It was windy. I was blown off my feet. My hiking partners Teflon and Bubbles had been blown off their feet many times. The wind was over 100 miles per hour. At first it was fun to be in the strong winds, before long it was downright dangerous. I wonder if anybody reading this has experienced wind so strong that it is impossible to walk or been blown off their feet while hiking.
Several hours earlier we left East Glacier on route to Two Medicine a small campground with a backcountry ranger station. It was there we planned to pick up our camping permits, we didn’t make it. We left town late morning. The weather was overcast, not a breath of wind. It would be an easy day of hiking.
We reached the top of the ridge when it was too windy and dangerous to continue. We had only 100 meters to traverse a tricky exposed ridge before the 2 mile downhill hike to Two Medicine. But we couldn’t make it. My better judgement and little voice in my head said, turn around. The bitter cold froze my face. I couldn’t speak properly as my mouth muscles started to freeze. It was like is been to the dentist. It was cold. On the descent the wind blew the beanie off my head, off a cliff into the abyss. For the first time in my life I made the decision to turn around and retreat back to the town of east glacier. There have been times when I’ve had to wait out weather and times I’ve had to bail off a trail due to the weather but never have I had to make a full retreat. Teflon is an experienced hiker and she had never been in wind that strong. She also thought a retreat was the best idea. Despite Bubbles being in a multi month hiking journey, this is her first overnight hiking trip into the mountains, what a start for her. She was cold. Her face was frozen and wiped constantly by her backpack straps. Her eyeballs were frozen. She later told me she was really scared but trusted our judgement. She also mentioned that despite the wind and cold she enjoyed the challenge. Earlier she was shivering, she was cold and struggling.
Several days earlier I arrived in East Glacier. I had several days to wait for my good friends to arrive. Teflon would be joining me to the Canadian border. We had planned to meet up for this trip many weeks and months earlier. For those that have read my PCT hike will remember Teflon, we hiked about 1000 miles together. My other hiking partner Bubbles is hiking across the country west to east. We met in Colorado and have been in contact ever since. We have become more than good friends during that time. Did I mention I have a girlfriend.
The night before the hike we went to the end of season hikers party put on by the CDT Montana. Many hikers were there, some I hadn’t seen in a long time, including Thermometer who finished the trail the day before, he is the first South Korean to hike the triple crown which is the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail.