Total Miles: 985.8
It’s my fault somehow, that much I know. A punishment for some past transgression, perhaps. A punishment I receive over and over again, my own version of Sisyphus’ fate, stuck in an endless loop. The sun is my kryptonite.
It began harmlessly enough, another beautiful still morning to ascend a pass or two before we would diverge from the CDT onto the Anaconda alternate. Expedience. Short of outright fear, I can’t think of a less satisfying or less effective motivator. But with the time lost in all of our jumping around on this trail, it was time to claw some back and in addition to saving over 90 miles—a solid four days of hiking—the alternate would also walk us straight through the town of Anaconda tomorrow. A resupply doesn’t get much easier than that. The downside? Once down from the Divide, all manner of road walking would be in our future.
Only 6 miles into the morning, we waved goodbye to the main CDT and followed a string of giant cairns leading over the broad, open expanse of Goat Flat. Poised to see our first mountain goats up close, we scanned the surrounding slopes only to come up empty. Perhaps they’ve taken social distancing a bit too far.
Somewhere between there and our lunch break, I slowly began to lose my daily battle with the sun. Not sunscreen, not electrolytes, not even my bandana fashioned into a sun shade could save me. By the time the heat of the afternoon had settled in as we settled into a dusty, shadeless dirt road, I could almost hear the sizzling of my brain as it cooked within my head. The suffer fest was in full swing.
The upside was that there were only gently downward sloping miles separating us from the floor of the valley that would lead us into Anaconda in the morning. There, a cool stand of pines not 10 feet from a rushing creek would begin to reverse the damage of the sun’s wrath.
Latitude/Longitude: 46.16914, -113.16702