Date- June 21, 2019
Location- Many Glacier
Distance Traveled Today- zero
Distance Traveled Total- 27.6
Weather/Temp- Rainy, clear, 60s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- none
Days without shower- 8
Days without laundry- 8
Let me preface this post with the fact that I did not take any pictures today, so the pictures on this post are from hiking in Maine with Laura and visiting Poet at his hostel in Monson, Maine the week before starting this hike.
I had all the time in the world to sleep in this morning but was up by 6:30 a.m. feeling like a new man. Initially I thought I might hike out at some point, but decided to take the day to re-hydrate. Besides the excruciating cramps that persisted into the morning, I really had no other aches or pains. To be truthful, I’m really quite perplexed at that, especially given the mileage and the terrain I went over yesterday. Maybe I’ve still got some of my strength lingering from carrying Katana on the Florida Trail 3 months ago. That’s really the only explanation I’ve got; well, either that or my “old man strength” is kicking in. I will be turning 30 this year on the trail and lemme tell ya… I’m absolutely mortified to be leaving my twenties. I feel about 150 years old most days, but it’s knowing that another decade has passed that gets me sweating. There’s just so much still to do! I need more time!
The day was uneventful for the most part. I met probably more than a dozen other thru-hikers, which is mind boggling. I barely met a dozen thru- hikers during my entire 2017 hike. Now, there was that many… and it was only on day two. It’s bittersweet. On one hand, you’re glad to see other people enjoying this lifestyle and going after what they want. But on the other hand, you’re thinking – “No! It’s going to get too crowded and my precious solitude is going to be ruined!”
I’ve met too many people today to really start going into names, backgrounds, and stories. So, I’m just going to wait and see who (if any) of these characters end up hiking around or with me. I did meet one 24 year old British guy who also hiked here from the start of the trail yesterday and then zeroed today. We have the exact same campsite itinerary for all of Glacier, so I imagine I’ll be hiking around him for the next several days. After Glacier we’ll see if our paces and styles match up.
It’s been quite chilly and raining off and on all day. This really isn’t a good sign for the rest of the summer, but I’ve got my fingers crossed. I only have to hike 15 miles tomorrow and go over another pass. With darkness setting in at 11 pm, I could probably leave at 3 pm and still make it with daylight to spare. Alas, I’ll probably take an early start to smell some roses along the way. Besides, I’ve about had my fill of this tourist trap.
Something strange happens to people when they vacation at National Parks. Now it’s not everyone, but certainly a vast majority. Even though 90% of the people here have come to only drive around (not hike, not camp, and sleep in their campers and RVs)… they look like they’re dressed for either a safari, or a fashionable sporting event. When your average human being visits a National Park, they seem to undergo some sort of persona change. They either go the route of the “Indiana Jones” look/persona, or the “I’m going to the gym, but not to work out, just to attract attention while looking like I’m working out” look/persona. Then you have the thru-hikers, who are arguably doing the most outdoorsy/naturey thing out here – and we look like we’re either dressed for Halloween, or just left the second hand store. It’s quite a contrast.
By and by, I think my favorite aspect of National Park tourists are the men. More specifically, the “macho indoorsy” men who are trying their best to look or be “macho outdoorsy” men. I don’t even have to describe them because I know you already have the whole image and attitude visualized in your head. Loud talkers using words and phrases that sound borrowed from somewhere else, and who look perpetually prepared to defend the world from a bear attack even while standing in line at the hotel restaurant.
I had one funny instance while sitting at a table in the small Many Glacier restaurant. There was a middle aged man, his wife, and their three younger teenage kids sitting behind me. For 20 minutes I listened to the patriarch talk confidently about the Park, the wildlife, hiking, and the like. He wasn’t wrong about much of what he was saying, it was just the way in which it was said. I could feel the forced assurance behind his voice. These were not things he’d learned through experience – these were things he’d read or heard from someone else who’d probably only read them. I got up to refill my water and as I turned to go back to my table, the patriarch was right there and caught me in a low voice as he said, “Is it okay to carry food in our packs if we’re only day hiking?” I smiled and asked, “You mean like snacks?” He nodded. I smiled again. “You can pack a whole lunch and dinner if you want, nothing will bother you.” He looked relieved and gave me a knowing nod as he replied, “Thanks, that’s what I thought.” I responded with a grin, “No problem!”
I’m not totally sure why he singled me out, but if I had to guess I would say it was the fact that I had all my gear in the table booth with me, looked like I hadn’t showered in 8 days, and also looked like I hadn’t had a haircut or a shave in 6 months… which I haven’t. The man probably thought, “Now here’s a guy who looks like he plays outside.” But, who really knows these things.
I don’t have much else to say about today, so I’ll just speak generally about some things. As far as the haircut and shaving goes, I made a pact not to trim a single hair until the end of this year. I look deranged, but I’m curious to see what 1 year worth of unmitigated hair growth looks like. Since January 1st, I’ve only trimmed my mustache once and that’s it. Come 2020 I’m going to look like Robin Williams when he first escaped Jumanji. “What year is it!?!”
Also, I’m cutting out sugar for this hike. No sweets, no desserts, no soft drinks, nothing. Only fats, proteins, and complex carbs. I did this on my last CDT hike and it did wonders for my mental and physical health, as well as my energy levels. Breaking free of the slave driver known as sugar gives you back control over your life – especially on a thru-hike. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that your life is not your own when you’re hooked on sugar.
Also, this year’s 24-hour hiking attempt is going to be epic. In 2017 I hiked 63 miles in about 21 hours. The only reason I stopped was because the goal was to beat Dixie’s (my girlfriend at the time) 24-hour record of 62 miles. She initially did the 24- hour challenge to beat my previous 55 mile personal record and rubbed it in my face a bit. So I gave it back to her and teased that I would only go a mile further than her in 2017 instead of just blowing her 62 miles out of the water. Anyhow, that’s what happened – and I got 63 miles with hours to spare. This year… I’m going to surpass my personal record of 63 miles. The new goal is 70+ miles in 24 hours and 114 miles continuous without sleep. I know exactly where I’m doing it, what I’m taking with me, and I’m going to wait for the best weather I can possibly hold out for. I’m incredibly excited to see how it goes… or doesn’t go.
That’s all I can think of at the moment. The journey continues tomorrow!