Eureka to Bonners Ferry, Idaho

July 10

Neither of us slept great last night as the AC was noisy and we would wake up sweaty then cold. We both prefer the tent. I had to do a walk down to the post office to pick up my resupply. It was about 1.2 miles as cars zipped by on the road. I grabbed my 12 lb box and attempted to hitch back to the hotel without any luck. By the time I made it back to the hotel, I was sweaty and my arms were sore. I spent the next hour and a half going though my box, organizing my food, packing, taking a cold shower, and watching one of the 15 tv channels. 

Paperweight, Turtle, and I took the short walk to the pizza place for the 11:00 lunch buffet. I had three helpings of salad, a few slices of pizza, and some fries. Not too bad of a deal for just $10. It was sad to say goodbye to Turtle who has been dealing with tremendous foot since the start of the hike. I truly enjoyed getting to know her and look forward to crossing paths again. Paperweight and I have been so happy to meet so many fellow thru hikers this year. We joke that we get sick of just talking to each other. A bit after noon we said goodbye to Turtle and the father and son. 

We decided to take the bike path out of town. It was a much safer option and allowed us to zone out into podcast land. I enjoyed all the quaint cabins along the walk. We dropped down from the road and under a bridge to join a rail trail. We found ourselves walking along a stream in the sand. It was very pleasant walking and a nice breeze. We ended up getting off the trail through since there were many paths. So we backtracked and joined a nicely oiled dirt road which rejoined to a dirt trail in the forest for a bit. After a quick discussion, we decided to just jump onto the paved road to make navigation easier. The trail would of joined the road shortly anyways. It was the typical paved road walk. Cars flying by, garbage tossed out of car windows resting for years along the side of the pavement, mile marker signs for me to know exactly how many minutes a mile I was doing, and the smell of the vehicles. 

We found Beacon a little ways up the road trying to get a hitch to the bridge. We continued onward and it was pleasant since there was a lot of cloud cover. The rain came quickly as we both put on our pack covers and grabbed our umbrellas. It rained on and off for the next hour or so as we stayed dry. The temperature also dropped even more making the evening miles pleasant. Our feet were sore and we knew we had to dip down from the road to get water. We walked along the guardrail then took a steep rocking route down to the water. We were sitting under a bridge along a highway filtering water and eating dinner. Four years ago I would of laughed at the thought of it. We each grabbed a bit over 3 liters for the next stretch before climbing up steeply back to the road.

We have slowly been waking closer to The bridge over Lake Koocanusa. This is the highest bridge and longest in the state of Montana. It is a beautiful bridge and even had a sidewalk for us to use. It is .4 miles long and the breeze was spectacular. I took my hair out of its braid and let it blow in the winter. I have done this on most hiking and it is such a freeing feeling. I loved this part of the road walk. We then joined a forest road climbing uphill towards our trailhead.

We finally left the road beginning the climb to Mt. Webb. Our guidebook told us where the first campsite was so we climbed uphill towards it. We found Beacon and Mermaid relaxing there. They had yogied some drinks and had saved us each a Bud Light. So after we set up our tent, we joined them as we drank a warm beer. What a day! We figured we did a little over 15 miles starting in the afternoon. I was exhausted and climbed into the tent to quickly fall asleep.

July 11

We all woke up around 2am to hear something running around the camp. I remember saying “it’s probably a deer” then falling back to sleep. In the morning, we had over 3000 feet of uphill to the top of Mt. Webb. I left last and took my time. There are a few ripe huckleberries so picking season is coming soon. The trail switch backed uphill for close to five miles as you get a better view of the large lake. I was dripping with sweat by the time I made it to the top. I peered into the windows of the lookout cabin and enjoyed the views from the porch. It was windy and I got cold quick as the sweat was still drying. We all had a nice snack break before getting back to the trail.

So many flowers are blooming! Along this path I counted 6 different types of flowers. The forest is colorful and berries are starting to ripen. We crossed a dirt road and walked a snowmobile path for a bit before stopping for water. We ate in the shade near the stream. The next part of the day we began climbing. It is a dense forest with tamaracks and spruces. The trail sent up then back down a few mountains. We calculated about 6500 feet of elevation gain today. At our next water stop, mermaid caught up to us. Beacon had grabbed a ride into town. There were lots of frogs in this water source as I counted five. The trail then had us climb straight back up followed by another steep down. We also did some log jumping as trees fall all the time on trail. 

We ended up finding a semi flat and not too overgrown campsite to set up. It was another tough day of hiking. We set up, ate dinner, and then slept the best nights sleep in a long time. 

July 12

The morning started with more uphill towards Mt. Henry. I love forest walking. We choose not to do the side trail to the top and took a ridge route options. Nice views along the way then the steep downhill. The downhill was at times on loose rocks dropping to Turner Creek. I took my time and felt some soreness in my legs this morning. When we made it down to the bottom, we sat on some rocks to filter water and eat breakfast. Iron Eagle and Epic slept in and came over to join us for breakfast. They are heading into Yaak today and we choose to skip it and hike 113 miles to Bonners Ferry, Idaho. Mermaid joined us as well as two USFS employees. The first guy was in charge of the chainsaw and were cutting down trees on our trail and other ones. We thanked them and chatted for a bit as they had a snack break with us. They said it’s nice to see people hiking this trail and they now cut down trees once a year after the snow has melted. We took a long two hour break here. Whoops!

The guys recommended we check out Turner Falls which was a short side trail. Wow! The water was falling down onto a pile of rocks almost creating two waterfalls. Gorgeous spot. The guys also recommended skipping the next PNT section to hike along the creek. The other part climbs uphill through a burn section where 6 foot trees surround you. We took the creek walk and crossed lots of nice wooden bridges. The sound of rushing water and the bright green plants was perfect. Also, the workers were ahead of us so no down trees to hop. The Montana section of this trail had been nicely maintained and better marked then I expected. Thank you to the forest service for all the work you do on this trail. 

The rest of the day was road walking for hours. We did take a late lunch along a stream as a few cars passed by us kicking up dust. The road was paved for a bit and this was the spot where we could of hitched into Yak. We wanted to save a little money and be out in the woods longer. Town is fun, but we live for the camping lifestyle. We passed lots of cute cabins and hunting properties. I noticed one for sale sign. We chatted to a man in a truck saying he was going out bird watching. It’s called “Yaak TV” to him. We slowly climbed uphill towards our next campsite.

We came to the bridge and West Fork of the Yak River where we planned to camp. We saw a lovely campsite with firewood right over the bridge, but then we saw the truck. So we debated what to do before we took off our packs and went down to the river. I filtered some water and got ready to go for a dip. I went in with my shorts and sports bra. It felt nice to rinse off and clean out all my cuts and bites on my legs. We both cleaned up as Mermaid came across the bridge. The three of us set up camp a little way from the bridge. Paperweight and I spent most of the evening looking at our maps, guidebooks, and discussing our options. Before we knew it, it was past 10 and still light out. We drifted to sleep!

July 13

Neither of us wanted to get out of the tent this morning so hiking didn’t start till 7:30. I left first since Mermaid and Paperweight still needed to grab some water. We are still following a dirt road so it is easy and quick walking. The trees allow for a mostly shady walk. Around 4 miles in, I saw a large hawk flying above me with a dead bunny or maybe a squirrel in it’s claw. I have never seen that before. I have zoned out to Podcasts most of the morning as the miles fly by. I carried out 2 1/2 liters since we are unsure if some of the tributaries are dry or running.

Mermaid and Paperweight joined me as I took a water break at a tributary. My man and I started walking out together and heard a large crashing noise. It was a tree off the road crashing to the forest floor. We walked together until we zoned out to our Podcasts. We came to the junction to the lookout tower where we took a water and snack break. We are back to a trail for 3.4 miles to the next water and lunch break. We walked together talking about life adventures. The trail went up and down slightly through a lush green forest as lumpiness were blooming. The last bit was a steep downhill on rocks. We ran into a hiker coming East who started in Northport. We asked him a few questions about water and such before parting ways. We also ran into Heather who is doing her thesis on the PNT trail. The three of us took a nice shoe off lunch break in the shade. We crossed into the 200s today meaning less then a 1,000 to go.

The next five miles continued on a forest road and was easy walking. A 3 mile per hour pace as we both listened to our own podcasts. We came to the Yaak River which is a little bit off trail. It was about 4 and the three of us decided to call it a day. We had originally planned a bigger day, but sometimes a campsite is just perfect. Our spot is on the other side of bridge along a dead end road. You can easily walk down to the water as there is even a hand rail to guide you. I thought about a dip, but decided against it after soaking up to my lower thigh. The water was cold and refreshing. So the rest of the day was spent relaxing, typing up these blogs, and listening to the birds sing and water flowing below us. 

July 14

We had planned on getting on trail early this morning, but 7:10 wasn’t a bad start. We each packed out three liters since it about 18 miles without a reliable source. The hiking started out very steep in a dense dark forest. It seems as though we were in a horror movie taking place in the woods. It was beautiful. The sun began to shine in through the trees the higher we climbed. We crossed a few bridges and nice running water. Things are reliable this time of year thanks to the snow melt. We continued pushing uphill as we came to a ridge with expansive views including a huge snowy peak out in the distance.

Next thing we knew it we were dropping down from the saddle back into the forest. Oh the PNT is full of ups and downs around every corner. Our next climb began as the trail turned more into a path. Soon we were out of the large trees and walking carefully over rocks. Rock cairns marked the way as we crossed a few patches left of snow. What a gorgeous area! We grabbed a liter each of snow melt water and made the last uphill push to the saddle which is our highpoint. The flowers are blooming as patches of snow still lingers. The marmots were screeching and bugs buzzing all about. This is my type of hiking! This is what I live for. High elevation, ridge waking, mountain views, snow, flowers, and a destination in sight. We took a nice break in the shade along the saddle snacking and drinking water. 

