991.5 miles hiked
I sleep good on the picnic table until 5 a.m., when the mosquitos reappear. Dammit! Oh well. I guess the mosquitos are starting to crank up. It’s that time of year!
And flies. Biting flies, of all varieties. The small triangular ones, the giant horseflies. They attack me as I work my way up the super steep climbs in my very lowest gear. Oh, and it’s hot. Montana is having a heatwave. Am I complaining too much? I guess today is hard.
The trail continues to stick right on the divide, which means ridgewalking and lots of PUDs, aka pointless ups and downs. Ugh, I never thought I’d use that phrase. I guess they don’t have these on the PCT? Straight up to the peak in rocks and scree, then straight down the other side. Repeat all day.
It’s beautiful though, per usual. I’m sweating like crazy. These climbs are making me strong! Soon I’ll finally feel like a real hiker! There’s not much water up here on the ridge, so we pay close attention to our maps and poke around for what little there is. We reach the one surefire reliable water, Dana spring, at 2 p.m. The five of us have been climbing all day in the heat, and we each drank the last of our water miles ago. When I get to the saddle where the spring is I walk past the cows, climb over the fence into the enclosure, lift the lid off the spring box and there I see, floating in the clear cold water, two super bloated, super decomposed squirrels.
Fuck. Fuck fuck.
The boys are all sitting in the shade, looking as roasted as I feel. None of us know where the next sure water is, although there are a couple of maybe waters on the Ley maps, including a cow pond in a mile and a half that was apparently dry last year. We set off down the dirt road, feeling apprehensive. My mouth is dry but at the same time, I’ve been more thirsty than this. I know I’ll be ok for a while longer.
The cowpond has water in it! Clear brown water with an oily sheen on top. And fuck, it tastes bad! That weird metallic off taste I remember from the metal tanks in Mew Mexico. We don’t care though. We add whatever drink powders we have and suck it down. It feels so good to rehydrate!
The rest of the day, amazingly, we more or less follow water- a steam runs in the meadow alongside of us and the water even gets deep enough at one spot that we stop and dunk ourselves into it, gasping at the cold. The heat lasts until we reach camp and then it still lingers, until the sun finally sinks behind the mountains. Then the mosquitos burst into action, and we hide in our shelters. I string up my bug net, which is free standing, and watch the sky explode into colors. In the morning we’ll reach the highway where we’ll hitch into Helena- I’ve got to make some boxes there.
Photos on instagram