My stick has a screw loose

Shadow self

After fun with friends and relatives in eastern WA (Teresa, Dave and our son Chris), Trout Lake, WA (Rod and Debbie and all the cool locals they introduced us to) and Grants Pass, OR (Jackie, Nick, Keith and Barbara), 2500 driving miles, none of which I had to do, Dan dropped me off at Hwy 200 east of Lincoln, Montana where I got off the CDT last year.

6/28 13.7 +1 backtracking to a campsite

Started at 11am with a sweaty hike up out of the pass under cloudy, windy skies. Many uphills above treeline along the Divide with downs in notches to the next ridge. Absolutely glorious. I saw a hiker behind me for hours till she finally caught me on about the 10th straight up climb. Sugar Rush from NJ, I like her! We hiked together for awhile, and both failed miserably to find a mysterious water source commented on by last year’s hikers on our Guthook app. Oh well, water finding is an issue when you’re high up, so I have 2L of mud puddle water. As does Sugar Rush. She continued ahead when I camped at 6pm, eating a cold dinner due to all the grizzly crap I’d seen. Yeah it was at least a week old and on the other side of the highway we crossed, but you know, my first night back in Montana.

6/29 20.1+0.75 RT for H2O

Sunny day after raining last night. Stopped after a few hours to dry my tent. Trail to road walking to trail. I followed the route to a Lookout but it was a skinny little traverse on the east side with snow patches and a bunch of blowdown so I bailed uphill to a lovely road walk I saw on the map that paralleled. Based on a comment in Guthook, I decided to look for the Unabomber’s cabin in the area. After seeing a burnt out hulk I was convinced I’d found it. But guess what? The freaking FBI dismantled, transported and reassembled his cabin in their museum. I went off trail to get water after 20 miles and decided on a lovely campsite on the edge of a meadow. I’ll do the 9 miles of climbing tomorrow.

Perfect tent site

CDT this way

6/30 23.5 plus wandering off route accidentally

So it was 10 miles of trail, straight up, straight down, but always on the Divide. So beautiful. The last big climb was the longest but surprisingly graded with switchbacks. Then a long, long descent on abandoned road all eroded, slippery and steep into the woods.

One of my hiking sticks has a screw loose on the clamp that telescopes it. I don’t have a tiny tool to fix it so I’ll probably just wrap tape around it so it quits sliding shorter and shorter. My tent uses a hiking stick to hold it up so I’m using the non screwy one for that.

I got water from a piped spring flowing into a cow tank, no cows yet and the water was clear. Still I treated it. The next hours were on gravel roads, just a few friendly 4-wheelers sharing it with me. After so much steep trail you learn to thoroughly appreciate the road walking. But there was no place to camp, no flat places without the Standing Dead, beetle killed trees, or stump farms. Finally I popped out at a meadow at 8 pm. There I met NOBO Recalculating from CDT 17. He recognized me and asked if I was in touch with Treeman to whom I gave An Application to Marry My Daughter at Ghost Ranch. I need to reach out and see if Treeman married the farmer’s daughter or if he is still in want if a wife…

7/1 11.3

It rained a bit in my cow pasture, with lightning, soundless, lighting up the sky north of me. Knowing Dan would pick me up to go to Helena for a night, I stepped out quickly in the morning. Cow field to lush forest to shoe sucking marsh to 4 miles of uphill trail with hundreds of blowdowns to utterly smooth gravel road down from some kind of communication installation to the highway. Made it by 12:45! After a night in Helena, Dan will return me to MacDonald Pass and head to Spokane to fly back home.

Trestle to nowhere

Detail of the trestle

Scotland, Alaska, Washington

Blair Atholl

5/9-6/10

With my sister, my bestie and my daughter, respectively.

Sister Dogwater near Blair Atholl, Scotland
Chota and Tarcey, outside Seward, Alaska
Catwater and Wings at High Bridge on the PCT near Stehekin

A short update on my hiking life. Flew from Albuquerque to Seattle, dropped my pack with my daughter Sarah. Annie and I continued to Edinburgh via Calgary and London. We had booked a self-guided Rail and B&B tour with Mac’s Adventures. The train and bus tickets, suggested day hikes and B&B stays they set up were mostly great for the short time we were in the U.K. Apparently it was oddly sunny there most of the 10 days. I forgot to remember how far north Scotland is, way more daylight than New Mexico, it felt like being home in the summer. Friendly, clean, lovely, what a beautiful place.

