June 18, 2005
Last night Mom, Dad, Dan, and I hiked in about 2 miles along the Waterton Lake Trail and made camp. This morning, just before 7, mom headed back to the car, but not before seeing a bull moose. The three guys set off on the Pacific Northwest Trail. We crossed customs at about 9, but before that we saw a black bear and a cub. The cub went up a tree and the mom “snort-growled” at us as we walked by. After that we went up to Brown Pass and then down to Bowman Lake.
We saw another bear across a creek and lots of moose tracks. The scenery was great, but the weather was wet. Rain and sun seemed to alternate every 30 minutes- my shoes were wet the entire day, but my have held up okay. We hiked a little over 21 miles today and will be back on the Bowman Lake Trail in the morning.
It rained a lot last night and there were slugs all over our tents and anything that we had left outside. It was seven miles to the Bowman Lake Ranger Station and the walk was very wet because of all the overgrown brush beside the trail. Next, we had a six mile road walk into Polebridge. After that we had a 15 mile road walk and we all decided we were tired of road walking so we hitched it. A girl from Missoula picked us up and after saying that she never picks up hitchhikers she said, “I’m going to be really @#!*% if you guys kill me.” After the ride we had three more road miles and then we got on Thoma Trail #15. We called it a day after finding a creek at about 4. We’ve been sleeping and eating and are thankful there are no more long road stretches for awhile. We hiked about 18 miles today and are now camped in a flat grassy area with tamarack and lodgepole all around us.
Today was a long one. It was sunny when we set off up to the Thoma Lookout Cabin and it stayed that way. After the lookout we dropped down to an old Forest Service Road before climbing back up to Tuchuck Mountain- it was a big and steep climb. We had amazing 360 degree views from up there and could see far into Canada. Then we had a 2.8 mile (as the crow flies) cross-country (no trail) adventure. Part of it was sliding down shale, part was ridge-walk, some was glicading, but a lot was in the trees and all told it took about 3 or 4 hours. Finally, when we made it to our road we walked another 3 miles to our campsite at the #77 trailhead. It was a very tough 21 miles and my body is feeling it. I was so hungry while I was eating dinner that even the deet running into my mouth tasted good. We’re finding that many of the mileages and even parts of the map are not exactly accurate- we’ll have to be very attentive hikers. We saw an elk and a mule deer up on Tuchuck Mountain and dad also found a Golden Eagle feather.
We had a very gradual 6 mile climb up tot the Wam Ridge this morning, but it was tough going because of walking in the snow and sometimes falling through. After getting to our destination we followed the ridge along the Highline Trail, which provided great views of the Whitefish Divide. Next, we tried tot find Trail #76, but we never did. We ended up sticking to the Highline Trail because we had no other choice and that turned out to be a good thing because somehow it ended up taking us where we wanted to go and possibly saving us a few miles. When we finally (snow travel is slow) found trail #88 we took it 4 miles down the side of a mountain to tour campspot. We found a real nice alpine lake there next to rocky St. Clair Peak. If it had been just a little warmer I think we would have jumped in. We had a brief afternoon thunderstorm with some rain, but other than that the weather was great. We did about 22 miles today and it’s not much further to Eureka.
We crossed a little road after about 1/4 mile and then followed a forest service boundary down to another road. From there we made a right onto Sinclair Creek Road (paved) and eventually turned onto a few other paved roads on our way into Eureka. We had nine miles to cover this morning. We’re now at the Ksanka Motel and are going to stay here tomorrow too. We’re a little bruised and battered and could use a rest day. Dad and I went to Kalispel to get an altimeter to help us with the navigation in this next section, which is supposed to be rather difficult.
Hanging out in Eureka at the Ksanka Motel. Dad left this morning to drive back to Newport and Dan and I will set out in the morning.
