Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 57.7

July 24, 2019; ~3850 ft; Day 4

It is very blustery this morning. My tent heaves and shakes. In just a few more moments my tent should be dry.

How lovely to put away a tent so dry it crinkles! So much lighter!

The trees continue to creak in the wind. They are dead and cracking, like hollow bones. This morning they sound more like quacking ducks than lost children in the night.

At about 0820 I head over to collect my food bag. I finally leave an hour later.

I viewed Bowman Lake for the first time.

I met the first snake of the trip.

They were small and frightened. Too fearful to move at first, but with a little coaxing, they slinked off into the brush.

The pines stood so strong, so erect– almost proud; like living ambassadors of the mountains.

Today I would leave Glacier National Park and follow the trail through the small community of Polebridge. I sent a food package to the Polebridge Mercantile, a small store and bakery.

Once I hit pavement and cars and campground parking lots I became very disoriented. I found my way out of the parking lot and continued on a very long road walk.

People waved as they passed in their metal vehicles. Two drivers stopped to offer me a ride. After declining one drivers offer, they then asked If I would like a beer. When I said “No, thank you” and smiled, her response seemed to be a mix of shock and disappontment. I almost felt bad, save I had no reason to. “Too much weight” I said, trying to soften the blow of rejection.

“You can drink it quick and throw the can in the back.” She was referring to the bed of her pick-up truck.

A beer was the last thing I wanted in the middle of a sweltering hot road walk. “That’s, alright. Thank you, though”. She then drove off and wished me luck.

Though I was not interested in getting a ride…or drinking a beer, the kind offers and conversation provided me with little sparks of energy that made my ambulation joyful and lighthearted.

Finally, I arrived in Polebridge. I entered the Mercantile and browsed the shelves.

There was fresh fruit! I collected bananas and apples and an orange, and one of those pre-made rice/quinoa dishes. I looked for bug spray, but they only had 25% deet. I was unsure that it was even worth the weight. I did however claim some toilet paper, sheets of moleskin, band-aids, and hydrocortizone cream, and brought my collection to the counter. I told the young woman behind the register that I should have a package there for pick-up. She collected my package, rang-up my items, and I moved to a grassy area to organize my goods.

I ate the fruit and moved on to the rice dish. The dish was tasty but crunchy, I neglected to acknowledge its need for microwaves.

I let my things charge inside the Mercantile, and reviewed the maps, and packed up my food. I purchased hot coffee and sat at a bench. I let my things charge until near 2100, the hour of store closure. There was live music playing on an outdoor stage affiliated with the café next door. It was very pleasant. The musicians, two men with guitars, were from Oregon.

I read in the notes on the Guthook application, that there should be a campsite about 1.6 miles out of Polebridge. I decided that this is where I would sleep.

I set off.

I felt so anonymous. It was as if had slipped in and out of Polebridge a nameless ghost. It was a far cry from the city, town, village, or community visits along the Pacific Crest or Appalachian Trails.

The solitude was hauntingly beautiful.

As I continued along the road, I scanned the woods on either side.

I grew a bit nervous that a campsite would not appear, or that I may have difficulty spotting it in the night.

As it became darker and more desolate, I found myself willing no cars to pass.

Then, I came upon a tent site and fire ring, just off the side of the road.

I unloaded my pack and began to set up for the night.

This was my first night outside of Glacier National Park. I was truly alone now.

The hydrocortizone cream is off-brand. Half a tube later I find little relief

The stillness of the night is captivating.

I fall asleep, excited for the paths ahead.

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