CDT Day 55: Mile 2566.5 – 2589.5 (23 miles – 36.8 km)

Monday June 10, 2019

It was the most restful of nights sleep. Not a breath of wind to ruffle the trees. It was very quite and peaceful.

As we headed away from our campsite, a low hum of traffic from the I-15 could be heard. We crossed it yesterday to get on trail and will be crossing it again in about 19 miles. The sky was overcast which created a bit of gloom. This was made more so by the obvious and extensive pine tree dieback in the surrounding forest. A couple of people have mentioned an interesting theory about this: the story is that dieback is caused by environmentalist objecting to Forestry Services cutting trees down. So in theory too many old trees which makes them susceptible to disease. Unfortunately the reality is much more dire.

Not far from our campsite we passed and abandoned mine, with old timber mine buildings lying in a rubble. A relic of early Buttes mining history.

A nearby creek, like most of the creeks we crossed so far, had a newly build bridge over it. Blessed are the bridge makers, even though these creeks are minnows.

As we hiked it struck me as odd that there was no birdsong. And there were no spring blooms where the snow had receded. This combined with the extensive dieback made the whole forest look like it was dying. This added to my building gloom.

Before we could begin the descent to the I-15, we had to go over an 8,400 foot peak. It was holding patches of snow which covered the trail in parts. But it was all manageable.

However the 2, 500 foot descent held much more snow. So it was little bit more of a challenge to stay on trail and keep our feet dry. But we did manage it, so that was a win. The grey sky persisted. We slowly descended to where the trail joined a small jeep road. From here a motorbike had ploughed through the residual snow making our progress easier.

It wasn’t long before the snow was behind us and we had numerous switch back down to Nec Perez Creek, where we stopped for lunch. The sun had come out briefly and with the water nearby – mosquitoes. I never thought I would say this but it was nice to see the mosquitos. We knew the snow melt was on and summer was almost here.

As soon as we popped out to the Nez Perez trailedhead everything changed. We we hiking along a dirt road which took us towards the I-15. We passed ranches with grazing cattle. So we have not quite left the cows behind. Nor it would seem the sage brush. More cows and more roadwalking was not what I expected.

The wind was howling through the open valley. We crossed under the I-15 and had a long paved uphill roadwalk. A dark cloud had descended on my thoughts. For quite some time I was seriously tempted to hitch back to Butte which was only 13 miles away by road. I put my head down and moved on. Hammer assured me that it would get better. Not quite sure how he knew that.

Late afternoon we stopped to filter water as it is 20 miles before the next source. My mood was somewhat lifted by finding these beautiful yellow flowers here, they were dollops of sunshine growing by a creek. The first flowers I’d seen all day.

We hiked on to find a campsite and as we did the mosquito numbers increased. Once we set up camp, we had to run the gauntlet to get inside. There are hundreds buzzing around the tent. We were both absolutely trashed and fell asleep almost as soon as we got horizontal.