Day 140: Entering the Bob Marshal Wilderness

Miles Hiked: 26.3

Total Milage: 2414.5

This morning I woke up early without my alarm and decided to leave town. I packed up my things and went to breakfast at the campground. I sat with “Animal”, “Overdue”, and “Library” who were also all getting out on trail this morning. I was feeling a bit nervous as I ate my banana bread French toast with walnuts and syrup for breakfast. The Bob Marshal wilderness is notorious for its grizzly ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ activity. I’ve been told they re locate any bears that cause problems elsewhere to here. Fun! I really don’t want to camp or hike this section alone. I know I won’t be able to keep up with Animal and Library and Overdue are a couple and I don’t want to invade their space. The drive out to the trailhead felt so long. I looked at Guthook on the way and paid Frank $20 for the ride. He dropped us off where I got picked up around 8:50am.

The hike started out on a gravel road for about a mile until I reached a trail head. Once I got there, the trail was very wide with lots of horse poop and hoof prints for the next couple of miles. I walked over a long wooden bridge and got my picture taken by the wooden “Bob Marshal Wilderness “ sign. Although the trail was very wide for a while, there was lots of very tall brush on either side of the trail. I was nervous about bears. I was leap frogging with Animal, Library and Overdue for most of the day. We were all taking breaks at different times. I saw a lot of section hikers going the opposite direction as me. There were a handful of horse packers out as well.

Sometime after noon, I crossed a creek and a couple I’ve been trying to meet the whole trail were taking a lunch break with their friend “Machine” who I’ve met a couple times before. I was so happy to finally meet “Darwin” and “Legs” who share a mutual friend with me. I stopped to chat with them and hiked with them for the rest of the day. I talked to Legs quite a bit as we climbed all the way up to the Chinese Wall. We walked along the Wall for about 5 miles before camping at the end of it. It’s a place on the trail I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. I camped with Darwin, Legs, Machine, and three weekend backpackers. I was so happy there were so many people around it made me feel safe. It got so cold around 7pm that I just hung out by myself in my sleeping bag. I meant to watch the sunset at the wall but I was asleep well before it happened. I was tired!

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 139: Augusta

Miles Hiked: 11

Total Milage: 2388.2

Today I woke up around 6:30am. It felt late for a town day. We had to hike 5 miles on the CDT and then 6 miles down the straight creek trail to get to the road where we could possibly hitch to town. The road is very remote and the odds of getting a ride is pretty low. It’s a dead end road for trail heads and that’s it. A lot of people pay a guy who we heard charges $90 per carload to pick them up. I was a bit nervous about not having a ride scheduled but I didn’t really want to pay this guy twice because I know I will definitely be paying for a ride out of town. Personally I think $90 a car load is a little ridiculous but it’s a much needed service that no one else is offering. It was another freezing cold morning and I was hiking around 7am. The area I hiked through for the first five miles was all burned and exposed. I noticed that I accidentally left camp with my headlamp still on my head. I took it off and put it in one of my pockets or so I thought. A couple miles later I realized I didn’t have it anymore and I was so sad. It was such a nice head lamp and not a cheap one either. Losing gear sucks so much especially after I’ve used it for so long. I met up with Peach Fuzz and Melon at the Junction. We waited around for Ozark but after a while we were starting to get very cold so we kept hiking. It looked like it was going to rain.

Melon and Peach Fuzz were hiking crazy fast. Melon did not have a rain coat so I’m sure he was super worried. It did end up raining so I stopped for a little bit to put on all my rain gear and make sure everything was water proofed. I gave up on keeping up with anyone because I didn’t want to get hurt. When I made it to the Straight Creek trailhead there was a “Bob Marshal Wilderness” sign so I made sure to get a picture with it. I finished my hike for the day and now I was on a dirt and gravel road. I ran into Peach Fuzz sitting at the intersection of the trail head road and the main road. He was cooking some food so I made some hot apple cider. We could only assume that Melon was able to get a ride into town already. I really hope he did! We were clearly in the middle of nowhere with low odds as I had expected. I figured we would at least wait a few hours before I would send a satellite message from my Garmin Inreach. As I was finishing up my hot apple cider, a car came into view. Peach Fuzz and I jumped up to put our thumbs out. I couldn’t believe we saw a car come by so fast! It ended up being a couple who just finished a backpacking loop in the next section we will hike through. They picked us up and the four of us squeezed into the front of their truck. It was a long slow 30 mile drive. The couple plans to hike the CDT in two years so they asked us a million questions. Luckily I was in the mood to chat because we nonstop talked the entire way to town. Once we got to town we wanted to get food anywhere. We ended up getting lunch with the couple before they continued their drive home. They were super nice! For lunch I had some soft pretzels with beer cheese and a waffle.