I decided to return home to Alaska for 3 weeks while waiting for more snow to melt in Montana. There have been moose and bear (I don’t know about squirrel) encounters with humans all spring, so I sighed and added the bear spray to the rain gear and ventured out a few times. Tarcey had a 3-day weekend so we took her dog and backpacked along Resurrection Bay to Caine’s Head and the WWII relics of Fort McGilvray. There were tons of people but plenty of campsites. This is a great family hike, incredibly, mind bogglingly beautiful as you walk along the beach at low tide and through lush moderate rainforest. You can day hike, kayak, take a scheduled water taxi, or overnight at a pick your own distance pace.

Then off to the Lower 48 to visit family and friends in the Pacific Northwest with Dan while making our way back to the CDT where he picked me off the trail last August.

Sarah learned to backpack as a teen in Alaska. Together we’ve twice hiked the Chilkoot Trail from Skagway to Yukon Territory and the Crow Pass Crossing from Girdwood to Eagle River amongst other adventures. But she lives in Seattle now. She went to her grandparents 50th wedding anniversary as a child in Stehekin and had great memories of the area. So we met in Chelan and Dan drove us to Rainy Pass so we could hike to Stehekin on the PCT, just 1 night out, but no other hikers and the trail’s few early uncleared blowdowns were a small price to pay for the North Cascades National Park. Then we got to spend 2 additional nights in Stehekin with Dan before taking the ferry back to the cars.

So far not hiking related (hmm, Te Araroa anyone??) but our youngest, Chris, is moving to Wellington, New Zealand to study geology. He’ll get a 4 year degree in 3 because they don’t add a bunch of extra crap to the curriculum. He drove over from Bellingham to meet us in the Spokane area and will store his remaining stuff in his self customized home, the 2001 red Suburban he calls Clifford. We’re putting him on a plane this morning. I have enough Hawaiian Air miles for a ticket to visit!

Chris and Clifford

Chris and Catwater

Into the Badlands: Pie Town to Grants

5/2-5

5/2 20 miles

I dinged around and left about 10. There were a bunch of hungover hiker guys, and a few more nursing foot injuries and wanting another day to rest. The miles were all road walk so it went fast. About 16 miles out is TLC Ranch that has water and possible food and camping for hikers. Several people intended to stay there or at least stop. When I walked in the yard, there was nobody around, just some RVs and a 2 story tall metal building that was maybe used as a house? I wandered a bit, then found the hose and got 2 liters to camp with since the next water source (cow tank) was only 7 miles away.

The music at the neighbors’ last night was a treat. Jennifer, and Rick(?) played guitar and sang. Judging by their strong Arkansas and Oklahoma accents and cowboy get-ups, I’d anticipated fingernails-on-chalkboard country music, but he sang the most beautiful covers of Talking Heads, Jimmy Buffet, and Nirvana I’ve ever heard. These 2 people moved out to this tiny town to escape addiction and death. I think they love recruiting new people (hikers) to their mobile home and sharing, just sharing, their acoustic music and unique voices. They fed us pizza and beer and true confessions. Art.

I camped at 20 miles, blissfully alone after holding my temper and tongue at Toaster House, hidden from the road and POSTED signs. My feet, rested yesterday from road walking, hurt again from slapping on hard baked dirt.

5/3 22.5 miles

More road. Listened to audiobooks. Austin from San Antonio, cyclist I met at Toaster House, came up behind me and chatted for a bit, asking if I’d like some snacks. He’s getting into Grants today–what a difference mileage range riding gives you from hiking.

I kept thinking about this amazing wildlife encounter 2 guys had back at Snow Lake. I listened to their story several times between Davila Ranch and Toaster House and it still blows my mind. They saw 3 elk running flat out at them as they hiked the road with 3 wolves just behind them. The elk ran into the water while the wolves pulled up short at the edge of the lake and then the guys saw more wolves above on the ridge line. Cool! And then the guys hiked on.

