Day 9 – 15 The Bob Part 1

Day 9 – Out of East Glacier

Slept pretty well.  Luna’s was pretty crowded with hikers either getting ready to go into Glacier or to continue on into the Bob.  And at few injured hikers.  After some of the mileage I’ve heard of people pulling through Glacier, I’m not shocked to see some injuries.

Not included: Half or so of the tents and all of the indoor sleepers

My goal for the day was twofold: finish up town chores like food prep, charging, sending stuff away, and quite a lot of downloading things.  Podcasts, ebooks, audio books, maps, etc.

Personal 14″ pizza. As one does.

Second was just to get out of town and ‘escape the vortex’.  It’s always tempting to sit around in town, but I want to stay ahead of the bubble as much as I can.  Though I’m sure the flip floppers behind will catch me.  They have all the miles of New Mexico behind them, and I’m not going to be able to match their mileage (and it’d be dumb to try).

Hitch out was really quick.  Much faster than last week.  Met Toga (Togo?), another SOBO, at the trailhead and briefly hiked together.  So far, the Bob is quite peaceful.  And easier than anticipated with far fewer blowdowns.  It looks like a trail crew came through somewhat recently (thanks!!!).

First, of many, recently cleared blowdowns.

The damper on the evening was when I stopped for dinner the seal on my opsak (heavy duty, nominally scent proof, zip lock that lines my bear bag) snapped.  I put anything partially used in other available zip locks as that’s the best I can do under the circumstances. It’s going to be some time before I can replace it.

Anyhow, 5 miles or so into the Bob done. 180ish miles to go

Day 10

Objective vs Subjective risk?

Longest day thus far at about 20.5 miles with a fair amount of elevation gain.  Saw a number of other people today at various points.   Apparently, there are a few shorter alternates that people have been taking.  Including one that would have saved a lot of climbing.

The uphill part of the car wash cycle.

The views were nice, though.  And I was able to see Glacier one last time from a distance.

Goodbye, Glacier.

There were a bunch of river crossings today.

Present Braveheart problem.

 

Future* Braveheart problem.

* Which rapidly became a present Braveheart problem as I dropped my trekking pole followed by my sunglasses right after taking this picture.  Leading to a slow speed chase as both tried to float downstream.

Hottub gave me several extra backpacker pantry meals.  Yesterday I had the pasta Primavera.  Which I’d rate at 3 squirrels.   Only 450 calories or so isn’t a lot.  And the cooking instructions call for too much water.  Even shorting it was soupy.  Today’s was mushroom stroganoff, which I’d rate at 4 squirrels. It was a nice change of pace from knorr sides and kraft.

Day 11

Easier day than yesterday but pretty hot.  The beginning of the day was pretty fast.  Though after 10 miles the trail wound up into a burned plateau.  Combined with the clear sky made for hot hiking.

Thankfully it’s flat.

Hiked just under 20 miles to a little island in the middle of strawberry creek.  Camped on it with a few other hikers.  Though not as crowded as last night’s site. Burns have a way of consolidating hiker campsites as we seek locations safe from deadfall.

Game for the afternoon: What predator am I following?

60 miles left to Benchmark and 3 days of food left. This is probably one of the longer food carries of the entire trip. The next carry is only 85 miles. Though it will require walking right past a potential hitch into Lincoln.

Had the last of the dehydrated meals today. Wild west chili. I’d probably give it 4.5 squirrels. Tasted pretty much like chili, and the water recommendation was closer than the others.

Day 12 – Switchback Pass

Switchback pass was the main feature of the day. It’s a bit bigger than any other passes so far at 7800′. The trail climbed up switchbacks to 6000′ or so before going steadily uphill along a mostly burned plateau. Which. Was. Hot.

The moment you realize there’s another 2,000′ to climb

There was a great swimming lake towards the top of the pass though. One of the better swimming spots so far this trip. And it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Whether this is a swimming lake is left as an exercise for the reader.

My feet felt better than they have the past few days. Today, general energy felt like more of a limiter than my feet hurting. Which makes sense as it was the biggest mileage day so far and the most elevation gain (and loss), too.

I was here!

One thing I’ve noticed is that my appetite hasn’t really caught up with what I’m doing, yet.

Going to see the Chinese wall tomorrow. It’s the feature in the Bob that I’m most looking forward to seeing. Will be a slightly shorter day so I can camp by it.

Day 13 – Chinese Wall

Slept really well last night. I camped near a closed backcountry ranger cabin. With a couple guys who I’ve camped with for the past few nights, Trash and Litter. We have about the same mileage per day goals and more ppl is better for camping in bear country.

Home for the night. The front yard, at least.

Much of the early hiking was down a river valley with wet foot (ie, fording) water crossings every few miles. Ended up using my sandals a bunch to keep my shoes dry.

River shoes!

The main feature today (and tomorrow) is the Chinese wall, a giant cliff that runs for probably 5 miles straight south. Looking up at it makes me think of the Princess Bride.

Climbing, anyone?

Day 14

Last picture of the Chinese Wall, I promise.

Attempt at last views of the Chinese wall from the neighboring pass. I was mostly foiled by the trees, though. The tree line in the Bob seems to be significantly higher than Glacier despite only being maybe 60 miles south.

I don’t always creep on marmots having dinner, but when I can, I do.

Anyhow, it was still beautiful. And it had an excellent large flat napping rock for breakfast.

The elusive perfect napping rock 

Motored down the pass on my quest to get near Benchmark trailhead / ranch by the end of the day. Passing through lots of water crossings, forest, burnt forest, and meadows. Getting close to a major trailhead has benefits. The trails are wider, there are, sometimes, bridges. Though the trails get really chewed up and muddy due to the horse traffic.

RIP my neutral density camera filter. Lost during a rather dumb attempt at a dry foot crossing.

 

Also, lots of day hikers and weekenders.  It is a holiday weekend near major trailhead. A bit jarring after seeing almost noone since glacier. Anyhow, set up pretty well for an easy stroll into Benchmark ranch to pick up my resupply box, charge battery pack and phone, before heading onward. Trash, Litter, and a new kid, Crush, are all heading into Augusta from there.

Bridges make for good people watching. And good naps.

Day 15 – Benchmark Ranch

The welcome crew

Got into Benchmark ranch around 9 and saw… horses, mostly. Specifically, a group of 20 or so hanging out immediately outside the ranch. I don’t know much about horses and just kinda slowly meandered thru the herd to the gate. I didn’t trust myself to open the gate and not inadvertently let a herd of horses into the ranch.

You are not getting through the gate today. Yet.

Instead I ducked under their fence. It had a horizontal log missing so it was easy to do. It sounds like I was breaking in but I just wanted the resupply box I had sent there.

The hiker hangout

After asking two ppl for directions, I finally found the cdt hiker porch. Paid to charge my battery there, repacked, did a bit of foot first aid napped. Ended up chatting with a pair of thru hikers who came just as I was contemplating leaving. I was easily distracted since I had a relatively short day of hiking. I was happy to chat for a bit.

Took a shortcut on the way out of Benchmark. It’s just a trail one valley over from the cdt.

Onto the Bob, pt 2!

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