After Lunch I walked to the campground to check in. It was $20 for the night. I set up my tent, got my laundry started, took a shower and picked up my resupply box that I forwarded to myself. I went to talk to 12 pack so I could just get it over with. It didn’t go as well as I had hoped. Basically he said some more things that just confirmed that I definitely wanted to finish this hike out on my own. I let him know that and he was super upset but I felt totally fine. A clear sign that he can’t respect my space I’ve asked for time and time again. I never thought I’d have to have this conversation with another hiker. For the most part almost everyone out here is very independent and respectful of each others boundaries. After that was over, I got to hang out with the other hikers at the campground for a little bit. I went out to a bar with them to get dinner. I had some vegetable egg rolls. Later in the evening I found out that the shuttle driver Frank was making a trip out to the trail first thing in the morning. I honestly didn’t want to leave town that early but it seemed like the best decision. I knew that some other hikers were also getting on trail that day so I might as well leave before 12 pack so I don’t have to worry about running into him. Before I went to bed I got to talk to Luke on the phone which was great. I let him know that I won’t have any service for the next week so I likely won’t get to talk to him until I finish. I’m sad to not be able to talk to my family and friends but I’m looking forward to just soaking in the trail to the maximum these next few days.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 138: Zoning Out

Miles Hiked: 25.7

Total Milage: 2377.2

Today I woke up around 6:30 and left camp by 7am. It was a really cold morning. I hiked three miles to the next water source that was way off the trail. I spent about twenty minutes filtering water. It was a good break. I continued to walk on an exposed ridge with awesome views the rest of the day. We all took a 30 minute snack break together before doing a long descent and having lunch on the side of the Dearborne River. I was going to cross the river on a log but luckily Ozark spotted a snake on the log, so I took my shoes off to cross instead. It was warm and sunny at lunch time. Today I ate three peanut butter wraps with Oreos in them.

It felt like I was zoning out and thinking about nothing all day. It was nice that the trail was pretty flat and through a forest for the last part of the day. It started to feel like we were getting deeper into grizzly ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ country because of the increase in vegetation. Today I took the safety off my ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ spray just to see how easy it was to get off. It wasn’t hard and I felt a lot better knowing how to use it. I’ve just been afraid to do it around anyone else in case I accidentally fired it.

Ozark showed me what Oregon berries and rose hips are today. I’ve been seeing them on trail more frequently. The Oregon berries are edible but extremely tart especially after you brush your teeth. He also told me that tea can be made from the rose hips but it’s recommended to dry them out first. Our camp tonight was in another very tight flat spot so we all camped on top of each other once again. It just makes me laugh. I’m sure everyone sleeps a little better in ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ county that was too.

Aster Flowers. I ended up adding some of these into my tattoo I got after the trail 🙂

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 137: Lewis and Clark Pass

Miles Hiked: 15.3

Total Milage: 2351.5

Today I got out of bed around 7:30am when some other hikers knocked on the door to ask us if we wanted to get breakfast. I was so excited to go back to Lambkin’s and get the cinnamon roll French toast for a second time. It was absolutely delicious once again. I ate breakfast with lots of new hikers including Grey Goose, Red Stripe, Wild Turkey, Ricochet, Ozark, and Peach Fuzz. It felt like a fresh start to the section. After breakfast I went back to the hotel and packed up my things. I took a shower as much as I didn’t feel like it. The morning was freezing cold. It was 10:30am when Ozark, Peach Fuzz, and I left the hotel to meet up with Melon and hitch back to the trail. By noon we had secured a ride back up to Rogers Pass.

I started hiking up the same mountain I turned around on last night. I was feeling great about my decision. This morning I texted 12 pack letting him know I wouldn’t see him until Augusta. I didn’t want to have to worry about running into him when I did what I did to get some space. I felt like a brand new person on a brand new trail today. I listened to a new Mt Joy album as I walked along an exposed ridge with wide open views. I stopped to take a break at the yurt that I wanted to stay at last night. It was way nicer than I expected. It had a log book to sign and I found out that there were lots of people here last night. It made me feel better that 12 pack likely made new friends to hike with. The break was really nice. I knew I had a ton of vertical to hike today and I felt so sore already. I was starting to question if the place I wanted to camp at was still a reasonable option.

