Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 154.8

Thursday, August 1, 2019; Day 12

I woke at 0630 but only rolled about lazily, remaining horizontal. At 0730 I heard voices. I turned to see the two hikers I had met at the Silverado Motel. They were not more than 50 feet away. I stayed quiet, sitting still in my sleeping bag. They did not see me. They were chatting as they walked.

I ate breakfast, had coffee, and prepared a lunch of textured soy protein. There was no vegan dehydrated soup in Eureka.

At 0811 I hit the road. The construction workers were very friendly. I chatted with one; both of us calling out loudly from opposing sides of the street. I told him to wish me luck. The conversation lifted my spirits from the hot asphalt.

I reached Pinkham Creek. The water rolled over stones beneath a concrete bridge. I was thankful that I had acquired a working filter. This would be the last reliable water source for over 10 miles.

I sat on a stone in the middle of the creek and dipped my sore feet in the icy water.

Sleep deprived, I indulged in a nap beneath the bridge, elevating my feet as I rested my eyes.

After rising,  I spent a long while bandaging my toes and heels, trying on my boots, re-bandaging, adjusting.

Soon I came to the Kookanusa Bridge, the tallest and largest bridge in Montana. It was certainly impressive.

I gazed down at the lake as I crossed, watching the tiny seagulls and a fishing boat move about.

The sound of the wind fascinated me. Forceful, it whistled and wailed, changing pitch as if over empty glass bottles of varying size.

I weaved back and forth towards whichever side of the road provided easier tread.

I felt as though my skin was cooking in the heat.

I realized that what I had mistaken for water spigots, was in fact a small flying insect: a katydid.

I found Thirsty Mountain Trail (aptly named, mind you) on the side of the road, and began the climb.

The heat tasted like cedar.

Lake Kookanusa became small in the distance.

The climb was long and intense, my eyes heavy.

Eventually, I reached the lookout tower. An SUV with a canoe strapped to its top was parked beneath it. I heard voices and two young girls clamoring about. A family must have rented it for the night. I utilized the pit toilet and found a lightly wooded flat space beneath the tower to sleep. The next water source was just under 4 miles away. Though I would not have water to spare for my morning coffee, I would not face dehydration.

As I settled myself in, I could hear the family interacting above me. Their sounds came closer. “There is someone down there!” one child  called. I was already in my sleeping bag at this point. I turned so not to face them. There was a fire ring near where I laid. I hoped they had not intended on making a fire. I worried that I  had made a foolish decision in my camp selection. Soon, however, the yelling and playing of the girls faded away.

I bundled up for fear of chill, choosing to wear my rain-gear as I slept.

The stars were beautiful.

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