Date- July 1, 2019
Location- Sun River
Elevation- 5,804 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 24.3 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 196.8 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, drizzle, 60s
Injuries- cuts and scrapes/sore tendon
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- pine marten
Days without shower- 5
Days without laundry- 5
I thoroughly enjoyed today. Didn’t start hiking until a little after 8:30 am and spent most of the next 10 miles hiking alongside and sometimes crossing the Spotted Bear River. Although the trail ascended over 2,000 ft throughout that 10 miles, it was very graded and nearly imperceptible most of the time.
I didn’t hike with a single soul all day, but did pass a 65 year old man named “Quiet Man,” about 7 miles into the morning. We chatted for a few minutes before I pulled ahead.
It rained lightly for 15 minutes around 10:30 am, and despite some suspiciously dark clouds later on, it didn’t do so again.
At close to 9 miles into the day I came around a gentle curve and encountered what I thought was a very small and very thin human standing upright in the middle of the trail. It caught me off guard and stopped me in my tracks. I couldn’t make out what it was for several seconds until it dropped down to all fours and turned sideways to me. “A pine marten!” I nearly yelled out, spooking it off the trail and into the thick foliage. I tried spotting it again for a couple minutes, but it was gone. I’ve only ever seen two pine martens while hiking, and the other one was in 2017, also in Montana on the CDT. They look kind of like a mix between a cat, a weasel, and a raccoon/panda. I wish I had gotten a picture of this one, but it was too quick. So I’m going to include a picture of the one I saw during my 2017 hike. In hindsight, seeing it stand nearly 3 feet tall with its little arms at its sides gave me the strong impression of a meerkat. Cool little creatures.
Around the 12 mile mark of the day I stopped to have lunch. This was nothing more than 2 pouches of tuna and a few spoonfuls of bacon bits. I’ve definitely not been eating enough through this section, but once I’m through it and onto more standard distances between towns… I’m going to eat like a king.
I had taken lunch under the low hanging umbrella canopy of a large conifer. There had been some dark clouds around, so I wanted to already be covered in case it rained during my break. It never did. However, after I’d eaten I laid my head back against the trunk of the tree and ended up falling asleep for nearly an hour and a half. Quiet Man was approaching down the trail when I awoke, which I thought was strange. He was too far to hear, but somehow my subconscious woke me up from a dead sleep as soon as he came into view. Interesting…
A couple miles later I was traversing the bottom of the “China Wall,” a sheer wall of rock close to a thousand feet high that splits the forest for close to 12 miles, I believe. The China Wall is easily one of the most unique formations I’ve seen on a long trail and falls into my top ten favorite sights/places. It’s a bit of a hike to get to, but if you have the opportunity… go.
The rest of the hike along the wall was gorgeous yet uneventful. Ground squirrels chased each other and scattered before my feet as I hiked through meadow after meadow.
I didn’t catch up to Jetpack until the very end of the day, camped with two other hikers named “Baker” and “Nature Man.”
Jetpack will be hiking sideways off trail tomorrow to access a remote wilderness ranch that she mailed a resupply package to. I didn’t send myself one, so I don’t know if I’m going to do those extra miles. She said she’d understand if I wanted to hike on, but I’m not sure what I’m going to do. I guess I’ll just see how I feel tomorrow.
I’m ready to crank things up to 10…