We are up at 7:15 am. I didn’t sleep much last night—too much anxiety about the logistics of getting all of our gear out today.


We hit the ground running: outhouse, hot cup of tea, packing, breakfast, washing dishes, packing, dismantling the fire pit, packing, and more packing! As part of our stay here, we have been instructed to break down the fire pit so that there is no sign that it was ever here. We throw the rocks into the willows and bury the ashes. It is a sooty process but we get it done. When you look where the fire pit was, you’d never guess it had been there!

We radio our daily check-in and find out that Carol Treadwell (Executive Director of the Bob Marshall Wilderness Foundation and our coordinator) is hiking in to meet us. She shows up not 10 minutes later—6.9 miles in 2.5 hours! My goodness, she puts us to shame—what a Wilderness Woman!

We tell stories and experiences of the week. We are tired but elated and express our gratitude for the opportunity. Carol has arranged for part of our stuff to be hauled out today and Glacier Raft has generously volunteered to come the next day and pick up the rest of our gear.

Gini and I clean the cabin. Gini has hit almost every surface with a soapy sponge. I take over and mop the floor. We bring in the packed bags that we will leave behind and pile it all in the middle of the cabin where it can’t be missed by tomorrow’s packers.

Sue and Bob from Sandpoint, Idaho, have come in to haul out our art supplies and coolers. Sue is another Wilderness Woman! We have met so many capable women and they are truly inspiring.

Photo of horse packers.

Sue and Bob Padelford are our angel volunteers who pack out some of our gear.

We greet the packers and ask if we can take off. We need a significant head start. As we start up the trail, Gini, “The Eveready Bunny” sets a brisk pace. Thinking about when we hiked in and how we started out so strong only to peter out half way in, I say to Gini “Hold on, let’s pace ourselves this time.” Gini steps aside and says she can’t help herself so she asks me to lead.

Photo of an overview of the middle fork of the Flathead River

Overview of the middle fork of the Flathead River looking upstream.

I set a “slow but steady” pace and tell her about my Dad and his hiking advice that I carry with me always. Don’t speed up on the level parts of the trail—those are for resting from uphill climbs. Keep a steady pace and your energy will last.

Photo of a wilderness trail.

On the trail out of the canyon. Another hot day!

We walk with hardly a break for almost 2.5 hours. We stop when we feel a breeze, sit by the side of the trail, and have lunch. We finish eating and are back on the trail in 20 minutes.

The rest of the hike takes us through burned forests with fireweed everywhere and yarrow and pearly everlasting. We pass through thick evergreens in the draws where we step over creeks sometimes washing off our dusty boots. There are springs that have turned into muddy bogs by the frequent horse travel. Every now and again, I see a huckleberry bush with some berries still left. They are a welcome treat on the dusty trail.

Photo of Hiking in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

Hiking poles help to navigate logs and stones to cross the numerous streams along the trail.

Today we are all alone and don’t see a single soul. Toward the end of the trail, we have to cross the river and this time, instead of taking my boots off, I walk right through it getting my feet and socks wet. The cool water feels good on my hot feet.

We still have the last of the trail to hike but we are getting close…