1,140 miles hiked
I feel so groggy in the morning, even though I slept pretty well. Why? Who’s to say. Why does one feel amazing some days, tired others? One of the great mysteries of the universe.
The Anaconda-Pintler wilderness continues to enchant. The lupine and paintbrush and small happy yellow flowers whose names I do not know continue to bend gently in the breeze alongside streams that sparkle in the sunlight. The trail climbs through the forest, over ridges, over passes, over saddles. So many climbs. Endless climbs! I am tired today. Yesterday I felt strong. Am I strong? I don’t know.
At one point we enter a burn and there is no water. There’s supposed to be a spring, but the spring is an opaque mud puddle two feet wide and two inches deep, undrinkable. A few miles back we were passed by a northbound section hiker named Mango. Mango said only of the spring-
“The spring… it won’t be what you expect.”
Which I took to mean- the spring will be a pond. Which has already happened a couple of times.
Now as I climb in the 90 degree heat in this exposed burn without any water, I direct all my irritation at this Mango fellow. Why would you pass southbound hikers and not tell them that the one water source coming up is dry? Especially in such a hot, exposed section? Who does that? This breach in hiker etiquette is appalling to me. But mostly, I’m irritated because it’s the first thing that happens when you’re dehydrated. It’s hot as fuck, and I’m sweating like crazy, and there’s no shade, and the climb goes on and on. Ugh.
By the time I catch up to Spark and Track Meat at the next water source, I feel like a hot dog that’s been sitting on a car’s dashboard for a really long time. I pee, and my pee is straight brown. Brown. I down a liter of good cold water and stick my head in the stream. Mango! What kind of a name is that, anyway?
My grumpies continue until camp, which happens after we’ve re-entered the lush un-burnt forest and there is water everywhere again. We dry camp on a ridge, where there is much light from the sinking sun and a breeze keeps the mosquitos at bay. I eat my breakfast (granola) for dinner, because I’m out of dinner. I’m cutting it close with food this section, but I think I’ll have just enough to make the 17 miles into town tomorrow, probably cruise in famished with a couple of gross bars in my pack that I can’t bring myself to eat.
Tomorrow is the Forth of July! And we’ll be in Darby, Montana, a small town I know nothing about. I can’t wait!
Photos on instagram