Two weeks ago, Uffda and I got to Steamboat Springs, CO. It’s the last stop before Wyoming and approximately the halfway point on the CDT. It was tempting to keep going, but we felt we had some unfinished business back in the San Juan and Santa Fe National forests. Both forests were closed the day we got to them and we wanted to go back and hike through the reopened sections of trail before moving onward. The San Juan’s were beautiful, intense, and intimidating during monsoon season. There’s nothing quite like seeing lightning strike the peak you’re walking toward while above 12,000 feet and cowering in a small cluster of trees. I came close to soiling my pants a few times, but luckily we survived and can now move forward with peace of mind! #cdtlogistics#embracethebrutality#cdt2018#cdt#continentaldividetrail#vasqueview#thruhike#optoutside
Day 3: Checking bear bags at 5:30am. Helped a distressed backpacker who got separated from her boyfriend put us over an hour behind. Broke down camp (11.5k ft. elev.) and hiked up to the Continental Divide at about 12.8k ft. elev. amazingly got cell phone service and FaceTimed Gammy. Afternoon monsoons threatened at the top and we made it down to 12k feet before having to get in lightning position in frozen rain for about 30 min. Got tents up, stripped wet clothes and warmed up in sleeping bags until it passed. Saw a mother quail protecting her fledglings and heard the cries of a coyote pack nearby. A low of 39 inside tent. Slept from 9pm to 1am. Lay awake until 3am and woke up at 5:30am.
Second day involved roughly 5.2 miles from Glenn's Lake to Elizabeth Lake. We backtracked to the river crossing. This time doing it barefoot so our boots could dry out throughout the day. My feet were destroyed. Several large blisters on each foot. Luckily my copilot had mole skin and another hiker we met at the river crossing had athletic tape. The hike was fairly easy. Slight elevation gain. We were rewarded with an insanely beautiful waterfall and shortly after arrived at our next camp. Elizabeth Lake was absolutely stunning. The views at Elizabeth Lake are hands down some of the most beautiful natural scenery I've seen in my life. The first photo in this post is at the foot of the lake.
CDT North, 7/19-20/18, days 31-32. Ferocious critters attacked me twice in 2 days - in each case a brave little mama grouse protecting her cute chicks. I told them that I was just joking in a previous post about grabbing a "fool hen" for supper like the pioneers did and said I would never hurt them or their young, but they didn't believe me so I moseyed along.
So, so hungry. So dirty and smelly. From South Pass City, where no hot food is available, I carried a big heavy sack of cold food to get me 171 miles to my resupply box at Brooks Lake Lodge, where nothing is available. Next possibility for hot food, shower and laundry would be Old Faithful, additional days away. Bad idea. I refuse to go into the anti-hiker town of Dubois, which tickets hitchhikers (i.e., CDT hikers) but will try to hitch to Lava Mountain Lodge, which has everything I need.
CDT North, 7/12-13/18, days 24-25. I lost 15 pounds in 24 days on the #continentaldividetrail if the medical scale at Miner's Grubstake is correct - that explains why I keep having to tighten my belt and hoist up my pants throughout the day. Back to my high school weight 40 years later! I am going to market the #cdt as a sure-fire way to lose weight, though not many will be foolish enough to sign up. But I do not want to keep dropping pounds at this rate, or at the Canadian border I will be a mere 140 pounds at 6'2". Many thanks to the kind people of the Episcopal (and only) church in Atlantic City for their hospitality. Most nights I have missed the fantastic night sky because I sleep soundly after hiking from dawn to dusk, but here I had to get up to use the privy, and the village looked like that moonlit New Mexican town in the famous Ansel Adams photo. It was magical.
You get out what you put in. I put around 6.5 weeks, 720 miles, and 100,000 feet of ascent (and descent), into hiking the length of the CO Rockies, seasoned with just the right amount (well, maybe a pinch/tablespoon/freightload more...) of pain and discomfort. And was amply rewarded with fantastic scenery, amazing wildlife, and kind and friendly people. On to Wyoming! Bring on the wind/heat/desert/baseball-sized mosquitos. #cdt#continentaldividetrail#beedub
CDT Day 27. Saturday, June 7. Radial Mountain to Rabbit Ears Peak. Daily Miles: 26.6. Total Miles: 563.8.
