Date- July 16, 2019
Location- Rainbow Lake
Elevation- 8,248 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 24.5 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 467.5 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, overcast, drizzling, 70s
Injuries- cut shin
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- rodents
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 6
I was hiking by 8 am sharp, but Salty, Jetpack, MAV, Tick Tack, and Quiet Man (other hikers camped around Storm Lake) had already a more than 2 hour head-start on me. I’m jealous of the potential for productivity their early starts give them, but I just can’t bring myself to be hiking before 6 am – no matter how bad I want it. I’d probably have to ditch my hammock.
There’s a few new names here, so I’ll go ahead and give a quick rundown on all of them. Some of these people I’m just meeting for the first time, while others I’ve known from other trails, or earlier on this trail. No telling how long I’ll be around some of these characters, so I might as well acquaint you.
Salty is a male hiker my age (29) and a Marine Corps veteran. I’ve known him since 2017 when I had breakfast with him on the PCT in Aqua Dolce during his thru-hike and my section hike in preparation for the CDT back then. You already know Jetpack. Tic Tack is a 60 year old male hiker (although he looks like he’s in his 40s). He looks like Bill Paxton a little bit, and has been a software designer for the past 35 years. This is his first thru-hike, I believe. MAV is a male hiker from South Dakota who is a 23 year veteran of the Marine Corps and Army. His trail name is an acronym for “Marine Army Veteran.” He’s hiking for the EOD Warrior foundation, so if you feel so inclined, you could donate to it. I briefly met MAV 5 years ago on the AT just south of Hanover, NH. He was doing a southbound thru-hike and we crossed paths for several minutes while he informed us of some hikers who claimed to have seen a mountain lion about half an hour earlier. It’s a pleasant surprise to run into him out here. Quiet Man is in his late 60s, and a former electronics engineer. He doesn’t talk a whole lot, so I don’t know much about him. He’s hiked the AT, and I know he’s been cranking out 25 miles per day out here, no matter what. I think he mentioned that he’s run over two dozen marathons in his life. There are four other hikers who have been around me named Cricket, Woodchuck, Stretch, and Wingo. Cricket is a 27 year old woman from California who is hiking with her little white chihuahua named Chip. This is her first major thru-hike. Woodchuck is my age, and I’ve known her/of her since my AT hike in 2014. She’s known for hiking exclusively in Crocs, and I hiked around her for a day on the PCT back in 2016 in the Sierra Nevada. This is her Triple Crown hike, and she also did the Florida Trail last year. I just met Stretch the other day – he’s a tall, thin guy from Indianapolis who was an IT specialist. He’s hiked the AT from Georgia to Vermont, but he’s never completed a full thru-hike. I believe he said he is 27. Wingo is a man who appears to be in perhaps his 70s. I’ve seen and talked to him every day since hiking into Anaconda, but I must admit I know nothing about him. I ate at a gas station subway with him in Anaconda, and the most I could gather was that he’s very quiet, and this is probably not his first rodeo. If I see him again, I’m gonna put a few good questions to him. He’s a very interesting character in more ways than a few.
I climbed four and a half passes today for about 6,000 ft of elevation gain. Not an insanely hard day, but a challenging one.
It pains me to admit, but I did pack out sugar for this stretch. And it hurts even more to admit that I felt a lot better – at least energy wise. The mental anguish caused by shoveling that crap into my body is a whole other story. All I can think about is my future diabetes.
The climbs were cakewalks with my newfound sugar rush. I was able to breeze up them nearly as fast as I pleased without stopping, except to take pictures.
One by one, I slowly caught everyone ahead of me except Jetpack and Salty. Salty hikes at a ridiculously relentless pace that I save for getting into towns, or seriously big days. I can’t think or focus as clearly when I push myself to the absolute limit, and I’ve been listening to a lot of books and reading/ memorizing a lot of poetry lately. Jetpack was just ahead of me for the last few miles. However, I took them very slow because I was reading Robert Service poems out loud and took about 2 hours to walk the last 3.5 miles to Rainbow Lake.
I simply cannot overstate how much time long distance hiking gives you for self improvement along a plethora of different lines. Think about it… you have ALLLL DAAYY, EVERY DAY to literally read, listen, think, study, talk, or memorize just about anything you want, for months on end. All you have to do, is do it. It’s easy to zone out and be nonconstructive with all that time. Indeed a great deal of your time will simply slip away as you take in your surroundings with a zombie brain; but it doesn’t always have to be like that.
Overall, I had a really good day despite the absence of animals. The temperature was moderate and it only sprinkled a few times for a few minutes throughout the day. I strolled into Rainbow Lake around 8 pm to find Jetpack and Salty already set up.
I think the plan is to go even further tomorrow with the same elevation gain as today. I’m game for it. I feel fantastic. My feet feel great every day, and besides perforating my skin at least two or three times a day somewhere on my body – nothing hurts or feels injured. Montana is cruising by…
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