Daily Log: Day 69

69 2911.7 8/22/2021 rainy, very windy, cold, moderate, over passes rainy, cold and windy. Woke up at my regular time but it was very windy, cold and raining. I thought the weather report said rain was to stop. Well not at Old Man Lake. Finally I got up. Packing up was a difficult exercise especially with cold stiff hands. I ate breakfast at the food prep area – following the National park rules. I was on trail at 7 – yup, real late. Immediately had to climb and climb and climb. As I ascended the weather got worse. It was as if the mountain itself was generating the weather as a microclimate. I was on a narrow trail on the side of a very big mountain. I worried about being blown off. It got colder and colder. And there was rain. It took forever to reach the peak. I knew then that today was going to be a very very long day – probably ending between 4-5 pm. As I descended the weather improved. But I had a second peak to summit. Oh my gawd – it was a ramp trail on the side of a bowl of mountains for over 3 miles. Up and up and up. And with it, as before, the wind gusted, the temperature dropped and it rained. It took over two hours to summit. Then again as before the weather slowly abated as I descended. I crossed the Red Eagle Creek in a mini-suspension bridge – twice! At about 4:30 after going through a forest fire area I arrived at Red Eagle Lake Head and setup my tent. No one else is here. The temperature was cool but it feels warm after the past few cold nights. I’m on the edge of the lake. Tomorrow is a shorter hike – only 14 miles – and I need it. My poor feet are getting beat up. Justin is also stopping by with resupplies. At Red Eagle Lake Head campground.

After climbing for a while I stopped for a snack and to take a picture. Old Man Lake Campsite (not visible) was somewhere on the left side of the lake. What you don’t feel is the cold gusty wind and the stinging rain. What you do see is the sheer beauty of these steep forested mountains
A panoramic image of the same view showing the trail constantly rising from the left and continuing to the right towards the pass

Daily Log: Day 68

68 2893.9 8/21/2021 rain rain go away. Left the Lodge about 5:30. I tried to be quiet, but my red light moving around woke Justin. My dry shoes were so tight they hurt my toes. I stopped by the Golf building, took them off and tried to flex them to stop them from crushing my toes. It helped a little, but what really helped was getting on trail and have them again be wet from yesterday’s rain. Oh well, maybe dry shoes was something I didn’t need. The climb was ok. Still no rain, which was good. I climbed into the fog. No views were visible. It got colder and windy as I got higher. Every so often out of the mist you’d see a craggy peak or wall. I got so cold that I hurried on. On the descent the swirling fog and the spectacular views were stunning. The majestic massiveness of the mountains was awesome. Then the rain started. I put on my pack cover and continued down. I passed a few hikers ascending. I also passed a group of four girls, who were ascending and who decided they had enough and turned around. They lacked gloves and they didn’t look prepared for the rain, cold, and wind. Almost to the trailhead I met and chatted with Jim and Jerry, who are two of the “Old Gray Mares’” husbands. Finally in the parking lot was Justin and the Jeep. I could finally get out of the rain and try to warm up. It was around 11 am. He drove me down the road to the Glacier Store where I got two hot chocolate and three egg McMuffin like sandwiches. My shirt was soaked with sweat so I stood in front of the fireplace and tried to dry off. Then we drove back to the trailhead. After discussing my options I decided to leave in the rain around 12:30. Although I got turned around by missing a pedestrian bridge, I finally got on trail and started to gently climb. A cold rain was falling and I had my umbrella up. It took me to 4 pm to do the 7 miles to the campsite. I immediately made dinner to get warmer and so I could hang my bear bag and get into my tent. A group of three other hikers arrived and we chatted. As they went off getting water I hung my bear bag, got my tent up and crawled in. My right ankle is pretty beat up. The Oboz shoes are rubbing my skin raw. I put Bacitracin, gauze and adhesive tape on the three raw spots, because I’m saving my bandages for my wound. My shoes are soaked as are my socks. My leather gloves are soaked. I didn’t use the spare shirt because the shirt I am wearing is dry enough to sleep in. I’m sleeping with my puffy on. Tomorrow should be no rain. I got a lot to carry. And more climbs. At Old Man Lake campground.

