1st August Tuesday
Big Hole Pass
I slept in this morning, or more likely I lay comfortably in my sleeping bag until 6:30. I knew I had to wait until I got an update to see if it was ok for me to continue my journey north along the CDT, the trail is just half a mile east of the fire.
I packed up when I heard movement in the campsite with firefighters breaking camp, one slept in a hammock another in a heavy duty sleeping bag on the ground, couple of small tents and I even heard one last night saying he was using the backseat of the firetruck.
Leaving the camp site this morning
I made myself known once I packed and I talked with one of the three groups of firefighters. This group had on the shoulder of their jackets a logo of firefighter and helicopter. These guys would be dropped off near a fire and create a firebreak using shovels and axes coordinating with the helicopters. Where the other group that were standing around a camp fire were more elite , scoffed the guy I was talking to. Those guys would parachute in with all their equipment and do similar work, however he did admit that these guys were more hard core and their initial training was very vigorous.
On the trail where smoke can be seen
There were five of them in the group I was speaking to and they even made me a Starbucks coffee from a sachet. Before I left they gave me two bottles of Powerade where I downed one straight away and and poured the other into my empty water bottle. They asked how I was going with food and once they heard the type of boring food I was eating, I was given two packs of MRE, Meal, Ready to Eat. Chicken with Pasta in Pesto Sauce and the other being Southwest style Beef and Black beans with sauce. There were many more to chose from and by the sounds of it, they regarded to these meals as the worst thing you could eat, but thank you firefighters a change in diet, is a welcome relief to me.
So for my second breakfast I stopped for an hour and had the chicken meal and it even comes with hot coffee if you used the same chemical heat pack as you use for warming up the meal. While I waited for the meal to cook, I had a Cinnamon bun, Italian bread sticks and cookies. What a nice treat.
While eating, I picked a spot that overlooked the valley and distant mountains of where I had come from. From here I could see helicopters come and go dropping the buckets of water on the fire below.
Smoke was bad while walking through one segment where my eyes stung a bit, but soon enough the noise of the working helicopters and smoke was soon behind me.
Fire at a far distance
I had to walk off trail by 15 minute to get water, according to my notes, there’s no more water sources for 32 miles, that’s a day and a half walking. So I filled up to carry just over three litres, knowing that my notes were probable wrong and I’ll come across a stream sooner than that.
At 3 o’clock it was time fore a break and lunch, I timed it so I was on top of the hill so it’s an easy walk once the stomach was full, just where I stopped was a campsite with many tents and cooking tables, obviously it’s the team cleaning up the trail I passed earlier. I was hoping that someone was there as I wanted to refill my water bottle, so I helped myself to their large water container, I hope they don’t mind.
While there having my late lunch, two ladies came by doing a day hike, they stopped and talked then offered me a handful of energy bars and two cans of Sardines. Wow, that’s two kind acts today.
More Food, exactly what I needed
On my final leg to get to Chief Joseph Pass car park, at which point I’ll allow myself to attack the bag of M&M’s that I have put aside for this second stage, a helicopter flew over following the trail obviously looking for something, it became apparently clear what they were looking for, I came across a newly erect sign saying that the trail i have just walked is now closed due to forest fire. So the helicopter was looking for tickets that were heading south, the direction I had come from.
When I arrived at the car park, I continued to walk along the trail and then spotted on a tree stump a couple of bottles of beer.
Closer inspection it was two bottles of beers and a energy drink from the two ladies I meet previously.
The note read:
Good luck with the rest of your journey!
Looks like you escaped the fire, the trail is shut down now! Got through just in the nick of time.
All the best
Kate & Abi
So I sat on the soft grass and had one of the beers and relaxed. Only problem was that just after one beer I was in no hurry to move on so I camped within a few metres.
I setup camp and shorty after a couple, Julia and Phil, north bound hikers that have just returned from Derby (local town to resupply) came by, we talked and swopped stories and just before they left, they offered me half a loaf of bread, this was given to them by a lady that gave them a lift back to the trail head.
I guess my miles are going to be low today, for me to get to my minimum I like to do, I think I’d have to be hiking until at last 10 o’clock, but, today turned out to be brilliant, got through the fire zone, given two food packs, meet two lovely ladies that look pity on me and gave me food then beers at the car park. Then there was half a loaf of bread.
Tonight I went to bed early on a very happy and full stomach