Date- July 16
Location- Surprise Lake
Elevation- 8,209 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 26 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 493.5 miles
Weather/Temp- scattered clouds, 70s
Injuries- cuts and scrapes
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- rodents
Days without shower- 3
Days without laundry- 7
Hunger/craving- fried foods
It stormed really hard a little after midnight last night. The sounds were loud enough to wake me up for about 20 mins before lulling me back to sleep. This morning however, was gorgeous. There wasn’t a lick of rain except once, for like 30 seconds.
I was hiking by a little after 8:30 am this morning. Besides passing Quiet Man around noon, I didn’t see another soul all day. I didn’t hike fast, and I took snack breaks at the bottom of every large climb.
Today was a fun day for me, myself, and I. Lately, I’ve taken to reading and memorizing poetry while I hike. I hiked with a hiker named Poet earlier this year on the Florida Trail, and if you read those earlier blogs, then you already know all about him.
Long story short, Poet has the incredible skill of being able to hear or read something once and then recite it back verbatim. This has turned him into a sort of human jukebox or poetry machine. I don’t know how he does it – but suffice it to say, I was very impressed and also inspired. I too want to be able to regurgitate my favorite poems and songs on command. My grandfather even possesses this skill at 85 years old, so I know it’s in my blood somewhere. They have both inspired me to sharpen my poetry and memory game.
Anyways, I’ve already committed to heart several favorite poems, but today I moved on to begin tackling some of the poems of my all time favorite poet… Robert Service. Over the course of about 6 hours, I managed to commit to memory 36 of the 72 lines in his poem, “Spell of the Yukon.” I figure if I can memorize one of his longest, then the rest will seem much more manageable when I get to them. I have about 7 of them saved on my phone, but I want them all in my head before the end of this hike. Maybe I’ll make some videos of me reciting them while hiking. Kinda corny, but we’ll see…
All in all it was a challenging but leisurely day – a little over 6,000 feet of elevation gain across some gorgeous ridge-lines and passes. I think there was something like 200 blow-downs across the path, but they were mostly spread out until the end of the day – go figure. The last 4.5 miles probably had about a hundred blow-downs on their own.
If it wasn’t for the wandering poet schtick I’m on, I would have finished quite a bit earlier. I just can’t hike as fast when I’m trying to focus on something, while speaking out loud. I did manage to slip and slide in some mud on a downhill slope, and collapsed onto my left leg – torquing it painfully beneath me and straining a ligament in my knee. It pulled and throbbed for about 3 hours after the fall, but it feels fine now. The morning will let me know if there’s anything seriously wrong.
I caught up to Jetpack, Salty, Woodchuck, and Stretch around 8:45 pm at a lake named “Surprise Lake.” I think we’re all looking at doing another 27 mile day to the road that goes into the town of Darby tomorrow. I don’t know that we’ll go in tomorrow evening, but the loose plan is to hitch into town in the morning.
Montana feels as though it’s flying by this time around…
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