11th September 

23.1 miles

My Lake  (2467.9) to Clack creek (2491)

I slept in. The overcast morning kept the darkness longer than normal. It was 7.45am when I started hiking. Elusive turned up at my camp just as I hitting the trail.

Light rain started to fall in the morning. The terrain turned to wet rainforest. Mushrooms were covering the sides of the trail as were the long eaten berry bushes. 

I passed many hikers still in camp all through the morning till I reached the Pentagon river which was my lunch stop. Dark clouds started forming them obscuring the tops of mountains. When I last looked at the weather forecast many days ago I remember I said there was a 20% chance of rain today. I’d already had light drizzle earlier in the morning.

I had a 3000ft climb ahead. The weather looked to me like 100% chance of rain. It looked like a storm was brewing. I set off on the climb.

About a third of the way up it started to rain. Half way up it started to snow. By the top of the pass it was a blizzard. Despite the darkness from the storm I needed to wear my sunglasses to protect the stinging in my eyes.

I constantly referred to my maps. Checking that I was on the trail, my altitude, the nearest water and where flat spots might be found to camp. I wanted to make it as far down off the mountain pass as possible.

The snow got heavier as I descended. I constantly monitored my hands and feet to make sure they stayed warm. I’ve been in this position before. I knew if I kept moving I would be nice and warm, well, more like I’d be ok.

Again the snow got heavier. I took a photo of myself only to notice my beard was frozen. I wanted to make camp a little earlier than normal so I could boil some water and put it in my Nalgene water bottle. I planned to dry out my clothes by wrapping them around the hot water bottle. 

I stopped to fill my second water bottle at a small creek as the snow got even heavier. My Nalgene water bottle was missing. I had it in a side pocket of my backpack. Wear and tear had ripped a hole in the pocket. I had been meaning to sew a patch on it. My water bottle was gone. I was annoyed at myself for all of 20 seconds before I set off to find a campsite for the night.

Ten minutes later I found a flat spot under some large trees that was relatively snow free. The only snow free area around. I set up, cooked dinner then had a comical experience trying to hang my backpack full of food for the night. It took me ten minutes to hang the bag. One failed attempt at throwing the rope over the tree involved me cutting the rope as it was wedged in the branches of a tree. I’m hoping for a warm and long nights sleep.

The evolution of a winter hiker

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6 Responses

  1. Margaret Buckles

    Great to get all of your daily updates today. The snow does look menacing. Another proof of hiker dementia with loss of special water bottle. That is 3 signs now that I know of. Montana is certainly a magical wonderland of mushrooms and approaching Fall.

  2. Bob Jaworski

    You are a brave soul. I certainly admire your tenacity. Safe Foot Steps along the way.


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