A Cold, Clear Day

Somewhere along Hwy 89 ()
Day 165 – 10/3/17
Miles 22.0
Total miles – 2540.6

After all the snow yesterday, we thought that today would be cloudy and snowy too, but it was clear and cold.  At 6:30, we walked over to the diner for breakfast. It was 27° outside. The sky was getting light when we returned to our room to finish packing. Red Cross and Napoleon came by our room to say goodbye. They are taking an alternate trail that will lead them into high elevations where there will be even more snow than the route we are taking. Knowing we will not see them again, we said goodbye. What is not to love about Red Cross and Napoleon! Good luck you two!  It was near 8:00 when we hiked out. For the most part, we were comfortable except when the wind blew stinging our faces. Of course Papa Ravens bushy beard kept his face warm. A German Shepherd followed us out of town. Mama Raven was concerned that it would keep on following all the way to Canada. After a half mile, we were able to scare it in the right direction and it returned back to town. Snow covered the road as we hiked. Very little of it had melted. As we got closer to Two Medicine, we started up Hwy 49. The road was closed so there were no car tracks to provide us a clear path through the snow. Marching through the snow as the day went on, we began to see clear spots of asphalt as the snow began to melt.  We took a break in one of those clear spots. As we sat there, a pickup truck drove past, which left a wonderful path for us to follow. It cut right down to the asphalt, so we did not have to walk through powder snow any longer. A few miles before Hwy 89, we came upon the truck, stuck in a 4′ snow drift. Two men were just starting to dig out. We past them and headed for Hwy 89. The nice thing about walking along Hwy 89 with all the cars was that all the snow was gone. The bad thing about the road walk was it was over fifty miles long. Our feet and bodies were going to be hurting! Periodically, we would look up to the high country with the solid cover of snow, wondering how our friends were doing up high. For The Ravens, we are thankful not to be up there. We do not love road walks. In fact we dread them. However, it will be quicker and easier.  We will reach Canada before the next winter storm hits Saturday. We are tired. The kids need to start school. The more they miss, the harder it will be on them. Fall is already gone, and winter is beginning, making hiking hard not just physically but also mentally.  The time has come for The Ravens to go home. Thus, we are taking the road. It’s whats best for this family.  The road took us up the east side of Glacier National Park with the plains stretching far off to the east. The countryside is a mix of grassland, pine, cottonwood, and Aspen. The plants and trees are turning a vivid yellow and gold. They are mixed in with the green pine trees against the snowy background of hills and rugged mountains. Absolutely stunning!!! The beauty of it is intense! We are so lucky to see this countryside at this time of the year.  Later in the afternoon, Dundee and Mudslide caught up with us. We hiked until almost sundown and seeked refuge in an open field where we found a patch of snowless ground to pitch the tents. We had to scrape some snow off to make it wide enough for both tents to fit.  It is quiet cold and it will freeze tonight. Most hikers have the warm NeoAir mattresses that cost hundred dollars a piece. We still use thin foam ground pads that are inadequate in winter. The cold from the frozen ground filters right through them to our bodies as we attempt to sleep. Back in the East Glacier hostile hiker box, we picked up two small foam pads and a thick blue tarp. The foam would add extra protection. The tarp we cut in half for each tent for a barrier between us and the cold ground. Additionally, we spread out our rain skirts and backpack trash bag liners for the same purpose. Hopefully all this will allow us some comfort from the frozen earth. It is now time to go to sleep.

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