CDT Day 49 – The Chinese Wall

 23.9 miles hiked. Camping @5062 ft
I wake up super early and ignore my need to use the “loo” for as long as possible. My phone says 528am and a second later the alarm is sounding. Booo I forgot we are getting up early today to try and get some miles in before the forecasted rain hits.
I pack up, stuff my pockets with snacks, put on my R1, rainpants and jacket. My wet shoes are made bearable by my waterproof socks. Yay hopefully dry feet today.
We climb up through some snow patches and have about an hour’s grace before the temperature drops faaast. There is some hail, then the rain starts.
We turn around a bend and have a view of the valley below – the Chinese wall spreads out before us! It’s very cool with a valley of thick green pines in front and the dark storm clouds up above. The trail takes a turn as it descends and we hike along the front of the wall. The sun comes out so we have a break, drink some water, munch on some food, stare at the epic wall above us.
The clouds come back fast as we head up and over another pass. It’s raaaainy but not nearly as cold as the other day. It’s a mudslide hike and I end up hiking more cross country tha  on trail as I keep sliding backwards!
By the time we reach the top the rain has decreased to a very light drizzle, and the sun even comes out on the descent.
It’s a really pretty trail and spirits are high despite the weather. I’ll take the on and off drizzle over the freezing storm any day!
The rest of the day we are following along the side of the sun river. There are some burn sections but it is very pretty looking down from the mountain side to the river and the flat grasslands either side. The clouds and rain are in and out all day and we cross fingers we make it to camp before the next bout of rain. Nothing worse than setting up or packing up camp in the rain.
We cross a really cool bridge and enter a big burn zone. The wind whistles through the burnt trees and makes the most eerie noise – like people screaming far away. Somehow there is a magic clearing in which we set up, with no trees to fall on us during the night. I half think this is just over reacting, but as the wind picks up I hear a large crack as a tree falls down not too far away.
Tonight we are stupid. We eat in our tents as the rain is not stopping. We keep the food in  our tents as there is nowhere to hang it. We haven’t seen any bear tracks or signs… hopefully we will be ok. Of not… well…it will make a good story 😉

CDT Day 48 – My Lake

208.3 @ 7352ft “my lake” 19.1 miles hiked
We are up and out by 8am today, a much better effort than yesterday! It’s a climb down through snow, switchbacking across snow and mud and streams of snow melt. The trail climbs back up towards Switchback pass which is all snow. We can see two bodies heading straight up the mountain  – Beacon and Mermaid – and decide to take the shortcut too. The snow is hard enough that we can kick steps in with only minimal postholing and sliding. It looks super steep and hard- like climbing a ladder.
Thank goodness we got up at uber late o’clock because it would have been impossible if we’d tried to climb it yesterday afternoon.
It’s actually a surprisingly easy climb, then over the top of the pass and start switchbacking down the other side. It’s a 6 mile descent through forest and over blowdowns. I’m in “get to the bottom” zone and nearly step on a little silver snake that is slithering slowly across the trail. Eeps sorry!
It’s getting toasty at the lower altitude so we stop for water about 2 miles from the bottom. A quick break then the best maintained 2 miles of trail so far since Marias pass. Yay! Nice hiking! Our destination is a ranger station for lunch.
Waitup is there already, and as we sit and eat it turns into a hiker party – me, Grizzly, Crunchmaster, Waitup, Beacon, Mermaid, Steven and Lucky Strike.
Lots more blow downs after lunch and I am not loving it. I try to make it more fun by singing the mario theme song as I ‘bounce’ across the logs. But I don’t bounce. There are only so many scratches, stabs and blood running down your legs you can handle with a smile. How long will this laaaast?!?!? I want to throw myself on the ground and chuck a tantrum for someone to magically appear and make the trail nicer. As always the only solution is to ovary-up and keep hiking. So I do.
A final steep climb of 1.5miles through a recent burn area to our destination for the night called My Lake. Another beautiful campsite! Grizzly and Crunchmaster are already there with tents nearly set up.
Wait Up arrives “you guys can camp where you like, but this is My Lake.” He chuckles to himself “yeah I’ve been working on that one all afternoon”.
It is so so cold tonight. There doesn’t seem to be any good places to hang food, and we haven’t seen bear signs for a while so we decide to sleep with our food. Let’s hope there are no bears with midnight munchies nearby.