On the descent the swirling fog and the spectacular views were stunning. The majestic massiveness of the mountains was awesome.
I’m hiking from East Glacier to Two Medicine Lake that is in the valley far far below
I meet Justin and he takes me to the Park Store. At the Store I gobbled down two hot chocolates and three egg and bacon muffins. I desperately try to dry off and warm up but it’s not happening (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
So back to the trailhead we go. I’m trying to keep myself dry and warm by using my rain jacket, rain pants, and umbrella, but it’s not working either. I’m wet and cold (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Finally I get my wet cold leather gloves on. I’ve got to get moving to get warmer. I have to leave (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Off I go. I only have one big climb and 7 more miles to my “permitted” campsite. As the cold rain pours down on me I keep saying to myself “I gotta do this” (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
I turn left, walk down the road, turn right at the ranger station and leave the warmth and safety of the Jeep and Justin far behind. It takes me to 4 pm to get to Old Man Lake Campsite (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 67

67 2876.5 8/20/2021 overcast, light rain, cool. Today is a slack pack day. I had only 15 miles, but the trail was heavily overgrown with dense vegetation such that I couldn’t see the trail underneath and it was loaded with water. At the end I was chilled to the bone. Also I talked to Katie by phone while sitting in the Jeep with the heater in full blast sauna-mode. Sadly she won’t be hiking with us, because the border is now open, nevertheless she’ll be hiking in from Waterton Alberta Canada to meet us at the monument. After the call we drove to the Glacier Park Lodge, went to our room, and I immediately took a hot shower to warm my core. Finally I was starting to warm up. The rest of the day was spent planning with Justin and preparing for tomorrow’s hike. So much gear was wet. The room heater was on full helping us dry things. And it worked! We even dried the tent on the room’s porch. We had burgers in town for lunch. We ate in the lodge dining room and had an excellent dinner – one of the best on the trip. I had two desserts as a means of carb overload. Since we got up so early it’s now time for bed. I have less than 100 miles to go. I couldn’t do this without Justin. He’s such a great help. Night night. 

The trail was so very overgrown that I had to take a picture of it. So much so that I couldn’t see the actual trail itself through the growth. I had to assume it was there. Each step I feared that I would stumble on hidden rocks and roots. Each step I had to push ahead against the plant stalks. Each step the dew and rain soaked my pants and shoes. I was chilled to the bone. It was a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. This picture is blurry because my phone was in a plastic Zip Lock bag to protect it
Our view from our porch in the Glacier Park Lodge (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
At the lodge Justin presented me with my Glacier National Park permits. He had spent countless hours preparing and getting them. It was everything that he had hoped for. It allowed me (and at times him) to cross the park to the CDT northern border monument and afterwards exit the park
We had a great dinner at the lodge. Cheers! (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
This included two desserts. Yum! Gotta get those calories in me with all the hiking I’ll be doing.

Daily Log: Day 66

66 2861.5 8/19/2021 foggy, misty, cool, sunny, warm, rainy, cold. Got up and put on all my wet stuff. My potty was pressured because I hadn’t gone the day before and my bladder was bursting. Then my tent rain fly was wet inside while surprisingly the rain fly was dry outside. Everything was either damp or wet. So I started hiking while thinking about my day’s goal. Do I stop at the Tentsite in 12 miles or continue on to Justin at 24 miles. In a mile I started my big climb of 1500’. It wasn’t easy. Near the end it went straight up the mountain. I had to do my “count to 25 steps”. But I finally made it. After that I felt that 12 miles was probably all that I could do. The sky was overcast. There was fog coming over the mountains and NO sun. However it was going to rain again tonight. Also I’d rather be done with “The Bob”. Just before the 12 mile mark I met a SOBO hiker named “Felix”. He said he had met Justin earlier. I ask about the trail ahead. He said he had encountered many blowdowns on the regular trail. He mentioned a comment for “Trail 137 Junction” that had mentioned a clearer alternative. The sun came out which improved my mood. We parted but I kept on thinking and investigating those comments. Especially the ones saying “10 water crossing and 2 blowdowns”. Another comment said that it had “less blowdowns and less elevation”. That last thing caught my attention. Less elevation was great. So I messaged Justin and told him I was taking the alternate. The alternate was smooth sailing. After about 5 miles I turned back toward the CDT. As I cross the river the last time there were “The Old Gray Mares” and Justin! They had been talking. These ladies are awesome. We took pictures and walked about 2.5 more miles to the Jeep. Justin made his Carnitas tacos. Tomorrow is a 15 mile slack pack to East Glacier. Although it’s going to be rainy and very early only 15 miles sound quite doable. We shall see. Night night.

