CDT mile 2078.9, miles hiked 30.1
4:30 came early but I had no trouble waking up thanks to the distinct smell of smoke. Tatu-Jo and I had slept right by each other so I fired up my stove and made us each a coffee to get going. As we packed we commented on the smoke and Tatu-Jo said his eyes were burning from it. Last night both of us had noticed black smoke as we created the last pass but it seemed to be in a valley of two over.
We plodded away through the dark as always and enjoyed watching the sky turn red, only benefit to smoke is good sunrise and sunsets. We stripped off our layers and got ready for the next section which winded up and down through a like basin. We reached a high mountain pass and took in the valley below. The surrounding mountains were steep and over the ridge, to our west, we saw the distinct colon of smoke.
We walked along the contour of the mountains and soon we reached another high point. Just then a tanker plane flew low overhead to make a drop of fire retardant. We could hear helicopters but never saw them. We had a cell signal so we tried to see what was going on, but after striking out on reaching anyone we decided to just hike on.
The next 6 miles went down, way down and we dropped a few thousand feet to Sheep Creek, funny I didn’t see any sheep but I did find some ripe thimbleberries so I snacked on them. We came across an old cabin and went inside to investigate. No food but the owners do leave it unlocked for emergency purposes. I can only imagine how many mice call it home, so after we found nothing to eat we tackled the last climb for the day.
The climb was a butt kicker, straight up an old road for 1.6 miles and couple thousand feet. By the time I reached the top all I wanted to do was pass out. We flopped down and had a final snack and water. Tatu-Jo is a super entertaining guy and he told me stories of the worst accidents he had seen in job sites during his career. I was dying laughing so much I didn’t mind the rain and thunder that had started.
We opted to take a J Ley purple route on in an old road since it stayed low. We walked along and then started to come through a recently logged area, a half mile later we saw the skidder and piles of logs. As we continued on the road we spotted two camp trailers and a fire. We said hello and found the camp belonged to the outfit who was doing the logging there, he was joined by his wife and a friend. He gave each us a beer and we chatted a bit about our hike and his logging of all the beetle kill in the area.
Tatu-Jo and I carried on our hike to get our last mile in. It was in a dirt road and easy as pie. We found the CDT trailhead at Big Hole Pass. There was some straw from horse people so we piled it up to make some soft bedding for the night, and tomorrow we go to Darby to see a friend from ALDHA-West who will host us, yes free town stay.