We are now on top of the Chinese Wall

We are now traveling atop the crest of thee Chinese Wall.

There is no trail here. The terrain here consists of spartan landscaping dominated by sharp, limestone shale.

There is a 2,000 foot cliff (the Chinese Wall) and huge snow cornices to our left. There is a steep shale slope to our right.

It’s beautiful and remote up here. We feel alone.

It’s awesome.

Godspeed – RJ

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Enjoy live dispatches and photos via satellite from this expedition online at http://www.ryanjordan.com/ and receive updates from Twitter via @bigskyry (http://www.twitter.com/bigskyry).

Day 7: Staging for the Wall

Day 7 – Staging for the Wall

We spent a great part of the morning today … “managing a medical issue.” Nothing terribly urgent, but one of those things that if you get it wrong, the consequences can be fatal. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to live blog about it, so as to protect the confidentiality of the patient and the Montana High Adventure Base, but we are monitoring our patient under the close consult of our Camp Director and Health Officer via sat phone. There is no drama at this time and “the issue” seems to be resolving itself. We are otherwise proceeding along our route normally and we are in fine health overall. This evening, our patient is happy and feeling much better.

Any talk of wilderness medicine is interesting and engaging for our participants. All of us (youth and adults) hold active certifications in Wilderness First Aid or higher and we are fascinated by everything from internal medicine to the skin peeling between our toes (“packrafter toes”).

After a late start from camp as the temperatures began to climb, we finished our descent into the beautiful White River valley. After reaching the river and turning north, we enjoyed the wettest miles of the trek. The White is flooding its banks and carving new channels near Brushy Park, and in some locations, the river is sharing a side channel with our trail. Hip-deep river crossings, walking through mucky side channels, schwucking through mud bogs, and icy cold water that numbs the feet – these were today’s defining moments.

Oh, and predator tracks.

Our footprints followed grizzly bear and wolf tracks the entire day today. Many of those tracks were fresh in the mud. We have yet to see a bear on this trek, but we did notice a “brown thing” on the hillside above us … that disappeared a bit later when we tried to find it again.

We are camped in a meadow adjacent to the river and far away from the main trail. An 80 foot tall lone pine stands sentinel in the meadow and provides our shade while we rest and scout the beginning of our route to the northern crest of the Chinese Wall, which looms 2,000 feet above us directly to the east of our camp.

We have now traveled a little more than 70 miles and have about 35 remaining.

Tomorrow morning we make the 2,000 foot climb to the crest of the Chinese Wall and begin our off trail traverse to White River Pass, which we hope to reach in a couple of days.

In preparation for what will be a tough but spectacular few days, we are playing hearts, cooking noodles, and dropping a fly in the stream for one of the little cutthroats that inhabit this icy river.

Godspeed – RJ

Photo: Large Wolf Track

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Enjoy live dispatches and photos via satellite from this expedition online at http://www.ryanjordan.com/ and receive updates from Twitter via @bigskyry (http://www.twitter.com/bigskyry).

Day 7: Staging for the Wall

Day 7 – Staging for the Wall

We spent a great part of the morning today … “managing a medical issue.” Nothing terribly urgent, but one of those things that if you get it wrong, the consequences can be fatal. It wouldn’t be appropriate for me to live blog about it, so as to protect the confidentiality of the patient and the Montana High Adventure Base, but we are monitoring our patient under the close consult of our Camp Director and Health Officer via sat phone. There is no drama at this time and “the issue” seems to be resolving itself. We are otherwise proceeding along our route normally and we are in fine health overall. This evening, our patient is happy and feeling much better.

Any talk of wilderness medicine is interesting and engaging for our participants. All of us (youth and adults) hold active certifications in Wilderness First Aid or higher and we are fascinated by everything from internal medicine to the skin peeling between our toes (“packrafter toes”).

After a late start from camp as the temperatures began to climb, we finished our descent into the beautiful White River valley. After reaching the river and turning north, we enjoyed the wettest miles of the trek. The White is flooding its banks and carving new channels near Brushy Park, and in some locations, the river is sharing a side channel with our trail. Hip-deep river crossings, walking through mucky side channels, schwucking through mud bogs, and icy cold water that numbs the feet – these were today’s defining moments.

Oh, and predator tracks.

Our footprints followed grizzly bear and wolf tracks the entire day today. Many of those tracks were fresh in the mud. We have yet to see a bear on this trek, but we did notice a “brown thing” on the hillside above us … that disappeared a bit later when we tried to find it again.