I hiked on along more exposed ridge line for the rest of the day. I could tell we were hiking on the actual continental divide and it was stunning. There was a water source before the one I planned to camp near that I originally planned on skipping. I realized I was dehydrated so I ended up hiking an extra 0.8 round trip to get some water that was way off the trail down in a field. It was pretty annoying but I knew it was the smart thing to do. Peach Fuzz grabbed water as well. When we made it back up to the trail Melon and Ozark were taking a break by the Lewis and Clark Pass sign. We all had some snacks and chatted. I was glad I got water because it was getting late in the day and we realized we wouldn’t make it to the last water source. We talked to some SOBOs who gave us some tips for what is coming up ahead. Afterwards we all pushed on to get some last couple of miles in before dinner. I was able to talk to a couple people on the phone while I was hiking today including my friend Julia and Pop Rocks. They gave me some great advice for my situation. I am planning on hiking the PCT with pop rocks and his girl friend next year and two other people as well. Pop rocks and I had a good conversation about letting each other hike their own hikes and how I feel like I was with someone who didn’t respect that. It made me feel nervous about hiking with anyone else but pop rocks reassured me that wouldn’t happen. I’m glad we have had the conversation now! I’m so excited for next summer.

After walking over some stunning cliffs on the edge of the divide. The four of us stopped to have dinner together at the top of a climb. I had a southwest skillet Mountain house from Nate and Teresa and a hot chocolate. They sent me so much food I’ve been able to stretch it into three sections! The air got very cold as we were cooking. It’s started to get pretty chilly every evening hours before the sun goes down. I put my puffy on. It was about two more miles to camp where we set up on a saddle in the middle of a bunch of dead blown down trees. I was thankful to have some new friends to spend a day hiking with today!

Happy Trails!

Day 136 : Lincoln, MT

Miles Hiked: 0

Total Milage: 2336.2

Today I woke up at 6am. Last night I was pretty cold. I’m so glad I have such a good sleeping bag. I easily get very cold and last night my sleeping bag completely frosted over. I think I might have had to get up and start hiking if my bag wasn’t so fluffy. I went to the ʕ·ᴥ·ʔ box to get my food bag and backpack so I could make hot chocolate. As I packed up my things, my hands became numb. I was glad to have a hot pot to hold onto and warm my hands back up so I could feel them.

Melon went to the bathroom and 12 pack asked me if I had reserved a room for us in town Tonight or anything. I hadn’t made plans for town. He said that he didn’t know we were leaving town tonight. I just said “I’m not sure what I’m doing but you should do what you want to do. Get a room if you want to stay and hike out if you don’t.” I was suggesting that I am not concerned if we do things together. I am happy to do something different. He got upset by my suggestion (as he always does) and said “ I’m not going to leave a group 300 miles from the end of the trail”. The group would be me, and I don’t care if we separate at all. There are no rules to thru hiking besides being nice, respecting nature, and hiking your own hike. If I want to split up with someone 300 miles from the end, I can. It’s my choice. It’s not mean. It’s simply me hiking my own hike because I am free to do that. For me, one of the best parts of thru hiking is having freedom to make my own plans and do as I please. I have not felt free for the last month. I have felt a little trapped. Anytime I suggest or explicitly ask to do my own thing and split up, I am only met with very negative feedback and not respect for my wishes. It’s been wearing on me so much the past two weeks. 12 pack and I have been butting heads lately and I think it’s because I stopped having fun.

I’ve been stressed out all summer because I have gotten the vibe that 12 pack is very jealous of Luke (my boyfriend) and I. Anytime I talk about Luke, or talk to Luke on the phone he is clearly pissed off. He almost exclusively says negative things about him. It makes me feel so uncomfortable. Becoming closer to Luke and missing him has been a big part of my summer. It sucks that the person I’ve been spending everyday with makes me uncomfortable to even bring up his name. The other day a friend I called asked me how Luke was doing. It felt so freaking nice that someone actually cared. Spending so much time with someone who is jealous of my relationship is so hard. I haven’t suggested at all that I am interested in anyone else besides Luke. I am dating someone. I am not available. End of story. Jealousy on that level is the #1 turn off for me. The second a male friend suggests jealousy, I not longer feel comfortable progressing the friendship to become an intimate one. That friendship will always be surface level. I can’t trust them fully. I don’t really want to spend an excessive amount of time with someone I feel like I’ll never be close to and makes me feel uncomfortable to talk about the most important person in my life. That is why I am indifferent to hiking with this particular person. I have been the whole time, but I still thought there was a chance I could just be crazy. I wouldn’t know that 12 pack was jealous unless I asked which would sound extremely rude and presumptuous if I was wrong. Well today, I found out I wasn’t wrong.