CDT Day 47 – Beautiful Bob

Hiked 17 miles camping at Dean Lake @ 7385ft
The cold and the blowdowns took itnout of us yesterday and we are up laaate. I definitely prefer getting up early so I can take lots of breaks, but when you are hiking with others and they are still in camp it’s haaaaard to get up.
Grizzly has woken up with a sinus infection, so hopefully the sleep in did him some good.
We hike through large burn sections with more blow downs, but nothing compared to yesterday. Crunchmaster’s feet are pretty torn up from the past couple of days – wearing goretex shoes means when they get wet they are wet a looong time.
I hike ahead, calling out my “hey bear”s and scaring I imagine thousands pf bears off the trail in front of me. Over trees, under trees.
Grizzly catches up just before the junction to the spotted bear alternate. Another hiker, Stephen, is at the junction eating lunch. We all sit in the sun and eat, get some water from the passing creek. Yesterday was freezing, today we are burning. Crazy weather out here.
It starts getting really pretty and lush, still with loooots of river amd stream crossings- sometimes via logs, sometimes rock hopping, and sometimes we have no choice but to march straight through the water. We have a climb up to where we are camping tonight and take a break before we head up. Everyone else took a wrong turn, so Beacon, Mermaid, Waitup, Lucky Strike and Stephen all pass us as we are sitting  (they passed us during our lazy sleeping in morning).
6 miles up and it’s haaard. But beautiful. I hike past louuud ribbon falls that are falling from high peaks above. It’s time to bring out the big guns and I turn my “Climbing Mountains” playlist to give me extra oomph to make it to the top.
Somehow I manage to pass everyone, except speedy Grizzly and Crunchmaster of course. The last mile or so is through some snow banks and it is mosquito city and getting cold when I arrive at Dean Lake, our camp spot for the night.
The water is pure blue snow melt, set against gorgeous mountains. Amazing. Ok Bob. I’ll stop swearing at you and your blown down trees.
Some ramen in my tummy and it’s sleepy time. Goodnight!

CDT Day 46 – The Cold and The Lynx

22ish miles hiked
157.2 @ 5751 ft
Beacon and Mermaid are early risers and I hear them making moves from 430am. I doze on and off and finally emerge at 630am just as some drizzling rain is finishing up. We take refuge on the porch and hang the tents to dry while packing up.
At 8am we leave the little compound and hike along the Ley alternate for most of the morning. It’s a much more direct route than the ‘official’ trail – we save 4 miles!
Rain starts up again and it is cooooold. It takes all my energy to keep moving. I find a tiny tiny spot under a tree for us to crowd under and eat some lunch, and Ia shivering terribly by the end of the break. My feet are soaked through and it’s one of those days when we are all asking “why are we here???!”
Lots of river crossings mean our poor feet have no chance. I’m walking in mini swimming pools.
Through the wet cold forest we hike, down through trees and meadows. We find another ‘alternate’ except it turns into a swamp and we have to bushwhack straight up a hill through thick vegetation and blow downs.
We’ve been swearing at F*ing Bob and his Blowdowns all day, but actually get to the entrance of the Bob Marshall wilderness late in the afternoon. I apologise to Bob and redirext my cursing at Lewis and Clark national forest. We see Beacon and Mermaid again as we take 5 and eat a few more things at a trail junction and decide on our campsite 5 miles away.
My poor muscles are hell tense from being so cold all day so I stop at the side of the trail to stretch. I’m vacantly staring ahead down the trail, then Grizzly realises there’s something staring back. A lynx! I miraculously manage to get a photo before she bounces away.
We arrive at our awesome campsite, set up tents then start a fire. Fire! Oh beautiful warmth! I stand in front of it in a daze trying to feel my body and defrost my numbed brain. We rotate shoes and socks in front, melting my shoes slightly (oops!) while eating dinner and avoiding mosquitos.
After dinner our food bags are hung from a tall tree and we dive into our tents fast leaving the mosquitos knocking at the tent door.