Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Dubois to Lander, Wyoming: CDT 2013

"This is the most rain I have experienced since Glacier," I mentioned to a northbound hiker named Beef Stew, when I arrived at my designated camp site in Yellowstone. Beef Stew was also assigned to the same camp site. The Yellowstone back country office mostly lumped all of the CDT hikers into the same sites as we traveled through the park. It worked out well for us I think. That night Spinns and Baboon, as well as another southbound hiker named Raffle also joined us that night. It was one of those rare nights where several of us thru hikers were able to sit around a warm camp fire and trade war stories and share some laughs after a cold, wet evening hike.
"It's rained almost every day since I've been hiking through Wyoming," Beef Stew replied.
His reply almost seemed hard to believe since Montana was so dry. Well, as it has turned out, Wyoming has been pretty wet for us traveling south as well.

We have just traveled through the magnificent Wind River Range, one of the highlights along the CDT. I mistakenly thought that the Winds were "America's Best Kept Secret." It appears that they may have been a secret only to my own consciousness. As stunning as these mountains are, they also were very crowded this past week. I have never seen so many back packers in one area at one time. I can't believe I'm going to say this, but it made me appreciate the permit system that exists in some areas of the Sierra. The Wind River Mountains are very reminiscent of the Sierra Nevada, except as one day hiker I met mentioned, "They are like the Sierra except that it rains here!"Afternoon storms were common this past week as well as nights with passing rain showers, heavy at times. Good practice for staying dry and setting up good shelters.

One interesting experience I had occurred at a place called Knapsack Col. It's a beautiful and austere section of trail that climbs high along craggy granite peaks, travels over a pass where a "rapidly melting glacier" awaits on the other side with a descent just as, if not more steep than the initial climb to the pass. Raffle, a southbound hiker from Minnesota with a big red beard, and an ability to consume unfathomable amounts of food in town, joined me for the climb. After a somewhat difficult, and tiring climb to the pass, we reached the glacier and planned our descent after a short break. The directions on our maps warned hikers of traveling over the glacier due to rocks that tend to give out on, and slide on the ice.  This was my first time being so close to a glacier that I assumed the directions were referring to a large snowfield to our right. It seemed odd to me, because there were no rocks on the snowfield, and the descent looked simple enough.
"Maybe the glacier has melted substantially since Jonathan Ley (the map maker) last visited here," I mentioned to Raffle.
As it turned out, and as I should know by now, Jonathan Ley is always right. Before I knew what had happened, I found myself slipping down the glacier, large quantities of rocks rolling down the steep slope.
"We sure are contributing to erosion!" Raffle yelled from above.
The glacier was hidden under a thin layer of dirt and rock. What I thought was dry trail, was actually a layer of ice that could be seen once I was walking on it, but by then it was too late. The situation did not feel particularly dangerous, but it did escalate the potential for injury, and was a learning lesson for sure. It was neat seeing first hand how glaciers move rocks and dirt, even while "rapidly melting."

Overall, the Winds were definitely a treat. The pica population seems to be thriving here. I saw another black bear, antelope, elk, and many deer in areas where people were not as common. This week we head into the Great Divide Basin, a welcome change of scenery through what sounds like desert. Water rationing will be a must this week. Trail life continues to be good, certain strangers still amaze me with their kindness and availability to offer a helping hand. Thanks for reading...


CDT Photos - Montana, pt. 6

More photos from the Glacier NP stretch early in the hike.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

CDT Progress Update - 8/22

Mark texted me from Pinedale, WY last Thursday.  His next stop will be Lander, WY.

View Mark's CDT Hike - 2013 in a larger map

Friday, August 16, 2013

West Yellowstone to Dubois Wyoming: CDT 2013

"So, how does it feel to be hiking another long trail?" I asked "Manparty," a fellow southbounder I met on the trail a few weeks ago. He and his wife are hiking their third long trail in as many years, finishing the Triple Crown. (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail.)
"It feels like the trail is home," he replied. Not quite the answer I expected, but pretty cool nonetheless.

