We strapped on our bear spray and headed into what would soon become the Bob Marshall wilderness. It was perfect hiking weather but I struggled with all the added weight on my back. We ran into a couple other thru hikers and joined them for lunch before parting ways. As we walked into the afternoon the pleasant overcast skies were turning darker until it seemed to almost be night. We knew the sky was going to open up any minute and pour something terrible. With a flash of lightning, rain began to pour in droves. The wind blew stronger and if felt like this could turn into a hurricane.
We were drenched as the sky got lighter and opened up to a huge rainbow spreading across the sky and touching down in the meadow below. We made it to a dry water source before finding some flat space and trying to get warm. I was surprised when it wasn't freezing the next morning. We packed up and as I was struggling with a stubborn stake, a huge cow let out a scream from about 20 feet away. I jumped, always thinking it'll be a bear. The cow was unhappy with us but went on his way. We both had about half a liter left and weren't quite sure when we'd see water again. All day it threatened to rain on us, sprinkling but turning into sunshine. We stuck to a ridgeline most of the day but heard there may be some water just off the ridge. It had been hours since we had any water so we dropped our packs and plowed down the ridge.
As we got further and further from the trail our hopes began to dwindle. Every creek bed was long dry. We would have to push on without water. Luckily it was overcast and the wind chill was keeping us moving. In total, we went 17 miles on that half liter. When we got to the next spring we were skeptical and very thirsty but beautiful, cold water was sprinkling right out of the ground. We drank straight from the spring and pounded water to make up for the dehydrating day. We made it to a water cache and I hid in the bathroom trying to get out of the icy wind. We couldn't stay forever though so we kept hiking for another hour before realizing we were off trail. Instead of back tracking, I thought we should bushwack through to get back on the trail. It was a pleasant bushwack, if such a thing is possible, and we made it back to the trail just a little behind. We set up camp there for the night out of the wind. It was cold that next morning and we struggled to get moving. The trail came in and out and seemed to go in every direction which made navigation difficult. I was still wearing all of my clothes when we ran into a group that was out for the weekend and stopped to chat for a bit.
They had extra bacon that we scarfed down and went on our way. We walked past Lewis and Clark pass, where they had gotten through the Rockies and took a break. The temperature was dropping drastically and we were engulfed in clouds. As it began to rain, we knew there would be snow coming soon. We were headed up to above 8,000 ft. And I knew that it would become a much more dangerous situation if we had kept climbing. We found a lower route and plowed down in the rain. Stopping briefly let the cold sink in through your layers so we made sure to keep moving. After hours of freezing rain, we made it to a town were we exploded into a cafe for some warmth. It took us a while to warm up and dry out before we checked the weather and saw that this was only the beginning. We decided to take a route that kept us lower while the storm came through for the next few days after that.
We got out early the next morning and had a great few hours of walking before finding a nice spot to take a break. As I checked the map, I realized we were not moving in the right direction. Demoralized, we realized we had been walking for 3 hours in the wrong direction. We sat there, wondering what to do, when a truck drove by. I ran out onto the road and must have looked crazy as I flagged down the car. He took us back to where we had started a few hours before and we tried again to make some progress on the day. Over the next few days we road walked through rural Montana and watched the clouds hang over the mountains. Every morning there was a new blanket of snow on the ridge and we felt lucky not to be there. We made it to east glacier Park and prepared ourselves for the last week and Glacier national park. Mile marker 2949