The camaraderie among fellow hikers on trail is unparalleled. I met Nuggets and John during my climb up to Parkview Lookout. Nuggets just got back on trail after recovering from gardia. He started feeling fatigued around Grand Lake: slept 12 hours at night then had to take naps after hiking a few miles. Totally depleted of energy. He knew he had to get off trail to recover. He was planning on going home to Florida and was concerned that his thru-hike might be over. John, a local who section-hiked the entire AT over 15 years, picked him up along the side of the highway. John didn’t know anything about Nuggets other than he was a thru-hiker. But based on that alone John opened his home to Nuggets and let him recover at his home for five days. They became good friends after it and John hiked up to Parkview Lookout with Nuggets before saying goodbye. Stories like this are not surprising to hear on the trail.
John taught me the difference between spruce, firs and pines on the way up. If you rub your hands against the needles of a spruce it’s not a pleasant feeling where firs are softer. Pine trees are easy to spot as they’re pretty much all dead in Colorado from invasive beetles.
At the end of the day I saw what I believe was a coyote hanging out next to the trail. He saw me but couldn’t be bothered. I slowly walked around and kept my eyes on it until I passed over the ridge.
I got to camp and realized I lost my toothbrush and toothpaste on trail. Luckily I was going into Steamboat the next day as I felt the sugar from the day chipping away at my enamel. I’m sure another thru-hiker picked it up and trashed it for me. I know I would have.
CDT Day 26. Friday, July 6. Grand Lake to Radial Mountain. Daily Miles: 15.9, plus 5 bonus miles (20.9). Total Miles: 537.2
The hiker mooch I mentioned in the last post—who I will now refer to as Cadger—was able to sweet talk out of me a bowl of my Captain Crunch before I left the lodge. I tried to hitchhike but no cars were picking me up, which I thought was unusual since Colorado has been an easy state to hitch in. Walking as I had my thumb up I discovered why: the highway led to the RMNP entrance and the drivers weren’t locals but tourists who were probably scared of hitchhikers, even ones with trekking poles in their hands. I walked up to the gate and paid my $15 to get in even though I wouldn’t have been charged if I stayed on trail last night. Frustrated, I finally gave up and made my peace with the expensive bonus miles. Sure enough, I was then offered an unsolicited ride from a young Frenchman living out of a minivan. He drove me the one mile I had left to the Bowen Gulch Trailhead. Nice jesture but unnecessary at that point. I headed to Bowen Pass where Peppers caught up to me just before. I was startled when he called my name because my earbuds were in. As soon as I turned around and saw him, thunder rumbled like some old Bela Lugosi horror movie. We walked maybe a tenth of a mile talking when I noticed we were about 10 feet from a female moose. We looked at her confounded, she looked at us confounded, then we looked at each other confounded. Moose have a reputation for being ornry and agressive so we moved on as quickly and as calmly as possible. She went back to chewing grass and we went back to chatting. We hiked over Bowen Pass, which reminded us of a PCT pass as it was a steep up-and-over instead of a ridgewalk. I pushed on a little farther than I wanted to make sure I camped next to a water source. Hikers in the bubble were talking about renting an Air BnB in Steamboat Springs, and I was eager to partake. That was before I knew my AT friends Sonic and Mojito, who lived in Steamboat, would pull out all the stops to make sure I had a comfortable stay in town.
July 20th, 2018 - CDT Day 77 - 31 miles
We did a quick 18.5 into Mack's Inn for lunch. We said some goodbyes to friends, heading multiple ways, probably never to see again. We slowly moved down the road, establishment to establishment, until we finally made it out at 4:45. A daunting near 3,000 foot climb out of town did little to motivate. We are now, up and over, laying in a field surrounded by wildflowers.
Also, Idaho's people have been pretty great so far.
7/17/18 #CDT Day 9. Hiked: 28.1. Total: 136.9.
The plan for the day was for all of us(Tom Tom, Bee, Will and I) to meet at a fork in the trail 27 miles ahead. We woke early and set off.
The trail was fairly easy going aside from stream crossings and blowdowns, neither of which were all that difficult to navigate, just annoying.
