Pacific Northwest Trail; Metaline Falls

Friday, August 16, 2019; day 27

I rose at 0515. I had slept tremendously well.

I watched as streaks of pink lit the sky in the distance.

I would try to make it to town today.

I reviewed the maps. Metaline Falls was approximately 23 miles away. If I stayed on Forest Road 22 instead of joining the Grassy Mountain Trail, my miles per hour would certainly increase (due to the level tread), and I could shave off a bit of distance.  It could make the difference between making it to town before nightfall. If I got to Metaline Falls with day to spare, I could  do laundry and resupply, theoretically allowing me to return to hiking the next day.

I told myself that I would decide when I reached the junction.

By 0715 I was off!

I skirted the eastern side of Round Top Mountain, taking in the view at 6312 ft.

I crossed paths with a hunter. I asked him what he was hunting: black bears. He said that he hoped to get a “huckleberry bear”. He said that they were good. At first I thought he meant the huckleberries.

I asked him about Forest Service Road 22. He said that it was in great condition, but that it was quite a long walk.

He wished me luck, and I to him. As I continued walking I realized, though I wished him safety and happiness, I did not wish him success in his venture. The thought of a black bear being shot while grazing on huckleberries sent a stab of pain through my heart. What did he do with the bear after they were killed? How did he transport the body? Did he use all of their parts? I had so many questions. Be safe, sweet bears.

I collected from the spring about a half mile south of the Grassy Top Mountain Trail junction, and continued along FR 22. I would walk the road.

I ate as I walked, taking spoonfuls of what was meant for lunch as a second breakfast. I stopped for a moment to soak a lunch of instant rice for later.

I was grateful that I had stopped for food at to the Idaho state Indian Creek Campground, not only did I meet some amazing people, but as it turns out, I was a very hungry human.

The road walk began beautifully, gently graded downhill.

Part of me very much enjoyed the excitement of slightly diverting from the trail.

…so many routes to reach a common goal. This is such a captivating aspect to life.

The road then began to curve and swerve along the mountains. To my dismay, heading east at some points. I was at the mercy of my decision. I spoke to a truck driver who was outside of his cab fiddling with some outward mechanisms of his load. He confirmed my route.

I contemplated whether this road walk was the best choice.

Finally, I joined Sullivan Lake Road heading west.

I stopped and ate the last of my food and rested my feet.

Just keep walking.

The road in to Metaline Falls had many bends and curves and no shoulder.

When only a half mile stood between myself and the little town, I watched as a truck stopped in the middle of the road. It then proceeded to back up. This charmed me. They offered me a ride. I told them that I was attempting a continuous footpath. “Good for you!” the passenger stated. They wished me luck.

I was nearly there.

Then…I arrived.

I checked in to the Washington Hotel. I gathered groceries and fed and showered. I socialized with locals. I joined them for a short walk up the hill. The town was hauntingly beautiful at night.

I returned to the hotel. Then to the grocery store for ice-packs.

I was limping.

My left knee was rather upset with me. It did not approve of my decision to elongate the road-walk (17 of the 21 miles or so that I had hiked was on either dirt road or pavement. If I had stayed on trail, only 9 miles would have been road).

My knee–my being–much preferred the give, the cushion, the variation and shock absorbency; the liveliness of the raw earth, the dirt, the trail.

There is no such thing as a short-cut.

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