Friday, June 21, 2013

Day 5

As we left camp, howling wind like I've never heard, desolate as could be, a pack of banshees chased us out of St. Mary this morning.

We made a break for the woods, and the sun casting a shadow was a welcome respite. We walked through sparse vegetation, in a burn area. The damage was quite extensive, burned trunks in a twisted black and silver rictus lined the trail. The wetness of the past few days lingered, with that deep sticky mud that sucks boots off heels. As we strolled, we did startle a young female elk, and I saw her shaggy brown haunches take off up the hill. Looked like good eating, so a sign my hiker appetite is kicking in.

The way was paved with tall grasses, necessitating a tick check when we got to camp, as I bathed int he glacial lake. The water was so chill that after mere moments, my feet tingled and burned and I feared I would topple with cold wicking up my legs, and someone would find me blue lipped in my hiking underwear in the artfully scattered piles of duck guano. I stood at the edge of the lake and wiped myself down with the water and my buff, a decent day on the trail shower.

Later, Moosie and I went to get water, and were alarmed by the sound of a large-ish creature fighting through the bush. It was Trailbait, declaring "don't do it; it's not worth it". who had gone off trail towards the sound of trickling water. We pushed on another tenth or so back towards one of the many active trickles and found an vigorous one, with clean snow melt. We got back to camp, and realized the comedy of the day--it was only 4pm.

We did a lighter day today, getting our feet back. We are on a strict permit system and must be at this campsite exactly, and cannot push on or fall short. With 6+ hours of daylight left, here we were, camp chores (bathing, water, tent) done, and nothing to do.

We had a stretching party and muscle identification party, using Bigfoot's wikipedia app to learn the location and name of the piriformis (under glutes, between femur and hip). Gangles made the breakthrough to use our ice axes to massage our IT bands like a foam roller. At the height we were all lolling around the food preparation area, kneading our sore legs with ultralight ice axes.

Like the elderly, we decided to have dinner early (our blue plate special). On the plus side, the mac n' cheese with dehydrated spinach turned out great, On the downside, our over dehydrated Morningstar Farms breakfast sausage patties were tough as a mainland knockoff of an Italian hand bag. I took one of the team and ate the sausages, to save the trouble of packing them out, and my jaws still ache.

After hanging our food, we retreated from the gathering mosquitoes to the tent city ("Little Tent Tokyo") we established in site #1. We were allotted 1 site per our permit for the 5 of us, and managed to squeeze 4 tents in a 10'x20' space. THere's scant walking room, only for those with perfectly functioning inner ears, but a warm camaraderie of overlapping guylines and shared pitches. The closest thing to a dorm room we have.

Next day is a big one, over Triple Divide Pass, so far impassable except by a few other CDTers. None of the rangers have been over yet. Also a series of possibly treacherous fords of rivers swollen by the recent bout of rain. Some concerns for the safety of petite Trailbait (5'2"), but we'll all get through alright. Rejoining the rest of the party at Atlantic Creek,

Til then...

Mileage: 10mi from St. Mary to Red Eagle Head

p.s., The ranger we met today said we should keep an eye on our hiking poles. Some "mineral-crazed snowshoe hares" have been making off with the salty sticks.

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