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The Last Best Place - Day 4

Pitamakin Pass and Two Medicine

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.” ― John Muir

I woke up in a chilly tent and did my best to get dressed inside my sleeping bag. This was not an easy feat. We crawled out of our warm bubble and the air was crisp and cool, the sky a clear blue.

Starbucks VIA readybrew is a camper's best friend. We started the morning with hot coffee and cocoa by the fire while we made our breakfast of hash browns, ham, and cheese. The day's hike was going to be a long one, especially with full packs, and we needed all the fuel we could get.

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The first 3 miles took us through a valley to Morningstar Lake. It was early and a mist hung low in the trees. It was soft and quiet and we walked with the knowledge that there were animals nearby, watching us pass, knowing that we would never even know they were there.

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Morningstar Lake was a beautiful spot. We stopped on a small bridge to get some water, have a snack, and just enjoy the view of the mountains reflected in the still clear water.

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From there, it was another 3 miles that would take us past Pitamakin Lake and up Pitamakin Pass. The views were outstanding and it almost took my mind off the steep climb that was making my legs feel like they would buckle under the weight of my pack at any moment.

As we climbed higher, we could see the lakes below. We also started to see hoary marmots along the trail and could see a herd of big horn sheep scattered about the mountainside. It was one of those perfect moments that you want to capture and save deep in the recesses of your memory, to pull out and remember when you need a reminder that the world is an outstanding and majestic place.

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Somehow, I managed to reach the top of the pass without snapping in two or collapsing into a worthless pile of boots and backpack on the trail.

We decided to stop and have lunch on top of Pitamakin Pass, letting nature's peace flow into us like sunshine into the trees. Out there, cares truly do drop away like the leaves of Autumn and we enjoyed a simple moment of pure peace.

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After a lunch of tuna and crackers with string cheese and a few snickers minis, we began to make our way down the other side of the pass. We had about a 2 mile descent to Oldman Lake.

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From Oldman Lake, we still had 7 hard miles to go. My feet were as bandaged up as I could manage, but I could feel the boots eating into them with every step.

The day had been great. The hike had offered up some of the park's best and I had enjoyed every moment.

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Until those last 2.3 miles.

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As we trudged through what seemed to be endless woods, I felt like the hike would never end. My feet were aching with a searing pain that told me I was doing some major damage with every additional step. My pack felt like it had doubled in weight and my back and legs were exhausted. There seems to be one point on every hike where Matt and I lapse into total silence, each of us pushing our bodies forward by sheer strength of will, wishing the hike had been just a few miles shorter, and certain that we can't walk another step. I was so tired I think I was becoming delirious. I am pretty sure I saw a unicorn at one point. I wanted to just take off my pack and sit on the trail and never move again.

However, when I saw this sign, I realized that I could actually walk faster.

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And finally, after what seemed to be an eternity of walking, we made it out and found ourselves at Two Medicine Campground....incredibly weary.

Our friends were waiting for us with the car and cold drinks. God bless 'em!

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We cleaned up the best we could in the campground bathroom and headed down to Serrano's for dinner and celebrated our survival with margaritas and nachos.

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That night at the St. Mary Lodge, i checked out my heels.

It was bad. Very bad. I used a fistfull of band-aids and did the best I could to hide what was going on with my feet.

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We had almost 8 miles to hike the next day and I didn't know how I was going to pull that off.

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Posted by vicki_h 07.10.2012 12:16 Archived in USA Tagged mountains hiking montana glacier_national_park kalispell

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