18.8 miles, expensive lodging @ 4944ft
All night rain and snow dripped on our tent amd thwacked on the new tyvek. I had to brave the walk to the toilet in the middle of the night -headlamp on and bear spray in hand.
It cleared around 730am so we begrudgingly rolled out of bed and packed up all the things, before trotting over to the food prep area to eat some bits and pieces and retrieve all our smelly things from the bear boxes. How lovely our packs would be without all this heavy stuff!
The trail started ascending right away the 4 miles to Red Gap pass. It’s a freezing morning so we’ve all got a lot of layers on, but we’re sweating a mile in. The heat doesn’t last as the rain starts again which quickly turns to snow. The view is beautiful but it’s hard to enjoy as the wind has picked up and wants us off this mountain. At the final trail intersection we start seeing big patches of snow, and have a few sketchy crossings kicking in steps.
The last mile is haaaard. The view below has disappeared underneath snow and fog and I have to stop several times to lean over my poles, brace against the wind and make sure I don’t fly off the mountain. The snow is being whipped around by 65mph wind and smashed against my skin. My eyes are only open a sliver – my sunglasses too covered with snow and watermarks be of any use.
Finally at the top no-one has stopped for a break – too bloody windy and cold. They’re waiting around the corner hiding behind a boulder, the view hidden by the snow and clouds.
We trek down down down switching back and forth across the mountain side. We hit tree line and are shielded by the wind somewhat, but now have trees and forest right up to the trail making it scary beary country. Every few steps we’re yelling “Hey Bear!” so we don’t surprise any fluffy bummed giant mammals on the trail. I pitch in with “Cooee!” as it carries much further than my “hey bear” attempts. There’s a tiny clearing around the trail so we sit and have a tiny break. I am ccccold!
Another small climb, the wind is whipping and we are marching on. We grab another mini break at Poia Lake where we collect some water and bump into some other hikers and some NPS workers. It’s hard to settle and sit when it’s so windy!
Through the forest we hike on, “hey bear”-ing the whole way as the trail twists and turns, crossing streams and weaving through trees, stwpping over a lot of bear scat. I’m still excited at every water crossing and get nervous when we don’t stop at every one to fill up with water – New Mexico dehydration has scarred me!
The trail ends up on a few mile road walk leading to Many Glacier campground ( where we are supposed to be staying) and the swiftcurrent lodge (where we want to stay). Ouch the road hurts my feet, my new hipbelt is hurting my hips too. Boooo. I hope it settles down or somehow just kills whatever nerve it is pinching so I can stop walking in pain! All day I’ve been alternating between hip belt on with hip killing, and hip belt off and therefore shoulders hurting. Blergh I’m over it! Any suggestions greatly appreciated!
Finally at the lodge and we end up getting the last room! We only have to sell a few arms and legs to afford it. Montana is going to be am expensive state if I continue being soft and sleeping in beds!!! The lure of a hot shower and drying out our tents is too strong. Wait Up is stronger than us and camps at the campground.
We four run in for some hot dinner at the restaurant. I brace myself for zero choice, but they have a few vegan options! I end up with tempeh stirfry, a side of chili and fries. Mmmm hot food! There’s even some smoothies on the breakfast menu. Viva la veganlution!
At the little shop we pick up a few things – nothing is quite as awesome as a shower beer at the end of a long hiking day. Today wasn’t that far, but I think the bad conditions drained all of us.
Clean, dry and warm, with bellies full we fall asleep.
* Photos on instagram @thebraveandthewild
* If you’re enjoying reading along, see if you can spare a few dollars on my fundraising page for Sea Shepherd and Animals Australia ☺ Link here.
Cheers from the animals ☺☺☺