I walked by 2 places I’d camped with the Ravens in 2017. They’re on the AT this year and I’m following their adventures.

Probably not supposed to camp where I camped, stealthily, near La Ventana Arch. It gets weird on the highway, I think I’m on public land, National Forest, but there’s barbed wire fence just outside the right-of-way that’s hard to get over or under, so when I came to the turnout for the Arch, I dashed uphill out of sight. Just a few cars went by on the highway during the night and I was comfortable. Hiking is kind of weird sometimes, not what you’d expect of a “wilderness experience.” Hah! I camped on sand and left no trace.

5/4 19.3 miles

Zuni-Acoma trailhead to Bonita-Zuni alternate. What a mixed day! Paved highway to El Malpais (the Badlands). Two years ago, the Ravens and I stayed on the official CDT (Highway 117) all the way to Grants. This time I wanted to walk the 7 mile Zuni- Acoma trail through decaying lava fields. I’ve lived on the Big Island of Hawaii and know the beauty and torture of new pahoehoe and a’a’ and have walked through the obsidian fields on the Oregon PCT. There’s not really a trail, you follow a route cairn to cairn. Hard work for ankles but a unique experience I’ve looked forward to.

Then on to a real trail for a mile before crossing another paved highway onto a well graded gravel road grinding every so gently uphill another 9 miles. Densely distributed beer cans and bottles and mini liquor bottles took the place of wildflowers for color. A small truck went slowly past me, two Anglo women with a toddler standing between them hanging into the dashboard. Later a smatter of shotgun fire from a side road. Saturday fun I guess.

When I finally quit going up, I found a flat spot away from the road and pitched my tent. No more traffic except the steady, stealthy sound of a small car heading south in the dark at 2:30 am. Wonder what that was about.

Water source

5/5

Heading to town, to Grants, and as usual I just want to be there. Dirt road to gravel where for some weird reason all the SUVs and minivans slowed down so I wouldn’t have to inhale their dust plumes and not one truck did. Despite the dust and discourtesy, the Zuni Canyon was beautiful when I looked up from all the empty booze containers. As I got into Grants I turned on to old Route 66, like Cuba, NM, buildings mostly abandoned, for sale, deteriorating. Fascinating, I like it. I’ll stay a night or two in Grants, then Greyhound to Albuquerque, fly to Seattle, meet my sister, then fly to Edinburgh. Yay, Scotland for a couple weeks!

Gila River to Pie Town

Little Bear Canyon Trail

4/24 13.4 miles Tim Davis of Gila CDT Shuttle Service gave me a ride to the Gila Cliff Dwellings where I hiked up Little Bear Canyon, the same route I took last year. The ride took about 90 minutes and I learned a bunch about biking in NM and I heard about a hiker who left Silver City a few days earlier only to wander around for 3 days trying to figure which trail to go on, before somebody went up and fetched him back to Silver City. To be fair there are multiple options–the Gila River alternate, Walnut Creek Road alternate, the Columbus Gila route and the official CDT kind of makes a couple of wide loops intersecting with the assorted alts. But the guy had the same map app, Guthook’s, the rest of us carry and the GPS function pinpoints your location in relation to all these trails and roads. A mystery but apparently the guy regrouped and hiked out successfully.

I counted 67 (or so) river crossings, the footing is bad and I’m exhausted but I camped in the Meadows on the same sand dune using the same rocks as last year, perfect. I saw 3 people today going downstream, the opposite of me. One old guy was going to have a very tough time making it back to his truck tonight but when I asked if he would be OK, he said he had a flashlight and rain gear, food. That was at 4 pm and he wanted to know how far back to Little Bear Canyon. I told him I’d been walking upstream from there 4 hours (and then it’s another 4 miles up and over to his truck). Hope he will be OK, I could have turned around and gone with him.

