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[CDT-L] Update: Flight of the Spirit Eagle

Hiya all!
I got a call from Jim and Ginny Tuesday.  I held off writing,
hoping they might write something of their own but they
have been very busy during their town stop.  The stop was
at East Glacier, MT, where one of our fellow listers put
them up for a while in his motel.  Once again, they needed to
make a gear change and he drove them to Kalispell so Jim
could get new boots.  Seems his feet have grown a bit or
maybe they are just waterlogged!  Then they attempted to
get the permits for the next leg of their hike and ran head long
into the bureaucracy.  "You can only get the permits 24 hr in
advance and I don't have time to do it today"  It seems the
permits can only be issued after a two hour session of
"Hiking 101" which our crew attended the next day
(another hour+ drive one way). Many cautions about
bears and consultations on the route,  (some routes require
the hikers to carry a bear canister).  It seems
the session was a bit easier on all once the ranger got
a feel of the amount of experience contained in the trio
and the permit was issued.

Speaking of bears, they have seen their first GRIZZLY!
It was just about a perfect sighting because they saw it
first and had  plenty of opportunity to watch a bit and
then make lots of noise to announce their presence.
Good strategy, and neither hikers nor grizzly felt threaten.
They follow bear tracks on the trail almost all the time.
Makes sense.  Bears aren't stupid.  Here is this perfectly
good trail that hardly any people use so maybe
the bears figure it was put there for their use!

Maybe the phrase perfectly good would be suitable for
a bear trail but some of it has been a horror.  When
Jim and Ginny declare a trail's condition as the worst
they have ever seen, and considering the amount of
time they spend working trails, well..I think you get
the picture.  They are grateful for the sporadic metal
markers which are often the only indication of a trail.
The snow is, excuse the expression, 'a bear' though.
Many long stretches where it is soooo frozen that
they might as well be using skates.  I asked them
if they thought crampons might have been a good
idea, maybe even the instep type.  Ginny said that
in some areas, maybe, if one was used to them.

It gas to be so tuff to make life changes and plans
to hike in a given year and then that year turns out
to be a 150%+ snow year.  They are hiking 12-14hrs
a day and only making about ten miles. Bare trail is a
mixed blessing because it's just recently bare so it's
waterlogged almost to the point of quicksand...thus
the waterlogged feet.  The Bob Marshall Wilderness
has been renamed the 'Bog' Marshal, but they had
excellent weather through there with only a little rain while
they slept.  Folks familiar with that stretch know that it
could easily rain all the way through there so our crew
was indeed lucky.  I know they really appreciated the
opportunity to hike with only wet legs and feet after
the weather they  had earlier.  Why wet legs?  Well if
you had the maps or trail descriptions, you would see
just how many streams they are crossing.
The fording has been going well and they have come
upon only one that would have required swimming.
They did the wise thing and bushwhacked.

Bushwhacking is still more of a feature of their hike
than I would like.  They aren't really lost.  They read the
maps and know where they are.  It's just a mater of the
vagueness of the topo indications on the maps.  If
the map say there is a hundred foot change in a certain
section, you don't know 'till you get there that that hundred
foot change is veeeery abrupt.  Such was the case when
avoiding the swim, they ended up on the wrong ridge and
after a looong day, at about 6 pm they came to the logical
place to switch ridges only to find a hundred foot 'straight down'.
They looked at each other and said "We can't do that".
They looked for another way down but that spot still seemed
the easiest.  What do you do?  Why ...make camp of course!
In the morning, fresher and rested, they safely made it down.

Least I make this all seem to grim, the tone of their voices as
they talked of the glory of walking for six days without seeing
even the tracks of another human.....WoW.  And who broke that
solitude?  A trail crew....yahoo!  I have to admit that the idea
of six days with no people distracted me enough that I missed
Ginny explaining about them.  I do remember she said something
about them being a rehab group.

Well I guess that's about all for this issue.
I can't match Ginny's eloquence as she speaks of the
wonders and glories of the meadows and
mountains so I won't even try.

Oh..I almost forgot!  Jim has lost 15lbs! The weight lose should
slow down now 'cause his appetite has finally kicked in.  As
they put on the big push into Glacier, with the thought of
chili and fries and pizza weighing heavy on their brains,
Jim said he _had_to stop and eat. "Stop now?  When
we are so close to real food?" But Jim insisted that if
he didn't eat now he wouldn't make it to the food.
I think it's the perfect display of love and friendship
that the other two actually waited while he ate.
I can see it all...Jim muching on raw ramen as the
other two pace about with their eyes riveted on the
trail to food........drooling only slightly as visions of
town food dance in their heads<GRIN>.

All things consider (re: the *&$@%&((&^ snow),
I think they are in good spirits, but could probably
use a letter ot two from the folks back home.

Their next mail stop will be
June 29 Anaconda, MT
so you can catch them there if you write soon!

Address any mail to:
General Delivery
Anaconda, MT
And write on the front of the envelope:
Please hold for CDT hikers
Jim or Ginny Owen

One last thing.  One day of decent trail let them log thier first
20 miler this week!!!! That's all folks!         k.

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