continues. Big peaks streaked with snow, long green valleys. The distant thundering of waterfalls. And we’re walking on actual maintained trail, all loamy and soft, and with switchbacks. Where even are we?

At noon we reach “Many Glacier”, which we thought would be a town but which is just a road crossing with a big, fancy hotel. Luckily the hotel has a restaurant and this restaurant has some of the biggest burgers we’ve seen- and gluten-free buns! After stuffing ourselves we find a patch of sun in which to yardsale our soaked gear and lay in the grass, napping, while it dries. By the time we hike again it’s 2 p.m.

Fifteen miles after two p.m. wouldn’t be that big of a deal in New Mexico- but here in Glacier there are these tall passes that we climb up and over, with their snowfields and such, and this is beautiful and epic and satisfying but also sort of slow, as we did no climbing whatsoever in New Mexico and so I am a tender weakling.

We get to use our ice axes today! That is cool. There are a number of short, steep snowfields on the climb up Piegan pass and coming down the other side. Then we’re walking on snow for a while. All of this climbing way up towards the peaks/taking out ice axes/kicking steps/putting ice axes away/navigating on snow really slows things down, and by the time we descend to our campsite way down in the river valley on the other side we are exhausted. I put extra olive oil in the noodles I cook for dinner, and it’s awesome. Who knew 23 miles could be so tiring? Or am I just a weenie now, because I took a week off where all I did was smoke weed and watch youtube videos?

Probably a little of both.

Photos on instagram