Drew and JD warned us about this day, day 3 the long hike. We are ascending to Triple divide pass and then head to Red Eagle Lake, the total distance, about 11.5 miles. It doesn't seems like much until we factor in the 50 pounds of camping gears we would be hauling on our back, ouch.
In preparation for the big hike, JD prepared us a delicious yet high energy breakfast of Couscous with blueberries and walnuts. Then we are off. The hike gets more and more difficult as we started ascending the mountain. Although it is a gradual ascending, the weight of the backpack is wearing us down. As we trek higher and higher, we passed the treeline when the tree stopped growing pass certain altitude. So it is one side cliff, one side mountain, luckly not so steep. We took plenty of breaks along the way to take in the spectacular view
. I couldn't stop taking photos. We started our hike around 930 am and finally we were approaching the highest point called the triple divide pass where 3 mountains joined. The view up here is absolutely breathtaking, we are completely surrounded by snow covered mountains, valleys and peaks. We sat our backpack down and break for lunch. It was so peaceful to hear the wind whistling . It is not until a group of rowdy teen came up that broke the peace. One girl decided to climb the rocks withno fear of falling while another fat girl came up wearing nothing but a set of bikini top and a pair of short with her fat white abdomen sticking out. I turned to Lori and Sophie and jokingly said " My story of how I got blinded on the Triple divide pass". That got my hiking group laughing hysterically. JD prepared us a delicious lunch of hummus dip, pita bread with jam and honey and a side of tuna. After only one stuffed pita, I was completely filled.
There were those cute Marmots climbing the cliff wall between the rocks. I am thoroughly meserized how these rodents can possibly adopt to such high altitude. The Marmots were quite sneaky so we have to make sure they don't get too close to our food. They are known to rip open backpacks to steal the food inside.
The trek continued down the hill after 130 pm
. My feet started to swell and rub inside my boots and the front of my left foot started to hurt. Downhill actually hurted more than uphill because my toes were jammed right into the front of the boot, Every step get more and more painful. JD saw me hurting, we stopped for break and I decided to try 2 pairs of sock with no luck....... Anyways, the hike was absolutely breathtaking, complete with wild flowers, trees, plants colors berries. JD pointed out several species of poisonous vs tasty berries and how the recognize them.
According to JD, there is still a good 6-7 miles left on our way to our campsite, but mostly leveled ground. I just followed behind cheerful Sophie who chatted and singed all along the way. At times, the grass and plants got so tall up to shoulder high that I actually have to walk slower to avoid any tripping stones or roots. Any wrong step can mean a broken leg or twisted ankle, our balances were totally off due to the heavy backpack. I can only think back to my trip to Machu Picchu that wasn't so bad when the porters and horses were hauling our bags, but this trip is quite an experience.
Some insteresting things along today's hike is the river crossing, We stopped for water break and changed into our sandals.
Instantly my big toe stopped hurting and as soon as I dipped my feet into the ice cold glacier water, wow, that felt soooo goood. At this altitude, there are less mosquitos but the black flies are biting every inch of exposed skin. Matt was furiously waving the flies away.
After the creek crossing, we still have a good 4-5 miles to go, since my feet were hurting too much from the constant rubbing from my new boots, I switched into my sandals to continue the rest of the hike to Red Eagle Lake. Along the way, the ground is now leveled but the grass and weeds were taller than ever, up to chest high. I couldn't even see the ground underneath. So I walked ever so slowly to avoid tripping over any rocks or roots. Lori also was having a tough time since she also got multiple blisters on her heel and her toes were bleeding. JD was so nice to stop and opened up his first aide kit and placed all sorts of remedies on Lori's feet. Mole skin was probably the best. After trekking for another mile or so, my left outer ankle started to bother me, so I asked JD to stop for a minute so I could check my ankle. As it turned out, the leather side band was rubbing so hard that the skin on my left ankle sloughed off and it was bleeding. I pulled out my ace bandage and wrapped it tightly around my left ankle so the band would stop rubbing which somehow eased the pain.
We kept trekking until about 715pm when we FINALLY arrived at Red Eagle Lake Campground
. We were so HAPPY at the sight of campground so we dropped our heavy backpack and walked toward our tent site. John and Lucinda enjoyed having me as their campmate so they invited me to set up tent with them on the same site. Since they went through the setting up tent the day prior, they got it done so quickly they even offered me a hand in building my tent. The issue being that the ground was so soft that the spike won't hold, so Lucinda was kind enough to lend me her rope so I could tie the outside waterproof tarp to the wood in order to prevent the rain from wetting the tent contents. We then walked to the food prep area to see if JD needed help. As we watched JD whipping up another delicious meal of vegan chili, we saw the dark storm cloud approaching us, started with thunder, then lightening. JD stopped for a minute and went to his bags to get the tarp in case of rain. Just as he finished tying the corner of the tarp to the tree and 2 hiking stick, the wind started blowing. In a few minutes, the darker cloud rolled in with the noisy marble size hail. Our hiking group quicked hide under that tarp and in minute, the hail stopped followed by heavy down pour, but it only lasted for a good 10 minutes and the cloud lifted to be follow up some bright stars. How interesting the weather is in Montana. After drinking some hot coffee and apple cider, the hot chili was ready and each had 2 bowls of it. As we enjoyed our chili, we saw these bats flying over head and even a white mouse running across. After dinner, JD was going to make us cheese cake, but we were too full, so we all delined JD's kind offer. Then it time for dishes and hanging up the food. Luckly the rain stopped so we could sleep without worrying about wet tents.