Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Across the Bob—Day 10

On Day 10 I hiked over the north side of Larch Hill Pass to the headwaters of the White River.

The trail climbed a ridge overlooking My Lake, a popular camping area at the north end of the Chinese Wall.  I met a group of boy scouts from the Seattle area who had camped there the night before.  One of the scout leaders said the boys swam in the lake until they found leeches in the mud.

Looking back to the east.

Climbing near the top of Larch Hill.  The trail doesn't go all the way to the summit but skirts around the north face.

First views of the mountains to the northwest.

Photos don't capture the top-of-the-world feeling you get up here.

Red-breasted nuthatch.

Looking toward the summit of Larch Hill.

Not much to see on the descent on the west side of the pass.  The trail switchbacked through heavy forest down to the headwaters of the White River. 

Wild huckleberries.

Fording the White River.  The water is only about six inches deep here and not flowing very fast.

Where I camped at the south end of Brushy Park.

When I arrived in the late afternoon there was an old hippie camped here and preparing to build a campfire.  I didn't want to invade his camping area, so I was prepared to keep going.  I waved as I walked past, and he called out "There's nowhere to camp for the next ten miles.  It won't bother me if you camp anywhere around here.  I'm about to build a fire, so if you've got any trash to burn, you can throw it in here." 

I found a good campsite not too close to his and then went over and sat on a log near his fire ring.  He said he was from Missoula and that he was also hiking across the Bob, but he was going from south to north and taking a largely different route.  He was planning to go out near Essex, Montana, up near Glacier National Park.  "I've already gone about 100 miles, and I figure I've got about 60 more.  I'm taking every other day off.  The whole trip should take me 29 days, but if I need to quit early, once I get farther north, I'll never be more than about 20 miles from a trailhead."

I asked him how he could carry enough food for such a long trip.

"I eat a lot of salads," he said. 
"You mean wild plants?" I asked.
"You know them that well?" I asked. 
"A few of them."

Twenty-nine days.  My trip was only 15, and I was worried about my vehicle starting up after sitting at the ending trailhead so long.

"Do you have a car at your ending trailhead, or are you calling somebody," I asked him.
"I'm homeless, Man.  I'm using my thumb."

He had taken the bus from Missoula to Bonner and then hitched a ride to Rogers Pass south of the Bob.  He was a true free spirit, just happy to be alive and in the wilderness.  He told me about a trail on my planned route that had been closed.  "You can still take that trail, Man.  The detour is miles out of the way not very scenic.  They closed the trail because of a small landslide, but you can still get across there. You'll see a little path where the deer have walked across the scree.   There are a lot of wild raspberries up there.  I may have left you a few."

We chatted a while longer, and then he went to his camp.  It rained a little that night, so I slept in the next morning to let things dry out a little.  When I crawled out of my tent, my neighbor had already hit the trail.


  1. Wow, goes to show a how person can survive on their own on so little compared to what we all think are necessities. How many people did you see on the trail, overall?

  2. I saw an average of one other party per day, usually from one to five people in a party. A few couples or small families and a few father/son pairings. The boy scouts were a big group. They actually were split into two parties, one of 10-11 year olds, and the other of older teens, because, as the scout leader put it, "they have different conversational interests." Both groups camped in the same areas, but not together. Almost all the people were very friendly. The wilderness is one of few places where complete strangers stop to chat with each other. I only met one mildly annoying guy--a man from Portland who was still obviously in corporate mode, asking rapid-fire questions to find out how quickly and efficiently he and his family could see the best sights the wilderness had to offer. On a few days I didn't see anybody at all.