Leaving Lincoln, MT, tomorrow morning to hike into the Bob Marshall Wilderness. We may have very limited cell service for the next 11 days but will update when we reach East Glacier, ca. Sept. 7.
The last four days was beautiful hiking. Steep climbs and views of the rolling mountains with sections of woods and golden pastures. Yesterday was one of our toughest days, hiking along the ridge line with strong winds, colder temps, and sleet/hail/rain. But today we were drinking coffee and eating diner food for lunch inLincoln, MT. As the wise and more experienced hikers tell us, good times followed by bad times followed by good times. Don’t leave before the party is over.
The last two weeks since Yellowstone have been different. Since we took the Butte-Big Sky Cutoff, we have done a lot of roadwalking. Quicker miles but hard on the feet and legs. Our daily mileage average was 23 miles a day, not as fast as most CDT hikers but fast for us! One sad effect is that I’m experiencing shin splints again in my left leg. Fingers crossed it doesn’t become too painful.
Along the Cutoff we passed through a number of small towns: Whitehall, Ennis, and Harrison. All very hospitable and welcoming. We spent the night in the town hall in Whitehall, next door to the fire station in Harrison. Lots of diners and ice cream. All in all, a good time.
Today is our last zero-miles rest day, in Helena. Tomorrow we begin the last stretch: Helena to Lincoln to The Bob Marshall Wilderness to Glacier National Park to FINISH! I’m not sure what to expect along the way, “The Bob” is over 130 miles long and remote. We’ll be carrying eight days of food, one of the heaviest food hauls of our trip. From looking at other hikers’ photos, the landscape looks like some steep climbs mixed with rolling hills. Definitely at a lower elevation than Colorado, with more oxygen and easier breathing.
Will hopefully post next week. We’re spending more time in the woods, less in town. Onward!!
We hiked through Yellowstone this past week. Such a difference between the back country and the tourist areas. Hiking through the Shoshone Geyser Basin, we saw a geyser that erupted every minute, plus beautiful hot pots and thermal areas—all to ourselves. Wonderful scenery and some of the easiest hiking of the trip.
Very different than the Old Faithful Village, with its crowds, overpriced food, and traffic. One night, we stayed at the Grant Village Campground, right next to a large group of young Girl Scouts (7-9 years old). Sad to say, the leaders spent the evening lecturing the girls on cookie sales! Later the same night, John was awoken by the sounds of a domestic argument and the arrival of the police (luckily, I slept through this). Quite the contrast to sleeping in the woods.
We have a little more than 600 miles to go. I’m guessing we will reach the Canada border mid-September. I perceive many thruhikers are going through a seventh inning slump. There’s a cooling in the air, creating an urgency to move faster. We’re taking fewer zero days and hiking bigger miles. At the same time, we’re heading into some of the most remote and demanding sections of the CDT (Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park). Feeling torn between wanting to finish (and resting) and wanting to continue (freedom).
Tomorrow we head north to avoid the fires in Idaho and western Montana, hiking an alternate route known as the Butte-Big Sky Super Cutoff. Roughly the route is Big Sky - Ennis - Whitehall - Helena - Bob Marshall Wilderness - Glacier National Park - Finish!
I overuse the word challenging when writing about our CDT hike. So I’m hitting the thesaurus to describe our last five days of hiking.
The last five days of hiking in the Wind River Range have been 1. Beautiful, 2. Rewarding, and 3. Demanding, taxing, formidable, arduous, and effortful.
We are now in grizzly bear country, so we headed out armed with bear spray and a heavy five days of food packed in our Ursacks (bear bags). Our hike began with a gradual 1,000 foot climb back to the CDT red line and continued uphill for another five miles before we camped among the clouds and granite spires of the Wind River Range.
In talking about the more 3. Demanding, taxing, formidable, arduous, and effortful parts of our journey, I worry that I may sound like a bit of a whiner. No shame. I hereby declare that one can be appreciative and a whiner at the same time.
The first evening we encountered hail and rain (comment: raincoats and rain pants are a bit of a joke since we always end up wet through and through). Stopped early at the very top of our climb and set up our tent, scrambling to cook dinner between rain showers. Since we entered grizzly territory, all of our cooking is done far away from the tent, very different than previously when we’d cook and eat in our tent.
But one thing about rainy weather, you gain an immense appreciation for being dry and warm. That night we told one another several times how great it felt to be dressed in our woolies, snuggly in our down sleeping bags. Followed by the next morning, when we put our cold and wet clothes back on and packed our precious dry woolies safely in our packs.
If we had brought along a novice backpacker with us, I truly doubt they would have ever backpacked again after this particular experience. Hiking in hail, cooking and eating in the rain, and putting on cold, wet clothes the next morning. As seasoned hikers, we expect days/nights like these but know that they are followed by sunshine, dry weather, and all of the other rewards that come with using your muscles, heart, lungs, and positive thinking to move through this beautiful world. Good times/bad times.
We had originally planned on hiking through to Yellowstone but diverted to Dubois, WY, so I could visit Urgent Care to check on a suspected UTI. Pretty sure I had an infection but by the time we reached Dubois, it seemed to have run its course. $150 to receive the green light that I was indeed in tip-top shape.
We have collected all of our back country camping permits and are ready to be Yellowstone tourists! Fun times ahead.