For those of you out there who are considering a long hike for the first time, I’d highly suggest that you give yourself three weeks. It’s really in week three where you start to feel strong. The first two weeks? Well, they will probably hurt. Bring ibprophen, whisky, candy, whatever you can do to ease the pain and seen it through to the other side.
I woke this morning and watched the first really dramatic sunrise of the trip as I packed up. 17 miles to town! Town in this case was Tollgate, a restaurant/store in a little mountain community that is big into snowmobiling. The hotel was closed for the season (sob), so it would be a strictly food stop. I had mailed them my resupply box, and they seemed really accommodating which is always a relief.
If you are like me, then at some point on a long hike you give your stomach control of your decision making. You want your body to be happy, right?!? Even though I am trying to eat more intentionally with my health in mind, I do eat pretty much anything in trail towns. Don’t get me wrong, my trail diet has improved drastically over even a few years ago….sooo I started thinking about what I would eat at the Alpine Outpost in Tollgate. This is a favorite past time of hikers, to imagine what we will eat, or remember what we have eaten. Its great fun….especially if you know a restaurant meal is in your near future.
I heard an elk bugle this morning! But then I realized it was probably some hunters practicing when I heard car doors closing after that.
Roaring Fork Trail from Mottet campground was recently reopened after some tread damage was fixed, but the trail at the bottom of the canyon along the South Fork Walla Walla River was still closed. I want to be on the up and up on this hike, and that means respecting trail closures.
The walking was high along the South Fork of the Walla Walla River. Next time I come back I will hike the river. The road walks are nice, but after two days of it, I’m ready for trail. That’s what I have in store tomorrow! Or more accurately trail that isn’t always there. The drop into the North Fork of the Umatilla is supposed to be frustrating and overgrown. I’m ready!
I got to the store/restaurant about 2:30, and ordered my first meal, a big burger with fries and a beer from A Side Brewery, a brewery just down the way in La Grande. It was GOOD. Then I bought some baked goodies (this is very important: BAKERY.) I perched up on a table outside with easy access to some plugs to charge my electronics…very important to do on town stops. It was a Friday, and guess what they do for dinners on Friday? Prime Rib. So I sat there till 5pm and ordered the prime rib. You have to understand, town stops are an important part of a thru-hiking food strategy. You simply have to eat as much as you can in town to offset the impossibility of carrying enough calories in your pack to hike 20 mile days in the mountains. It’s an acceptable binge…
I waddled away from the restaurant before dark with a goal of finding public land to put up my tent…and about a mile and a half later I was at the edge of a clear-cut, dodging raindrops as I squeezed my tent between two giant trees.