June 20, 2013
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Day 3 - Piegan Pass
Many Glacier CG to Reynolds Creek CG
After a wet night sleeping in Many Glacier CG, it was a little slow getting going in the morning. After cooking up some gnocchi with pesto for breakfast for myself, Sparrow and I headed over to the diner for some coffee. While sitting in the warm, dry restaurant enjoying the steaming liquid, four other hikers walked into the restaurant with the distinct thru-hiker look. Hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. Their names were The Captain, Lush, Man Party, and Columbus. They had apparently attempted yesterday what we planned to do today, but without micro spikes and ice axes and with the threat of lightning so they turned around shy of the pass.
It made the day sound a little intimidating, especially with the forecast calling for rain and high winds all day, but those facts merely steeled my resolve to give it a full effort. The first 4 miles went smoothly enough until we came to a creek crossing that looked too fast and deep to attempt. After surveying the map I discovered the trail crossed back across the creek later, so there was no need to cross it at all. This information in addition to snow on the ground (no "trail") led us to trudge up the left side of the creek.
As we climbed above the creek on a snowfield where switchbacks should have been, the weather continued to intensify. The precipitation changed from rain to snow and a biting wind tore at us during open stretches unprotected by the trees. After some minor bushwacking we recovered the trail and began climbing even higher into more exposed terrain. The wind was so strong that it nearly knocked me over a couple times and I was glad to have trekking poles to maintain balance. As we wrapped around Cataract Peak the wind died down and the remaining journey to the top was fairly smooth. The way down had a few snowy traverses, but nothing that warranted busting out the ice axe. Although only about 15 miles (low for a thru hiker), it felt like a lot more due to the elements.
Tonight Sparrow and I are camped at Reynolds Creek CG and tomorrow we will try to one up our feat of the day by going 26 miles up and over Triple Divide Pass to Atlantic Creek CG. It looks like it'll be a doozy, but as they say of the CDT, "embrace the brutality."
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