The downhill was marked as a bushwhack, but we were pleased to see a well traveled trail. I rubbed up against hundreds of bear grasses covering me in pollen. The worst part is when you are talking and inhale some pollen. Yuck! We cruised downhill and came across the first log book on trail where we signed in. 6 days ago 11 hikers signed in so I guess we are in between the bubbles. The “bubble” is used to describe a large grouping of hikers.

We continued onward walking many miles before taking lunch in a new state. We crossed into Idaho finding no sign and a similar trail. We gained an hour today as we crossed a time zone so we ate lunch at 2:00 instead of 3:00. The trail seemed to be much more rocky in this state and we found no PNT markers the rest of the day. It was nice hiking as the miles passed quickly. We came to a road intersection to find Beacon. He treated us to a cold beer and fresh fruit! What a treat. After Mermaid arrived, we all decided to push another 8 miles to total 24 for the day to go to the Fiest Restaurant.

So we were off moving quickly along the trail. A few spots were pretty rutted. The best part was the huckleberries and blueberries. If I wasn’t in a rush for a meal, I could of laid down and ate hundreds of berries. Our feet began to ache on the last two miles, but we made it down to Beacon and his rental car in plenty of time for dinner. 

We all had the salad bar and a meal. I would of been eating oatmeal for dinner since I’ve ate all my other favorites over the past few days. We have really put in the miles and skipped over Yaak to get in more miles. We deserved a cooked meal and a spot to rest. The owner is a trail angel and ended up giving Mermaid a key to a hotel room for free. Thank you so much!!

The four of us found ourselves in a beautiful hotel room with clean towels for each of us. It was close to 10, but we all showered and charged our devices while drinking a cold beer. Mermaid and I shared the cozy queen bed as the guys slept on their air pads. No setting up the tent or having to unpack the pack today made the 24 miles even more worthwhile. 

July 15

I did not sleep great last night as I kept waking up and looking at the alarm clock. I got up first and snuck to the bathroom avoiding steeping on the guys who were sleeping on the floor. On the way back, I realized it was getting late and we still had quite a few miles to do until town. So I got on the floor and gave my man a little cuddle. Everyone woke up and we began packing up quickly and eating a quick bite. It was a bit after 7 when Beacon dropped us off at the trailhead. It was sprinkling so on went the pack cover and out came our umbreallas. We walked the road he just drove us on before crossing the railroad tracks. We passed some land for sale, a few ranches and cabins for rent, and saw a young fawn in a field. We came to the end of a dirt road and began the climb up Mt. Bussard. 

The hiking continued uphill for a little over 7 miles on switchbacks. There were lots of ripe blueberries and huckleberries to munch on during the uphill. I felt very strong and motivated by town. The uphill trail continued on and on before joining an old road which is not traveled by ATVs and dirt bikes. At the top, we took a break waiting for Mermaid and to have a snack. I tried to dry off as well since my shirt was soaked all the way through. Even though there was lots of cloud cover it was humid. Mermaid showed up and shared fruit with us that she packed out from Beacon. What a treat to have watermelon on the top of a mountain in Idaho. 

The trail lead downhill to the highway. We traveled a trail with new wooden bridges and concrete slabs in the mucky areas. Then we found ourselves on a steep loose rock slid towards the bottom. There were parts with many rocks and then an old overgrown forest road. We passed a guy sleeping in his tent and lots of people out picking berries when we met a more traveled road. The rest of the day was a one lane dirt road past lots of people out picking. The trail dipped lower and lower into the heat. The official route cuts across Brush Lake, but the guide book says to avoid. It is a tough bushwhack. I did not even see an easy spot to attempt it along the road. I zoned out to Podcasts and walked quickly to get to town and also avoid mosquitos. Beacon was waiting for us at Highway 95 where he whisked us away from the mountains and into the town of Bonners Ferry.

We descended into town passed the old town with a new casino before entering the new town. We headed straight to the Oriental Garden for a Chinese dinner. Yum! Then a quick stop at the grocery store for beer and of course ice cream. Then we were off to the hotel where the four of us split a room. It felt wonderful to shower and clean my gear. We all chatted drinking beers and eating ice cream before bed. Tomorrow we zero.
July 16

Today was a perfect zero day. Thanks to Beacon’s rental car we barely had to do any walking. We did walk to a breakfast spot, the grocery store, and laundry mat, but none of them were more than .1 miles. We decided to get our own room for tonight and was surprised for $5 more at a cost of $64 a night with tax we could get the room attached to the hot tub. She locks the main door at 9pm and we would be the only ones allowed in past that time. Score!! Beacon drove us to the gear shop and we even scored a free hiking shirt for Paperweight in the thrift store bin. So we did all of our chores and checked into our room around 3. The four of us headed back to the other part of town for dinner at the casino. It was a delicious meal with larger portions then I expected.

The rest of the day was spent lounging in the large king sized bed and playing on the wifi. A bit after 9, we took full advantage of our hot tub while drinking a few beers and discussing our future. It is looking pretty bright with many more places to explore.

Polebridge to Eureka, MT

July 5

Polebridge was a tough town to leave. We woke up early and packed up our life. We had a quick breakfast and said goodbye to Oliver, the hostel owner. We began the road walk out of town. I’m thankful the roads are not paved yet. We walked the gravel road out of town as it is still part of the PNT. Lots of cars went zooming by and one guy yelled out “enjoy your hike!” We turned to our right seeing our second PNT marker and up on Haystack Creek also a dirt road.

We both zoned out to our podcasts on the road making the miles fly by quickly. We passed a creek and came out with 100s of mosquitos surrounding us. Thanks to my friend Amanda for dropping off my bug spray it saved my life. We took a quick snack break to eat some huckleberry bread from town.

Then more road walking! We were slowly climbing higher and higher. We came to the junction where the road ends at a trailhead. It was nice to be on a trail again even if it was a former road. The grasses are high and flowers are everywhere. We walked together and chatted. It was a nice stroll that turned into a ridge walk with lovely views of new places. We chatted with Peter and Charlie for a bit before we parted ways for the day. We continued uphill as they camped at a nearby lake that we later learned was beautiful. We found Turtle set up past a water source. We took a long break here filtering, chatting and relaxing as Mermaid joined us then Bear Claw and Iceberg. We walked a little less then a mile crossing one large patch of snow before Mermaid, Paperweight, and I called it. We camped near the Jack Link trailhead parking lot. We had a view of a sessional lake. It was a peaceful site and no cars would be driving up there due to the large snow bank on the road. Polebridge was fun, but it’s nice to be back on trail.

July 6

We joined back to a trail and began an uphill climb. Quickly, we were traversing patches of snow. I only managed to sink into one spot up to my knee. Since the CDT I am much faster and confident on the snow. It was fun climbing uphill along trail and snow. We slowly made up way up to a ridge. We could see for miles including the next climb waiting ahead of us. I love ridge walking. It is challenging, but the views make it worthwhile. We took our first break at the top of the ridge with 360 views into Montana and Canada. We could see Turtle ahead of us climbing the next hill. It was a pleasant break.

The rest of the day continued with steep downs then another uphill to the next mountain top. It was a calf burner for sure and we were happy to already have trail legs thanks to the AZT. I was leading at one point following footprints in the snow when we realized the trail was faint. We followed a game trail for a bit climbing uphill before realizing we were off trail. We consulted our maps as the three of us wandered around a mountain we never had to climb. We found our way back to the trail in about 45 minutes. This time I noticed an arrow before the snow patch ended leading to the left. We simply missed the turn. Oh well. We climbed back up before taking a break at a junction.

I had underestimated my amount of water for the day. I knew it was a long stretch, but didn’t account for the amount of sweat this type of hiking creatures. I left them first in search of water finding only a huge bear print and puddles of water near snow banks. I ended up scooping up a liter of water using my tent netting piece to filter out the big chunks before filtering with my Sawyer. These type of miles were fairly slow going. Later on we came to a small running stream thanks to the melting snow where I drank 2 more liters and packed some out. All day we had wonderful views, patches of snow to walk on, wild flowers blooming all around, and the strong smell of a pine forest.

The last climb of the day was towards Locke Mountain. I was dripping in sweat and fairly exhausted. We made it to the turn deciding we didn’t want to do the extra .2 to the summit which I regretted later. The next part of the trail was down down down to the river. My knees felt it and I took the lead moving fast downhill. There were a few fallen trees to jump over along the way. We ran into Bear Claw and Iceburg at the first running water source then we moved on to the bigger creek.

We found Turtle near the crossing of Blue Sky Creek. I forded it with my shoes on and the snow melt water was chilly. We had planned to hike another 5 miles, but decided to call it a day since we were all exhausted. Peter and Charlie, the father and son team, two fast ultralight guys joined the four of us. It was a nice evening of conversation before I retired early to the tent to continue reading my book. Another lovely day on the Pacific Northwest Trail.

July 7

The first five miles to the dirt road was quick and slight downhill on an old mining road. The trees and bushes have began to overtake the road, but there is still enough room for one person to brush through the plants. It was a pleasant morning walk. Everyone took a break at the next bridge and water source. We got to know Bear Claw and Iceburg a bit more. 

The next few miles were on the gravel forest road before turning off it to the left back to an old road that is also overgrown. We took another break at the bridge to rehydrate and relax while taking with Turtle. The next bit of hiking led us uphill towards Foundation Lake. The was a beautiful spot and Paperweight went for a dip as I choose to only rinse off my legs. Turtle, Charlie, and Peter choose to camp here tonight as the rest of us continued. The trail climbs steeply up towards Mt Wam. I mean steep as my calves burned I was reminded of the AT climb. This time Paperweight, Mermaid, and I did more climbing to the very top to check out the lookout tower. A husband and wife were there and they booked the tower back in July. In the summer, you can rent out many of these lookout towers for a small fee. They told us we could stay, but we just wanted to check it out. It had seen better days, but was a unique building. The views made it a magical place along with the flowers near the top. We said farewell and climbed back down from the Wam Lookout as the clouds looked a bit threatening and a few roars of thunder were heard. 