4/25 14.8 miles

Last night a wild turkey nearby gobbled me a lullaby, then a wake-up song this morning. A few miles into today’s hike, I saw a turkey–huge, grayish with white tail feathers–scuttling into a ravine. Also frogs, tadpoles, lizards and numerous pairs of ducks with orange feet flapping below them as the fly away from me, low to the water.

Another slow, hard work today, gorgeous though. Somebody could start a new exercise video trend, walking up a river with a pack is a whole body workout pushing against the current. And since you just wear your socks and trail runners, your feet are scoured clean and stink free.

I camped at 6:15 because I was tired. 15″ after my tent was pitched, it rained and I laughed, I had no idea those clouds were for real this time. I love being cozy in my tent with rain pounding on it.

This is the trail up the Gila

View from my tent 4/25

4/26 23 miles

From the Gila River and no water worries to desert. I’d considered climbing out yesterday afternoon to the High Route just because slogging through the river is slow and physically taxing but when I saw the scramble up and calculated I’d have to carry 3 liters of water weight, I kept to the river.

First thing this morning I startled a herd of sproingers, deer? I think elk and antelope run and deer bound. No babies yet.

Today I went from river to Snow Lake where there’s a camp ground and mobs of men and boys in camo on 4 wheelers or ATVs (4 people or 2 people and 3 hound dogs fit in one) out for the spring turkey hunt. I kind of relished telling them about my turkey encounters, knowing they would not actually walk down the river to shoot them. The hunters seemed kind of surprised at all the hikers, a couple had camped near them last night and they’d seen a woman “all by herself with a dog.” That explains the footprints/tracks I’d been seeing off and on!

Outhouse! Trash can! Win!

I followed a bunch of dirt roads, then bushwhacked up a dry creek bed to another trickle of a creek where I picked up a bunch of water for a dry stretch lasting into tomorrow. Then climbed out of the drainage onto a flattish, windy, barren little mesa. I hate this place, I hated it 2 years ago too but this time I have plenty of water and there are no forest fires burning.

Descending slightly to gravel road and trees, I kept going. More hunters on ATVs, but not enough traffic to be annoying. I pitched my tent finally in desperation and in view of the road behind a big bushy thing to break the wind, on a rocky but flat place.

4/27 21.3 miles

I thought the camp spot would be awful but when the wind died at dark, it was dead silent and the rocks were padded by my rain gear. A very restful night.

In the morning I met a couple packing their gear. Not interested in me at all, OK. A zillion cars and trucks working on clearing and hauling out wood created from last year’s fires. Then trail. Lots of up and I felt out of shape and slow until I actually thought to look at the contours of my map and realized I was at 9000′! A bit later Not Guilty (love that trail name!!) caught up and passed me after trying to convince me to take an alt for which I was the only one with a map. Ha ha, not happening at 4:30 in the afternoon when I can’t even think anymore.

I continued uphill with a ton of water until I found a lovely flat spot with a view forever and no dead trees to fall on me. That’s been quite the challenge this year, so many dead trees, burned trees, and dying trees.

4/28 18.3 miles

Another herd of sproingers this morning! I hiked grumpy, falling once and scraping my knee. That makes me feel like a kid, I always had scabs on knees or elbows, and in sixth grade I stayed home from school for a day because all four were bloody and oozing. Crap.

We keep track of water sources through the app, which is updated by hiker comments. The next source, Aragon Well, has weird outdated comments, my app must not have updated properly last time I had WiFi, so I was a bit anxious. If no water, I promised myself to try and hitch to Reserve a long way aways on a not too traveled highway. So when I got to Aragon and the water was perfect running well water into a cow tank, I suddenly was blissfully happy again.

I crossed Highway 12 and found a campsite hidden from the dirt road. I had met more nice turkey hunters and a group of 4 hikers passed me, including the couple from yesterday and 2 guys who offered me a hit on their pipe. I have a feeling Toaster House in Pie Town is going to be crowded.

4/29 20.7 miles (7:15-4:00)

Easy day. Met a couple going SOBO who told me about new trail angel operation Davila Ranch 14 miles before Pie Town. They told me it had a washer and dryer and that Toaster House’s were broken so take advantage.

