July 5th, 2019
Rogers Pass, HWY to Lincoln, mm 292.2 to Flesher Pass Trailhead mm 306
Distance in miles: 14
I slept good all night, only waking once to go to the bathroom. There were no more fireworks but I could still hear people shouting in the distance. I slept in until 6 am and then got cracking on chores. There was no laundry I could find anywhere so I did some in the sink. Seven days of stink and counting for most of my clothes, oh well. Since the town was so booked up and we couldn’t get much done, we had decided to leave by noon. Helena was only another 2.5 days away, where we could hopefully do laundry.
I worked on my blog all morning, even skipping a breakfast outing with the others. The town was full of hikers (part of the reason there were no hotel rooms). I met a few that wondered into the RV park and more at the grocery store. I got a few items for resupply…I didn’t need much since I had so much leftover. Gary the trail angel picked us up at the grocery and even took us back to his house so we could use the bathroom and fill up water bottles.
We had an interesting conversation about Lincoln. This is the town where Ted Kaczynski, the unabomber, was finally found. Gary didn’t know him because he was a bit of a recluse holed up in a small apartment nearby, but he knows the guy that arrested him. Now Ted is neighbors with my parents in Florence CO (in the federal prison nearby). Some suspect he may have also been the Zodiac Killer too, but that remains a mystery. The things you learn thru-hiking.
We were back on trail after thanking and saying goodby to Gary. What a great guy. It was just Relentless and me since Salty stayed in town to get more done. He needed to ship his poncho tarp home, after replacing it with his hexamid tarp. He’d gotten wet one too many nights using the poncho tarp, even having to stay in Relentless’s tent after he got drenched by the thunderstorm at Red Eagle Lake. I let him borrow my umbrella for the other nights, which helped. The conundrum is, if it’s raining when you get to camp and you are using your tarp as your only rain gear, how do you also pitch it as a tarp without getting wet? There are some pretty significant drawbacks to super ultralight gear.
I highly recommend a full shelter for the CDT. It’s just so much wetter and colder than the PCT. And there are no shelters, like on the AT or TA. I also recommend good rain gear. I am hiking with a goretex jacket, DCF rain skirt, and umbrella. I may even switch to rain pants in Colorado. It may seem like overkill but I have used all these items nearly every day.
There was a small climb out of the gap but the switchbacks made it easy. I love switchbacks since I’m not as fast at the really steep, straight-up stuff…like jeep trails do. Every mode of transportation has its needs and hikers and horses do best when the grade is moderate. A jeep, atv, or motorcycle can just power straight up a hill using its gas combustion engine. My engine doesn’t have that kind of explosive power but I can sure maintain a slow and steady burn.
We passed a nice couple from Helena, Ramona and Dan, out for a day walk. There were many open meadows, as the day before, but this time there weren’t a bunch of steep hilltops to go over. The walking was so enjoyable and we took it easy since we didn’t have to make too many miles. We caught up to an Australian SOBO named Nom. We chatted with her awhile and she relayed that she was weary of a thing called pack-shaming.
We American thru-hikers tend to look down on or preach to people with large packs. I’m guilty of it for sure. But instead of being helpful, it ends up coming across as just mean or judgemental. Many people just can’t afford the high-end ultralight gear. And Europeans and Aussies/Kiwis don’t have as easy access to the US cottage gear market, so they are already at a bit of a disadvantage. Hikers can of course carry wherever little or lot that they like.
I look at it from the standpoint of injury. If you can put less stress on your legs and feet, the less likely you are to hurt yourself. More elderly hikers often have back problems and need to go lighter…that includes me. But many young and fit people can handle a load and are just fine with a larger pack. They can be encouraged to shed some weight here and there but they shouldn’t constantly be made to feel guilty about it.
In hearing Nom and so many others, specifically women, say they feel shamed on the trail, I realized that we all need to make a better effort to be positive about people’s choices in more standard, affordable, and mainstream gear. As I highlighted earlier, some of the super ultralight gear isn’t even appropriate for these conditions.
Back to the trail, we had a lovely afternoon cruising into Flesher Pass. There was a water cache but since I had carried 2 liters from town, I only took 1 liter. At the trailhead there was a pit toilet and picnic table, with 3 SOBOs: a couple, Newt and Flaming Hot, and a British guy Chippin. We decided to call it a day and hang out with the crowd. More showed up, including Nom, Jetpack, Mayor, Salty, and a guy named Sid.
A law enforcement truck came by, verified we were all thru-hikers, and left us alone. Then a guy in a van rolled up and shared drinks and food. I had gone to bed already but the festive atmosphere carried on until after 10 pm, well after hiker midnight (8-9 pm). It didn’t bother me but I felt bad for the couple that had gone to bed at 7 pm. It was especially jarring to hear the guy in the van ask if anyone was trying to sleep and hear Salty reply that it was a few but only the ‘old people’ so who cares? Thanks, friend? Tiredness took its toll and I slept well anyways. What are a few thru-hikers compared to fireworks?