The afternoon miles ended up being much more difficult then we expected. We encountered large patches of snow that really slowed us down. My feet were also in a lot of pain as blisters were forming near my heels. I moaned a lot and moved carefully and slowly along the trail. We took a dinner break since we were getting exhausted. As soon as we sat down, it began to downpour. It did this on and off for the next thirty minutes. We hid under our umbrellas and ate dinner. I love my umbrella.
The break did not help my ankles, but made it worse. I moaned a lot and wanted to just set up camp, but also wanted to be closer to town for tomorrow. It took us an hour to do 1.5 miles so the map said. We came to the next stream which was flooded, still had snow piles on it, and remnants of an avalanche from this winter. So my feet got wet one last time as we claimed a spot near the bank along with Bear Claw, Iceburg, and Mermaid. We had hiked almost a 20 mile day through tough terrain after a difficult day the day before. We camped at an unnamed lake at the bottom of a rock face. We watched mountain goats walking gracefully along the rocks. 

The PNT is already proving to be a difficult trail in many ways, but that is why I love it already. I like not knowing elevation profiles from an app and simply having to climb what is ahead of me. It is strange to not have a water report like my last three trails, but I’m becoming better at reading maps. I don’t mind the forest roads that connect back to trails possibly only traveled by thru hikers. Montana is gorgeous and it’s great exploring it by foot for the second time on a National Scenic Trail. 

July 8
We woke up before 6 o’clock this morning to get our miles in. The end of the day yesterday was really tough and we assumed this morning would be the same. We started hiking around 630 and encountered many patches of snow. I was still exhausted from the day before and it took me a while to warm up. I managed to fall twice in the snow and once on a rock. I think I finally learned how to fall down gracefully. We crossed many flooded streams along the way. We climbed a bit above 7300 feet. We were rewarded with huge views of the Canadian mountains.

This section of trail is beautiful. We climbed up to the highpoint to find marmot scurrying around on the rocks. Then it was a quick dip down back to the wildflowers and the tall grasses. We didn’t stay down for long as we climbed up to the next saddle. We love the Kootani National Forest and would love to explore more of this area. We began climbing down hill over rocks and roots and a few over flooded streams. I haven’t had dry shoes in days. We passed an old mining operation and then joined the old mine road. We had really pushed the morning miles.

We turned a corner and saw Beacon sitting in the shade. He had hiked up to meet us and we caught up with him for a little bit. Then we all walked about a half mile together to the clear-cut that separates Canada and United States. We decided not to cross into Canada so we didn’t have to deal with border control. The trail took long switchbacks down the mountain often nearing the border again. It was a gradual descent. We took a half an hour water break at a steam resting our feet. Then it was a mad dash towards town. We hit the gravel road and began more downhill into the heat reaching the 90s in town today. 

A truck stopped to chat with us. It was a man in his late 70s who then told us he was a player for the Yankees. He gave us his baseball card and even though I’m a diehard Red Sox I will cherish his gift. We busted the miles listening to Podcasts again. The lower we got the less big trees to give us shade. I haven’t sweat this much in a while. Looking ahead I only saw one more patch of trees so we took one final break.

After our short break, I looked back and saw him talking to someone in a car. The next time I looked back he no longer had his pack on. Before I knew it the car was pulling up to me and Mermaid and Beacon were inside. She insisted they take my pack for the last 4 or 5 miles of paved road walk into town. It actually felt very nice to slack pack this section. It was in the 90s but there was a slight breeze every once in a while to make it bearable. We walked past farm land and some huge cows as we looked back at the mountains we came down from. The last 3 miles were excruciating for me. My feet were aching and I was so thirsty for some cold water.

The last 2.2 was on the main highway as cars were flying by at a high-speed. I considered hitching, but I sucked it up and made it to the hotel. Beacon welcomed us into the hotel and bought us a soda. We will be camping in the back of the RV park tonight but he insisted we take a break in his room. We both took a nice shower, lay down in bed, and rehydrated in a cool air-conditioned room. My feet were aching and looked pretty nasty. We managed our way down to the RV park where we set up our tent for $20. We didn’t have the energy to walk far so we crossed the road to the restaurant/casino. I had a huge chicken salad that hit the spot and way too many glasses of water. After dinner, we hung out in Turtle’s room for a bit. We hiked about 22 miles today and our feet feel the pain. Around 930, we started our laundry and hung out at the RV park. Around 1030, we wandered back to our tent and called it a night. We could hear the sound of the highway and the full moon lit up our tent, but we both crashed quickly. 

July 9

We choose to take a zero day in Eureka! It got very hot this morning as we are laying inside of her tent. A few minutes before 8 o’clock we decided to start packing up. I had taken down the rain fly and put a few things outside of the tent when suddenly the sprinklers went off. We were in a rush to move all of our stuff away from the sprinklers as we got a little wet in the process. The Internet in of the tent was completely drenched, but I guess it needed a wash. We spent the next hour or so laying in the grass letting all of our things dry out. About 15 minutes later, I was laughing about our situation.

We hung out for a bit by the bathrooms and laundry area organizing our maps and doing some town chores. Around 10 o’clock we were able to check into our room. Turtle joined us for an 11 o’clock lunch that actually turned into a brunch. I had a delicious omelette and enjoy their company when we saw Peter and Charlie coming in too. It’s great having so many hikers around there’s always someone to talk to and share stories about our hike. They told us they saw lots of mountain lion tracks which we hadn’t seen. That means it must’ve been behind us.

We made a quick run down to the grocery store to stock up on a few essentials for a day off including a six pack of beer, chips, and a few other treats. We spent most of the afternoon laying in bed watching TV uploading the blog and downloading pictures. It is in the 90s outside so we’re not planning to go out again. Okay except for dinner which was fun with 6 other thru hikers. We ended up having a party back in Turtle’s room as we hung out with two other thru hikers. We heard the rest of the hikers were at the other bar so 9 of marched in that direction. We ended up finding them in a casino, bar, and bowling alley. Enjoy the group photo. Iron Eagle, Bear Claw, Paperweight and I played one game of bowling while downing a few draft beers. I love days like this and the community of thru hikers. So many like minded individuals living a wild life together. Paperweight and I wandered back to our room where we ate our left overs then passed out.

Glacier to Polebridge on the PNT

June 30-Amanda, Ava, and Aaron drove us all the way from Columbia Falls to Chief Mountain Trailhead. She took the Going to the Sun road which just opened three days ago. I rode in the back of the truck between the two kids enjoying the views. We are so fortunate that Amanda wanted to drive us to the trailhead. We really appreciate her kindness and I feel it is the start of wonderful trail magic on the PNT. It took about 2 1/2 hours to get to the trailhead where we took our time getting ready and playing with the kids. 

A bit before 11 we embarked on our thru hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail. The first six miles were the final six miles of our CDT hike last year. The only difference is the season making the trail full of green and blooming flowers. We also crossed many streams on the footbridges where last year they were all dry. It was an easy start to the hike with mostly downhill as we slowly neared the mountains and the Belly River. We made it to the junction where we would begin hiking new sections in Glacier. We came to a suspension bridge and took an afternoon snack break listening to the water and songs of the birds. We must still have our trail legs since we can still walk 6.5 miles without a break.

I am back to my happy place again. Surrounded by mountains with snowy peaks and glaciers, a large variety of wild flowers, the sound of rushing water, and lush green grasses all around. I also saw two marmots playing in the grass and letting out their squeals. We both are excited for this hike and instead of exclaiming “to Canada!” as we did on the CDT. We can say “to the Ocean!” What a concept a trail that starts in Glacier and ending on the Pacific Ocean. Just one of the many reasons I wanted to hike this trail.

We had to cross the suspension bridge one at a time as I swayed about making it across quickly. We came to the junction of Gros Ventre Falls where three hikes offered to watch our packs so we could check out the waterfall. We later found out they are hiking the PNT as well. The waterfall was spectacular being deep blue from the glaciers and snow melt. 
We passed a variety of flowers that I could not identify, but we learned about bear grass. We took a water break near a stream enjoying our first filtered bottle of the trip. So much better then tap or bottle water! The three hikers passed us again and we realized we had met the woman for sure. In the Wind River Range, we crossed paths with a male and female thru hiker who had flip flopped. We chatted to her for a few minutes and it was the same woman, Mermaid. She is also hiking with Beacon again this year and Turtle has joined them as for ell on her first thru hike. Yes! We have already met three thru hikers on day one.
We passed by gorgeous blue lakes and the first one is named Cosley Lake. We came to Glenns Lake where we would be camping tonight. We walked along it for a bit before coming to the Glenn Lake Head campsite. In Glacier National Park, the campsites are set up in a specific way. There is a food prep and eating area, a bear hang, a privy spot, and a few campsites. We hung out at the food area as required. A deer came close to us and watched us for a while. Mermaid, Beacon, and Turtle joined us and chatted for a while. They are camping .5 miles father up the trail from us.
The mosquitos were pretty nasty during the day and they got very bad in the evening. We retreated to our tent that looked out at the lake and the huge mountains ahead of us. It is a beautiful spot! As I said in my last blog, I was unsure if I wanted to do another thru hike. My smile and spirit were high today and I couldn’t be happier. I’m not a desert girl, but rather a mountain woman! I live for the flowing water, lush green grasses and flowers, and mountain views. This is where I am meant to be. I am eager to explore this trail, but recognize how quickly time will go by. I will cherish every moment and continue to dream of future adventures and life goals. We fell asleep back in our two person tent for the first time in 5 weeks full of happiness.
July 1
The first time I woke up a deer was licking our tent. I first asked Paperweight if he was making a noise before I yelled at the deer to get away. We drifted back to sleep until 6 when he kindly woke me up and we got moving. We meet two fellows who arrived late last night and chatted during breakfast. A few hundred yards from our tent site I glanced to the water and saw something. It looked like a brown log floating, but suddenly it moved. A large moose head emerged from the lake as he came up for fresh air. The water pour off his antlers as he gazed at us before dipping back under to continue his breakfast. It was a magical sight to see and took my breath away. What a special way to start the day. 