It was all dirt road today. I listened to an audiobook, Crazy Rich Asians, not my favorite but it distracted me from the road plodding foot pain.

About 2 miles from the ranch, an old cowboy in a white truck raised his beer to me and stopped to offer me a Keystone Lite. I pet his big goofy dog instead, she licked my face. I hope she doesn’t get sick. There were a ton of hikers at Davila Ranch–the couple, the 2 weed smoking guys, Pompom, Heather, the Ambassador (the very same guy who wandered around 3 days lost out of Silver City) and owner Banana Man. He’s drilled a 600′ well, put up a fancy shed with a toilet, shower, electric cookers, 2 refrigerators, washer and dryer, fire pit and covered area. He’s stocked his very own ranch grown beef, frozen veggies, eggs, bacon, soda and beer. It was windy and cold and I didn’t want to cowboy camp in the shed with a bunch of others so I pitched my tent behind a bush. So awesome to talk with hikers, clean up, eat and relax knowing it was only 14 miles to the next stop. The 3 days lost situation wasn’t any more clear to me after talking with the Ambassador though. Oh well. He cooked some beef for me.

Davila Ranch kitchen

1930’s cabin at Davila Ranch

4/30 14 miles

Knowing there are few beds and lots of hikers, I hiked the road quickly the next day to Toaster House, 7:30-12:04! I walked in to a full house, only 1 hiker had left that morning, the rest were taking zeroes. The Ambassador had hitched in and got the only bed but then he gave it to me as he had arranged a ride to Grants a bit later in the afternoon. Score! I feel a little guilty since it’s a double so I offered to share with Heather when she arrived. But she decided to sleep on a tiny couch. As the day went on, the crew from Davila Ranch rolled in followed by a bunch more. It is really different than 2017, too many people, the washer is broken so we can’t wash towels and sheets. Too many people.

I enjoyed some of the hikers a lot: Dogma and her dog Toolik, Dustin and dad Greg, Dan and Nick who I first met out of Lordsburg, Heather, Pompom, Sea Legs, Twiggsy. A comfortable, peaceful night.

5/1 0 miles

Took a zero since I had the best room and refigured how long I need to get to Grants, 4 nights, not 5 for my route choices. I ate pie, of course, had good conversations, and then another wave came in, followed by cases of beer, and obnoxious macho posturing until 2 am. Reminds me of the party wave on the PCT, the inconsiderate jerks. Earplugs helped. Time to hike out and camp by myself!

At the neighbors for live music!

Third Time’s A Charm?

Saddlerock Canyon

4/19-22 Lordsburg to Silver City

Back on the CDT!

With just around 500 miles left of the trail to hike in Montana, I’m back in New Mexico getting my trail legs while waiting for snow to melt up north. So I’m going to pick and choose what I want to do. No thru-hiker me!

Anchorage-Phoenix-El Paso overnight, Uber -Amtrak-Lordsburg overnight, CDT NOBO.

Not bad for the first stretch–18.6, 19.1, 21.1 mile days with just a handful more today to the highway where I hitched a ride the 11 miles to town with another hiker who wanted to save her legs for trail not pavement. It is less hot with more water sources available than when the Ravens and I hiked this in 2017.

After my last post in August 2018, as planned, I went to Yosemite NP for an Enduring Volunteers work week in Tuolumne Meadows. Not only was it a great week with great people, but the Ravens hiked in and camped with us for a couple of days. When the work was done I hiked south on the JMT, just because. I love those mountains and that trail, so it was my sixth time through. Planning on something similar this August. Puff Puff has got my hopes up that she may find time from all her ocean rowing craziness to fly from the UK and hike it with me, Jim, Tom and??? I’ve got permits to head NOBO out of Horseshoe Meadows.

Although tired and sore, my “training” regimen over the winter–snowboarding 2-3 times a week, running every other day that it’s above 0*F–has worked well enough I guess. I’ve consciously carried way more water than I want to, and hydrating has kept me from the awful overheating and dizzy spells I got last year out of Grants, NM. If I’m not pounding water at night when I set up camp, that’s a sign that all is well.