12 pack and I continued the conversation. I won’t go into all the details but I’ll explain what I learned.

1. 12 Pack doesn’t like my boyfriend.

2. 12 Pack is jealous and thought he still had a shot.

3. 12 Pack is Interested in me and is upset that I don’t feel the same way.

I feel like I just reached the end of my rope. I’m done feeling trapped. I just can’t handle this anymore.

Melon came back and we stopped talking. Golden got out of his van and invited us all inside. We put our packs in the back, warmed the car up, and Golden drove us to town. 12 pack was extremely upset The Whole way. In town, the four of us all got breakfast at Lambkins. I had the best breakfast of my life, cinnamon roll French toast. At breakfast we all talked and 12 pack and I acted like everything is fine. I wasn’t going to bring anyone else into our little tiff this morning. I also didn’t feel like going out of my way to conclude the conversation either because I just feel so over it. I am just ready to do whatever it takes to hike my own hike. I just can’t figure out how.

Melon 12 Pack and I all hung out in town doing errands. I was writing my blog And drying out my things behind Lambkins in a Pavilion. We got a package at the post office with 12 Pack, ate pizza at the Pit Stop, and then hung out at the park across the street. I called my mom and a friend for advice. I had some very long conversations about what was going on and what I should do. I have kept my mom and boyfriend in the loop about what was happening all summer.

Eventually it was time to get back to the trail if we were going to camp at a yurt three miles from the road. I did not want to camp with 12 pack alone or split a room tonight. I needed to be on my own. Golden drove by and offered to take us back up to the trail. I was thrilled to find out other hikers were going to be at the yurt. I wasn’t happy about still being with 12 pack but at least there would be other people. I didn’t think past tonight. Although I knew there were people at the yurt, I was still going back and forth on whether or not I should hike out. I still needed to get some space for now. Even if it was only one night. I was verbal about my indecision and 12 pack didn’t get the hint that I wanted to do the opposite of whatever he was doing. If he stayed in town I wanted to hike out. If he went to the yurt, I was staying in town. I sort of gave up when I realized that 12 pack was just going to change his mind based on me every time. I felt trapped.

Golden drove us back to the trail with another hiker, Machine. When we got there we chatted at the trailhead for a moment. Metric ton was also passing thru so we got to say hi to him. Once we started hiking I fell behind 12 pack. All of a sudden something hit me. I can just turn around and go back to town now. I can take control of this situation. I can hike my own hike. My heart was racing. I felt bad just leaving someone but I need to take care of myself and this is how I had to do it. I called my friend who I think would give awesome advice in this situation. He is the epitome of “hike your own hike, being nice to people, and respecting nature”. He told me what I needed to hear. “ Hell!! I’d turn around!” So I DID.

I called my mom while I hitched for 15 minutes. She helped calm me down. Two very nice ladies picked me up and drove me into Lincoln. Once I got into Lincoln, I walked down the Main Street looking for a hotel to check in to. I ran into a group of hikers who let me know that Ozark was looking for a third person to split a room and that there were three beds. Perfect. I knocked on room 11 and got a bed for the night. I split with Peach Fuzz and Ozark. I hung out with them for the rest of the night. I got to call Luke for a while and let him know what was going on. He has been incredibly supportive of me all summer long. Despite the long distance, we have become a lot closer this summer. I am so so excited to go home to him when I finish the trail. I ran to the store for some Oreos and milk to snack on before bed. I didn’t end up sleeping at all tonight.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 135: Falling in Love with the ULA circuit

Miles Hiked: 26

Total Milage: 2336.2

This morning I woke up around 5am. I could see the sunrise from my cowboy camp and it was so pretty. It was freezing cold and all of my stuff was wet with Dew. My right knee was still swollen and hurting. I decided to stay in my sleeping bag for another hour just to give my body some more rest. I feel like my body is on the verge of falling apart. It’s so sore and tired and ready to be done hiking 20 miles a day. I feel weak all the time. Sometimes I have a good day but more often than not I’ve been feeling fatigued. I’ve now walked farther in one summer then I ever have before. I’m in new territory with my body. How will it react to hiking over 2200 miles?