We found ourselves attached by mosquitos and thrashing through overgrown plants. I decided on only hiker shorts and long legged underwear so it looks like my legs will be torn up as usual. The trail began a gradual climb up to the first pass named Stoney Indian Pass. 
We entered the land of waterfalls! We looked up towards our pass seeing patches of snows and multiple waterfalls. Everything I love about hiking can be summed up in this pass. We climbed gradually uphill towards the pass over water patches. We came to the first bridge that was a board across the water and I quickly walked across. We caught up to the other three hikers and moved ahead of them. We came to the next water crossing that did not have a log so we forded the cold glacier water. We then hit the patches of snow. Thanks to the San Juans and CDT I felt confident moving quickly over the snow. A few spots were over a stream, but we did not fall in luckily. It was fun hiking!
We came to the top of pass which rewarded us with a new view of what laid ahead. We considered taking a break, but we wanted to get done with the snow travel. The downhill was a bit more iffy as we ended up on a cliff having to backtrack. It was after 11 so the snow was getting soft. We skipped switchbacks since they were covered in snow and made our way down. A few more snowy patches over streams were easy to pass. We came down to the lake where it is so full that it covered part of the trail. Another water filled with snow melt water felt nice on the toes. There was one last sketchy pass and I was worried about falling into the lake. But we survived the pass so we took a long break staring back at the pass while drying out our feet.
The rest of the day was a breeze besides the pesky mosquitos and high weeds. We were only able to take one break at a stream due to a nice breeze. We pushed on to the Goat Haunt Shelters which was magical. The border patrol agent ran out asking where we came out. She told us to continue down the paved path to the shelters. We walked .25 miles along Waterton Lake which is spectacular. We found the shelters which are concert with three walls. It was a perfect place and it is also a spot where a boat arrives from Canada every few hours to the International Peace Park. 
We hung up our food then set up our semi freestanding tent on the concrete with large rocks. We made our way down to the sitting area and a man came running up to exclaiming “Sass.” It was One of Us a hiker that I met on the PCT. Today is the first day of his CDT thru hike. So it was a wonderful evening of sharing stories. We also met a father and son who will be in 10th grade this year also thru hiking this year. It was a lovely night of conversation with wonderful people. We did not go to bed until close to 10 even though it was still light out. Day two complete and I couldn’t be happier.
July 2
We were the last ones to wake up this morning. So I think I’ve done a great job getting Paperweight to sleep in. I got to use a flush toilet, charge my phone, and enjoy breakfast staring at Waterton Lake. One of Us enjoyed breakfast with us and more great conversation until we parted ways. 
We got back to trail a little later then we had planned, but it was a nice warmup. We walked through more tall brush and over another long suspension bridge. Everything is blooming and the scent of the forest is intense. It was a nice stroll as we neared the start of the climb to Brown Pass.
On the way uphill, we had to do some quick foot steps in loose mud due to a huge snow bank. If you slip, you fall into the snow melt lake. As we were ascending the switchbacks I noticed something large and brown way out in the distance. It moved slowly as we decided it was a bear, but so far away it was hard to tell. The climbing was gradual and before we knew it we reached Brown Pass. There was a small pile of snow at the top meaning just 5 quick steps over it. The view was nice, but yesterday’s was much better.
We took a quick break, but the downhill was steep and slow going. I walked across one of the fast flowing streams, but he just walked across it balancing on a dead log. We were both successful. The switchbacks were quick as we dipped lower and lower into the brush. Water is raging and waterfalls are all around. We took a break at a stream as the mosquitos harassed us. Then we were off to our campsite for the night.
We made it to the Bowman Lake Head campsite to find Mermaid and Turtle setting up. We all shared a spot tonight and Beacon joined us later on. I loved soaking my feet in the lake. I still feel strong with no aches yet. We enjoyed dinner at the designated cooking area with many other campers. It was another wonderful evening. We did not put on our rainfly so we were able to sleep under the stars. I love cuddling up next to my man while reading a book in the wild. I’m back to my happy place! 
July 3
I woke up at 5:30 as the sky was already light and Paperweight was snoring softly next to me. I drifted back to sleep until 6:30 when we both staggered out of the tent and quickly packed up before heading to the food prep area. Turtle and Beacon were headed out, but Mermaid and another hiker out for the weekend joined us for breakfast. We began hiking a bit before 8.
We have a little under 15 miles to the first trail town of Polebridge. The first half of the day was a nice walk along Bowman Lake. There were a few uphills and a couple puddles to jump over. We chatted most of the way enjoying mountain views and the songs of the birds. We did not take more then a quick water break. We came to the campground where we took almost an hour break looking at Bowman Lake. It was pleasant and peaceful. 
We began the second half of the day which was a gravel road towards the town of Polebridge. Cars came zipping by as dirt blew in our faces. We both zoned out to Podcasts again only taking a water break. We crossed out of Glacier National Park saying goodbye to the park for a few months. We continued walking over three miles an hour motivated by town. We made it there a bit after 1 and still feeling strong.
We picked up a soda, a bear claw, and got a free pastry for hiking in. Delicious! We then made it into the hostel which is magical. It is a gorgeous log home and the five of us are sharing the “family room.” We went back downtown to drink a beer and pick up our box. We spent most of the afternoon showering and lounging in the living room on couches and rocking chairs.
My friend Amanda, her husband Adam, and their two children Ava and Aaron drove in to Polebridge from Columbia Falls to treat us with dinner. Adam grilled up some burgers for us as I played with the kids. We enjoyed delicious burgers, macaroni salad, cold beer, and sharing stories. So grateful for their kindness! Life is wonderful! We wandered back to the hostel played a quick game of Skipbo then retreated to our comfy bed. 
July 4
We woke up to a strange sound thinking it was a mouse in our food. It was the hostel owner’s cat, Oliver, and he was playing with my backpack’s straps. So I spent half an hour giving him some loving! Mermaid, Beacon, Paperweight, and I walked the .2 miles to the Mercantile for breakfast. I savored a cold Coca Cola, a bacon, hash browns, egg burrito, a bag of chips, and their famous bear claw! The four of us spent a long time chatting and waiting for the 4th of July celebrations to begin. 

The Fourth of July in Polebridge is a big deal. Only about 40 residents live in this town year round, but the summers are busy. It is a gateway into Glacier National Park and a small town still unpaved with just a Mercantile and a restaurant/saloon. They had a fun parade full of laughter. I really enjoyed myself and the creativity of the floats and outfits. A plane flew overhead as well during the parade and the best part is the parade comes back so you can watch it twice.
We then returned to the hostel. I counted 17 PNT hikers at the hostel tonight and am surprised at such a large number this year. It is wonderful to meet new people as the last few trails we only saw a few other thru hikers. Later in the evening a group of us ate dinner at the Saloon before the last walk back to the hostel. Mermaid, Paperweight and I sat by the North Fork River and saw an otter swimming upstream. Then we camped out in the front yard for the night. Another 4th of July spent in town and this is one I’ll never forget.

Exploring National Parks and van life

The past month has been spent exploring our National Parks. I have seen so many beautiful, unique, and historical sites in such a short stretch of time. We spent many days driving around national parks taking in the scenic overlooks then doing a few miles. On some days we choose just to hike doing 8-14 a day with a daypack. It was an easy life as we went back to our van with a mattress and other camping luxuries.
Van life still is not as fine tuned as my hiking lifestyle. I loose things all the time in the van. There is never a good place to put a dirty dish pot and we always have too much trash. It is easy to fill up gallons of water at the parks then filtering. We also had the task of finding a campsite each night. Some nights the site would be clear and the evening was easy. Other times you drive farther and farther down a road to find no campsites. 

We could lounge in zero gravity chairs and drink cold beers in the afternoon. Then when the bugs got bad it was inside the van to play cards, read, or play on the phone. I have loved the freedom of having a car again. But the long lines at the parks, expensive gas prices, dozens of people on some of the hikes, and constant uncertainty of where you will be sleeping each night had us both craving a thru hike. But van life is a special and rewarding way to live. The only item we bought to live this lifestyle was a folding metal frame. We saved $100s of dollars on hotels while also spending a lot of gas. Thru hiking will be nicer to the budget. 

Soon we will be beginning the Pacific Northwest Trail. Hiking from Glacier National Park to the Pacific Ocean for 1,200 miles. I am eager to be back in the mountains for days on end. I am thrilled to hike in Washington state again! I loved it in 2015 on the PCT and doubt my opinion of it can change for the worse. I love the idea of walking along the Ocean for 40 plus miles. This trail is going to be difficult going East to West traversing many mountain ranges. It will take 10 or so weeks to complete. I have personal goals as always for each hike and look forward to new revelations. Mostly, I am eager for new views, exploring small towns, and meeting others that share the join. Happy Trails!

I will post National Park reviews about our hikes this Fall and Winter. Here is a sneak peek of some of our best photos.


To Utah! AZT complete!

May 20-

It was a chilly night and morning making me want to stay in my sleeping bag all day. Before 6, we were packing up and making our way out of the campground. We had breakfast and charged our things at the laundry/ shower area. It was chilly in the shade, but the bathrooms were warm. We began the .7 walk out of the campground back to the trailhead where we finished our climb up from the Canyon floor yesterday.
My right calf was so tight and tender that the downhill was so painful. I took a few Advil and pushed on. We entered a part of the trail in Grand Canyon National Park that no ones hikes. There were lots of fallen trees and obstacles to jump. As I was cursing, I saw him sitting on the road that runs parallel to the trail. We had a snack break together deciding to walk the road which still had many down trees, but less than the trail.