Toward the afternoon as we climbed over a small rise covered in yellow wildflowers Bee said, "it sure would be nice to get some rain right now." 30 minutes later a gentle rain started to fall which quickly turned into a less gentle downpour. It only lasted for half an hour but it was enough to soak everything and ensure that my feet stayed wet for the rest of the day. Thanks B
I hiked for another 5-6 hours with wet shoes and wet socks and reached the agreed upon junction after 27 miles at 7:45. No one else was there. I dropped my pack, dug a cathole, ate some nuts and waited. 30 minutes later and still no one showed up.
The area was pretty crap for camping as it had burned the year before and was just full of undergrowth, dead burned husks of trees, and big piles of bear scat. I saw on Guthooks that there was a ranger station with good camping 1.1 miles ahead so I left a note for the rest of the party and hiked on ahead.
Arriving at the ranger station I saw Heather, the hiker we'd run into the day before at the other ranger station. She had gotten ahead of us by taking an alternate route that skipped the 5 mile climb we'd completed to camp the night before. Unfortunately the ranger station was occupied by a trail crew. Unforunate because that meant we couldn't sleep on their dry porch. Oh well, it was still a nice camp and it was nice that the trail crew was out there clearing the trail for us.
The cabin was set on the bank of a river set in the valley between towering mountains. The beauty of the backwoods consistently leaves me in awe.
No one else made it to the cabin that night and I didn't blame them. Pushing 28.1 miles with wet feet HURT. A lot. I only had one small blister on a toe but about every part of my foot was red, raw, and in agony.
There were bear prints and scat near our camp so I slept lightly that night.
To be honest I'm not sure exactly what I did to make this turn out so well, but, well here it is. I feel like that analogy of the room full of monkeys hammering away at the typewriter sometimes when I'm editing photos.
Ran out of room to update where I am currently in the last post. Sitting in Augusta with Will, Tom Tom, Bee, and Heather. We all came off at the benchmark exit which was some 130 miles after East Glacier. I'd planned to carry 67 more miles to Lincoln but decided to stick with the group. Hiking is so much more enjoyable with good company. I learned that lesson the hard way after the 40 days of solitude on the AT in Oct and Nov of 2016.
We're taking a zero tomorrow so we can attend the annual rodeo that happens here. It's supposed to be quite the wild party.
I'm working on photos and videos all day and tomorrow as well but taking a break now to go grab some potatoes and brats from the grocery and cook them in the microwave at the bunkhouse where we're staying.
This was taken 2 nights ago from camp at the Gooseberry ranger station in the #bobmarshallwilderness#thruhikesyndicate#cdt#continentaldividetrail#cdt2018#thruhike2018#montana
CDT Day 25. Thursday, July 5. Rocky Mountain National Park Loop. Daily Miles: 24.2. Total Miles: 516.3
I was the fence about taking the 24-mile Rocky Mountain National Park loop or the four-mile shortcut to make up for lost miles when I took time off in Denver. Most hikers at The Shadow Cliff Lodge were planning on the shortcut because the loop was pretty much more of what we had been seeing in Colorado. RMNP was right there and I had no idea when I’d be back so I figured I had no excuse.
Sure enough, the loop was more of the same. But it was good cruising terrain as the well-maintained National Park trail had smooth tread and low grades. I was also slack-packing—only carrying enough food, water and rain gear—since I was returning to the lodge. I didn’t take any breaks and maintained a 3-mile-an-hour average pace, finishing in eight hours. I was also racing to get off the ridge before the thunderstorm came in. I felt great but my energy level was depleted. When I got back I cooked a pound of linguini with Prego and inhaled it all plus a bag of salad mix. I don’t think I’ve ever eaten that much pasta. My stomach felt like it was going to burst but I was ear-to-ear content.
That was also the night I met probably the biggest character and definitely the biggest mooch on the CDT. This character, who will remain nameless, was affable and always schmoozing and always smiling, which brought attention to his chipped incisor tooth. I immediately liked him. He was hiking without a cellphone so he borrowed mine to call home. He didn’t have any money so he elicited enough sympathy from a kind older woman to have her pay for his bunk and dinner. My eyebrows were definitely raised from his antics but I had no idea at this point just how far he would go with the hustling.
I spent a evening with Peppers, The Girl and their crew as we got to know the college-aged staff of the lodge. The hiker Seven O’Clock played piano as others took turns playing guitar along with him. The Girl sketched a charicature of a haggard naked woman in my journal. She joked that it was a self-portrait. I retorted that she might have body image issues.
