Day 1: 2400 vertical — 6 miles
Fri 4 August, 2017 — Long Creek Canyon, 3,800 ft.
1:30pm: lunch. A wildfire to our West is giving orange, hazy cover, creating the illusion of perpetual dawn and offering relief from our insisting sub, Hope to go 6 0r 8 miles today, along Long Canyon Creek. the climbing is done until Sunday. Started at 10am.
7:00pm: Explored, camp set, dinner eaten, bathed in river, food hung in 10 minutes.
9:00pm: In the tent. “When the universe closes a door, a window gets opened somewhere,” or something like that. Right? I lost my pencil in the dark, and as I was looking for it on the forest floor, I found this BIC Boundstick (M) One of my favorite pens! I accidentally packed my phone.
Day 2: 700 vertical — 9 mi
Sat 5 Aug. Trail #16 and #7 intersection, 4,500 ft
8:00pm: Camping on pebble mounds in the Long Canyon Creek after we overshot intended campsite, then went back a mile to search for 30 minutes but could not find any suitable place so we returned to the trail intersection and plodded around for another half hour to find where we are now. In all I think we hiked 9 miles today. I have blisters on both feet.
Ran into 2 through-hikers and when I asked whether they’d started at the trailhead this morning, the answer came back “nineteen-ninety-five”.
My left knee hurts — I think it’s not the same place as I injured skiing last winter, but rather the inside. Tomorrow we should see more people in the afternoon.
Day 3: 3200 vertical — 5,5 mi
Sunday 6 Aug. Long Mountain Lake, 6,800 ft
7:00pm: A hummingbird sat on my bear spray can — the bear spray I almost used today. Left camp at 9:00 am, hit huckleberry heaven and went up the 50 switchbacks to 6,500 ft. About 1/3 of the way up I heard and thumping through the woods a mere stone’s throw away. Matt was 50 yards behind. I could not tell which way the noise was moving and knew it had to be bear or elk. By the time Matt had nearly caught up, I hear d the unmistakable scrambling of bear cub claws on pine bark — the same that’s printed in my mind after the showdown on Mt. Vernon last year. But I couldn’t see any bears!
“Oh fuck,” I say under my breath, and reach for my bear spray. I have it out in seconds, aiming at the thick slope of huckleberry bushes, still rumbling with activity. A series of loud snorts comes at us and I know we have to retreat. Speaking in a low, calm voice, we walk backward 150 yards down a switchback. As we do, I get a glimpse of one of the cubs, feet off the ground, on a 30-year old Hemlock; they are still directly above us. I’m sooo scared, but it’s sooo cute!
Three more snorts and I know she’s serious and she may charge. We take off our packs to increase our mobility, all the while talking to the bear. More snorts.
We wait about 10 minutes before the cubs climb down and we can hear them make their way North, to our left. The switchback ahead will lead us there. A little while later we set off again and luckily the trail soon moves away from the bears. Far away!
Lunched at #221 trail intersection. Ran into some friends who were dayhiking to the lake as well. I swam across the lake and sunbathed. Hanging food at high elevation in Lodgepole or Subalpine Fir is hard. Also, I brought too much food, but I don’t want to carry it around so I keep giving stuff to Matt. I also brought too much underwear.
9:00pm: Tent. The moon is full and orange with smoke from ongoing wildfire. Phone works up here and I’m texting with Sandy and David. A bat is feeding on the mozzies that circle my tent. My knee feels better than yesterday. I wrapped a sport bandage around it. My blisters are ok.
Day 4: 5400 vertical — 9 mi
Mon 7 Aug. Parker Lake, 6,300ft
9:30pm: Saw a Yellow Rumped Warbler. Campground much nicer than we were made to believe. started at 9:30am and got here at 1:00pm. 3 1/2 hours for 4 1/2 miles. Slower than I’d like to go. Had lunch, hung food and climbed Parker Peak with light packs. At 7,600+ ft it’s the tallest named peak in the American Selkirks. Got back to camp 5:00pm hungry and exhausted. I miss Sandy.
Day 5: 6300 vertical — 13 miles
Tue 8 Aug. Home.
10:00pm: Home is in Montana with Sandy. Started from Parker Lake 8:30am and got to car 4:18pm, so Matt won the bet of getting there by 4:30. 6,000 vertical today, of which 4,000 over the final 6 miles — all switchbacks on the sun-scorched south slope of Parker Ridge. the 2015 burn had taken all the foliage and exposure was great. Glad I brought my straw hat. Selle Valley never came closer. Took a bath in Parker Creek.
TOTAL VERTICAL: 18,000 ft / 5485 m
TOTAL DISTANCE: 42,5 mi / 68.5 km