As we were putting on our packs, a thru hiker was walking down the road. Elinore hiked with us the rest of the day and shared wonderful stories of her life and adventures. She is a fellow badass woman hiker with over 15,000 miles of hiking after this trip and she even paddled the Mississippi River last year and winter hiked the AT. It was so nice to meet her and share stories. I look forward to staying in touch. She has a plane ticket home so we walked more then we planned to stay with her.

We held our first horned toad today. She also taught us some information about the various trees. It was nice having a new hiker to get to know. We all climbed a fire tower looking back at the North Rim. We hiked part of the East Rim which looked back on the canyons. This is a beautiful section of trail as you go from dense forest to a viewpoint. Most of the day we were on old roads so we could all walk alongside each other and chat. We found a wildlife tank with many friendly deer. We walked a few more miles totaling 24.1 trail miles for the day. Elinore and I talked until 10pm from our tents to each other as Paperweight snored.

May 21

Elinore was heading out as we were just beginning to pack up. We were both sore from the long day yesterday and the past few days. We finally got moving a bit before 8. We had a few little ups and down throughout the day, but nothing more then 400 foot climb. We entered a huge burn section for many miles. We got more water from a wildlife tank which was essential. There are lots of deer in Northern Arizona. We both zoned out to Podcasts for most of the day. 

We ran into two Hayduke thru hikers going the opposite direction named Veggie and Karma. I would of loved to talk to them longer, but we each had to keep moving. We took a lunch break at a muddy cow pond that was difficult to scoop from. I had lots of little bugs floating in my bottle. Luckily, the Sawyer filtered them all out and I also used a piece of tent repair netting to remove more debris. 

We were both were exhausted today, but still managed to hike 21 miles. We entered cow land and searched for a campsite finding one alongside the old road. We cooked a warm meal then relaxed in our tents for a while trying to keep our eyes open. We fell asleep 31.6 miles from the Utah border!

May 22

We were 4.7 miles from Jacob Inn which was our breakfast destination. We were on trail much earlier then yesterday since we were motivated by breakfast. It was still chilly since we were above 8,000 feet. We walked along a dirt road and few times along a trail. It was a beautiful area of large ponderosa trees. We made it to the trailhead and up to Highway 89. We began walking and I started to pout when I realized it was uphill and 2.5 miles not 2 away. Lots of cars passed us, but after .7 miles two women and their dog in a camper van stopped for us. Thank you Miren and Aimee for the ride.They were on their way to the North Rim and even knew what a “Triple Crowner” is.

So a bit before 9 we were seating and ready to order breakfast. Tough morning! I’m currently lounging in a leather chair typing this as many tourists wander around. I guess I’m a tourist too! We got a ride back to the trail from an AT thru hiker and his lady who was happy to give back. We may have convinced them to hike the AZT. After the highway crossing, there was a section of standing dead trees. We split up with a plan to meet at one of the dirt road crossing.

We reached out to the AZTA (Arizona Trail Association) before we started our thru hike and offered to help anyway we could. They sent us a list of GPS coordinates that may be a valuable water source. Today we were on a mission to check out four of them. Our adventure took off down a dirt road that hasn’t been traveled in a while to a huge tank with dripping cold water. We investigated a strange umbrella shaped catching system that had water, but not the best quality. The third was through a fence with two large tanks holding clear water. But my favorite was the last water source. We were both pretty exhausted so I went by myself. I bushwhacked a bit in the sagebrush until I found a well worn old cow trail. I came to a deep clear cement tank full of water. This source will help split up a long water carry for hikers. If you have enjoyed reading my blog and would like to donate to a cause close to me consider a tax deductible donation at http://www.aztrail.org/donate.html. I am grateful for this organization and all of the others that maintain, build, and support hikers. 

Our day was full of delicious food, walking, and searching for water sources. We are back in the desert surrounded by cactus and sagebrush for our last night on the Arizona Trail. We ate quickly and lounged in our tent which will be packed up for a few weeks as we transition to van life. This has been quite the trail and a tough adventure for sure. I have had ups and downs emotionally and physically, but as always have stuck with it. Our relationship has grown stronger and we have shared memories that will last a lifetime. 

May 23

We woke up bright and early ready to complete our thru hike of the Arizona Trail. We had 11 trail miles to the Utah Border. This is the first time I have only hiked thru one state. This is the first time I’ve considered quitting multiple times within the first few weeks. I am not meant for the heat and high 80s and 90s really slow me down. If it wasn’t for my loving partner I would of thought of bailing to the mountains.

The Arizona Trail is diverse, beautiful, and full of wildlife. It is also a challenging trail both mentally and physically. The lack of flowing water sources means lots of cow troughs especially early on. The trail is also fairly new so many people in town are unaware of the trail, but the AZTA has worked very hard to inform the trail communities. I was hoping to meet lots of new hikers, but we started later then most other thru hikers. It would of been a lonely trail without Paperweight. I enjoyed our stays in town especially cold showers and AC.

I fell in love with Saguaro National Park and the Grand Canyon!! It is a pleasure to walk through the two national parks. I would like to explore them both some more in the future. I do love the desert beauty especially in the morning and evenings as the birds are singing. The blooming flowers and variety of grasses brought great color to the desert reminding me how alive the desert really is.
I do not love the heat! I realized after more reflection that my heart will always be in the mountains. I struggled mentally and physically this year with thoughts that rarely cross my mind. I also had more foot pain and aches then my other much longer hikes. I debated many hours if thru hiking is still a passion of mine or if I have completed all the trails. I realized I no longer need to prove to myself that I am capable of a long hike as that fact is certain. It comes down to hiking trails that speak to my soul. I value the AZT for the valuable lessons it taught me, but I am not considering a desert hike again for many years. (My boyfriend wants to hike the Hayduke Trail next year… he might be on his own). 

The last few miles were beautiful as I was in awe of the rock formations ahead of me. Hello, Utah! The trail drops downhill for miles getting closer and closer to Utah. My smile was large and we discussed our favorite towns, parts, and what was unexpected as we always do at an end of a hike. It was a pleasant drop to the heat and desert floor. We moved over 3 miles an hour and suddenly we reached a picnic table with a few beers. We each picked one up and walked towards the end of the trail. We made it! 809 miles complete in a little under two months. Nothing compares to that feeling of completing your first thru hike, but this one felt great. I survived my own self doubt, the heat, the snakes and scorpions, and managed not to have any serious injuries. I drank my Yuengling Lager beer knowing our trip was not quite over.
After leaving the Stateline Campground, we began a short mile walk towards the Wire Pass Trailhead. A car stopped asking what we were doing and apologized for having too much stuff in their vehicle. By the time we made it to the next parking lot, we only had a minute to check out the information at the lot before we were offered a ride. Two gentleman I’m assuming father and son offered us a ride in the back of their pickup truck along the bumpy road to the highway. I’d guess the father was in his late 80s. The view was spectacular as we bounced along staring up at the rock formations. Our driver passed a few slow cars and we slid along in the back. This was my first ride in the back of a truck on this trip and it couldn’t of been on a better section. He dropped us off and said he hoped it wasn’t too bumpy as he apologized that he wasn’t heading into Page.

We walked up to Highway 89 that would lead into Page where our van has been stored for the past two months. It only took a few cars before one stopped. A man and woman vacationing from Canada scooped us up and drove us into town. They live near the Arctic Circle where it was in the negatives when they left home. She is originally from Afghanistan and this is her first time exploring Utah. They were both wonderful and a perfect ride to finish our trip. They dropped us right off at the locked gate that would lead to our stored van. We made it! After a huge Chinese buffet, we will be living van life for the next few weeks before heading to Glacier National Park to begin a thru hike of the Pacific Northwest Trail. 

The Grand Canyon

May 17-We were 4.5 miles to the junction of Mather Campground this morning. We set an alarm for the first time in a while and got moving before 6am into the Grand Canyon National Park. The trail is a bike trail meaning paved road and quick walking. Right before we got to the campground we encountered a herd of elk. There were at least eight of them and they had little care about us hikers or cars that passed by. We waited for the campground to open and reserved a night at the hike in/ bike in site. The car part of the campground was already full for the day. We set up our tent quickly and put most of our things inside of it so we would just have a day pack.

With our day packs on we headed down to the shuttle pick up point. We made our plans for the Grand Canyon back in Flagstaff. This is my first visit to this national park. I have been looking forward to this day for many years long before I began thru hiking. I never envisioned my first visit would be after walking from the Mexican border into the park. But this has been a recurring theme the past three years for me! We took the shuttle first to the backcountry office to get a permit to camp in the canyon. The rangers were very accommodating allowing us to camp at the stock site since the sites are booked way in advance this time of the year. With our morning chores done and it not yet 9 we took the shuttle to Hermits Rest.

The weather forecast had an afternoon rain and thunderstorm possible so we were on a mission. We could of taken the shuttle to visit all of the locations along the western side of the park getting off at each stop to enjoy the view. We decided it would be more enjoyable to walk along the rim for a few miles before riding the bus to the stops that are farther spread out. This allowed us to be in between the bus loads of people and have a few viewpoints to ourselves.

The views certainly did not disappoint. I was in awe and couldn’t take my eyes away from the Grand Canyon. The colors, rock formations, the crazy switchbacked trails, the birds flying about, the Colorado River down below us, and the size of the Canyon had me mesmerized. We walked along the rim for about 3.5 miles with our days packs so I felt like I was floating. We then rode along the shuttle to the last few stops getting off each time. It was a fun way to see the Western part of the South Rim.

We took the shuttle back to our starting point and walked towards the dining hall for lunch. We sat inside at a table near the outlets to charge our devices and enjoyed a warm meal. I always enjoy doing a little people watching in town and at National Parks it is even more entertaining. We relaxed here for about an hour before filling up on water to venture back to the rim.

