Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 121.5

Sunday, July 28, 2019 ; day 8

I heard an animal early this morning. I played my quena (wooden flute) before fetching my food bag.

Waking up at 6700 ft, it was much chillier than last night.

It rained gently on my tent as I slumbered. I have been enjoying the Montana summer-time.

Experiencing some upper back and shoulder pain, I applied 1/2 strip of KT tape around each shoulder. Last time I did this it ripped my skin upon removal. I am hoping for better results this time.

Only 29 miles to Eureka!

As I pack up my food after an oatmeal/chia/strawberry breakfast with a protein/coffee chaser, I take “foodventory” (a term my friend “Suds” from PCT, 2016 loved to use). Not too shabby. Even planning 20 plus mile days as being the ideal (and only averaging 15), it looks like, with 29 miles between Eureka and I, I did pretty darn good. I am tempted to eat the last of the “good stuff” (nuts, dried fruit [oh my goodness dried pineapple is divine], the last standing lara bar),the instant satisfiers.

This trail is teaching me more than the others, that what lies ahead is unknown. Life can throw you a curb ball at any moment. Though I still believe that one can accomplish most anything if they put their mind to it, the path to get there is never a certain one. What can be controlled is the recourses one has to keep safe and alive and strong, eyes and spirit open and uplifted, venturing forth, to the beauty any struggle will always offer.

And, yes! To the bed and shower and food-laden land that is Eureka.

As I review and pack the maps and guide book notes for the day, the sunshine dries my tent. I will take Trail 339 past Therriault Pass, continuing through the Kootenai National Forest, until I turn northwest on to Blacktail Trail 92 near the Ten Lakes Scenic Area.

I alternate between hungry and less hungry. Never full.

I find a hole in my tent as I am packing up. I am tempted to put it off, but I quickly stitch it before packing it away so that it does not get worse. The mosquitos get their morning fill as I stand stationary to sew.

I lifted my trekking poles to set off. Something had chewed off and ran away with the wrist strap of my right pole in the night! I searched around for it but couldn’t find it. Darn it. After my salty sweat, I suppose. Maybe that is also where the hole in my tent came from. A bit saddening. I like my pole strap

I will to try to make a new one in town.

It must have been a small creature, as it made it’s way into my tent vestibule.

I carry on.

I think of my life, of my body–my vessel for travel. I think of how each muscle and finger and toe is utilized until they hurt; how this enables me carry myself to places that lift my spirit to where it longs to. I am so thankful.

I stop at a log for a break. I set off again making sure to stay on trail 339 at all junctions.

I can see town in the distance

The descent is all chipmunks an butterflies.

Wait, wrong descent. The junction was confusing and I did not reference all my sources. I noticed half a mile in to a steep descent that I seemed to be turning south. This was not right. Back up I went.

I thought of how the shape of trails change at junctions. Each trail has its personal traits, some sense of continuity.

Dogs bark in the distance as I ascend towards Blacktail junction. I stop at a log and take ibuprofen for my shoulder and feet.

Little Therriault lake was beautiful from the ridgeline. The shale and sheer drop was intimidating.

As the trail climbed and become more wooded, some of the inclines were so steep I nearly lost traction on the smooth dirt. It would have proved terribly difficult without my trekking poles.

I break by a small and beautiful stream, I rose bug-bitten, but refueled, rejuvenated, and with plenty of water!

I came to the junction.

The descent was beautiful. The trail is clearly routed, but rough. Many fallen trees were on the path.

A burnt orange sunset shone through the trees as I walked north near the border.

Soon, on a switchback of an old mining road, I grew too weary to carry on.

I set up my tent and quickly fell asleep.

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