Tartan talking to the awesome “The Old Grey Mares” (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
These ladies are LASHers [Long-Ass Section Hikers] too (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Justin kept in touch with them and they finished at Chief Mountain border crossing a day or two after Justin and I met Katie at the CDT northern border monument (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 65

65 2837.5 8/18/2021 cold, wet, misty, foggy. It was a tough day. I was cold, and shivering. The trail was very overgrown. Each plant is loaded with dew or rain drops. My shoes and pants are soaked through and through. I stopped early. My sleeping bag is very damp. My gloves and rain mittens are soaked and can’t be used for keeping my hands warm while sleeping. I’m hunkering down to kill the rest of today in my damp wet tent. Tonight will be a challenge. Tomorrow is a 1500’ climb. I’m planning on going at least 12 miles to a Tentsite shown on Guthooks app. Then it’s a repeat of today – hunker down and try to dry anything and everything out. I hoping that there will be sun. Night night.

Daily Log: Day 64

64 2826.8 8/17/2021 overcast, rain, cold. Justin and I woke up between 4:30-5:00. We headed out together but missed where I had to split off. So we said our goodbyes and I turned around to go back. It was 0.3 miles back. Most of the morning I easily made progress. I listened to my audio book to help the time pass. It started to sprinkle so I put on my pack cover, raised my umbrella, got on my rain jacket. I caught up to the “Old Gray Mares” and chatted. I wished them well and went on. The rain started in earnest. As I hiked the plants got my pants and shoes soaking wet. I pushed on to a campsite. In the rain I rushed to get my tent up. I was soaked, chilled and muddy. I took off my shoes, socks, wound bandage and pants. Then I got on every dry piece of clothing I had in my backpack. I made my Ramen, and ate my extra apple and cheese. Then I made my dinner – Shepard’s Cottage Pie because it had the most calories. It’s supposed to get down to 39 degrees. I hope I’ll be warm enough. Tomorrow will be tough getting on all the cold wet stuff. Also it’s supposed to continue raining until 10-11 am. I might just stay in my tent till it passes. But I doubt it. Ha!

Daily Log: Day 63

63 2806.3 8/16/2021 sunny, hot. Woke and did my normal morning prep. I was on trail about 5:30. Had a 7.5 mile climb to the first peak. The scenery was wonderful. Less smoke today too. Saw no other hikers. Stopped for water several times. I wanted to guzzle at each snack and lunch break. Maybe I was sweating a lot. I got to Justin at 4:15 pm – that is, a 10:45 hour hiking time. I was a zombie. He too had a very tough day with a very difficult trail and many blowdowns. It took him 38 min per mile or twice his normal 20 mpm. We set up tents. Then we did my wound. He removed my stitches and put Steri-Strips on it. Then I covered it with gauze and wrapped it. Next we did my food resupply. Finally we had dinner. Now we are in our tents doing nightly chores. It’s going to rain tomorrow and get much colder. I’m planning on not pushing it, that is, doing about 15 miles per day. I have about 55 more miles to get the Bob Marshall Wilderness done. Then we are on to the Glacier NP and hiking with my dear daughter, Katie. 

See “Bisecting “The Bob”” for Justin’s description.

