Tag Archives: montana

The last days of Northern Montana

Thunderstorms have been rolling in afternoons, hot & muggy – but watching the rain on the horizon from the ridge is magical.
Things u find on trail – live ammo. Ground score?
Sharing the trail with the bovines. Near Dana spring after a 20 mike dry stretch…
I dunno why they call them butterflies… all I ever see them eat are thistle and turds ūüí©
Met a nice young fella named Gator – he‚Äôs already 1500 miles in having hiked the Idaho Centennial Trail & connected to the CDT southbound via the Pacific Northwest Trail. Iz pleasant to have some company for a few days. Ridge walking into Helena…

Harpo’s CDT Journal #6


July 28

22 miles


Today’s scenery reminds me of the Sierra. Super tall granite rock faces and lakes and ALOT of climbing. Almost 6000 feet ascent. 
The day is pleasant though we have an unrealistic goal of making it to town for a free music show. Once we start climbing, and after some early morning bush whacking, we give up and take long food breaks to help the miles along. 
At a bridge before our last big climb of the day I reveal my secret to Groucho. I want to be having fun but I feel super bummed. I don’t know if this is a phase or what but I don’t care about being a thru hiker. Always pushing to the next town or trying to do 25-30 miles or whatever… It’s feeling like a job. 
Am I done thru hiking? 
I cry and Groucho waxes extremely supportive. Helping me the last few hours of the day with jokes and encouragement. Tho I’m still very whiny. My PERIOD is coming in soon … I just know it. 
At 7pm “we still haven’t seen any humans”, remarks Groucho. Cursing us, because at the lake in one mile we see at least 15… More than any other wilderness location our trip. We breeze past the crowd and camp by a charming alpine creek amidst wildflowers. 


July 29

20 hiked +4 on a bus 
We finish the climb around dawn and a prairie dog type animal chirps at us over breakfast at the pass. 
We make it into Big Sky by noon for resupply. It’s boasts a suburban-feeling town center with an excellent outfitter, and a good grocery store where we can eat and do wifi at picnic tables in the shade outside. 
We relax until 4:00 when we take the free hourly bus to the trailhead. And then we set off on the next 8 miles of mosquito-ridden trail before sleep. Tomorrow we enter Yellowstone!!


July 30

31 miles
Today the tread on my shoes fails. Either that or my PMS bloat has disrupted my inner ear balance. I fall no fewer than 4 times, always skidding out, landing on my back with one leg splayed in front and the other leg bent to back. It is not comfortable and nor does it hurt… Unlike my uterus which feels like it is turning itself inside out. I must be dehydrated. I have never experienced this intensity of cramps on trail. I feel like throwing up and pooping and crawling into a cat hole and dying. I request 4 breaks between 10-11am. Most of them to cry. I think the endorphins help a little. I also take a prescription strength dose of Naproxin. This doesn’t work so I take a little more. 
Sometime around 1pm my problems ease and we approach the boundary of Yellowstone on the sky rim trail. We are blown away by the sights on this 8 mile ridge walk along the NW boundary of the park. 
Around 4pm we descend and good thing because we encounter another afternoon thunder shower but are safely in the trees. Then around 7pm a burn area and sun thru rain and the coolest rainbow. I am exhausted by my morning ordeal but we see a herd of wild elk and I feel hyped to be in this beautiful place. 


Night falls and we hike hard to make it to our ranger-permitted campsite. We get there by 10pm – our first night hike of the CDT. 
It’s eeire. There is no one here (we can tell by lack of bear bags on the pole) but this campsite is supposed to support 12 humans and as many horses and the ranger made it sound like the park was pretty packed. Where is everyone?

July 31

16 miles
We get up at first light and immediately start a rigorous ascent toward electric pass. It is very difficult after yesterday’s 30+ miles and I listen to music to help me along. The first time I’ve employed music on the CDT. A couple miles in we officially cross into Wyoming!!! one state done! At the pass we see a small Elk posse on the ridge across the valley also climb 1000 feet. They are better at it. 
In a few miles we begin eagerly anticipating Mammoth Hot Springs. Our next resupply town. On our Map it looks like they have town food, a grocery, a ranger station and camp ground. 
As we get close we smell sulphuric fumes. At first I think it’s Groucho’s butt but then we see hot bubbling crevices in the powdery rocks and we realize this smell is the springs! The structures that evolve from these springs become more architectural, strange, smelly, artful and outrageous as we approach civilization. Finally, in town is a monumental hot spring structure with hundreds of tourists climbing up wooden ramps in polite and milling lines, in the heat of day, to get close to the natural wonder. It’s weirdly like Disneyland. Welcome to America!


We split up and I go to the campground to secure a spot at their site reserved for backpackers and cyclists -a “hike&bike”. Groucho goes to the ranger station to plan our itinerary thru Yellowstone. He success in locking down 3 sites for us. One in 10 miles, then 22 miles, then 8 miles and then a 17 out to the next ranger station/hike&bike. This is perfect because we want some easier “rest” days.
At dusk a knowledgable ranger gives an excellent talk about the reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone and the soap opera story of wolf “21”. We are hyped because our itinerary will take us thru some of the territories she mentions. 

Continuing South

 

Sunrise in the Lee Metcalf wilderness, Spanish Peaks division – like a mini Sierra


Our journey starts to lose coherence. The routes are unraveling as we move south, road walking into Ennis, hitching out, road walking, bridge jumping, running out of food and water – but everything is fine. This is who we are; slightly fractured humans attempting to assemble a meaningful narrative from seemingly disparate parts. Traversing the unknown is always a roll of the dice (thanks Mallarm√© for that), but the payout is great at 1000 to 1. So sitting here in Yellowstone after too man miles and not enough food, surrounded by American car culture, sugar crazed kids, foreign tongues and unexpected thunder storms everything is as it should be…  

The border of Yellowstone national park at the north west intersection with the Skyline trail

Harpo headed thru the cut on the Sportsman Lake trail, Yellowstone

  

Disnyfied natural attractions in Mammoth, Yellowstone

  

the view from the top – well worth the 6000 feet vertical gain for the day