Location- Top of some burnt out hill
Elevation- 5,453 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 18.8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 112.6 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 70s
Injuries- stings, cuts, scrapes
Pain level- none
Wildlife encounters- zero. Lots of tracks
Days without shower- 1
Days without Laundry- 2
And we were off again at about 10am sharp; Katana Dog in tow. It was a bit stop and go in the beginning, due to her wanting to smell everything, but after a couple miles she was zipping along ahead of me on her leash, taking the smells in stride. She absolutely killed her first day out! We hiked almost 20 miles, and she didn’t give me so much as a sassy pause. She was strong from start to finish!
We crossed back into Glacier pretty early on for about 14 miles or so. Luckily we didn’t run into any Rangers with Katana, and we were home free. Actually, today felt like sort of a “discount” Glacier. Since we were along the southern border of the park, almost out of it; there were quite literally no views or people to speak of. Almost 20 miles hiked today, and not a soul to be seen. It was just overgrown trail, Bear grass…and us.
We were under the trees all day, aside from short stints through meadows and clearings. The vegetation was once again thick; at one point, the entire length of both my legs were stung up with nettles.
Another thing that’s lost its novelty is the Bear grass. My entire body gets caked in the pollen as it brushes up against me all day long. Clouds of the yellow white powder cloud the air with every touch and strong blow of the wind. We literally cannot get away from these things. They were beautiful at first, but have quickly become a pretty nuisance.
I didn’t let Katana off her leash completely, but I let her drag it behind her. I’m slowly going to give her more freedom as I let myself adapt to having her out here and intercepting any potential threats.
As we neared the last mile or so of the day, we ventured into a large “burn zone;” basically an area that was devastated by wildfire. Burn zones usually mean no shade, high heat, and lots of blow downs (fallen trees) due to all the trees being dead and frequently falling as their root systems slowly rot away and fail to hold them. Also, the soil becomes looser as other tree’s root systems decompose, so it’s a bit of a vicious cycle.
This burn zone was absolutely plagued with blow downs. Every few yards you’d have to hurdle, climb, go under, or go around a fallen tree. It was hell on keeping up any kind of pace, and since it was the end of the day, we only went a mile into it before calling it quits and making camp atop a random hill.
Hanging a “bear bag” has become the new ritual every night. I’ve never hung a bear bag even once on any of my other thru hikes. I usually slept with my food bag, or used it as a pillow. Horrible practice, but I was just never worried about black bears. Now that I’m in grizzly country…the thought of a 700 pound living nightmare of a monster coming to investigate me for food makes my knees weak. As with most fears, I’m sure they will fade as time goes on and no close calls are had. However, once that first close call does happen (or if), then I’m sure I’ll be back to taking extra precautions.
Katana’s first day is in the books, and I’m looking forward to seeing her have some more fun on the trail. It’ll be over a week before we hit our next town, so this stretch is crucial for all of us.