Dan and I left the motel at about 6 this morning and had a one mile walk into Eureka, where we picked up the PNT. We had a pleasant walk along railroad tracks and then after a couple miles got onto Highway 37 to the Koocanusa Resevoir. The bridge is only about a 1/2 mile long, but the 6 road miles leading up to the bridge weren’t fun. After the bridge we found the Webb Mountain trailhead nd took a break. When we woke up we had a 3,200 foot steep climb up to the Webb Lookout. It was overcast today, but we could see the Bitterroot Mountains and Mt Henry. After 3 more miles we had a short cross-country stretch, which turned out to be quite difficult, but thanks to some good thinking by Dan we found our way. Today we hiked 23 miles and are now camped next to Boulder Creek. A bunch of horse people just walked by on the trail (closed road) and one fo the guys asked us if we were amish (?). Setting up camp and cooking was a hassle because of the hordes of mosquitoes.
After a mile this morning we came to the Boulder Lakes Trailhead and after some uphill we made it to Gypsy Meadows. We were very wet by that time from the dew covered bushes encroaching on our trail and some light rain. Then, we started up Mt Henry, which sits at just over 7,200 feet. It has a neat lookout tower on top, but our trail took us around the Northwest slope and never to the top. Following a long stretch of downhill, we saw Turner Falls- a 40 foot waterfall. Next, was trail through some big cedars (the biggest trees we’ve seen so far) and then almost 4 miles of road walking. It got sunny in the afternoon and there’s only a few clouds int he sky right now. We did about 23 miles.
Today was almost exclusively road walking. The first 15 were on roads, of which about 5 miles were paved. Not exciting hiking by any means. We saw a lot of rabbits and deer. We finally got on trail #8 up near Garver Lookout and took it 4 miles to another road. We’re now camped alongside road #338 on the way to Northwest Peak at about 5,600 feet. Despite over 20 miles on roads we only saw two cars the whole day. Today was the first day that my feet felt sore, hopefully soaking them in the ice cold West Fork Yaak River will help them out. 27 miles today and we’ll be crossing into Idaho tomorrow.
We hiked about 3 miles to the Northwest Peak Trailhead and then started up the 2.5 mile trail. On the way we saw a black bear and then saw it again at about 7,000 feet. Up at the peak the visibility was about 15 feet and it was extremely windy. Our stretch of trail after that was cross-country so we waited at the lookout and hoped it would clear up. We started a fire in a metal can in the lookout and almost smoked ourselves out, but other than that we had a nice couple hour break. We decided to keep going at noon even though it hadn’t cleared up. Basically, after a couple hours we were very lost and soaking wet. On the ridge it was very difficult to tell where we were. We thought we found our pass, but as we found out later it was a different pass. We ended up on road #135 and took it south. Everything (tents, sleeping bags, food, etc) was entirely drenched and we were either going to try and make a fire in the rain or hitch a ride to shelter. Dan and I decided we were gong to hike until 10 pm in search of a road with some traffic or else we would try to start a fire. At 9:55 we came to a well-traveled road and flagged down the first vehicle we saw. We were dropped off at the Golden Nugget bar and are now going to attempt to sleep in an abandoned and very disgusting house. We’re burning old furniture that we’ve broken apart in an attempt to dry out our gear. We probably did about 25 miles today or maybe more- it would be hard to know for sure. Also saw a moose in the downpour.
Each of us probably slept for about 2 or 3 hours at the most last night- the rats and mice in that disgusting place were loud. After packing up our dry clothing we started to hitch to Bonners Ferry. It took 3 separate rides, but we left by 4:30 this morning and got into Bonners Ferry at about 7 pm. We’re now stayng at the Kootenai Valley Inn and are preparing for our next section.
We headed over to the Post Office at 8:30 this morning to get our box and then hitched to Copeland. A young woman and her 17 month baby girl picked us up- the baby was playing with a plastic bag when we got in but Dan kept an eye on her. The mom talked a lot and was very amusing. We were very appreciative as she went out of her way to take us to Copeland. We have a lot of road walking ahead of us because we are taking the stock (alternate) rout to avoid a lot more cross-country sections. Today we walked along the west side of the Kootenai River and are now on a road headed NW. At about 4 a storm rolled in with booming thunder that echoed all through the Purcell Mountains. After a few big booms the rain began coming down in buckets. We were both completely soaked in seconds. The downpour lasted for only 10 minutes and after another hour the sun returned. We camped and had dinner a bit early and Dan made a fire so we could bry out our gear. I’d say we did about 16 miles today and we’ll hopefully get off this paved road early tomorrow.
