Pacific Northwest Trail; ~mile 245.0

Wednesday, August 7, 2019; Day 18

I woke at 0730, later than usual. I slept well in the woods. The canopy of trees overhead saved my sleeping bag from moisture. To my delight, it retained its fluffiness through the night and in to day break.

I passed Rock Creek and joined Camp Nine Mile Road 397.  I chose to continue along the road rather than attempting the two mile Brush Lake bushwhack.

Soon I came to US 95. I crossed the highway and stuck my thumb out for the southbound vehicles. The town of Bonner’s Ferry, Idaho was bout 15 miles away.

After about 35 minutes in the heat with no luck, I became discouraged.

Then, a car slowed.

Inside was a kind man called Jim. He told me that it was sometimes difficult to hitch a ride here, but that people usually stop more readily for girls. He did not realize I was female when he first pulled over.

Jim had recently been involved in an unfortunate accident where a car smashed his leg. He usually propped it up on the passengers side when he drove, but he rearranged himself and some items within his vehicle to make space for me and my pack. His spirits were high, however. “If physical therapy doesn’t work, it certainly won’t be for my lack of effort.” He had spent many years climbing mountains, and new the area well.

The maps state that after crossing US 95 the trail travels “cross-country” to Old US 95 and reconnects to some roads, and eventually to a trail. I asked him about this. He offered to drive me all the way to the Parker Ridge trail head so that I could get a visual. As I gazed out the window, I wondered why I never considered just how beautiful Idaho could be.  Jim pointed out bird after bird. I was impressed with his sighting skills. He was a wildlife photographer. He shared some of his photos with me. They were incredible!

We arrived at the trail head and parked. We reviewed the maps together. It felt nice to look over them with someone familiar with the area.

Jim then drove me to the Kootenai Valley Motel in Bonner’s Ferry. Again, after parking we reviewed some maps. This time Jim pulled out a map of his own, which had an overview of a larger region. We discussed potential alternates that I might take, should the bushwhack prove too challenging. I was nervous, and wanted to consider all of my options.

Jim gave me his contact information just in case I ran in to any trouble or needed help. I thanked him and told him that I was meant to meet him. Our time together was very encouraging. With that, I bid him farewell.

I went inside the reception area and checked in to the hotel.

The hikers that I had met at the Silverado Motel in Eureka had stayed there as well, and were just heading out. We exchanged contact information and chatted for a bit.  They mentioned that a thunderstorm was supposed to pass through in the next couple of days. Because of this they were choosing to stick to the lower elevation bushwhack along Lion Creek, rather than the scramble along Lion’s Head ridge.

They did not seem too nervous about the bushwhack. There were two of them, however.

“Loads of people have done it!” one of them remarked. Their attitude towards it was comforting.

“Leave a good trail for me!” I jested.

We said our goodbyes and wished each other luck.

I moved across the street to the grocery store. I was pleased with their options. They even had a natural/organic section! This next portion of trail not only contained the 5 mile long bushwhack, but was within a 104 mile stretch before the next town of Metalline Falls, WA. It was not uncommon for the bushwhack to take an entire day to complete. Considering my pace thus far, and the heightened challenges of the upcoming terrain (overgrown brush, blow-downs, etc.) , I was anticipating that it could take me up to 7 days before I made it to the next resupply point.

I was nervous. I bought a lot of food.

After shopping I did laundry, showered, had dinner, and called family.

Nerves, excitement,  and concern about being in the thick of the bushwhack during the lightning storm, made it difficult for my mind to quiet enough for sleep.

Eventually however, within the off-white walls of the hotel room, I drifted off.

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