We began hiking eastbound on the rim trail from where we got off the shuttle. The sky was dark, but the weather would hold out for a bit longer. It was wonderful to have this time to walk together along the paved trail. We stopped at a visitor center, the historic Hopi House, and stopped to read all the signs along the way. Lots of people were rushing about some feeding chipmunks sour patch kids, kids and adults climbing off the side of the rim onto rocks, and many unhappy kids being dragged along the rim trail. We were content with light packs and views. We could see the Kaibab Trail as we headed father East as I got more excited to hike down to the bottom tomorrow. 

The farther from the center of the park the less people were on the trail. We walked until the sky looked gloomy and waited for a shuttle to pick us up. Right before the shuttle pulled in it began to rain and we quickly jumped on. We would come back to this exact spot in the morning and walk a mile more along the rim trail to the South Kaibab Trailhead to continue on the Arizona Trail. The actual trail does not come to the rim until that point. We hiked many more miles then the AZT and I couldn’t of missed this section. So we made our own route that connected our footsteps and walked most of the Rim Trail on our town day!

We had to get off at an earlier stop then the campground so our footsteps would connect. We stopped by the store to charge our phones and eat a pizza for dinner. Not a tough day, but we had put in over 12 miles. We spent a while here before walking the last bit to the campground. He called his mom and I retreated to lounge in the tent. As I was relaxing, the storm of the day finally rolled in. It was an intense thunder storm with downpours. Water was pooling outside of the tent and the wind was whipping. He was under an awning by the laundry as I laid inside listening as it passed overhead. We really lucked out that it happened late in the day.
I must recommend a trip to the Grand Canyon for anyone who has never been. I can tell you about a few free campsites right outside of the park and give lots of advice of how to spend a day there. In our one day, I felt very satisfied with our visit and how much of the south Rim that we had the opportunity to explore. I have a feeling I will be back someday and look forward to sharing this destination with family and friends.
May 18
We woke up bright and early as we packed up quickly. It was chilly this morning as I put on my jacket and hat. We took the shuttle towards the cafeteria. It was cold so we took the long ride around the park just wasting time and staying warm. It also allowed us to see a few other shuttle spots we hadn’t seen before. We enjoyed one more meal while charging our phones. It was still a bit chilly as we made the long journey by shuttle back to our stopping point yesterday. Before we got off the bus, we took off our warm layers and prepared to warm up. We had a leisurely stroll on pavement towards the trailhead. There was no one else on the rim trail this morning. We made it to the South Kaibab Trailhead and ran into a crowd of people. We quickly filled up our bottles and got ready to descend to the canyon floor.

We have 4,770 feet to descend to the Colorado River. We are both picking up a maildrop at the North Rim so our packs are light besides a few liters of water. The trail starts with quick switchbacks heading downhill. Today was a day where my smile never faded and I loved every minute of this section quickly saying we will be back someday. We did pass by lots of people and met a few early risers climbing out before the heat of the day. You have to step off to the side meaning someone is standing on the ridge of the trail. We chatted and took so many pictures along the way as we stopped at a few waypoints for the “perfect picture.”

Two groups of mules were heading uphill so we had to step off the trail. The first group had tourists with binoculars and cameras. The second were two employees with the mules packing out the garbage from the ranch at the bottom to return later today with more supplies. If you book way in advance and have a good chunk of money to spend, you can stay at the Phantom Ranch which is at the bottom of the canyon along the river. The mules are used to help stock the business.

We stopped for a short break at the first bathroom since we were both super hydrated before moving along. Watching hikers climbing out the canyon exhausted had me a bit worried for tomorrow. The farther down we climbed the warmer it became, but today is actually one of the cooler days of this week. We truly have been lucky with this trail. You can see the trail far ahead of you as you twist and turn. We were making great time and decided to have a snack break with a grand view.

After the break, we started hiking again to come to an edge that overlooked the Colorado River. Flowers are still blooming and the sky was clear. Did I say I loved this section? Maybe because it was all downhill as well. We twisted and turned around some large rocks before getting the view of the tunnel and the bridge over the river. People were rafting and swimming in the river. The only hard part of this downhill was finding a place to duck off the trail to pee without people seeing you. Lots of other hikers unlike most of the Arizona Trail. 

We came to the tunnel which is carved into a rock before entering the suspension bridge over the Colorado. The Colorado River is at 2,421 feet and today we did not feel too warm. If it was warmer, I am sure I would of went for a dip, but there was no need. We passed by Bright Angel Campsite. These spots are in a gorgeous location and I said this is where we should camp when we hike it again someday. People were lounging by the river with the large canyon walls surrounding them. 

We made it to the famous Phantom Ranch where we both bought a bagel and cream cheese. It was nice to have some filtered water as well. We relaxed in the shade constantly yelling at a hungry chipmunk who lives outside the ranch. It was entertaining watching people show up exhausted and ready to get to their room. I learned you can purchase a “duffle” and have a mule to carry up your gear from the canyon for a high price. I might try to get a job hiking up packs for people. Hey, I’ll even carry their water too. We relaxed for a bit then quickly got moving on a gradual uphill.

The weather was still nice and lots of runners going Rim to rim in a day zoomed by us. We had fun walking along flowing water and staring up at the massive canyon walls. We gradually climbed up 1,638 feet to Cottonwood Campground. We passed all of the sites until we found the last one labeled “stock only.” It was a large site with a picnic table and food storage containers just like all of the other spots. We set up quickly as dark clouds were threatening. I cooked a huge portion of broccoli cheddar soup as it began to sprinkle. I sat at the table with my umbrella as he relaxed inside of the tent. The drizzle didn’t last too long, but I still climbed into the tent to relax. We were rewarded with a colorful sunset to finish off our beautiful day of hiking. Only love!

May 19

We were the first ones to leave the campsite this morning as the sun hadn’t yet peeked over the rim. We are 7.1 miles to the top of the North Rim and have to climb 4,171 feet to get there. My legs are a little sore this morning from all downhill yesterday. We moved quickly to start the day and slowly begin to be ascent towards the top of the rim.

By the time we made it to the pump house which is a water source and bathroom along the trail we were running into lots of other hikers. We had to wait in line to us the bathroom before more uphill. I let Paperweight go ahead of me as I took it slow and steady. The trail slowly winds uphill on the edge. I can only imagine all the work it took to build this trail. Large yucca trees were blooming along the way. My legs were feeling the burn all the way.

We were making great time and took a break after a foot bridge. As we smacked, we watched a NPS helicopter land on the side of the canyon dropping off two workers. This winter a large rock slide damaged the water pipe lines. We watched workers and the helicopter going back and forth between two spots. Now that is one intense job. We also thanked workers making the trail larger and repairing worn sections.

We came to the Supai Tunnel next which was fun to walk through before continuing up the switchbacks. I took lots of quick breaks and talked to various people along the way. The views back into the canyon were unreal and we took in the view one last time before busting it to the top. We were done before 11 and happily walking towards the facilities of the North Rim.

I was exhausted after this section and we did our typical town chores. We got a stunning campsite near the ridge of the North Rim, showered, did laundry, picked up our mail drops, feasted on a large pizza, and sat in large wooden chairs overlooking the Grand Canyon. What a day! We finished it up by sitting on a bench drinking beers and watching the sun set over the canyon. I loved this section and am so happy to share this experience with my hiking partner turned love of my life. I look forward to us visiting again someday!

Flagstaff to Tusayan

May 13-After a great night of sleep, we walked downstairs to find Tim cooking pancakes. I am so thankful for all the generosity Melody and Tim has shown us. I look forward to staying in touch with them and crossing paths again. She generously drove us back up the dirt road to where we left off yesterday allowing us to connect all of our footprints. 

Today is a Saturday and there is a bike race on the Arizona Trail today. When Melody dropped us off, we walked fast without any breaks hoping to get off that section of the race in time. Day riders passed us, but we make the turn off the route just in time not getting caught up in the race. I randomly checked my phone to realize I gave my mom the wrong address for the next mail drop. So we took a long break trying to get it all figured out. Thanks to my mom and Adam’s mother for figuring out the address and sending us a box to the north rim of the Grand Canyon. 

The hiking was fairly easy today and all we had to worry about were the mountain bikers flying down the trail. We climbed uphill towards the junction to the highest peak in Arizona, Mt. Humphries. We saw lots of day hikers, runners, and mountain bikers. We both agreed this is a great town to live in if you like the outdoors. There was still some now left on the mountain tops, but the ski lift wasn’t running this time of year.

We had a nice long break at a pond filtering lots of water and snacking as usual. We both got chilly at this elevation and it felt wonderful. We have a long water carry with possible caches along the way, but we never rely on them. We came to a large group of aspen trees which always remind us of Colorado. We also got to walk through our first pile of snow. It wasn’t much and we could of went around it easily, but we jumped in for fun! Flashback to cold feet in Maine this winter walking along the snowmobile trail. The rest of the evening miles zoomed by. We left a trail and joined dirt roads for many miles zoning out to our Podcasts. We then found the first water cache to leave it for other hikers since we had 4 liters a piece still. The trail joined a trail that ran parallel to the dirt road. We found a semi flat spot next to the barbed fence with a view of the highpoint. We hiked a grand total of 23.2 miles today. We felt strong and refreshed after all of our time in Flagstaff. It will give us a boost to make it to the Utah Border.


May 14- 

We have seen dozens of deer since leaving Flagstaff and this morning a group of them stared at us from the distance. We cruised along this morning as it was a bit chilly. The trail joined a dirt road for many miles and a man on a motorcycle from Oregon flew by. We took a break next to an empty water cache in the sun. The comments included that there was beer here a few weeks ago. Too late this time! The sun was hot and we tried to hide from it under small trees with little luck. After over an hour of resting, I left first walking the dirt road ahead of staring at farm land and cows grazing. I love my large sun hat that I have been using this year as it really helps keep me cooler and protect my fair skin. He caught up to me and walked together chatting as usual. It’s nice to share this hike with someone as we never have a silent moment together.

