There’s so much to say and so many experiences I’ve already had but I will try to narrow down the most important memories!
July 6th The intention was to get up really early and go to st Mary’s ranger station and get my permits….. that didn’t happen. I woke up at 8 showered for one last nice hot shower and we got on our way by 9:30. I had a feeling that getting a permit for the sites I needed might not work out and I was going to be ok with what was available with out waiting another day. Like I thought the first one I needed was Gable Creek crossing…. a man with a white bead was there and said “I’m a PNT hiker and I got the last one” I said dang it! A little disappointed since he didn’t seem friendly or open at all I knew I was off to a solo start. But then! After I got the sites that were left I had to get a tribal permit since some of the trail was on land in the Blackfeet Indian Nation. Thankfully I was still there trying to connect to their wifi and another backpacker walks up and says he needed a permit for the PNT… they also said they were gone for the next day start. I went up to him kinda recognized him from the Facebook group and said you can be on my permit it’s just me! He was very grateful and said he had friends he was with from the Warriors Expedition Program. Found out the beaded guy was part of his group! Oops! Oh well we then spent the rest of the day driving through Glacier and relaxing a little bit while I also went through my entire pack to see what else I can get rid of. I didn’t get rid of much but maybe a couple ounces or so. We all camped at the Johnson’s camp ground outside of st Mary’s and made a plan for a breakfast rendezvous. We also stumbled upon the rest of “turtles” group at the site and we made plans to do some trail magic for them and shuttle them to the trail head in the morning. We slept under the stars it was beautiful.
PNT Day 1 : 6 miles
July 7th Chief Mountain to Gable: There is no more time left. Today is the day. We got up had a good breakfast at the hotel nearby. Got a little bit more food (that I really didn’t need and wish I didn’t get) packed Turtle and myself in the car with mom and Caitlin and we went to find out start. My permit was for slide lake, which isn’t on the PNT, but it was the only way to get in they said and keep the route the same. The crew had already taken the last camp spot at Gable where I needed to go. After mom went to get the other 3 hikers we just winged it and started at the actual PNT start at chief mountain customs. I warned them over and over and over I’m really really really slow. They didn’t mind.
It was incredibly hot as we got a very late start. We were only going 6 miles but it felt longer. I couldn’t stop thinking about what I was doing. How I just left my mom, sister, family, friends and my little boys (2 dogs) and baby bunny (she’s 10). I was slower than normal. I couldn’t believe I got there to the PNT to that point and I was there on it! Actually on it!
I hiked away with the rest of the warrior group and they were much faster than me by a lot! It was hot really hot and we finally got to camp around 5 and began to rest.
July 8th Gable to Mokowanis :
We began the day with me, Cody and Dylan towards Mokowanis and I was sure we needed to go right at the Belly River Ranger Station… and I was right. We went up and over to Cosley Lake and actually had to ford it. It was a relatively easy ford so far and incredibly beautiful! At that point the boys had been waiting for me to catch up at major junctions but after the lake it was pretty easy to follow and I continued to hike alone. I kept turning around to see the incredible beauty behind me which I’m sure not many had done. By this point I was more comfortable on the trail alone and was finding my way but I knew it was only for a little while. I hadn’t seen much bear presence yet but continued to sing my bear songs to keep them away from me too!
I finally made it to camp and I learned my lesson don’t hang your food bag when you’re super tired and first get to camp…. you will get it all tangled and not hang it well and need help! Sterling and Diana were there to the rescue and I continued to smile and be entertainment for Cody and Dylan. I also carried Dylan’s stick (which was gigantic) almost 3 miles cause I thought he might want it… don’t know why I did that! I finally got settled at camp went to get water and just stood in the cold flowing river to heal my already hurting knee.
Getting to dinner time and I head about the deer but the deer at this camp were crazy! They weren’t afraid of people at all and were eating/licking everything in sight! The camp next to the warriors had a backpack up on a tree and they took it down and licked to death! I was lucky and none of my stuff was harmed by the deer. I did have them eating a log next to my tent all night which kept me awake! That night we met Tickled Pink and Dust Bunny!