I ended up getting out of my sleeping bag and packing up my things at 6:30 and leaving by 7am. I was really worried about how my knee would do today. Something just feels weird and wrong. It ended up being mostly fine. It doesn’t hurt to go uphill and if I walk a little slower downhill it’s fine. I should be more careful going downhill anyways. I know my body is tired and it’s easy to injure yourself when you are tired. People keep telling me congratulations and it makes me so nervous because all it takes is one very bad ankle twist and I’ll be going home early.

The first part of the day was on a very nice trail in a green tunnel of conifers. I was mostly focused on making it to the first water source 12 miles from camp. I hiked with Melon for a little bit and I was alone with my thoughts for the rest. I fell in love with my new pack today. My shoulders and back felt great while hiking for the first time since I can remember. It felt like I was carrying weight correctly. The hip belt was nice and tight and the suspension system was working great. I just couldn’t get over how awesome my upper body felt. What a relief! With my old pack I was taking lots and lots of breaks because everything hurt so bad. Now I don’t feel the need to! The only thing I’m nervous about is the long food carry we have coming up but I think I’ll figure it out by then. The only way to learn is by doing it!

We took a break by a water source that was about 0.3 miles off the trail and not marked on Guthook at all. After that was a big climb up to a beautiful ridge. While I was climbing I listened to some music and gave my friends Free Fall and Revolt a call. One I got up on the ridge it was so windy! My pack straps were hitting me in the face and it really hurt so I fixed it by buckling them down. I had to turn up my music to hear anything. I tried to take lots of pictures but it was so windy it was hard to. It felt like my phone was about to blow out of my hands. I caught up to Melon and 12 pack when they were eating dinner in the shelter of some short trees. I made biscuits and gravy for dinner and it was so good. I was still super hungry so I made one of the deserts Teresa and Nate sent me as well. I couldn’t get over how nice the package they sent me was. I felt so spoiled and lucky! The cheese cake was amazing and very filling. It was also high calorie so I might end up buying it again! I hung out by myself up on the ridge for a while longer. It was nice.

I hiked downhill the last two miles to camp and took my good old time doing it. When I got to the parking lot near the highway, I saw Melon and 12 Pack with their tents set up. An older gentleman named “Golden” was talking to them. He is a CDT hiker as well. He has his van with him because he is doing some sections that he missed. He offered to take us to town in the morning which was super nice! I’m glad we won’t be trying to hitch in the cold weather! I ended up cowboy camping because the night was supposed to be clear and I didn’t want to set up my tent. Hummingbird ended up giving me an extra poly cro ground sheet this morning which was super nice. I am so far behind on writing my blog right now it sucks. I tried to catch up written but once again I fell asleep before I could get much progress done. I’m starting to get stressed out about it.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 134: High Divide Outfitters

Miles Hiked: 19.5

Total Milage: 2310.2

This morning I woke up a little later than usual. My tent was wet but not too bad considering how much it rained and stormed last night. It was a cold morning as I packed up all my things and hit the trail. I was hiking before 7am. I followed a dirt road back up to the trail which was also a trail. It was very foggy out and giant cold clouds were rolling through the area I was hiking in. I was hoping the sun would come out. All of my layers were on. Gloves, hoodie, puffy jacket, pants. I got water at a spring and it was the last water I saw for the rest of the day. I can’t believe how dry it is around here.

After getting water, I went up a long 2k foot climb. I was going so slow because my legs are so sore. It’s frustrating that I feel like I have no stamina even though I’ve hiked so far. I think part of it is just that my body is so tired from months and months of pushing it. Eventually the sun came out a little bit and I took a lunch break with Melon and 12 pack. Next we hiked across a cool ridge but it had lots of ups and downs and my legs were still so so sore. The clouds looked like it could rain and it made me nervous. It ended up being fine. When the sun actually came out and we got warm, I sat down to take a break and enjoy it. We ran into Hummingbird on the trail today, she was hiking with a guy named “Day Pack”. I was so happy to see her out here again and on a great pace! We ended up passing her when she had to go back into town for a phone issue. She took the Anaconda route allowing her to make up some lost time which is awesome.