We are camped in a meadow adjacent to the river and far away from the main trail. An 80 foot tall lone pine stands sentinel in the meadow and provides our shade while we rest and scout the beginning of our route to the northern crest of the Chinese Wall, which looms 2,000 feet above us directly to the east of our camp.

We have now traveled a little more than 70 miles and have about 35 remaining.

Tomorrow morning we make the 2,000 foot climb to the crest of the Chinese Wall and begin our off trail traverse to White River Pass, which we hope to reach in a couple of days.

In preparation for what will be a tough but spectacular few days, we are playing hearts, cooking noodles, and dropping a fly in the stream for one of the little cutthroats that inhabit this icy river.

Godspeed – RJ

Photos:

– Trekking Through Muck
– Large Wolf Track

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Enjoy live dispatches and photos via satellite from this expedition online at http://www.ryanjordan.com/ and receive updates from Twitter via @bigskyry (http://www.twitter.com/bigskyry).

Day 6: In View of The Wall

Day 6: In View of the Wall

(sent the morning after when we got better sat reception!)

Our objective for this trekking leg is simple: to complete an off trail traverse of the crest of the Chinese Wall from Larch Hill Pass to White River Pass. Today we spent trekking the first part of the approach to this objective.

Heat, 3000 feet of elevation gain, and 10 miles with 40-45+ lb packs (which feel remarkably better than the 50-55+ lb packs we were carrying 4 days ago!) were today’s defining features, thrown in with a bit of dehydration and general malaise just to remind us that we are not invincible.

Our route today took us up and away from the S Fk Flathead River at the Black Bear Pack Bridge to the east up the lush Helen Creek drainage, then up to the Pagoda Divide.

We looked back at one point to 3,000 feet below, where a massive shimmering ribbon of water flowing at 7,000+ cfs brought exclamations of “Whoa!” and “We packrafted that!”

We are camped this evening on a beautiful alpine bench at about 7,200 feet just SW of Pagoda Mountain. We have a snowmelt creek running through camp and a spectacular view of almost our entire Chinese Wall route. Avalanche lilies are blooming and there’s lots of snow adjacent to our tarps.

We spent the evening chatting on a large limestone boulder and watching the alpenglow fade off the Wall, with the buildup of some massive and beautiful cloud formations.

The Wall is virtually snow free and thus, out plan to attempt this off-piste high route instead of the regular trail below and to the Wall’s eastern face has been solidified.

We are aiming to camp somewhere in the Upper White River drainage, towards Larch Hill Pass, tomorrow night.

Photos:

1. The B&W photo is a silhouette of our boys on the big limestone boulder where they spend the evening chatting and gazing at our Wall route.

2. the color photo is the crux of our route (the hardest and most complicated part), bathed in the beautiful alpenglow of the sun just before it disappears over the far horizon.

Godspeed – RJ

Enjoy live dispatches and photos via satellite from this expedition online at http://www.ryanjordan.com/ and receive updates from Twitter via @bigskyry (http://www.twitter.com/bigskyry).

Day 6: In View of The Wall

Day 6: In View of the Wall

Our objective for this trekking leg is simple: to complete an off trail traverse of the crest of the Chinese Wall from Larch Hill Pass to White River Pass. Today we spent trekking the first part of the approach to this objective.

Heat, 3000 feet of elevation gain, and 10 miles with 40-45+ lb packs (which feel remarkably better than the 50-55+ lb packs we were carrying 4 days ago!) were today’s defining features, thrown in with a bit of dehydration and general malaise just to remind us that we are not invincible.

Our route today took us up and away from the S Fk Flathead River at the Black Bear Pack Bridge to the east up the lush Helen Creek drainage, then up to the Pagoda Divide.

We looked back at one point to 3,000 feet below, where a massive shimmering ribbon of water flowing at 7,000+ cfs brought exclamations of “Whoa!” and “We packrafted that!”

We are camped this evening on a beautiful alpine bench at about 7,200 feet just SW of Pagoda Mountain. We have a snowmelt creek running through camp and a spectacular view of almost our entire Chinese Wall route. Avalanche lilies are blooming and there’s lots of snow adjacent to our tarps.

We spent the evening chatting on a large limestone boulder and watching the alpenglow fade off the Wall, with the buildup of some massive and beautiful cloud formations.

The Wall is virtually snow free and thus, out plan to attempt this off-piste high route instead of the regular trail below and to the Wall’s eastern face has been solidified.

We are aiming to camp somewhere in the Upper White River drainage, towards Larch Hill Pass, tomorrow night.

Godspeed – RJ

Enjoy live dispatches and photos via satellite from this expedition online at http://www.ryanjordan.com/ and receive updates from Twitter via @bigskyry (http://www.twitter.com/bigskyry).