Thursday, July 30, 2015

Day 50: Granite Park to Waterton River

The pale pink light on the mountains slowly changed to a soft golden glow. The CDT follows the Highline Trail, traversing the west side of a ridge, so we hiked for almost two hours before finally reaching a patch of sunlight.

We crossed a large snowfield, listening to the gurgle of the creek running underneath it as we crossed. The last few feet of the snowbridge were only inches thick, but they held our weight. 

The views were incredible!  Tall mountains capped with large snowfields and glaciers. Hillsides blanketed with wildflowers in every color of the rainbow. A cheeky silverback marmot edged up the trail toward us, then dashed by on the rocks. A ptarmigan also ran across our path. 

Two men rushed up during lunch, in their way to get help for a sick friend back at Fifty Mountain Camp. We stopped by to check on their friend when we passed by. Alex was indeed in bad shape, suffering from severe dehydration and possible altitude sickness, unable to keep down even a swallow of liquid. We talked with his friend Julian, who was taking care of him, to assess the situation and were relieved to hear that his breathing and heart rate were both normal. There was nothing more we could do, other than to try to find a ranger up the trail. 

We dropped into a deep valley, grazing on huckleberries, strawberries, and raspberries as we hiked. 

The first ranger patrol cabin we passed was unoccupied, but we found the Waterton Lake ranger near the boat dock.  Mike and Maggie had already reported the medical issue, and the ranger believed a helicopter had been dispatched to evacuate him. 

We laid down on Waterton Lake's rocky beach and enjoyed cherry Cutie Pies while gazing at the tall mountains across the placid water. We strained to see the treeless strip that marks the border between the Untied States and Canada, but it is still four miles away and we could not see it yet. Tomorrow. Tomorrow we will cross the border. Tomorrow we will reach the end of the trail. 

We hiked on to the swinging suspension bridge over Waterton River. Spotting a deep swimming hole below, we raced back across the bridge. Although it was too late to do much more than soak our feet, the cool water felt great. From there it was a short hike to the Waterton River Camp, where we stopped for the night. 

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