Around 4pm we arrived at the outfitter called High Divide Outfitters. It was our camp destination for the night and I’ve been looking forward to it all day. I heard they sell a lot of Ultra light gear that you can only buy online. I took cash out of the ATM in Helena anticipating being able to buy a new pack if they had something I wanted. I don’t like my old pack at all, not to mention it’s falling apart pretty badly despite the repairs I’ve tried to make. I didn’t like my pack from the start but I thought I might get used to it. I did get used to it but I still didn’t like it. I hate the way I have to pack it to carry it somewhat comfortably. I have my food on the bottom which is so annoying. The pockets on the outside are also unbalanced which drives me nuts and I carry my tent on the outside which I don’t like much either. The hip belt is now too large and my back and shoulders are constantly killing me and causing me to take lots of extra breaks.

The gear shop was the coolest outfitter I’ve ever been to. They did carry so many brands that are not available to buy in person. The place was packed with ultra light gear. This is the kind of stuff you can’t buy from REI or any major retailer. Most of it is made to order from small cottage companies and takes multiple weeks to receive. Lead times on making a lot of gear is only increasing as the demand for it increases as well. I’ve even looked at buying some of this gear used and it’s nowhere to be found. They had so many packs I was interested in. I ultimately ended up getting the ULA circuit pack. It’s slightly smaller than the one I have now but the suspension system uses a hoop instead of two metal stays that a lot of other packs use. Dave, the store owner helped me adjust the pack to fit me and I even got to pack all my things in it before purchasing it. I ended up getting a great deal on the pack. He had it for sale less than it sells for online and I didn’t have to pay sales tax ( Montana laws). I also got to ship my old pack home and I got a new stuff sack for my tent because I can pack it on the inside of my pack now! I plan on using this pack for the PCat next year and I’m so excited!

I got some snacks from the store as well and I hung out with everyone for the rest of the night. I cowboy camped because I couldn’t get my tent stakes in the hard ground.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 133: Big storms leaving Helena

Miles Hiked: 19

Total Milage: 2290.7

Today I woke up around 6am at the hotel. I went to get a bagel and some tea down the street before taking one last bath. 12 pack and I planned on leaving town with Melon today but I didn’t hear from him all morning. By 10am I finally went to knock on his hotel door to see if he was awake. He was and was almost ready to leave. We left the hotel around 11am. Those two got some food before leaving town and we all hitched out together. A nice man drove us up to the pass. There are a lot of homeless people in Helena and I’m sure everyone driving by also thought we were homeless. I’m glad this guy recognized us as hikers. I will say that I’ve never seen a homeless person trying to hitch hike anywhere.

We got dropped off at the pass around noon. The day started out by walking on some dirt roads. It was sunny although the weather predicted storms. The prediction quickly came true. Right as we hit an actual trail the sky was looking very dark and it started thundering. Lightning and rain came just as the trail dipped into some trees. It was a big and scary storm but I could tell it was moving fast so I didn’t want to set up my tent. We were also surrounded by lots and lots of trees so I felt safe. I was right, the storm blew over in less than an hour and it stopped raining. It was perfect timing because we entered a wide open field again. The day ended with lots of road walking as well. I hiked around Melon and 12 pack today but my legs move a little slower so I was dragging behind at a couple spots. We stopped to make dinner on the side of the road. A man hiking south passed us and stopped to chat. He is hiking the great western loop and seems like he is on great pace to finish it before getting caught in crazy snow. He has to hike about 50 miles a day for a bit and I think he can do it. I can only imagine how sore his feet must get.

Right before camp it started to get very dark and cloudy again. Thunder rumbled and we set up our tents just as it started to hail very hard. I was so glad to be at camp. Getting cold and soaked isn’t fun especially two times in one day.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 132: A Zero in Helena

Miles Hiked: 0

Total Milage: 2271.7

I planned on leaving town today but the weather looked bad so we decided to stay another day. Also Melon planned on hiking out with us tomorrow so that was another reason to stay. My body needed the extra rest day really bad. My back was hurting and I feel like I tweaked all my toe muscles when it was raining and I couldn’t feel my feet. I hung out in bed at the hotel for most of the day. When the gear shop downtown opened, I walked there to buy some much needed things. But first, I got an iced coffee and a cinnamon roll at a bakery. At the gear store, I got a new pair of gloves that I’m so excited to use. I haven’t had a nice pair to hike with this whole trail. Now that it’s getting cold I really need them. I also got a pair of nice base layer pants that are much warmed than my current paper thin leggings that I will be sending home along with my tank top. My stove has broken so I also replaced that as well. I plan on emailing the company that makes them about it when I get home. It’s a really nice stove that no longer does the job because it’s threads to screw it on have failed. The gear shop was extremely helpful when it came to finding everything I needed and they even gave me a 30% off discount on my stove that I was very happy about.