We got off the pavement after only two miles this morning and followed a road towards Shorty Peak. We didn’t go all the way to the summit, but instead followed a road down and to the west. We stopped to dry out our gear on a gate and took a nice rest. Both of us were tired today and didn’t seem to have much energy- I think it has a lot to do with all the roads. There’s not all that much to look at along these roads. In the afternoon at least four different cloud systems passed overhead and dumped rain on us. At about 3 we followed a jeep road that was completely overgrown. Everything was wet and so were we. it was the thickest brush we have gone through so far and it was labeled as a road on our map. Thankfully Dan led the way! Both of us would like to hang out in the upcoming Salmo-Priest Wilderness for a bit and not reach Highway 31 until the third of July, but if the rain keeps up we might end up being there on the 2nd. We saw two mule deer fawns in a short cross-country section that we did- they weren’t very good hoppers yet. We did about 20 miles today and made camp at about 5:30 in order to dry our gear again- the sun did stay out until nearly 7:30.
Finally a day awithout rain. Early this morning we had another very brushy road to follow. We walked it about 5 or 6 miles and then came to some much anticipated trail. In another 4 miles we were back on the PNT Practical Route- after 2.5 days on the stock route. We took a break at a wet ford crossing of Upper Priest River after finding a nice sandy spot, but there sure were a lot of flys. After packing up we had to follow trail #349 4,000 vertical feet up to the Little Snowy Top Lookout. This trail has not been maintained in years and it was a tough climb. We had great view at the lookout- especially south and east. We could have camped up near the lookout except we didn’t have any water so we followed trail #512 (on the Salmo Loop) a few miles down until we came to a little stream and some flat ground. We are about 1 mile from Washington and earlier today we took a gravel road across the Canadian border. I’d guess we did just over 20 miles, but the climb up #349 was a killer. We saw a bear early this morning along a road and a fawn that couldn’t have been more than a couple days old.
Last night two fat marmots would not leave me alone. I guess they were after my food because they kept running into my tent and scurrying away. We purposefully got a late start this morning and had a nice walk on trails #512 and #511 until we came out near Gypsy Meadows. Then we had a difficult time, but finally did pick up abandoned Leola Creek Road leading to the Crowell Ridge Trailhead. It was overgrown with alders and I find it hard to believe the PNT purposely follows such a lousy trail. And to top it off, it started raining and hailing while we were in the midst of all the alders. When we finally got out I was frozen to the bone. To avoid getting the hype we decided to make camp and I curled up in my sleeping bag in Dan’s tent. The sun finally came out and Dan built a fire. I was so happy to be warm again- I’ve been cold and/or wet too much already on this trip. We only covered about 10 miles today, but we’ll still make it to Metaline Falls tomorrow as it is only 14 more miles. Should be some nice hiking on the Crowell Ridge Trail in the morning.
It was a nice, sunny, and warm day today. First, we climbed about 1,200 feet up to Crowell Ridge and had great views all around. We finally saw Gypsy Peak and what I think was the Kokanee Glacier in BC. We kept on the ridge for awhile and then started heading down West Sullivan Creek Trail. It was a very enjoyable trail in amongst some big trees. We made it out to Highway 31 at about 12:30 and started our hitch home. It took four rides, but we did make it. We met a German couple at the Ione grocery store who are cycling from Edmonton to San Francisco. We’ll be at mom and dad’s house until late on the 6th and then we’ll be back on the trail. So far we’ve covered about 320 miles and will be hoping for less rain in the upcoming weeks.
We left the house at about 12:30 this afternoon and after a quick stop at the Lavender Farm we were at the Crescent Lake Trailhead at about 2:30- lots of road construction near the border. We hiked about 3 miles before we came to the Vista House at Boundary Dam. Steve, the friendly security guard, escorted us across the top of the dam. After that we had a 7 or 8 mile paved road stretch and then a turn onto a road that leads up Abercrombie Mountain. We had dinner right near an about-to-collapse house and a border patrolman stopped us to make sure we weren’t running drugs across the border. Funny thing is he remembered me from the last time I crossed into Canada at Nelway. We hiked about an hour and a half after we cooked and are now camped alongside the road at 4100 feet. We put in about 15 miles and it’s good to be back on the trail. I also how have a working waterproof jacket, a better sleeping pad, and some warmer clothes so if it rains and/or is cold I’ll be better prepared than I was in the last sections. Today was a nice day and the mosquitoes weren’t even that bad.