Some of my gear is near the end of its useful life–the tent is on it’s second zipper and has numerous patches, the sleeping pad (Big Agnes AXL insulated–I brought it because it’s cushy and was OK in warm weather) is now in a hiker box with a note. After 3 nights sleeping cold since the pad conducted ground cold really well, I’ve replaced it with a NeoAir XLite Women’s that will be warmer for this cold sleeper. My beloved Jetboil Sol Ti has to be lit with a match since the little sparker thingie just can’t be fixed anymore. Note to self: buy more matches or a lighter. And I’m really happy with the new fanny pack, or bum bag as Puff Puff would call it, that holds the days food and other necessities. All the cool kids carry them.

I’ve met hikers too! Chances are slim that I’ll see them much since I’m not attempting a thru, but that doesn’t take away the joy of community. Where in the World is CARMEN San Diego (look for her on YouTube), Rain Dance (originally from Iran), Sea Legs (an Observer who’s been in Alaska the last 5 years), Nick and Dan who partnered up on Day 1 at Crazy Cook, and Heather who hitched into town with me. I tell them my plan this year and try not to spoil the trail ahead for them since I’ve done it before, but I can’t help but say, over and over, how incredible and varied and beautiful and wild and full of history New Mexico is.

Out of Lordsburg

Back to Benchmark

8/20-22: 58 miles
First sun in 3 days

Man, I’ve had a lot of vacations from the trail this year. The trip to Spokane and the wedding was fantastic. Not just a couple, but a whole family was married in a sweet, low-key ceremony and celebration. Megan and Jaime, son Tanner and daughter Emmarie, wonderful people. And Megan, cousin or “cuz” to my Glen, Sarah and Chris, was blown away that all three travelled to be a part of it. Yup, life is about people we care about.

Dan drove me back to Benchmark and I headed out for the last stretch of CDT I’m going to do this year. Within 1/2 hour, my feet were wet and cold and would stay that way until the third and final day. No bridges and cold crossings. By 10 am, a cold rain started and didn’t let up for 12 hours. I did see a bunch of wildlife though, a young bull moose and a bigger cow, probably his mom; deer; big, brown rabbits and baby bunnies too; along with the usual plethora of manic squirrels. When I got cold enough that my hands couldn’t work well enough to work the bear spray if necessary, I pitched my tent and crawled in after only 17 miles at 3 pm.

What are these white berries?

Fortunately, the next day was merely ugly, cloudy and gray. I trudged along the trail, routed not on the Divide, but in a series of creek valleys, green and sodden. I needed to make up the miles I hadn’t done the day before because of my fear of hypothermia. At the end of the day there were two climbs, steep, into clouds. I finally camped near an off- trail spring and woke with ice coating my tent inside and out.

75% of these hikers are Alaskan! Congrats Sauerdough (2nd from L) on your nearly done Triple Crown!
More berries

Uphill into the clouds

The third day, I’d left just 18 miles to Highway 200, but the trail profile showed 10 separate climbs so it was slow, grumpy cat going. I saw a bunch of NOBOs, including Lost Larry (“That doesn’t sound good,” I said when he introduced himself.) the head netted hiker who I’d met as he backtracked to Dubois because of the deep stream crossing that sent him swimming. Turns out, he’d found another way around that section and missed 2 bad crossings. Well done!

Near dinner time, I spotted Dan’s van below me in a turnout. Yay, no hitching! We camped nearby in a quiet campground and then headed west. The next two days involved renting a U Haul, picking up some old family furniture (a Hoosier, anybody remember those?), dropping off both vans, and flying out of SeaTac, me to Mammoth, CA and Dan home to AK.

I’ve left about 500 miles of the CDT unhiked, although I rehiked a bunch thus year. I’m off for a volunteer work week in Yosemite up in Tuolumne Meadows. I did this last year too, got to have priorities. Then I’m going to hike south on the PCT/JMT for a few weeks.

Life after the burn

SOBO From Glacier NP

This photo is my answer to the question, “Why?”

