Trip Date: July 17-18, 2017
The next morning I went up to check out the Sue Lake overlook. It turned out to be the the better of two impulsive decisions that day.
Just looking at the view from here was definitely worth the extra couple miles.
I'd gone the whole trip so far bummed I hadn't seen a bear. This was definitely a thrill to see--even if it was only a black bear (I think...).
I was almost back to the trailhead and I decided to take a slightly different way back. I'd been disappointed that there was no easy way to turn my hike into a loop so this sounded great. My family had dropped me off at the Loop on their way out of town but I decided to head out to the Packers Roost trailhead. It looked like it was about the same distance and surely there was a shuttle stop there right? Once I got there I found a small parking area that fit about 6 cars. It was obvious the shuttle wasn't gonna come down there, but surely the once I reached the road there would be one right? Nope.
Now I had a somewhat serious problem. It was now about 5:30pm, I'd already hiked about 15 miles and I didn't have a clear ride back to my car over 20 miles away. It was only 1.7 miles up the road to the Loop where I knew there was a shuttle stop but this was a very narrow road (especially this part) that makes you nervous to drive on--I definitely didn't want to walk a couple miles and risk getting crushed by a car.
It looked like about 5 miles to the Avalanche Lake TH. I felt pretty good and it seemed reasonably that I could keep up a 4 mph pace and get there by 7pm for the last shuttle around then. I would barely make it but it seemed like I didn't have a choice.
On the way I to the Avalanche Lake TH I saw some cute moose (meese?).
I kept up my required pace for the next five miles. It was pretty easy since I was walking along the grassy shoulder of the road and it was downhill or flat.
Well you guessed it. Once I reached Avalanche Lake TH I saw a sign that I'd been dreading. I'd remembered the shuttle schedule wrong. The last once had come by an hour earlier. (I'd been passed by many of them along the way). My options at this point were to hitchhike or to walk the 15 miles back to Apgar where my car was. This wouldn't be the craziest thing in the world. I actually felt pretty good but I was slowing down.
I'd never hitchhiked before but a national park felt like a good place to start. I walked for several miles with my thumb raised. Eventually someone stopped. The driver turned out to work for GNP and ran the Granite Park Chalet. She wasn't supposed to pick up hitchhikers but since she was in her own car she didn't think she'd get in trouble. We talked for a while and she told me about when she'd hitchhiked that road many years before. She had to wait over an hour before a Native American couple for her.
After she dropped me off I tried to give her some cash but she refused, saying "Just pick up somebody else someday. Pay it forward". I will.