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