8/10-16 135 miles

We took a zero in East Glacier, despite the lack of beer. Whistling Swan Cafe has the best stuffed French Toast I’ve ever had, so we had breakfast there again on our hike out of town. I really like this little town, great folks at our motel, the outfitters, the little cafes and so on, although we mostly rested. Interesting photos in the Amtrak Depot showed Blackfeet in full regalia hanging with the tourists in the 30’s, and the making of Clark Gable an honorary member of the Blackfeet Nation. And apparently this was another stop on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. For the first and only time on their journey the Corps killed 2 locals, Blackfeet, sadly.

We hiked out, a short day, to Highway 2 at Marias Pass, where Poppy’s car was waiting for her. A very green tunnel, gloomy, gray, overgrowth kind of day, so I tried to focus on the little things and took pictures of assorted berries. Since we had a car, Natasha asked folks in the parking lot where to get real food. Snow Slip Cafe, west of us, was a friendly, log place with an attached motel. Their tee shirts say, “Slide in, slip out” yuck. But nice people, staff and customers. Seeing as how I’d much rather sleep inside than out (I know, I know, why do I spend so much time hiking then?) we got a room.

Split and Two Step

I really hated heading out SOBO on my own the next morning—out of the National Park, without Poppy and into forest. This trail has been so much solo and I have accepted that I really would rather hike with friends. Now that I’m going the wrong direction and am well behind any other SOBO hikers, I hope to at least cross paths with hikers I know heading NOBO.

I took a short cut, or “alternate” that cuts out a PUD and 4 miles, the NOBOs I saw today did it, and the next one, the Spotted Bear Pass alternate. It was not too exciting of a day, but better than yesterday. Burn areas are all cleared of deadfall and there are views.

I saw the super tall German who I gave a ride to near Dubois. He said he’d just hiked a 47 and a 45, was out of food and had only eaten 1200 calories and 700 calories those 2 days. Holy shit. I told him there was a Lodge just a short way down the highway he’d reach. Then I saw Two Step and Split, the couple I met last year just after the Eclipse! So cool.

Not so cool, I took a full fall to knees and head. No big damage, bruises and knee scabs.

More green tunnel

30 miles with this view

The second day without Poppy was easy walking, flat, through burn areas of several vintages, including last year’s. Trail crews have done an impressive job cutting out all the blowdown and deadfall. I camped by myself near the Strawberry Guard Station after seeing 12 NOBOs, 2 horseriders, 4 horses and 1 very fit Saint Bernard.

Day 3 was weird. I didn’t sleep well last night and was almost sleepwalking, somewhat in a dream state. Hopefully I don’t have dementia or a concussion from the fall 2 days ago. Managed over 20 miles, even after stopping to dry out my wet tent and sleeping bag.

Day 4 the waking dream state was gone, thank goodness. The trail this morning was all uphill in the green tunnel, like being on the treadmill set to 2% with an unchanging view. Not Embrace the Brutality but Embrace the Boredom. About 3 pm I was passed by Legend, nice guy. He is on quite a journey, since April he has hiked the PCT NOBO, then the Pacific Northwest Trail (PNT) east to the CDT which is now on SOBO. A hiker celebrity! Too quick for me to get his photo.

I made it off the Spotted Bear onto the CDT and saw lots of horses going to “The Wall” a beautiful cliff formation. I camped near a creek and about 8 pm, NOBO Flower-Man (“Flower Man,” he always says, turning slightly to show the bouquet of fake flowers stuck in his pack’s back pocket) stopped to chat. I met him near Togwotee Pass in Wyoming.

Last day before Benchmark

August 16 I walked into Benchmark TH where Dan was camped. I grabbed a beer and we headed down the 30 mile gravel road to Augusta. And gave a hiker a ride and a beer too, good deed opportunity. We’ve got a wedding to go to! Megan and Jaime, see you in Deer Park, WA! I’ll see all 3 of my kids, Glen flying down from AK, Sarah from Seattle and Chris, on crutches, from Bellingham. At this point I intend to come back to the trail at Benchmark after the wedding for the 58 miles to Hwy 200 (near Lincoln), then drive all the way to Seattle with Dan where I will fly to Yosemite for a week of volunteering and then some southbound hiking on the PCT.