CDT Day 93: 25 miles/40 km

CDT SOBO Mile 817.6 – 842.6

Thursday July 18, 2019

We camped at the edge of the woods with a creek nearby, at the foot of Garfield Mountain. Surrounded by big hills this provided a perfect environment for birds. This morning as we broke camp, and the suns first rays were peaking over the horizon, an orchestra of birds sang for us. Their beautiful music faded away as we hiked out of the creek valley and up towards a mountain that looked like it had a nipple on top. The sky was mostly clear with one big dark cloud. An almost full moon high up in the sky was lit like a lantern guiding us out of the valley.

The trail was a bit frustrating again this morning, it would go from being well defined to disappearing amongst sage brush plants. We did some unnecessary climbing and bushwacking through scrub to get back on trail. Don, a southbound hiker caught up to us, just after one of these bushwacking sections. He is on a punishing schedule. He hiked 42 miles yesterday in order to catch up to us. He had some frightening thunderstorm experiences. Tuesdays storm hit so close to him when up on a ridge he had electrical current rising up his legs. Gave me shivers thinking about it. We have been lucky so far.

We said good bye to Don and stopped for breakfast at a pass with views out to the valley we’ll be hiking towards for the rest of the day. We also had phone service for the first time in days. It was nice to catch up on bits of news from home.

Descending from the pass we were in cattle country. Degraded streams and lots of cow dung. I wanted to get out of this section really quickly. But that was not so easy with horrid creek crossings. We stopped at Shineberger Creek for lunch, it was out of the cattle paddocks and the water was clear and looked clean. This will our last water source till we get into town tomorrow.

From there it was a slow uphill slog along a ridge. When we reached the top of this ridge we started to follow a fence line. The fence was on the border between Idaho and Montana.

Little did we know that we would be following this fence for the next 6 hours or 12 miles. It was like a super windy roller coaster hike that went on all afternoon. The wind was so strong it was blowing us sideways into the barbed wire fence. It was a scouring cross wind. Hammer doesn’t mind windy conditions. I’m not so keen. It took all my willpower not to scream at the wind to stop. Yet the wind didn’t care about my feelings, it did not let up. I practiced gratitude: it was warm, it wasn’t raining and there was no risk of a thunderstorms. For that I was deeply grateful. I just couldn’t maintain a grateful mind for 6 hours of climbing and descending a never ending string of ridges being blasted by wind. The fence just kept going on and on and the trail was a roller coaster, steep ups and downs. Even Hammer cracked and he loves wind.

Origami shaped mountains dropped away towards both Idaho and Montana. It looked so idyllic, yet all I could think of was those wacky cheese rolling races in the UK. The contestants barrel down a hill, shaped just like these hills, chasing a giant cheese wheel. Except I wanted to be inside the cheese wheel rolling down these hills and away from this damn wind.

It was interesting that the mountains we have been hiking on since lunchtime were really ancient river beds. Smooth river rocks were everywhere. It made the steep descents feel quite treacherous at times.

We survived the wind and the fence and the roller coaster terrain. It was a hard, day and a real relief to reach a dirtroad and the CDT trailhead. We camped at the trailhead and will hike to Highway 15 in the morning. I arranged for a ride into Lima (pronounced Lyma) from the owner of the Mountain View Inn where we have booked a room for tomorrow.