Last week, before entering West Yellowstone, it was getting late in the evening. Storm clouds had gathered, in fact a small thunderstorm had just rolled through the area. It was getting dark outside, temperatures were dropping, and I still was hoping for a quick hitch into town before darkness completely fell. Just before I reached the highway, I entered an outcropping where I could look down on the road. I could see numerous headlights and break lights from the cars heading east and west along the highway. Something about the scene created a wave of homesickness. It reminded me of a cold autumn evening on the east coast. I longed for comfort.

Interesting enough, after spending a great day and night in West Yellowstone, I was hiking back up the highway toward the Divide after getting a hitch 3 miles short of my destination. It was hot and sunny, and I was anxious to reach the trail. Sure enough, as soon as I entered the woods, I was greeted by the same familiar plants and trees that I've begun to know so well. A small bush covered with huckleberries seemed to offer a warm welcome back. I had a "huckleberry bomb." It's not rocket science, basically I gather as many huckleberries as I can into my hand and slam them into my mouth for a wild explosion of nature's sweet, caloric goodness. I felt like I was welcomed "home." Of course, the all too familiar shoulder pain, and foot pain also greeted me shortly after. But it was good to be back on trail.

Yellowstone was fantastic. It felt like a sin to hike through the park in two days, but that was how it went down. If I could offer any advice to future CDTers it would be to try and milk at least another day out of it. I was glad I obtained my permit at the West Yellowstone ranger's office rather than camp along the park's border and day hike all the way to Old Faithful. It allowed for a much more relaxed approach into the Upper Geyser Basin. How fantastic it was to approach the basin on foot. To look down on the steaming valley from above, imagining what it must have been like for early explorers of the day. The area was obviously unlike anything I have ever seen on trail, and will likely see again.  Of course there were hoards of tourists, but I really didn't mind. I was just glad that on this day, I was not one of the two men who almost got into a fist fight in the parking lot over a parking space, or one of the motorists who almost ran down a group of pedestrians crossing at the crosswalk in order to escape the parking lot mayhem and reach the highway a couple seconds faster. No, on this day, I was the filthy, exhausted, disheveled man sitting under a tree at Old Faithful, while a cold drizzle fell from the darkening sky, drinking a Dr. Pepper and eating a blueberry and cheese danish, at peace with the world: Hiker Trash and proud of it!

At the moment, I am in Dubois Wyoming, a place that seems out of this world from anywhere I've been so far. Next, we head into the Winds, supposedly one of the highlights of the trail. It's already starting to feel late in the season. Nights are getting colder, animals can be seen gathering and storing food for the winter. Those of us heading south still have a ways to go. Anyhow, thanks for reading and have a good week everyone!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Leadore Montana to West Yellowstone: CDT 2013

I only have a few minutes to type at the West Yellowstone Library. It's been another memorable week and a half on the trail. The CDT is really growing on me lately. It's personality reminds me of a brilliant, yet disorganized artist. I imagine walking into the artist's home; There are papers and boxes scattered about, tables and furniture covered with items. The artist tells you he wants to show you something. You wait in anticipation. The artist begins scrambling through the mess. Sometimes it may take a couple hours. Sometimes half a day. Maybe even a day or two. All of a sudden, the artist pulls out a painting, a poem, or a song that he's been looking for and says "Hey, check this out!" All you can do is stand there with mouth agape in awed silence, or exclaim "Holy shit, that's awesome!"

Such is life on the CDT. I've really enjoyed Southern Montana/Idaho. Tomorrow or the next day I will walk into Wyoming, into Yellowstone. What lies ahead, I can only guess. My time on the computer is just about up. Trail life is good, I'm looking forward to new horizons...


CDT Photos - Montana, pt. 4

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

CDT Progress Update - 8/5

Flyboxer arrived in Lima, MT yesterday. Next stop: West Yellowstone, MT by Friday.

View Mark's CDT Hike - 2013 in a larger map