8/29, day 125, 8500′, 23 mi.
Dramatic storm last night but we were snug in our Bibler. Moisture made lots of fog this morning so we took some interesting pictures of Anaconda-Pintler which we are leaving. We heard a fracas in the forest that sounded like coyotes and Sandhill Cranes, but couldn’t see what was happening.
Lunch was at a picnic table at historic Mule Ranch with other tourists present. I wanted a dumpster to throw 5 days’ garbage (a gallon baggie 3/4 full) but no luck.
We had an extraordinary experience in mid-afternoon. The undependable guide said the FS map was incorrect depicting a road and to hike to the top of a mountain on the divide, passing Hungry Hill Mine on the way. Before we left the road a thunderstorm with hail started. We both put on Frogg Toggs. Ken had a pack cover and I had a poncho over my pack and Toggs. We tried to shelter from the hail under trees but were too cold to stand. Hail now completely covered the ground and was flowing down as we were climbing. We got to the divide without seeing our handrail, the mine. I suggested the GPS using the map to find a waypoint. The GPS needed fresh batteries which we carry. Ken’s hands were too cold to bend. I changed the batteries and we both wanted to follow the divide. We needed shelter and warm up in this rocky terrain. Less than 500′ along the divide we saw what we thought was a building, but was a large Forest Service canvas tent. I untied the entrance and we squeezed in. I boiled water for mashed potatoes and Ken gradually warmed up. When the hail stopped, I went out to look for reference points and found the mine so we were on our way.
We camped at Jerry Creek and near sunset saw a herd of 40 Elk nearby. They were interested in watching us. I wanted a picture of two with fantastic racks. Maybe next time.
We hiked enough miles to get to Butte tomorrow even with the itinerary miscalculation.