CDT day 44: feeling tired in a real bummer of a forest

June 17
Mileage 24
789.5 miles hiked

I plan to start hiking early, really I do- but it’s just so nice to sleep in until 7:30 in my bed in the hostel and then there’s the breakfast place next door… by the time Track Meat, Spark and I are actually walking out of East Glacier it’s 9:30 a.m.

The beautiful loamy single track of Glacier park, that reminded me so much of the PCT, is over. Leaving East Glacier we’re back to convoluted jeep roads and poorly maintained trails used mostly by equestrians. Oh well. It wouldn’t be the CDT otherwise.

Everything feels sort of gloomy today. It’s overcast, thunder booms and the rain falls off and on. The trail is muddy and overgrown with cow parsnip and nettles. I find myself wishing, for once in my hiking life, that I had pants. I hope I don’t get that weird itchy rash again tonight. Everyone who wore shorts in the last section got it.

All day the trail wends its way haphazardly through a burn, the trees blackened charcoal or pale white. There are lots of blowdowns. I think I’m PMSing- I feel tired and I can’t seem to kick it. Not even caffeinated jelly beans work! There are ominous grizzly warnings stapled to the trees, and I see bear prints in the mud. I’m not carrying any bear spray, although most hikers are- I don’t know. I’m just not scared I guess. I feel grateful to have grown up in a place with an intact ecosystem. Alaska still has all its predators. The terror I see in people’s faces here, even the rangers- I just don’t get it. There are only 400 grizzlies in the entire park, or something like that. You’d be lucky to see one at all. And chances are, as soon as the bear saw you it would want to get away as fast as possible. Of course some activities are higher risk, like hunting. But hiking on a trail in a group is pretty safe.

I’m probably jinxing myself right now.

I take a break and eat too many chips. My resupply this section is mostly chips- all 140 miles worth of my food is from the convenience stores in East Glacier. Usually I would send myself a box, what with my weird dietary restrictions, but with the flipping from NOBO to SOBO there were already too many logistics to figure out.

The highlight of the day is when I stumble into a campground in the afternoon and find Spark and Track Meat at a picnic table next to a huge, rumbling RV, hiding from the rain. The occupants of the RV feed us a pot of chili and let us charge our phones before wishing us well and sending us on our way. They also have a nice dog that looks like a very large chihuahua and we get to pet it. Magic!

In the evening I listen to an audiobook and that takes me out of the sad overcast burned forest a little bit. Camp is on a damp patch of ground next to a stream. I boil water for the dinner I put together from the convenience store- instant white rice, dried spinach (sent to myself in Colorado), onion salt, taco seasoning, olive oil, and a tuna packet. It’s actually really, really good. The mosquitos are medium-bad so we all hide in our shelters.

Tomorrow will be better.

Photos on instagram