Sunday, June 28, 2015

Day 18: Ridge to Chief Joseph Trailhead (Darby)

Bloodletting isn't common practice anymore, but doctors once thought it was an effective restorative. Slowly draining the poisons from your blood would cure whatever ailed you, provided you didn't die from the cure. If so, Sierra and I must be the picture of health because the mosquitoes are slowly draining our blood as effectively as a team of leaches. And when they are done, the biting flies will pick our bones clean. 

The trail rises steeply today, as though we are climbing UP a black diamond ski run. We mentally check off some of our favorite Mammoth runs as we hike. Cornice Bowl?  Check. Scotty's Run?  Check. Climax? Check. Paranoids?  Check. And still we climb. 

The heat slowly rises, like water set on the stove to boil. The forest is stifling, with only the occasional soft breath of wind to provide a temporary respite. Entering a burned section of forest we feel we are walking through the fires of Mordor. Who knew even eyelids could sweat?!

And yet, there is beauty here. Pale green mossy strands cloak the trunks of the nearby pines. Purple lupine, lavender and yellow daisies, red tufts of paintbrush, and many other wildflowers brighten the steep, rocky trail. Colorful butterflies effortlessly glide from flower to flower, seemingly oblivious to the steep terrain.

We reached  the Chief Joseph Trailhead by late afternoon, and got a ride to Darby, Montana to resupply. After cleaning up, we walked over to the Little Blue Joint restaurant for some delicious food and milkshakes, which we've been dreaming of for several hot days of hiking. 

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