CDT Day 35: just south of Hwy 43 to Pyramid Peak shadow – Where’d the Rain Come From Camp to Too Dark to Name Camp
Miles hiked: 21.6
Total miles: 556.9
I felt more tired this morning, after the short day from town, than I do after most days on the trail. Something about town sucks it out of me, dries me out. SpiceRack and I started hiking at 7:30am, absolutely the earliest we could manage. The rain last night and the gloomy weather was doing it’s best to rehydrate my soul. A cool morning, good for easing back into the trail life.
The dirt road turned into dirt trail that took us on a rollercoaster of ridge walking. The clouds were hanging low enough so that we were soon in them. They gave the sunlight substance as we swam its glow. Dew droplets strung chains of diamonds on slender fingers of grass and pooled in the hearts of flowers. Layers of cloud parted to reveal mountains ahead above a swirling valley of white and green.
The trail was tough, steep. We took a much needed break at an established campsite, full of bones and home to a delicious spring. The gentlest rain got us moving again and right back into the hard climbing. We found a mysterious 5-gallon jug of water at the top of everything, but the mystery didn’t last long when we walked through the creepiest trail crew camp ever. Abandoned, white teepee-style tents scattered among the trees. In bright sun it would have been alright. In cloudy weather, it was eerie.
The day was warming up when I made it to Big Hole Pass, a trailhead fit for a fine lunch. It straddles the Montana-Idaho border, which I thought was pretty cool. I figured that I’d been in Montana for long enough so I settled down on the Idaho side and started eating. SpiceRack showed up perturbed and bothered by a nasty horsefly that had been following her for miles. She amazed me with her perturbedness, but that quickly dissolved to sympathy and we spent the next 20 minutes trying to kill her tormentor.
We hiked out in a better mood, but not knowing which state we were in. Down down down to lower elevations than we’ve seen in a while. The huckleberry season was well underway down there and we struggled to make hiking progress with all the scrumptious fruits lining the trail. Fingers and tongues purple. Smiles wide.
Rich evening light saturated the green forest as we began the final phase of the day, a 4,000ft climb up a creek into the mountains. It was hard going, but this was the time of day to tackle the challenge. The sun had lost its punch, and we were soon in shade behind a steep ridge. I was super sweaty regardless and I was clearly trying to hide that fact when I slipped and splashed in the local creek. Refreshing. Bruising.
I made it to the water almost at the top of the climb just after prime sunset watching time. Some orange glowed through the trees as I scrambled to find a flat spot to camp. I didn’t have much luck, but eventually the dark buffed out all the pokey details. Spice showed up just in time to help me pitch her finicky tent.
As summer progresses and we move south, the days are getting noticeable shorter now. Might need to adjust our strategy to utilize the morning light more effectively. Unfortunately that would mean waking up with the alarm. Who does that? Is it even possible?