24 mi ::
1576 mi ::
Last night I wrote in a sunny meadow, thinking I might sleep out. Then I heard thunder behind me. On the other side of the ridge the sun was turning dark clouds a deep, violent orange. Those clouds were flashing like mad and heading straight at me. I hurried to clear a small patch of ground beneath a limber pine and pitch my tent. In my bliss hiking on the divide I had forgotten to dry it. The slightly damp interior was far better than the rain soon battering the outside, though. I fell asleep to wind, lightning, and rain.
I sleep late in the morning thinking I have an easy 8 miles to Rogers Pass where Ann will meet me. I’m even pretty dry, with help from ventilating winds throughout the night. A couple of the miles turn out to be my first bushwhacks in Montana, on steep terrain. There’s quite a bit of climbing, and no water. By the time I reach the pass I’m beat, and a little dehydrated. Ann isn’t there. It looks like the trail picks up right on the other side of the road, so I sit and wait. Some RVs stop to cool down. I beg a bottle of water from them and make breakfast. Not until then do I read the guidebook, which tells me the other trailhead is 200 yards down the road. I look down, and Ann is walking toward me. Doh! I have to finish eating my breakfast before I can pack up again and join her.
Among other things I tell Ann that I think I’ll need a rest day soon, and I want to do something with her. We propose MacDonald Pass on Monday, where we can make a trip to Helena if we like.
It’s hard to get going again, but I need to in order to make the meetings we’ve set up. There are more roads now, so we can meet more often.
I pack a new book to read: Bear Attacks, Their Causes and Avoidance. There’s so much hoopla about bears here, I hope to find out some actual facts. Should be good for gruesome dream material too.
Once I get moving, I cruise. It’s more great, open divide hiking. Slowly the divide descends into tree cover. When I reach Flesher Pass I have to hike 1/2-mile down the road for water. The water is just a trickle, and has some fine brown silt in it that my filter doesn’t remove. I try a few different spots with the same results. I have to use it, so I hope for the best and make my dinner.
The trail stays in trees after Flesher Pass, but they’re open and airy stands. I walk until 9 pm, trying to make it far enough to make my breakfast date in the morning at Stemple Pass. I make camp in the last light of the day on a calm, quiet ridge.