Location- West Fork Sun River
Elevation- 5,036 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 23.3 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 209.2 miles
Weather/Temp- sunny 70s
Injuries- cuts, scrapes, scabs, bites
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- Deer, marmot, rodents
Days without shower- 7
Days without Laundry- 8
Hunger/craving- greasy food
Got another full night’s sleep and started moving at 9 am from the lake. Little dog didn’t even want to get started, so I began the day carrying her.
Within the first couple miles of the morning, after rounding up over an easy climb; we were greeted with one of the most unique natural structures I’ve seen while hiking…The “Chinese Wall.” It’s a sheer cliff wall that stretches for more than 16 miles (I think). It creates a very unique contrast and divide within the landscape that makes for some beautiful hiking above and below it. We would be passing below, along the base.
We saw more hikers today than we have in the past week, however most of them were on horseback, teveling with 3 to 4 horses; usually two riders, and one or two pack horses. A couple of the horse parties had dogs with them as well, putting Katana in defense mode and causing her to stand up on the back of my pack.
As we traveled along the wall for around 5 to 6 miles through moderate climbs and green meadows, the heat got really strong. It was blowing my mind how hot it was getting at five…six..and seven thousand feet. To top it all off, there was hardly ever a breeze. This was one thing I’ve noticed throughout this section; the wind really doesn’t blow to good down in the valleys/canyons, and even some of the ridges. Sure it picked up every now and then, but not enough for me to notice how often we were hiking in dead air. Hiking with even a slight breeze can make all the difference between a leisurely hike and sweating like a pig. I was sweating like a pig with a Fox around its neck today. Regardless, the views were to pretty to really focus on anything else.
We had a funny occurrence late in the morning while passing another horse party consisting of a middle aged man and woman. Katana was on my shoulders as the first three horses passed by us going in the opposite direction while we stood on the side of the trail (horses get right of way). As the final horse carrying the woman was going by, she was commenting on how cute katana looked on my shoulders. As she kept passing and talking, the angle of the view she had to me and Katana kept changing. Just as they were almost passed, the horse turned to look at me as I answered one of the woman’s comments. Due to the angle, the horse did not see a familiar looking human OR even a familiar looking dog being held by a familiar looking human. No, I suspect the horse saw a human body with a wolf/Fox/dog/DemonMonster head on it. I can only imagine that “HOLY F#%CK! WHAT IS THAT!?!” went through the horse’s mind before it snorted suddenly and violently swung its ass end around to face this new threat while simultaneously cantering sideways to put some distance between it and the dog demon. In the process of all this, the horse nearly threw the woman while also giving me a heart attack. The woman remained calm as she fought for control and made a bunch “horse calming” sounds. I called out an apology as they got back on trail, but she didn’t reply. After all was over and every one/thing was safe, it was actually pretty comical. I can’t imagine what that horse thinks it saw. It will probably never forget this day for the rest of its life and be wary of all humans getting close to dogs. Hah
So the day wore on and I kept wearing my katana scarf. At the top of the pass near the edge of the wall we stopped for lunch. I was so hot, I took off my shirt despite the hordes of bugs that would land on me. To my surprise, as I left my shirt to dry in the sun and moved back into the shade of a group of small pines…75% of the flies stayed with my shirt. It was so obvious, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t thought of it before, or made the connection. Finally a way to wage war on the flies. The 98% Deet would have to do for the mosquitos.
The rest of the day was actually quite leisurely, and I was able to put Katana down for a bit. She was still out of it. One thing that had been bothering me was the possible effect all the overgrowth might have on her eye. When she’s walking, she has to constantly push through the plants head first while they brush against her eye. I put special drops in every day, and every day I check her eye for redness, or inflamed blood vessels in the whites of her eyes. So far everything has been good. All colors and swelling looks normal or non existent. Even still, the overgrown vegetation’s long term effect on that eye is still on my mind.
We ended up getting 23 miles by around 9 pm, and stopped near a large wooden bridge. This was our biggest day yet, and I carried Katana for most of it. If she was just tired, this should be the break she needed to have a fresh start tomorrow.
Speaking of tomorrow, we’re about 8 miles from a wilderness ranch called “Benchmark Ranch.” You had the option to mail a food resupply box there if you wanted; making it a 135 mile food carry instead of 195 miles. Schweppes sent one to himself, but I didn’t. It’s a 3 mile side trail to get there, so I’ll probably just go out of curiosity. Maybe I’ll get to see another human being.
My body has definitely made the full switch off sugar! I can feel the difference 100%. I didn’t eat but maybe 500 calories throughout the whole day before getting the 23 miles, but my energy, hunger, and body felt superb. What a fantastic feeling. I can’t wait to keep this up throughout the entire journey. My motivation to experiment with new foods that aren’t “junk” is completely renewed.