I knew this day would be hard and I tried my hardest to get up early and get a head start. My early was not everyone else’s early and I got up at 6am! By 6:45 the warriors were heading out for the trail and I was just eating breakfast! I headed out around 7:15 started up the trail and was just in awe of my surroundings every step! I was going up from 5,020 ft to 6,909 at the top of Stoney Indian Pass!
It took me 5 hours to go 7 miles but I made it and was so lucky to have a group of day hikers at the top to take my picture! I was so rewarded and happy I made it I spread some of my dad and grandmas ashes on the top of the trail! I could see Pink and Dust Bunny down below the lake as they had passed me on the way up but I knew to keep going at my pace but I also knew I was only half way for the day.
On the way down I was still in awe of what I had just seen and just wanted to get to Goat Haunt so I could get to my camp at the Waterton River Camp. When I finally got there around 6:45 I saw Pink and Dust Bunny at this little gazebo thing and rested and ate dinner there with them. The ranger had told them that the camp site was incredibly buggy so we opted to stay in a bug feee zone. I sat in the lake rested my legs and around 8:45 went to head to camp. There should have been a footbridge up ahead but somehow after going up and back a few times we decided to ford the river. I was already exhausted. The river was past my hips. There were 2 moose in the river. I was bear foot. I have no idea how I got across. When I finally got across I had to rest and I almost threw up from exhaustion. I didn’t I collected myself hung my food set up my tent and went to bed.
This day too I knew was also going to be hard but it didn’t seem as like it had as much gain and loss as the day before. It was just much steeper going down and I’m sure that’s what hurt me. The bear grass was incredible and the views were just outstanding!
That night around 5pm it began to rain, then thunder, then lightning, then a complete down pour! I had 5 miles to go and I was practically running into camp singing crazy bear songs! It was 9:15pm I was soaking wet. I was sure I hurt but didn’t know how bad until the morning. The nicest group helped dry my shoes the best they could by their fire. I ate as Pink and Dust Bunny finished their dinner. Set up my tent and fell asleep! Bowman Lakes camp was beautiful!
That morning I was exhausted. I woke up and knew I hurt but not sure how bad. Pink and Dust Bunny were wrapping up breakfast I was ready to hit the trail so I did. It was only a matter of minutes before I knew something was wrong. It was a 7 mile flat lake walk and I was in excruciating pain. I began to cry around mile 3. My mom was so encouraging to help me get to the end where I easily got a ride from the nicest guy named Tom who said I reminded him of his daughter! His sister had hiked the Appalachian trail many years ago and he was a long distance cyclist and knew the pain I was in. He took me the 7 miles into Polebridge and I was so happy!
PNT Day 6: rest day 0 miles July 11th
I pretty much just stayed at the hostel all day and kinda helped everyone get their resupply situated/watched. As that was all happening everyone was leaving town and I had to not be stubborn and try to go with them. I knew what was best for me to stay out there was to rest and find a way for my body to heal enough to keep going. So I slept and slept and slept.
July 12th Polebridge
PNT Day 7: 0 miles
At the hostel I had met some of the most amazing people not all who were on the trail. Beth was one of them! She is an incredible lady from New York who was visiting Glacier on vacation and camping at the hostel. She offered to give me a ride into Eureka knowing I needed to get to a larger town with a few more services/power to be able to get myself back out there. So we made a plan for the next day to drive to Eureka. She went to the mercantile to get directions since it was a ways a way and we both didn’t know the directions. All in all it was still a good day. I also met John Flowers and Batman that day.
July 13th Polebridge to Eureka, MT: 78 miles by hitch (Beth)
So we left and went down a very dusty, bumpy, pot hole filled road in her rental car all the way to Eureka. Apparently, we were taking the back roads! She was awesome took me to the hotel to check in, tried to find potentially new shoes (before mom mailed me new ones) tried to find anything, and took me to the store to get epsom salt and some snacks at the store. Literally she was amazing! I was now in Eureka almost a week before everyone else was and resting with ice, pillows, and tv!