For lunch I treated myself to a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich. Today felt like it was all about eating. Later for dinner, Melon, 12 pack and I all went to get burritos and ice cream at the Big Dipper for the second time. Everyone was out and about downtown listening to live music. It was fun to watch and feel like a normal person for a day. I love how everything in town feels so special after a couple days out in the backcountry. I ended up staying up late and taking another bath.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 131: MacDonald Pass

Miles Hiked: 18.3

Total Milage: 2271.7

Today I woke up to a chilly morning. My tent was still wet but I’m happy that it didn’t rain overnight. 12 pack and I were going to start packing up at 5am but he had a headache so we waited another hour. I was glad because I had time to get my food bag and take my time eating before doing anything else. I had some crackers, cheese, and salami to start the day along with tuna salad on crackers. We left camp around 6:15am. Everything was wet and dreary but I thought it made everything look pretty despite the cold. I love the way that the neon yellow looking moss stands out against the cold wet tree bark. Someone told me that the neon yellow moss is actually an invasive plant of some sort but I haven’t looked into it. I got water from a stream I could hear off the side of the trail. It wasn’t marked on Guthook but every single dry and unreliable source was… of course.

The trail eventually lead to some dirt roads that I walked on for quite a while. I passed a logging operation that I could actually hear going on very early in the morning. I thought it was a chain saw but it was some machine that strips trees of their branches. All the logs and debris were put into giant piles. When I had to pass the machines and people doing the work, they were right in the middle of the road. I’m glad they saw me and stopped as I walked by because they were big and intimidating, not to mention very noisy. Right before the roads turned onto a trail, I found s cooler of trail magic. A welcome surprise. A couple who has a daughter hiking the PCT this year put it out. I had a sprite and an orange. I was so happy they put fresh fruit in there. It’s been the #1 thing I’ve been craving lately. It was delicious. I signed the log book that was included before moving on. The trail went through a lot of blown down trees. It looked like a lot of trail work had been done but there was still a good amount of trees to step over which slowed me down a lot. I was just feeling very tired today and a little antsy to be done hiking. I finally reached the road around 3pm. 12 pack and I tried hitch hiking for about 40 minutes before someone pulled over for us at the busy highway. A nice gentleman going into Helena took us all the way to our hotel.

We stayed at the budget inn in downtown Helena. It was close to everything and very hiker friendly. Our room was provided by 12 Packs family which was very nice! I received a package from my best friends in the whole world, Nate and Teresa 🙂 I can’t wait to see them when I go home to visit Ohio. They sent me one of the nicest cards I’ve ever gotten on trail. Honestly my favorite part of care packages is getting a note with them! I wish it was common to send letters in the mail more often. Sometimes those words of encouragement when I’m feeling sad and alone in town help me so much! I couldn’t get over all the nice food they sent me. I am absolutely spoiled by them. They sent me so many different kinds of freeze dried mountain house meals, Couscous, and lots of healthy protein snacks. Not only that, but they found one of my favorite snacks I had no idea you could even get in a can … Dolmades! Otherwise known as grape leaves. It’s a greek appetizer that is a grape leaf stuffed with rice and some other things. Weird, but it’s one of my favorite foods and I couldn’t believe I got to have it in Helena. They actually sent me so much good food I ended up forwarding half of it to myself in Augusta. I’m excited to get that box again! I saved half the Dolmades for that town too.

Once I got all my food, I went to get a falafel salad from pita pit down the street. I relaxed and made a call to one of my friends while I was eating. Melon got to Helena today as well so we hung out with him before getting dinner at a brewery. 12 packs sister Ashley sent us money to go out to dinner. 12 pack got a giant salad and I caved and got some macaroni since I already had a salad earlier. It was delicious. Afterwards, we walked to get ice cream at the Big Dipper. I got a two scoop waffle cone. It was probably the best ice cream I’ve had on trail. Just the fact that it was two big scoops in a waffle cone made me smile. Before going to bed I got to talk to Luke on the phone.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird