As I said before, day 4 was our last easy day. Day 5 would be a true test for our crew, and not in the ways we expected. The day opened with a steep ascent from Black Mountain Camp to the summit of Black Mountain, about a 2,000 foot climb in just over a mile.
Jacob entertained us with lines from U2's "Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For" (i.e., "I have climbed highest mountain") and we all enjoyed some Mike & Ike's at the peak. The descent from Black Mountain was long and steep, falling about 3,500 feet as we worked our way to Clark's Fork.
At Clark's Fork we ran into crew 2 from our troop for the last time. They had just finished their conservation project doing some trail building and maintenance and looked pretty beat.
We remained in high spirits, thinking the worst was behind us and that it would be a relatively smooth (albeit long) journey to our camp.
The climb to Window Rock caught us off guard. It was only about a 1,000 ft climb but was steep and the sun was beating down on us throughout the ascent. Our goal was to rest on the peak and have lunch there. We succeeded but the heat combined with 10 miles plus two tough climbs were starting to take a toll on our feet. Jacob and I have notoriously rugged feet that may callous but never blister yet we both started seeing signs of hot spots and possible blisters.
Window Rock was amazing though - tremendous 360 views and a great place to crash for a long lunch.
We descended down to Ute Gulch for another food resupply and it was very hard to pack up and keep going after that break. Julie had this to say: "Was going to send a postcard but decided too tired to fill it out. Should have asked for postcard-writing service from staffer!"
After a total time of over 8 hours and 16 miles of distance covered we arrived at Deer Lake Meadow campsite. This was probably our least favorite camp on the trek - crowded and a long hike to our bear lines. The good news is we were close to our water and there was a nice big log to sit on to give ourselves handkerchief baths to clear off the dust and grime. My feet were really starting to show the wear at this point with sizable blisters on both my little toes. Another 15 miles ahead of us on day 6!