The Chinese Wall continues for miles and miles
It’s your partner as you hike with it being on your left side all day long
Finally it begins to end and I’m sad to lose its majesty and beauty
We both had very tough days. Justin had been through blowdown hell with a side order of thunderstorm. I became a zombie just marching along to get done. Nevertheless it was really good to meet in the wilderness like this (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 62

62 2783.5 8/15/2021 sunny, hot, smoky. Got up about 4:30. No one else at the Tentsite. Very quiet too. Did my morning chores and headed out. On trail about 5:35 am. Immediately had a 1000’ climb followed by 6 more. The scenery was stunning. The Chinese Wall was the back drop. Hopefully some of my pictures turned out. The air is very smoky and is obscuring the views. Met a flip-flipper “Birds”. Passed by a woman hiker filtering water 50’ away. She’s a weekend hiker. Then in the afternoon met two guys named “Ox” and “Gazelle” who were on a 12 day 90 mile hike with 55 lb packs – oh my! I continued on while listening to audio books. Finished one book and started another. Finally got to my last water and filled everything. I climbed a small hill looking for a flat spot. In a cluster of pines I found one. It was a 22 mile day. I sent a message to Justin that we are meeting at Fool Creek tomorrow. It’ll be another long day with big mileage and a bunch of climbs. But seeing Justin will make it worth it. Night night.

From Wikipedia: “The Chinese Wall is a large escarpment located in the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area in Montana. While definitions of the length of the wall vary (to up to forty miles) the part of the wall that is most well defined and continuous is about twelve miles long.”
Unfortunately the smoke obscured my view. Nevertheless the width and height of the Chinese Wall dwarfed the rest of the native scenery that I was hiking through
Yet some of the fallen boulders were as big as a house and I wondered what it would be like if a boulder that size were to fall near me during my hike

Daily Log: Day 61

61 2761.6 8/14/2021 overcast, sunny, pleasant. Leaving the Jeep and Benchmark campground was easy. I did the walk to the trail in the dark. The trail was smooth and clear. It was a very gradual climb. I listened to my Last Dog On Earth audio book to help pass the time. On the way several SOBO day hikers passed me. Three then four then four more. Two NOBO day hikers, “River Otter” and “Tardigrade”, stopped and chatted then went on ahead. Later I passed them setting up their tents at their base location. Then even later, around lunch time, they passed me heading to the summit. I found a campsite before the camping ban at mile 17. It’s only me here at this site. I took a nap because I didn’t get enough sleep yesterday. I really slept which was amazing for me. I woke at dinner time and made a Mountain House meal. I have 2 miles and 1100’ to get to the peak. Then there are 6 more climbs before descending. One of which is the Chinese Wall which is supposed to be amazing. I’m thinking about pushing my mileage to 23 miles tomorrow to make it only a three day section before meeting Justin with my resupply at Fool Creek the next day. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow. Today was good. It was nice seeing other hikers if only for saying a brief passing “Safe Journey”. I wish more would be hiking NOBO and camping here tonight. Night night

Daily Log: Day 60

60 2743.8 8/13/2021 cold, could see my breath, sunny, clear skies, hot. Justin and I hiked together from our campsite on the Sun River to Benchmark campground. We chatted as we hiked. It was very nice and passed the time easily. Although we only did 11.5 miles I was tired afterwards. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night. We spent the afternoon preparing for tomorrow’s 4-day hike in The Bob Marshall Wilderness AKA “The Bob”. My gear is starting to wear-out, break and fail so I’m trying to keep it going to the end. Also I switched to new OBOZ shoes. They’re heavy, tough ones that I had packed in my gear bins and are the last pair of shoes I have. Justin cooked hot dogs for lunch and carnitas for dinner – yum! We met Jerry and Jim who’s wives (“The Old Grey Mares”) are hiking the CDT and left today. They are doing 15 miles per day whereas I will be doing 20 miles per day. My game is to try and catch them.In 4 days Justin is hiking in 11 miles to resupply me and stay overnight at Fool Creek. Night night.

Right away when we left camp we had to climb. Here we are in the midst of that climb (nasal strip to help me breathe at night) (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Next stop Benchmark and its beginning of the Bob Marshall Wilderness
Justin fording a creek – wet feet are just a normal part of the hiking experience
At Benchmark we find the sign for the start of the over 100-mile Bob Marshall Wilderness (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)