My new quilt is like a dream. It is so fluffy and warm that I feel like I’m glamping. This is my first Katabatic quilt, but friends have been using them for years. When my pal Speedstick did a winter thru-hike of the AT a few years ago she kept talking about how she loved her chocolate caterpillar. She lived in her dark brown quilt that winter, and I will live in mine for the next month.
I was walking at first light and soon saw two hunters also out in the early day. This weekend was the start of hunting season, so I draped my pack in an orange hunting vest and wore my bright red coat.
It was incredibly warm for early October, and soon I shed my coat when it was time to ford the Imnaha River. I was due to climb up Blue Creek to walk below Sugarloaf Mountain later in the day.
The trail was in decent shape, although not exactly where drawn on the map. Once I got to my trail junction, a trail junction was not to be found, so I bushwhacked up the drainage until I stumbled on trail tread a short while later….I guess I should have hiked past where I thought the trail should be. This trail was in good shape too, although I lost it up top…but when the climb ends at a saddle, it’s pretty easy to find your way…the terrain practically leads you there by the hand.
A beautiful and smoky view awaited me up top and I took my first break of the day, three hours in. I don’t usually wait that long to sit down, but I was meeting Mike Higgins, one of the brains behind the BMT tonight at Twin Lakes Campground, and I didn’t want to be late!
When I turned on my phone I had a message from Allgood, Mike, and Naomi that they had finished their hike of the Blue Mountains Trail! When I knew Jared was looking for more people to ground truth the trail, I mentioned it to Whitney (trail name Allgood). He decided to take it on with 2 friends, and they set off in early September to hike it all. We had been sharing data and determined I would hike a series of alternates this fall when they encountered sections that posed some issues. Some of yesterday and most of today would be a different route than what those three had hiked…lots of options out here!
The walking from there was wonderful; the trail the rolled up and down folds of the earth. Everything was hazy due to fire smoke drifting over from Idaho, but I loved it none the less.
At a small cow-poop infested pond, the trail got confusing with cow trails crisscrossing every which way, but I finally found myself again.
More lovely trail, more lovely terrain.
I made it up to a decommissioned lookout tower on Russel Mountain and walked dirt roads from there, listing to episodes of Timber Wars, a new podcast from OPB.
I beat Mike to the campground, he said he’s bringing chips and beer!!!