We came to a water tank on private land though they allow you to fill up there. We took turns climbing the ladder and scooping our cold, clear water. As we were filtering away, a male hiker walked past us waving from the trail. He didn’t stop to say hello and we would never see him again. We drank a full liter and carried out 3.5 liters each. On the walk out, we passed a few huge bulls near the trail. Lots of flowering cactus, sage, and juniper trees lately. We took a break in the shade before walking together. We walked up on two Javelinas eating alongside the ride. We got very close to them before they noticed us. They are funny little creatures and were sniffing like crazy. They had ratty long hair on their bodies and ran quickly after a photo opt. 


We continued in the Babbitt Ranch Passage for the rest of the day walking the dirt road until we hit 24.3 miles finding a campsite. We both cooked a warm meal and watched the sky explode. I love sunsets and back home I rarely get to enjoy them like I do on trail. The temperature drops quickly at this higher elevation so into the tent we went.

May 15-

We have mastered our Nemo Blaze tent quickly packing it up in the morning. We pack up then eat a quick breakfast together in the sun before starting our day. The water source had a few comments saying it was dry and last year it said there was water. We got to the spot to see that the water hole was dry, but we explored a bit father to find the well. We climbed up and over from the dry water hole finding a well with a lever that we pushed for clear cold water. We are always careful filtering every source, but we probably didn’t need to with this one. Yet we filtered anyway and snacked away before packing out a few liters. 

I walked ahead of us listening to various podcasts. We entered the Kaibab National Forest and back to a trail again. The trail has been much more rocky then I thought it would really tearing up my shoes. By the end of the day, we feet tend to be pretty tender. They also get stiff after 20 minutes or more of a break. So I struggle to get started again going slow before I can pick up the speed. We quickly entered the Coconino Rim Passage and spent most of the afternoon in ponderosa land. We took a nice break at Russell Tank before coming to a trailhead with trash cans and a pit toilet. I took advantage of them both.


We enjoyed a huge lake and surprising saw three horses on the other side of a fence. We assumed they were wild horses since no one was around, but we aren’t too sure. It was getting chilly and the sky was dark. It started to spit rain and we gave each other the look. To put on the pack cover or not? The drips got bigger and we both stopped to cover our packs. We also grabbed our umbrellas. The wind picked up and rain came quicker. It turned to hail for a short amount of time as well. We both stayed nice and dry under our umbrella. I highly recommend them. If I was to thru hike the AT again, I would certainly carry one.

We dipped down to a lower elevation that wasn’t too breezy so we decided to call it a day at 23.4 miles. It was still chilly and I was as efficient as ever. I set up quickly, cooked, did other chores, ate, and then crawled into the tent five minutes before he was ready to join me. I snuggled up in my sleeping bag as the wind started to pick up again. Luckily, he joined me and the tent warmed up even more. 

May 16-

Another chilly morning as we walked quickly to our first destinations we made it to the Grand View watch tower that we had to climb. From the top, you have the first view of the Grand Canyon. I have been looking forward to this section of trail since we began. I’ve never been here and have seen pictures all of my life. The view from the tower was great and had me even more eager to explore. We ate food here, threw away trash, and used the privy before walking the trail again. 

All morning and afternoon dozens of helicopters zoomed overhead one behind the other. Lots of tours are happening and it was an unwelcoming sound when walking through the forest. I turned on my podcast, but the noise still rang through. It was very easy hiking at a quick pace. We saw our first pronghorn on the trail this afternoon which made me very happy! They are so unique and fast. They are still on top list of animals. We had a shoe off lunch break like usual as we made our town game plan. We needed to charge our phone a bit, do a little Grand Canyon research, and grab an early dinner in the town of Tusayan.
We were motivated as we left our lunch break with about 6 miles to town. We walked together discussing plans for this winter, next year, and down the road. I’ve never planned this far ahead and it’s still a bit strange to be in a healthy relationship that is progressing as one should. We both have so many dreams of the future. If we can do half the things we dream of, we will have a beautiful, fulfilling, and unique life so sure. 
We came to the junction to town and crossed through a campground. We were back to the smell of gasoline and sounds of traffic. We decided to go to Wendy’s since they have wifi and we quickly found the only outlet in the restaurant. I wrote a few postcards, watching some news on the tv that made me cringe, and relaxed. We did not fit in with our dirty packs and the loads of clean tourists including the occasionally bus load. It was relaxing to be in the air conditioned building, wash my hands with sound, and flush a toilet again. The luxuries we all take advantage of daily. We debated walking into the park tonight and paying for a campsite, but we wouldn’t know if there were spots available in the hike/bike in sites. So he grabbed a few beers and we slowly made our way out of town. The trail crosses under the highway and joins a paved bike path. We snagged a spot around 4:30 along a ride and bike path looking back on the highway. We were .3 from the entrance of the National Park. Lots of cars came by and many camped nearby saving the fee you would have to pay in the park. We listened to music, he drank, and I lounged instead of blogging like usual. We had hiked 22.9 miles for the day and tomorrow we enter the Grand Canyon!

Morman Lake to Flagstaff

May 8-We could of stayed in our cozy cabin until 11, but we have to get hiking. It was chilly in the cabin last night as the heat didn’t work right so we were all bundled up. He made coffee and warmed up a burrito as I was comfortable in the warm bed. He pulled open the curtains behind the bed to see a large coyote staring at us. He took a moment before slowly running off into the woods. Not a bad way to start the day. We left our little retreat a bit after 8 and began hiking the Navajo Springs Trail back toward the AZT. It’s nice to see aspen trees and it reminds me of Colorado.

We connected back to the AZT and ran into Farmer again. The trail follows an old railroad bed for many miles and also crossed many dirt roads. Our first break was spent at a campground where we were able to throw away our snacks. Paperweight filled up a liter of water and then smelled it. It smelled awfully chlorinated and we decided to just filter the water from the flowing stream. It was still chilly even though I am wearing pants today. We had to get moving. We passed through the campground and a few beautiful log homes in the area. It was easy walking today. We took a few more breaks along the way, but the cool temperatures had us moving along.

We passed the largest lake we have seen so far and enjoyed watching ducks floating along. It is called Horse Lake Tank and there is also a nice view of Mt. Humphries, the tallest peak in Arizona. The trail had been following dirt roads for many miles at this point. Sometimes it would dip back to a trail for a few miles though. The most scenic part of the day was the ending as we were on the edge of a cliff looking down at Upper Mary Lake. We had drove along this lake a few weeks back when we dropped off our box at Morman Lake. You get a much better perspective from the ridge.

Our last mission was to grab some water from Prime Lake. He had to squat on a few pieces of wood to fill up the muddy water. We passed by the Lowell Observatory and NPOI. It houses a precise telescope. We then passed out of the fenced area and searched for a site. We found a spot near a huge rabbit with large ears after 25.2 miles. It was cold and we set up quickly before cooking dinner.

A warm meal was important tonight and we crawled into our dry tent. We chatted for a bit and then he fell asleep on me. Suddenly, a slow rain started and turned heavy. I drifted to sleep to the sound of rain on the top of the tent. I woke up to the roar of thunder as lightning flashes nearby lighting up the tent. This is the first wild night storm of this trip. I was able to sleep through the rest of the night as it continued to storm.

May 9- 
When we first woke up, it was a hard rain still so we drifted back to sleep for a bit. It was after 7 when we started to discuss our plan for leaving. The rain switched over to large snowflakes so we began packing. I had flashbacks to the CDT this morning. Our tent is much larger this year so we were both able to pack up our bags inside the tent before getting out into the weather. My fingers were numb by the time I packed up the stakes and tent. I had to get moving to warm up. I had on my rain jacket, gloves, fleece hat, and rain skirt. I also used my umbrella on and off this morning.


The trail was a muddy mess and my shoes collected at least three pounds of mud on each foot making each step difficult. It was a slippery mess for the first mile down to a gravel road. I made a quick stop at an overfilled port a potty. It was nasty, but better then digging a hole in the snow. The snow turned back into rain as I followed the gravel road back to the muddy trail. It was very slow going this morning. He caught up to me and we hiked the rest of the day together.

The trail was slippery and our footprints will be left behind until the next storm. We came to the junction where you have two options. You can hike the urban route which goes right through Flagstaff or stay to the East. I had contacted trail angels in Pine and due to the cold weather we decided to take the Urban Route today. We had about 4.2 miles to the point where we would be picked up. It rained on and off as we used our umbrellas. We passed a recent controlled burn section and walked quickly simply to stay warm. We passed a beautiful pond with ducks swimming to see a sign on the other side saying waste water contaminated. The poor ducks!

We made it to the Taco Bell where Melody scooped us up into her warm car. We had hiked about 11.2 miles total today. The rest of the day felt like a dream. Melody and Tim have been trail angels for two years now and know exactly what hikers need. She brought us into her lovely home and upstairs to their former master suite. It was better then a five star hotel. My favorite part is they have bath robes with the label “AZT guest” on them along with soft slippers. I took a warm shower enjoying a stunning stained glass piece in the shower then lounged in my bathrobe and slippers. She told us dinner would be ready at 6. We went from a cold morning hike in the snow to a warm bedroom with carpet. I was in heaven! They also have two beautiful dogs!

