June 18 Reynolds Creek Campsite CDT Mile 49.6
I was sitting on the porch of the Many Glacier lodge this morning drinking a cup of hot coffee watching the swifts dart around over the lake. Around 8 I hit the trail with the guys and after about an hour I see MAV up the trail pointing. I get closer and see a huge bull moose about 25 feet off the trail, eating some shrubbery. We stood still and took photos and he somewhat ignored us. After about 30 seconds we went along our way.
Hammer went on ahead and Max, MAV and I had a small snack break below a huge waterfall before heading up the pass. And what an experience that was. Micro spikes were necessary and I got a little freaked out with some of the snow traverses. We all helped each other out and I’m glad I was not alone.
We met up with Hammer for the last push to the summit and it blew my mind. We didn’t have to cross any more snow fields but it was a very exposed hike and the trail was a little washed out in a couple of spots. The grade of the trail was really nice and I got a good pace going. The last little bit I had to get off trail and scramble around a snow field but it was a bit less steep by then.
And then the hike down was snow free for about a mile then we started hiking on snow at a downward traverse. It was exhausting. Finally I got here to the campsite and it looks like we have it to ourselves. I went down to the river and soaked my bandana and washed my face. Heavenly.
June 19/20 Red Eagle Lake Campsite CDT mile 64.2
The WPH (waterfalls per hour) was unusually high this morning and we got some good positive ions from the mist. Or did we? Max ran into a grizz and I fell down three times. The third time I felt something pop and my knee completely gave out. I got up and kept hiking, thinking, wow, I got lucky, I could have really hurt myself there.
Five hours later after fording a large river that almost swept me away I realized that my knee was starting to swell up and I couldn’t straighten it out. Nor could I bend it completely.
I made it to camp and set up my tent, trying to ignore the growing pain with each step. This is not happening, this is not happening. I got into my tent as it started to rain.
This is happening.
I walked over to the guys who were sitting at the food prep area and told them. I started to cry and came back to my tent.
MAV came over and talked to me and I went back to hang out with my trail family.
One of the many reasons why I have grown to love hiking with friends. They have a way of making everything better. We talked about me hiking out 9 miles to St. Mary village and they guys talked about hiking out with me. We made no plans and decided to see how things were in the morning.
A huge bull moose walked by our tents and waded out into the lake for aqua grazing. He put his head and rack underwater (except for his ears) and would stay down for 30 seconds. Once he brought his head up and shook it, water going everywhere. It was incredible.
This morning MAV told me that he wanted to hike out with me and I was so relieved. We hiked the 9 miles to St Mary and had a good lunch. We took the shuttle to East Glacier where we both have rooms. Max and Hammer hiked on and I’ll see them here Saturday. I have a comfortable place to stay and rest. I have a good book to read.
I know I’ve said this many times, but I feel that it is worth repeating since it is a notion that is so poignant, especially right now. Surrounding circumstances can change in a heartbeat, on and off the trail. I find solace in the metaphor that is the trail. A living, breathing, wild metaphor. The grizzly Max saw as he came around the bend. The bull moose shaking his rack in the ice cold glacial lake. Calves and thighs, sore from working hard to take body and mind to mountain tops and through roaring rivers, ultimately failing and placing me here, in a busy hostel, in a small tourist village and off the trail.
Is it a failing? Maybe. It feels like one. Part of me wants to say I failed. Or that I didn’t do what I said I was going to do. Which brings me back to the metaphor and the comfort and relief I find within it. Everything changes. All the time. The change that took me off the trail also takes me on a new adventure. So now I will develop a new plan, a loose plan, and enjoy some time traveling around the country and seeing what I can see. I can accept this change.