Monday, July 20, 2015

Day 40: Chinese Wall Pass to Red Shale Side Creek (Mile 2836)

The Chinese Wall!  The golden cliffs of nature's Chinese Wall, lit by the morning sun, towered above us. We stared up at it as we walked through beautiful alpine meadows scattered with wildflowers. Mixed in with a colorful palette of wildflowers were the tousled "Who Heads" of the pasqueflower seed pods.  

We reached Spotted Bear Pass, the site of the third hidden message in Wired's birthday scavenger hunt for Sierra. Sierra was very excited to find that what Wired had left for her was still there!

Thunder rumbled across the valley, and we saw rain ahead. We dodged random, isolated raindrops, and took refuge under a tree during a brief deluge. But we couldn't avoid the effects of the storm. Thick, sticky mud caked the bottom of my shoes, slowly adding layer after layer until it felt like I was wobbling down the trail on platform shoes. 

We planned to camp near the first crossing of Red Shale Creek, as The Bob tends to have camping near creeks. But just before we reached the crossing, we entered a burn area. What had once been the forest floor was now littered with soot and deadfall. With no camping in sight we continued on. And on. And on. 

We finally found a rocky, sooty flat spot near the trail. Sierra's birthday is tomorrow, and I had been hoping to find a beautiful campsite for her to wake up to. This definitely isn't it.

Worse still, I was not able to hang the food in any of the handful of standing, burned trees nearby. The Bob requires trail users to properly store their food (either hanging or in a bear resistant container) whenever they are not attending it.  But a ranger in the Bob once said that sleeping with your food does not violate the food storage requirements because while it is with you, you are "attending" it, whether awake or sleeping. I have before never slept with my food in Montana, in grizzly country, within a mile of sighting fresh bear scat. Of course, I suspected I would spend the night "attending" the food in the most literal sense. How can you sleep when you are worried that a powerful grizzly might reach in and swipe your food-stuffed pillow?!

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