It was about a 3,000 foot climb up to the summit of Abercrombie this morning, but the grade was good and we found a tasty spring at about 6,000 feet. We had a nice view from up there as it was mostly clear. I saw two big mule deer bucks at the 6,500 foot mark. Coming down Abercrombie took awhile because we dropped all the way down to 2,000 feet and it was a very, very easy grade. We met a friendly guy coming up the other (West) side of Abercrombie and he had heard of the PNT- they do exist! We had a road climb after dropping so far and at the end of that we cooked near a spring. It was cold up there by abandoned Lind Ranch and fortunately it warmed up considerably after we came down the other side. We’re now camped on private property right next to a creek and put in 28 miles today. Earlier, I was attacked by a bloodthirsty grouse and got very close to two hawks that were hanging out on the trail. Also saw a bunch of turkeys, not very exciting, I know.
My tent and sleeping bag so really wet last night from all the condensation. It was seven uneventful miles into the small town of Northport this morning- all of them on road. We had a good breakfast at the Mustang Grill, picked up and packed up our resupply box, and dried our gear at “the Washboard.” We hung around until noon and then walked over the Columbia River to start the next section. Then we turned onto Sheep Creek Road and followed that all the way to Elbow Lake, which is where we are now camped. It was the hottest day we have had so far, but as luck would have it, it started to rain just a couple hours ago and is now much cooler. I’ve decided to sleep outside of a bathroom under some cover from the rain- it’s a pretty clean outhouse and this way I won’t have any condensation problems in my tent. A couple yahoos just stopped by looking for Pierre Lake, but besides them I don’t think we’ll see anybody tonight. We did 20 miles today and I have enough food with me to feed a small army.
All road walking today. The first 14 miles or so were either flat or downhill so they went pretty fast. We crossed over the Kettle River and Highway 395 just before noon. Earlier we passed next to a house with a sign that read “Blueberries, U-Pick.” Naturally, we both found the bushes loaded with berries, but they were all still green. A couple of hours ago Dan picked a bunch of mini wild strawberries and they were mighty tasty. Not a lot to write about today- we did do our first 30 miler and we’re both wiped out. We finally get back on trail first thing tomorrow morning- hope I still remember what trail looks like, it’s been awhile. We’re camped at a nice quiet waterless campground (we’re the only ones here) at a place called Deer Creek Summit, right next to road 61. It was a little chilly this morning and there was a very small amount of rain in the afternoon, but overall we had good hiking weather.
It rained last night and into the early morning. It was tough getting out of the tent and we didn’t get started until about 7:30. We were on the Kettle Crest Trail #13 all day and it was a nice trail awith a nice grade to it- very PCT like. It rained most of the day and was very foggy so we didn’t see much of anything. We hiked all day and only took one very brief break. We ended up getting to Sherman pass a little after 7 and because we were wet and cold we had a fire and tried to dry out our gear. I got my stuff kind of dry and now I’m just about tot fall asleep. We did 30 miles in a little under 12 hours- not too bad.
Another long day today. We were on trail for the first six miles and then we hit the roads. The road walking was pretty boring although it decided to stop raining. We made it to highway 21 and finally got a hitch into Republic at about 5:30. We had pizza, wings, salad, and I had a Corona and a Coke at a little pizza place and now we’re at the Northern Inn getting some rest. We’ve done about 86 miles these last 3 days and we’re a little beat up. 25 miles today and we’ll be off in the late morning. The front desk attendant just told us that a woman staying at the hotel called him and was very worried that a couple runaways were hanging out around the building.
