Date- July 22
Location- Lemhi Pass
Elevation- 7,382 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 32.9 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 619.1 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, cloudy, rain, 60s/70s
Injuries- tired feet
Pain level- moderate
Wildlife encounters- whitetail deer, grouse
Days without shower- 4
Days without laundry- 4
Hunger/craving- Grandma’s cooking
I was up and hiking by 7:40 am. Not the earliest start for a 33 mile day attempt, but better than usual. Jetpack was about an hour and a half ahead of me right out the gate.
To kick things off… a 2,800 ft climb. It wasn’t too steep (besides a few areas) – just long and monotonous. I had it knocked out before noon and had around 12 miles completed by the time noon arrived.
It was about 12:45 pm when I caught Jetpack at the last water source. I drank a liter of electrolytes and then cameled-up 4 more liters before having lunch. As of the conclusion of that lunch, I officially had no more snacks that weren’t sugar. In the way of sugar, I had about 200 dark chocolate M&M’s left, and about 2.5 old fashioned doughnuts left. No more salty snacks – only some instant mashed potatoes and some Knorr Pasta sides. Times are getting lean!
Jetpack set out from lunch about half an hour ahead of me, around 1:30 pm. I set out around 2 pm. We still had over 19 miles to go.
The vast majority of those 19 miles were spent walking along ridge-lines through gorgeous enchanted looking forest, as well as more than several fire devastated forest areas.
I can’t stress enough how glad I am to be able to cross this section this year. I had no idea what I missed, and can say with certainty now… the Bitterroot Mountains are my favorite section of Montana/Idaho, bar none.
The trail quite literally walked the border of Montana and Idaho for the entire day. If you looked east, you were staring at Montana; if you looked west, you were staring at Idaho. If you looked straight, then you were taking in Montanaho. Regardless of where you looked, nothing but beauty met your eyes.
As far as exciting encounters or happenings, there were none. I didn’t see another soul all day, and I didn’t even see Jetpack after we parted ways at lunch. It was solitude the likes of which would make any introvert drool in satisfaction.
I beared down on the miles after lunch, determined to reach the goal destination with light to spare. If I was walking, I was maintaining a 3 mph pace or better.
By 10 minutes to 6 pm, I only had 8.4 miles to go and decided to take one last break (only my second) for the day. I ate a few handfuls of M&M’s and told myself I’d start hiking again by 6:15. As 6:15 approached, I was too comfortable and pushed it back to 6:30… a nice 40 minute break.
When I set back out, it was with a vengeance… and to the tune of rolling thunder and lightning flashes. The forests were still and quiet, aside from the low rumbling, which gave them an eerie yet surreal quality. The birds don’t sing when thunder is overhead, regardless of rain or not.
For nearly an hour I was treated to the auditory orgasm of thunder without the rain. But, eventually the rain did fall in a light mist and I was forced to break out my umbrella, lest my pack get damp. I sleep with my pack under my legs in the hammock, so a damp pack is less than desirable.
It was just after 9 pm. The sun was setting over a distant westerly mountain range as I wrapped up the 33 mile day. If the day had counted for nothing else, that sunset made every step worth it.
Jetpack had finished about a half a mile ahead of me. I hadn’t seen her throughout the second half of the day, but once I’d broken out onto the wide open sagebrush hillsides at the end of the run, I could see her far below.
I didn’t know it earlier, but this was the biggest day she’s ever hiked – period! I’m proud of her and glad I could be present for the occasion! I’m sure she’ll beat it again out here, but she says she doesn’t think so. She’s not much for the big days.
It’s only 27 miles to the road into Leadore. I have no idea if we’ll do that distance tomorrow, or if we’ll break it into two smaller days. My preference is to do it all tomorrow since I’m pretty much out of food, besides dinners. But, the terrain looks steep so I’ll just have to play it by ear.
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