I woke up at the alarm. The morning was cool, but not cold. I started getting dressed, and didn’t notice for quite a while that outside the tent, my water bladder, which had been full when I went to sleep, was empty. And my gaiters, upon which the water bladder had been resting, were soaked through. 

Turns out, Ambrose heard some animals messing with his water bladder in the night, so he brought it inside the tent. It’s a risk to have the water bladder inside the tent, but that risk does not include being chewed on by rodents. No, the rodents only chew on water bladders outside the tent, like mine was. Because SOMEONE didn’t wake me up to tell me it might be a good idea to move mine inside. 


It was nice to sleep in a bit, but I was ready to be at the car. Ambrose headed out before I was ready, with my acceptance. When we get packed, Ambrose has an advantage over me. I have to put the tent near the bottom of my pack, so I can hardly get started until he and I are both completely out of the tent, AND the tent is folded up and stowed in its bag. So he is almost always is packed and ready to go before I am. Sometime he waits for me, but if I’m almost ready, he’ll sometimes head off since I’m sure to catch him. 

I was upset enough to see the bladder being destroyed, but before I took the tent down, I saw that not only were my gaiters soaking wet, but they also had poop on them. POOP. If I could have kicked that chipmunk I would have. 

I stuffed the gaiters into my bear canister. I was way too cold to put on wet gaiters. With the gaiters and the cook kit stuffed into the bear canister, and the bladder broken and empty, my pack actually looked pretty empty. It certainly felt light. 

Why oh why did someone think leaving a toothpaste tube in a fire pit was an appropriate method of disposal?

I didn’t get a picture of the busted bladder and wet gaiters, but I did snap this photo of where we had pitched our tent. The dark spot is from the water that burst from my bladder.

It didn’t take me long to catch up to Ambrose – I was motivated to do so by the lure of the pit toilet at the parking lot. I’d already dug one hole, and there were no good spots between the meadow and the trailhead. I was going to get there in less than an hour! 

To facilitate my goal, I tried to limit my stops for photos. And my pack was a whole lot lighter, because I couldn’t carry any water. Well, I did get some water from Ambrose into my water bottle. And I made myself drink whenever the sun found me. It wasn’t very frequent at first, but got more so the longer I hiked. 

I had hoped to make it in under an hour, but that was not to be. I wasn’t going fast enough for that, and I wasn’t sure that I could go faster with boots on. In addition to leaking, the RSM boots felt too big. I can wear 8.5’s in the regular Altras, but need 9’s for the RSM’s, and wearing 9’s makes my arches hurt – even with superfeet insoles. 

Bear scat!

I’ve hiked this section of Big Creek many times by now. I don’t have it quite memorized, but I wasn’t surprised when my timer went off after an hour and I still wasn’t there. I felt slow, still feeling a little under the weather. But it didn’t take that much longer for me to reach the trailhead. 

I saw some men getting horses ready on the west side of the parking lot, but they didn’t see me or didn’t pay attention. The Montana vans were still in the lot, which surprised me. That’s a long stay. I dumped my pack in the back seat and made my way over to the pit toilet first. Usually, my next step would be getting my boots off, but I was starting to get cold. This was no time to take off boots and socks and replace them with sandals. 

I did have my sandals at the ready though. We were going to go to the Big Creek Lodge and get showers. And maybe breakfast. Warmth!

I sat in the driver’s seat and got cold. So I dragged out my down jacket from my pack and put it on, including the hood. Still cold. I hesitated to start the car, seeing as we were quite a long drive from the nearest gas. I just waited, trying not to be too cold. 

Lucky for me Ambrose showed up pretty soon after I arrived. Within 30 minutes. He got in the car, and then I got unlucky, because he was cranky. Super cranky. He got pissed that I hadn’t turned the car on to warm up. He had issue with my driving on the way to the lodge. No matter what I said to him, he snapped something back. I knew he was starving, so I gave him some slack, but I was pretty frustrated by the time we got to the lodge. 

I got the first shower, and he got coffee and orange juice while he waited for his turn. I got coffee and orange juice and a muffin while he showered, and by the time we were both clean, we were both feeling more like people and less like snapping turtles. We ordered breakfast; the menu offered biscuits, and we both had wanted them, but were informed that there were no biscuits this morning. There were, however, HOMEMADE sourdough English muffins. We both got those, and oh my goodness were they delicious. 

The breakfast also came with choice of eggs, choice of meat and choice of potato. Plus fruit, yogurt, muffin, orange juice and coffee. I think maybe some more stuff but we didn’t get everything on offer. 

All in all, a wonderful breakfast after an incredible shower. They don’t run out of hot water, and the pressure’s pretty good. The food was awesome, totally worth the price. I’m looking forward to visiting again after my solo trip. 

We could have spent another night camping, but I was driving so it was up to me. And I wanted to get home and sleep in a bed that I didn’t have to blow up. So I drove us home. We stopped in Cascade for gas, and then at Popeyes on the way home for dinner. I got us home safely, and then we just collapsed on the couch and got to work drinking water and eating dinner. 

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