Friday 26th August
Start: Bushcamp, mile 2613.8
End: Rock Pass bushcamp, mile 2635
As I go to bed tonight I am overwhelmed by the huge day we have had. We are close to Canada and the end of our journey. We are exhausted, but exhilarated, and camping-aside I think I will miss being in the wild.
In our meadow camp this morning we woke to a perfectly pink sunrise. It warmed me and made me think that today would be a good day. I was happy to finally capture a picture of a pika. We had completed the hardest part of the climb to Harts Pass yesterday, so the initial miles were largely skimming along a ridge with views of the sun slowly hitting the mountains.
At Harts Pass Conrad and I took a wrong turn and hiked the wrong way for 10 minutes (uphill) before realising. Thanks goes out to the GPS for that mishap. This meant that we were separated from Mark, who probably thought that we had ditched him. It took us a long time to catch up with him, but the trail on that section was incredible – skirting along and over a number of passes, and a section called the Devils Backbone. We could see for miles, wide valleys below and changing foliage with the elevations.
For most of the afternoon we have been inside the Pasayten Wilderness area. Each time we went over another pass I half expected to ‘see Canada’. Will it have a giant maple leaf flag to welcome us? The hike got tougher in the afternoon due to tiredness and another late climb to camp. This one was only about 2.5 miles long from Holman Pass, but felt much steeper than yesterday. Mark has been suffering with his back, and Conrad with his toe blisters. I popped some ibuprofen to feel part of their gang – that and because my feet were cramping up.
Because of the miles we have made today and yesterday, it should be possible to finish tomorrow, half a day ahead of schedule. And more importantly with one less night in a tent! I am trying to keep cautiously optimistic though, as to achieve this will mean a near-record day.
Our (hopefully) last camp is situated near a small spring surrounded by a large open meadow. We are sandwiched by Holman Peak and Powder Mountain towering above us. I am disappointed that Dan didn’t join us here for a final campfire, instead deciding to hike on. Mark lit the fire which had a mesmerizing effect on all around. He then generously proceeded to give away his camp stove to a couple of [not entirely friendly] south-bound hikers.
It’s surreal that this would be our last night out here. I was emotional as the sky illuminated into an epic rose light show. Looking around at the expansive grandeur of nature surrounding us all I could think was: How does one come back to real life from this?
Miles to Canada: 14.7
Miles to Finish: 23.5