Day 39: Cow Water is the Best!

April 10, 2021

523.5

I woke up around 4:00am having to pee something awful, which was doubly-terrible because it was absolutely freezing outside. Ugh! Back in my tent, I had some trouble getting my water heated for coffee. Because it was so cold, the steam made it look like the water was near boiling, but that was just a trick. I mixed my coffee and protein powder and took a drink, and it was just barely tepid! So I heated a little more water, none-too-happy about wasting more of my precious fuel, and even then, it wasn’t very hot. Whatever. I managed to eat a cookie I’d bought in Pine yesterday and I’m pretty sure the pack of “fresh” ones I bought was actually several days old. They were pretty dry and crumbly, so that was disappointing since I only bought them because of how delicious the fresh ones had been. Ah, well. First-world problems, amirite?  

Ghosthiker hiked out well before I did, so I was hiking the first several miles of the day alone. We’re still hiking in lovely pine-forest, which is great. The cold and the stillness made for a rather surreal hike. 

Had a bit of an existential crisis during the first mile hiking alone in the stillness and solitude. But, that’s part of why we do things like this, right? To dive deep into our heads and sort through our issues without interruption? At least, that’s why I do it. And the adventure of it. And the challenge. And the pizza and beer. 🙂

Anyway, I eventually caught up to Ghosthiker. She’d left before me so she could hike really quietly and maybe see some elk, which she did. We saw a few more not long after that. I hiked in all my layers and then took off my puffy when I caught up to her but kept my fleece and beanie on for another 5 miles or so. As hard as it is to get going first thing in the morning when it’s this cold, it’s nice that it’s not super-hot by 9:00am up here. 

We had a very gradual climb up over 7,000ft today. Nice and steady. Not a lot of good water sources, though. Mostly just nasty cow ponds called “tanks” on Guthooks. What a joke. I’ll be hiking for over 10 miles with a liter of water before we come to what I hope is a decent water source. My filter just can’t handle a lot of mucky water over and over. It’s starting to get really clogged really fast even though I back flush it and clean it constantly. 

Aforementioned nasty cow pond, aka a “Tank” on Guthooks. But hey, water is water.

We stopped about 5 miles from the last water source of the day to delayer again, and Ghosthiker had cell service here (she always has better cell service than I do) so she was gonna try to call the Mormon Lake hotel and get us a room. I hiked on. We originally thought we’d stay at the RV park but this cold is biting and we’d rather pay for a warm bed since we have to stay till Monday to get our boxes anyway. 

I’m feeling kind I’d sick today. Pretty sure it was the soft, super-greasy pizza I packed out and ate last night. I laid awake for the first few hours after laying down thinking I might have to get up to puke, but I didn’t. Hiking through that nausea today was hard, though. I made myself eat snacks at breaks but that just made it worse and by noon I avoided eating anything the rest of the day, just sipping water. I’m not even carrying that much water, either, because it’s so cold and I’m not drinking much anyway. The less weight I have to carry with an upset stomach, the better. Pretty sure I was dehydrated. I even fell once. I didn’t trip, really. My legs just kind of stopped working. No one was there to see it happen and I got right back up, so that was good. I don’t like to freak people out if I can help it. I did tell Ghosthiker about it later though, just in case.  

I’ve been avoiding voicing problems ever since starting this hike in an effort to be less whiny, to not complain, to be stronger and just deal with things on my own as they come. But I’m learning there’s a difference between being a vocal hypochondriac and seeking help with an actual problem. It’s hard hard to tell the difference, sometimes. Almost as hard as asking for help, ever. I’m not great at that.

Anyway, this is a really neat area. It’s very flat and open and feels a lot like some of the flatter parts of Idaho, even though we are up around 7000’ elevation. It’s also still pretty cold and windy. We stopped for a nice long break at Bargaman Park Tank, which is actually a really lovely pond with nice, clear water. Across from the pond there is a nice patch of tall pine trees, so we took a break there and that’s where the two hikers from last night caught up to us, Hi-Ho and Fireworm. We sat chatting with them for quite a while, especially once the conversation turned to something I could actually relate to on a non-hiking level: Theater! Hi-Ho and Fireworm both work in professional theater in NYC – or at least they did, until Covid. When all the theaters shut down, they both realized they don’t have any other hobbies they love beside theater, so they decided to give long-distance hiking a try! They are a super-fun couple and I hope we run into them again. 

We ended up camping at the Maxie Tank at mile 523.5, which puts us just 8ish miles from the turnoff to Mormon Lake. We had a spot of cell service again around mile 517 and I used Ghosthikers phone to call ahead and book us a cabin for tomorrow night. She hadn’t been able to get through before, and it was my turn to pay for the room anyway. It was pricey, but that’s okay. We considered staying at the campground and saving money but it’s just been so cold, a warm bed and shower sounds too nice to pass up. 

Camping at the Maxie Tank was interesting. Every water source we’ve passed lately has been muddy and swarming with mosquitoes, and this was no exception. We had to pitch our tents on a slight slant to get well enough away from the muddy water, and the sun was gone by the time we crawled into our tents. The sky was completely clear, though, so it’s probably going to be super cold again. 

Published by rogerssj23

I'm a long-distance hiker, an audiobook producer, and an amateur writer. I live in the woods in a renovated 1972 Airstream with my Golden Retriever Zoe. Read more about my hiking adventures at sarahhikes.com.

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