Date- July 20, 2019
Location- Slag-a-Melt Lake
Elevation- 8,579 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 22 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 560 miles
Weather/Temp- cloudless, 60s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- rodents
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 2
Today marks my one month anniversary on trail; June 20th to July 20th. As of today, I am 560 miles into the journey. Accounting for all the days, including zero days… I’ve averaged 18 miles per day. If I take away the 6 zero days I’ve had so far and only include the days I’ve been hiking, then I’ve averaged 22.4 miles per day. I’m happy with the numbers so far, but I want to get them up even more.
Right now my goal is to be out of Montana by August 1st. In order to do that, I have to average 21 miles per day for the rest of the month. I think this is more than doable, even with the zero day I want to take in Lima. I’ll just have to build up a buffer by hiking a few bigger days.
It was a freezing cold morning, but that soon changed with the start of a 3,000 ft climb. While not terribly steep, it was monotonous to no end.
Around mid-morning I spotted a grouse on the trail. It didn’t move as I approached, so I began to prepare myself to dispatch it. I’ve eaten grouse on trail before and they’re absolutely delicious! I wouldn’t miss an opportunity to eat more, especially days out from town.
Staff at the ready, I crept closer and closer. When I was within 4 feet of the bird it was still sitting there. I stopped and just looked at it. It wasn’t afraid. In fact, it was making these soft “cooing” noises like a chicken or a dove. This was too easy. So “too easy” that I couldn’t bring myself to go through with it. I lowered the staff and leaned on it as I looked down on the bird. “How do you survive?” I asked it out loud. “It’s your lucky day!” I left grouse sitting and cooing there as I moved on. Reverse psychology is doing wonders for that bird. I didn’t see any other animals the rest of the day.
The giant climb concluded at the top of a gorgeous scree covered ridge. For several miles the trail skirted the ridge before passing into a fabulously green valley full of lakes, ponds, and streams. Once again, the hiking was as leisurely and picturesque as it could be.
For the most part it was a very low key and boring day. The highlight came at the very end of the day, after finishing up a thousand foot climb that descended onto the shores of a lake called Slag-a-Melt.
It was dusk when I met Jetpack there. Small trout were feeding all over the surface of the small lake. I desperately wanted fish, but didn’t have any gear on me yet. I’ve been waiting to get to the Wind River Range before I do any fishing.
It was kinda late when I got to the lake and there was a crude fire-pit beneath the two giant evergreens we were camped beneath and between. At first I told myself I would just make a small fire to ward off the mosquitoes, but then after I had my small fire going, my OCD got the best of me. There were so many nice rocks around, I couldn’t help but do some engineering and build up a big oven.
We had it all; a lake, a big fire, tree cover, a gorgeous silhouette view of the ridge-line, and more mosquitoes than you could ever hope to count. What more could you need?
We’re in a bit of a caldera valley next to a lake, so I know it’s going to be chilly. From a practicality standpoint, this is a terrible campsite. From a scenic (and overall cool spot) standpoint… you don’t care about anything else.
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