At 6, we headed downstairs. Tim had made a hearty soup and grilled cheese sandwiches on homemade bread. We felt right at home! Melody had insisted we take at least one zero day so we went to bed in a warm cozy room as it was in the low 30s outside. We are so appreciative of their kindness! 
May 10-
When we awoke, we could smell coffee and breakfast downstairs! Tim made us another wonderful home cooked meal that we greatly appreciated! We spent some time updating blogs and photos before doing some shopping with Melody. We resupplied at Walmart then spent most of the afternoon just chatting with her. It was the perfect zero day including corn dogs and chips for lunch then a taco feast out of this world. Our taco Tuesday’s need some work to even compare to our Mexican dinner tonight. It was a wonderful day not to be hiking as it was one of the colder days of the month. Best trail angels I have encountered on any trail. I hope to someday give back to other hikers. Thank you both so much! 

May 11-
After one last breakfast feast, Melody dropped us off at Taco Bell. We had decided to do things a bit differently. We hiked South back the 4.1 miles to the junction. We then began hiking the other route towards Flagstaff. This area starts by walking past huge rock formations before a rocky uphill to a viewpoint. Large sweeping views took my breath away and the weather was warm today. We enjoyed walking along a ridge was constant views. We both felt so refreshed and strong. 


Melody packed us delicious turkey and cheese sandwiches which we ate a wildlife tank. It was a pleasant treat and a nice change! We enjoyed listened to a group of high school student’s conversation as they passed our break stop. The trail passed a few junctions and trailhead as we got closer to civilization! Up ahead I noticed a small animal and quickly realized that it was a bobcat. It ran along the trail a ways before dipping out of sight. We would follow its paw prints for many miles. The trail is near the railroad tracks and it is a very busy route. We passed under I-40 as well then dipped back into the woods. We took our last snack break with a view of Mt. Humphries. 

We continued along passing lots of dirt roads and finding lots of cars looking for a place to camp. We also found a huge community of tents so we decided to walk even farther. The sound of the interstate and railroad was a bit overwhelming. We made it to a point and decided to head away from the trail to find a safe campsite. We hiked a total of 19.6 miles and camped on an old deserted road looking down the interstate and railroad. We ate a small meal since we were still stuffed from all the homemade meals over the past few days. I fell asleep today to the sound of trains and traffic. 

May 12-

I did not sleep too great last night. But we woke up early and headed down the hill back to the trail. We walked quickly towards Picture Canyon. We walked past a beautiful water source that had a warning in our app that it was polluted by mining. We even passed that mining operation on our way to town! We did a short side trail to check out some petroglyphs in Picture Canyon. I love the history of this area. After our quick detour, we headed towards highway 89 at a quick pace. 


We did a short road walk to one of the bus stops. We waited for twenty minutes for the bus to arrive realizing they do not make change so we had to walk farther down the road to make change. We then jumped on the bus and made our way to REI. He had ordered discounted shoes that were supposed to be delivered there yesterday. Unfortunately, they still hadn’t arrived and couldn’t tell him when they would. We looked around with our packs on getting a few funny stares. We made our way to Walmart to resupply and I began texting Melody. She agreed to pick us up at Schultz Tank this afternoon then bring us back to her home.

I tried to rush him along, but he took his time surviving without coffee. We made our way back to the trail by a few bus spots. We then got to climbing. I was motivated to get to the tank, but he was just dragging. I zoned out to Podcasts for the afternoon. We climbed up from the road and slowly into the trees. We passed a large burn section continuing uphill for a few miles. We had about 7 miles from the road to the tank. 

Melody was at the trailhead to bring us back home with her. I didn’t realize she would have to drive such a bumpy, hilly, and crazy road. We really appreciated it! We had a lovely evening looking at her new gear, getting road trip advice from Tim, and eating another delicious dinner. Tim grilled us marinated steak and it was perfect! Best steak I’ve ever had! We also had a baked potato, veggies, and bread. Then we finished up the pumpkin pie before heading upstairs to the cozy bed. I had some bad chaffing so it was nice to shower again and lotion my body. I slept like a baby!

Pine to Morman Lake

May 3-I woke up several times this morning to simply roll over and fall back to sleep. He made coffee, ate breakfast, and watched television while I snored the hours away. When I finally woke up, I was well rested and feeling less sore than yesterday. I ate a warmed up sweet and sour chicken rice and veggie dish in bed relaxing. We checked out at 11 and walked the 25ish yards into That Brewery. 

We got two samplers of every beer that they currently have on tap including the Arizona Trail Ale which we enjoyed a few days ago. Zig Zag joined us at the table as he waited for the cabin to be cleaned and two days of rest. We both shared tater tots smothered in cheese and bacon then each had a burger. Two other thru hikers joined us as well as we all chatted for hours. For desert, we each had two scoops of ice cream with chocolate syrup and whipped cream. Bern joined us as we were getting close to leave. He is doing his own adventure that will lead him up to Canada. He has hiked thousands of miles and would of been nice to hear more stories, but the trail was calling. 

Around 3, we walked the short distance back to the Pine Trailhead and began an uphill climb out of town. My body was “town soft” meaning it was slow going for a bit. My heel and calf are feeling better, but still a bit off as I climbed uphill. The terrain was a bit rocky and I just took my time not wanting to aggravate my foot. I joined Paperweight at a water source that flowed across the trail. We are in higher elevation now so water will not be as big as an issue. 

I tuned out to Podcasts as I walked thru the ponderosa forest. I found him at a huge campsite 8.7 miles from the trailhead at Weber Creek. We relaxed and ate on a huge fallen log under the huge trees with the sound of flowing water. It was a beautiful campsite and even an owl flew near by watching us for a minute before flying away. I loved our time in Pine, but we have miles to go. 

May 4-
We both managed to sleep in until 6, but we still were on trail by 6:45. My body was stiff this morning so it took a bit to warm up on the uphill. We met a group of hikers finishing up the Highline Trail which is about 60 miles. We had beautiful views of the Mogollon Rim. The morning miles were pleasant with a nice break at a piped spring. 

We left the Highline Trail following an old gravel road uphill. We took a lunch break under a few trees as a horned toad watched us eat. The trail followed this road until it dipped off onto a trail heading straight up to the top of the climb. It was a steep section that had my calves burning. At the top, there was a monument for the Battle of Big Dry Wash in 1882 that occurred a small distance away. A bit farther up the trail we came to the General Springs Cabin which is a historical site. 

The two of us walked together as the trail dipped into a canyon with some water flowing. It was a beautiful section. We hiked a grand total of 19.8 before setting up camp for the night. 
May 5-
Endless ponderosa forest again today. We simply walked most of the day with breaks along the way. On a forest road to a dirt trail with many fences to be opened and closed. We passed the 500 mile mark as well. We covered 19.1 miles fairly quickly and set up camp earlier then usual. 

May 6-
The entire day was spent on and off dirt roads as people on ATVs zipped by. It was easy walking in a forest with little views. We both zoned out to Podcasts most of the day. We did take a long break at a water source where I got chilly. It was also a very windy day and with little uphills I almost considered wearing pants again. Then it was back to woods walking for the rest of the day.

We crossed the paved road and realized he had cell service. We were able to book a cabin for more then half the usual rate since we would be arriving on a Sunday at Morman Lake. This boosted our morale as we cruised back into the woods following an old railroad bed. It was easy walking and lots of birds flying about this evening.

Before the gate, we saw a herd of animals. I thought they were just deer, but they were also a few huge elk mixed if. They couldn’t figure out how to jump the fence so they just walked along it as far away from us as possible. We camped after crossing a dirt road in the pine needles under a few ponderosa trees after 21.9 miles. 
May 7- 
It was chilly this morning and we only had a quick four miles to get into town. We relaxed in the tent a bit later knowing things don’t open until 8 at Morman Lake. It was chilly this morning as I wore my down jacket, hat, and gloves for a mile or so. We joined the Najavo Springs Trail towards Morman Lake. We were excited to see dozens of aspens trees on this trail. We stopped at the restaurant first excited to order a meal. But our day got much better quickly, when we told us they are only doing the breakfast buffet! Yes please! We had eggs, French toast, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, the best bacon I’ve ever ate, fresh fruit, muffins, and orange juice! We both got our $10 worth of food for sure. We then grabbed our mail drop that we had personally dropped off in March. Then a bit before 10, we visited the registration office. The girl let us check into our room super early and we paid $73 with tax for a full cabin when the regular rate is $170. The cabin was so cute and had everything you could need. We did our chores, shower, and laundry before heading back to the lunch buffet. It wasn’t as rewarding since it had been sitting a while and we were both already pretty full. We grabbed a six pack and some ice and retreated to our cabin for the rest of the day. I had no cell service and there was no working wifi so it was a relaxing day with little distractions! We watched our typical Impractical Jokers and Shark Tank before curling up in bed. The heat wasn’t working right so it was pretty chilly and he grabbed his quilt. Another tough day in the life of a thru hiker!

Thru. Pack Review

Review of my Thru. Pack

I never used a fanny pack during my first three thru hikes as I completed the triple crown. I stored things in my side pockets of my Osprey pack. My IPhone would not fully fit in the pocket so it would stick out a bit usually falling out every time I took off my pack. I stored my important documents, cash, credit cards, and such in the top of my backpack and would need to remove it every time I went into town. I would keep my sunscreen and snacks inside of my pack having to take my pack off to reach these items. 
I did not know any difference and got used to these inconveniences. This year on the Arizona Trail I am using a Thru. Pack. The creator of this pack is a fellow thru hiker that I met on the Pacific Crest Trail. He has designed a few different models of his packs and they make my life so much easier. I am currently using The Daydreamer model and one of the comfy straps. I can store my cell phone, GoPro, 3 oz sunscreen, snacks, wallet, lighter that is attached to a retracting cable so it never gets lost, snacks for the day, and still a bit of spare room. When I am in town, it is so easy to just strap on my Thru. pack or sling it across my shoulder and wander around town. My Thru. pack has changed the way I hike and organize my pack. I highly recommend checking out his website. You will be supporting a fellow thru hiker and small business owner. The pack is perfect for thru hiking, day hiking, sightseeing, or just wearing around town. 
https://www.thrupack.com