Okay, so we haven’t ALL been waiting for it, but some of you have and so, before I begin, my apologies for making you wait so long to hear the real story.
By now, I was hoping to be able to say that I had this thru-hiking thing down, and for a brief moment on the 29th of July, I honestly thought I did. But then came the next day. And the next day. And the day after that. And I quickly got that thought out of my head. You see, the first week we spent up at East Glacier was a vacation. It was playtime. Amateur hour. You wake up in a lovely campsite that has already been arranged for you with a neat, little rock set-up for fires, poles and clothesline set out for hanging foods and a privy for when the occasion should arise. You then walk to your next destination and arrive at a similar cozy spot and do it all over again. You marvel at the mountain goats doing their mountain goat things and the big-horn sheep and pikas and whatever other wildlife tickles your fancy and go to sleep and do that all over again too. Dan recounted that lovely first week in detail and so I didn’t feel the need to add to it; he had, after all, put it all down so well and we shared the sentiment.
But, by the second week, we were out of Glacier National Park and on our own. Now, Dan’s done this millions of times, by now. That guy can get through and over anything with his lean, gazelle-like legs. That leaves me, with my squat and clumsy wildebeast ones, and no match for his! Now, don’t get me wrong, we are having a great time! I LOVE that we wake up to, have our meals at, walk through and sleep in some of the most remote and breathtakingly beautiful parts of Montana. But it can be so easy to forget all of that when your muscles are burning and your legs are shaking and you just cannot fill your lungs and you still have to get up one more crazy, 2600-foot elevation.
Dan and a couple of other hikers we’ve met a long the way assure me that this is the kind of thing one gets used to. I was told it takes a couple of weeks for your muscles to adjust and then a couple more for your bones and tendons. I don’t know how accurate that information is, but I sure wish it’d be A LOT sooner than they say. In the meantime, Dan is being incredibly patient with me and he assures me that he can see me getting stronger. I’m going to believe him, since even I can tell that it hasn’t been as hard as my first few climbs in East Glacier.
Aside from that, the other things haven’t been all that difficult to adjust to. Finding a bush or rock to pee on, digging catholes, going days (or weeks and days) without showers aren’t a preference, but also aren’t so bad that I want to throw myself from the tops of any mountains.
All in all, we’re doing well.