Day 6

Day- 6

Date- 6/27/17

Location- Two Medicine Campground

Elevation- 5,174 ft

Distance Traveled Today- 15.1 miles

Distance Traveled Total- 83.7 miles

Weather/Temp- Rain, high winds, 50, 60, 70

Injuries- scabs

Pain level- none

Spirits/Morale- high

Wildlife encounters- 2 bull moose, funny marmot 

Days without shower- 4

Days without Laundry- 8

Hunger/craving- none

Thoughts/Stories-
A pretty intense storm struck up last night around 12:20 am, causing me to scramble out of my hammock and set up my rain fly. Luckily I got it up before the worst of it ensued. Heavy downpour with infrequent but very close and intense lightning. At one point, while trying to close my eyes, a flash shown so bright through my rain fly, it registered a blinding red through my eyelids. A split second later the deafening crack and subsequent roll of thunder rang so loud, and for so long in the valley, I thought the surrounding mountains were toppling. I can’t recall the last time I heard thunder roll for so long…even in Florida. I’ve heard much louder, but not longer; I suspect the wall of mountains on either side of me would have something to do with it. 

When the rain finally let up around 2am I was still awake, noting the flashes of lightning through my eye lids, then counting the seconds until the thunder; listening to the storm move further away…3 miles… 5 miles…8 miles… Gone. 

It was so windy the next morning, we couldn’t stand sleeping in and listening to our tarps ruffle in the high winds. We were hiking by 7:30 am, making our way slowly up towards Pitamakan Pass. Within the first three miles we ran across a large Bull Moose walking on the trail. The second he saw us, he froze, looked down the mountain, looked up the mountain, back to us, then galloped away up the mountain; disappearing into the alpine forest. It was actually really comical. You could see the look of panic, confusion, and indecision on its face and in its body language. Moose are known as the simpletons of the forest. They aren’t known for being too bright, but instead brutish and unpredictable; more dangerous even than bears. You saw that goofy description plain as day in this moose. 

About a quarter mile later we ran into a second Bull Moose about 15 yards off the trail in the pine trees. He was standing stock still staring at us, flaring his nostrils and grunting. I got a cruddy pic of him as we tried to quickly keep moving. 

Pitamakan Pass ended up being the toughest pass to climb out of the four we’ve done. Starting about 4 miles from the top of the pass, we began to run into patchy snowpack sections. Two and a half miles from the top of the pass it turned to complete snowpack within the dense alpine forest. Guessing where the trail went became a pain, and the forward progress slowed as we postholed 6 to 8 inches with nearly every step. It’s a hassle while you’re doing it, but the feeling of accomplishment after you’ve worked your way through it all is worth every strained step. Throughout the entire snow packed forest, moose prints were everywhere going in every which direction. It was like the moose had been lost or playing a game of tag. It was funny seeing all the funny path choices they’d taken. 

The wind continued to gust up to and over 30 mph. The chill was pretty strong at times, but the effort I was putting forth kept me from needing to put on another layer. 

When I finally broke the tree line and hit the open snow pack, it was time to slip into Nirvana once again for a few minutes. I turned on “Sign of the Times” by Harry Stiles and just about felt my spirit leave my body. 

After rounding over the top of the pass, we had another 8 miles of mostly gradual downhill into Two Medicine Campground. It was completely uneventful other than an aloof marmot we found in the middle of the trail maniacally licking a wet spot where I can only assume something or someone peed earlier. He paid us almost zero attention as we walked within inches of him (or her). 

When we reached the campground around 2 pm, we posted up in the camp store for about 6 hours; recharging battery packs, snacking, and watching the endless flow of tourists come and go. With nothing left to do that day, sitting around somewhere with everything we needed (food, drinks, shelter) was about all we could/wanted to do. 

Now we’re isolated in our own little back country campsite listening to the car campers and RV’ers glam it up. Tonight will be our last night in the park. We have ten miles to hike out of the park boundary and into the little hub of East Glacier (where we stayed the night before we started). From there I will arrange Katana joining us with Hannah and Tyler. We’ll have to cut back into the park briefly before heading on to new pastures; so I’ll need to decide if I want to be an outlaw for a few miles, or figure out some tougher logistics to have Katana dropped off to me at a road just outside the park. We’ll see how things unfold… 

11 Comments

  1. Was so excited when I saw that you were able to post today. The pictures are absolutely breathtaking! I know your going to be happy to see your fur baby . Sorry about the mosquitoes man. Being a Florida girl I never thought they lived anywhere else lol. I feel like all of the worlds misquito population somehow finds their way to us.
    I’ll be looking forward to your next entries.

  2. I was very happy when I checked my email and saw you were able to upload your first 6 posts. I’m looking forward to following you as you conquer this trail. Yay to Katana joining you soon! She’s gonna love the wildlife. 🙂 Thank you for sharing your story.

  3. I love, so so so much that you share your adventures with us! I live vicariously through you since I am a mother of 2 (older) kids and can not do but a few weekend backpacking trips here and there. But man, if I were younger! One day, I’ll be that old lady you come across on a trail!! In the meantime, your writings (so awesome) and your personality that makes it all readable gives us all a chance to experience the stuff that “regular” life holds us adventurers back from. Thank you again.

  4. LOL, I have been impatiently waiting for your updates and was thrilled to see not 1 but 6 uploads come in today! Glad to know that you both are safe and sound. Like a lot of us that are following you, I only dream of the adventure you are living and I’m grateful that you are sharing it with us. Your blog is thoughtful, amusing, exciting and inspiring. With your words and photos, I feel like I’m there with you, holding my breath to see if the bear goes away. Thank goodness he wasn’t interested! I look at your photos, take in the glorious mountain views and know that my spirit needed that today . Thanks for sharing…looking forward to more. Godspeed.

  5. So far, so good, Kyle. Love your pics and narrative. Happy trails. Can’t wait for more, esp. w/Katana.

  6. I just read your first 6 blogs. Loved every minute of them.. your pics are just beautiful. I’m so glad you are including them I. Your blogs. I read your book lost on the Appalachian trail. Loved that also. I love your outlook on life. You are living the life most only dream about myself included. Hiking gives me such joy, ofcorse im more of a leisure hiker. I’d love to someday do one of these trails. I’m happy you were able to make it a reality. Enjoy your adventure and please keep the blogs coming.

  7. Thanks for sharing your journey….love my home state…..fun to read about your adventures here…Have read your Appalachian book….one of my favorite thru hiking books and I have read a lot of them 🙂

  8. You have a talent for the written word as an expression of your feelings. And such beautiful views! Stay safe and your little dog too.

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