It took awhile to get a hitch back to the trail, but we got hiking around 1. The beginning of the trail was along Sweat Creek and was a mess from cattle. We followed it to a spring and after that lost the trail. We knew we were headed to a road straight north so we just bushwhacked. We both stepped in yellow-jacket nests- Dan got one sting and go about six. Out of nothing but pure luck we found the trail again at another spring. there were trails everywhere (mostly from cattle) and none of the actual trails are signed. We searched for the trail leading away from the spring for at least an hour and somehow took the correct one. Now we’re camped next to Cougar Creek. Only did 6.5 miles today- we averaged less than 1 mile per hour.
We set off on Cougar Creek Road #100 this morning and passed a bunch of dilapidated cabins that I assume were built by miners a long time ago. We also saw the Toroda School House which was as big as Dan’s garage and was built in 1901. I was so glad to get to Bonaparte Lake for water and a lunch break, but also because it was the end of a map section. The guide book called the navigation “Easy”, but it was anything but. After I woke from my nap up we started to climb up Mt. Bonaparte, which sits at 7,257 feet. Our route nearly went to the summit, but turned Northwest just before. We did a lot of descending and are now camped along Mill Creek just before a place called the Highlands. It was a nice, hot, sunny day and if it hadn’t been gusting at Bonaparte Lake we would have gone swimming. I ate a lot of Applets and Cotlets today and wish I had bought more in Republic. We can see the Pasayten Wilderness from here and I’m ready to get out of this cow land and into some wilderness. We hiked 29 miles today.
We walked past a bunch of cross-country ski trails this morning and then got on road #4226, which we took a ll the way down to the Okanogan River at 900 feet. It was hot down there. There was a little store and a burrito stand in the town of Elisforde. After leaving town we took a long break under the bridge that crosses the Okanogan- it was too hot to hike. After we got bored of laying around, we started the 13 mile paved road walk to Loomis. This is fruit tree land and the sprinklers are always on and all the water around here is not so clean. We didn’t plan on going all the way to Loomis, but because we couldn’t find any acceptable water we decided to go for it. On the way we did go swimming in Whitestone Lake- says something about how hot it was. We got to Loomis around 9 pm and the cafe was closed, but the lady at the bar made us some sandwiches and is letting us camp in her RV park. There’s far more Mexican people here than whites and a lot of the road signs are in Spanish. About 28 miles today.
Neither Dan or I slept very well at the RV park last night due to flodd lights and people. We ate and slept today, got our resupply box, and left Loomis at about 6 in the evening. It would have been a little earlier, but I spilled my water bottle in my pack before departure. We hiked aboout 4 miles of paved road then got on gravel for the big climb out of the valley. We saw a dead rattler on the way up and are now camped on a deserty hill. We probably did about 6 or 7 miles and are now listening to nighthawks, cows, and, of course, mosquitoes as we try to fall asleep.
Finally made it to the Pasayten Wilderness today. First we had 8 miles of uphill gravel road to Cold Springs Campground. Then some hiking around on poor quality state operated trails. Then we went up and around Goodenough Peak and into the Pasayten Wilderness. It’s beautiful here- especially after going through all those roads in the Okanogan. We even saw a PNT trail crew today- 6 high schoolers and a trail boss. We’re on the Boundary Trail (#533) and will be for the next couple days, should be great hiking if the weather cooperates. It rained some this morning. We’re now camped below Teapot Dome, next to a stream. It’s extremely windy and I’m wearing all my dry clothes to stay warm. About 24 miles today.
We’ve now been on the trail exactly one month- its gone by quickly. We stayed on the Boundary Trail the whole day and it was great hiking. Cathedral Peak, Cathedral Lakes, Amphitheatre Mountain, and Bald Mountain were all very nice and most of the day we were above 7,000 feet. We also saw the old Tungsten Mine from WWI- it was pretty cool and we could look in a ways through the rocks that had been blown up to close it. Blue skies the whole day and we just now have some non-threatening clouds building up above us. We did 24 miles and are now camped next to the Ashola River at just over 5,000 feet. Ran into quite a few other hikers today- more than we’ve seen total since Glacier. I was tired today. I’ve had two bad night’s rest and will welcome some good sleep tonight. Last night was so windy neither of us slept much.