7/16/18 #CDT Day 8. Hiked: 20.3. Total: 108.8
Started the day by making a huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, and potatoes at Brownie's hostel then walked a mile to the post office where I picked up the resupply package that SHOULD have been delivered to Brownie's the week before. Turns out this is a regular occurrance and Brownies just doesn't pick up their mail very frequently.
After several attempts I finally crammed six and a half days of food into my pack and set off to hitch a ride. Will and I wrangled a ride in a big white van after an hour of standing alongside the road and hitched to the Marias pass trailhead, skipping about 15 miles of trail. From what I hear this was a good decision - that stretch of trail was apparently not very scenic and full of bugs.
At 10:30am we set off into the wilderness proper. It felt like we were finally hiking "for real." After two hours we caught up with Tom Tom and Bee sitting by a creek eating lunch. They had hiked out of East Glacier the day before and not skipped the 15 miles.
The rest of the day we hiked more or less together. As hiking goes everyone tends to get strung out as one person will stop to take a break or fix an issue and then pass others when they need to do the same things.
We came across a small ranger cabin in the late afternoon where we met Heather and a father, son, and uncle hiking trio. We'd met Heather in Glacier briefly - she was hiking south and we were heading north. After a small break Tom Tom, Bee, Will and I hiked on for 5 miles. All uphill.
The hike up was the steepest climbing I've done on the CDT so far. It reminded me of the AT except the scenery was MUCH more beautiful.
Three hours later and completely dry on water I found myself in a small mountain valley with a roaring stream and snow-topped peaks to every side. We found a small flat spot and camped there for the evening. It's been my favorite campsite of the trip so far and I was able to capture a great image of the milky way that night.
Since we were so high up in elevation and there were no good trees to hang from I just slept with my food in my tent banking on the fact that a grizzly's not going to bother climing so high.
I’ve been passing by a lot of really neat looking old cabins recently. I have always been so impressed with the strength and grit the pioneering people who settled out had to have. Some of these cabins I hike past have to be a hundred years old and are literally in the middle of nowhere!!! The cabin in picture two was at least 30 miles from a town in any direction! The last two cabins are a little more recent.
June 15-19, 2018 - CDT Days 72-76 - 21, 29, 27, 22, 28 miles
We got out of Dubois after noon on day 72. We had a nasty ford, but still managed 21 miles.
Day 73 was limited by the permit system of Yellowstone. We hiked right to the border of the park and camped early.
Day 74, we hiked 27 to Grant Village with the intent of getting permits for the remaining days in the park, but my hitch, an amazing biologist/hiker/runner named Kathryn invited us all to camp at her trailer in the employee living park. Food and revelry for all.
Day 75, we hiked to Old Faithful village, ate, watched the geyser go off, then hitched back to Kathryn's for more fun.
Day 76 began with Hyrobics, Johnny and I cleaning up some miles, then hitching back to Old Faithful where the group all hung out for a few hours before beginning our hike out of the park, thus never technically breaking the permit rules. Sweet victory. Idaho awaits...
Decided to go a little lighter for my next trek. If I didn’t use it everyday on my last hike, I probably didn’t need it. This will help bring the miles a little easier, hopefully. Base weight is down to 8.5 lbs! Cant wait to get back out there and conquer the trails! Stay tuned for the next adventure!
CDT Day 24. Wednesday, July 4. Monarch Lake to Shadow Cliff. Daily Miles: 17.3. Total Miles: 492.1
Deuces, Bonefish and I got up early at the campsite and pushed all morning to Grand Lake. I get tunnel vision on the days I go into town and usually hike straight through with minimal breaks. Me and Deuces got into a sprawling political discussion on the way where we respectfully challenged each other’s views. It’s refreshing to have a healthy political discussion with someone in which you don’t agree. Seems rare nowadays. The terrain was relatively flat and we jumped in Granby Lake to cool off about halfway through the hike.
The town was welcoming to us. The grocery store manager loves supporting hikers and gave us a 10% discount when we purchased our resupply. We flirted with the idea of trying to talk our way into a boat with Independence Day revelers since the lake was sure to be festive for the holiday but instead decided to find the other hikers at the lodge.
We got to Shadow Cliff, a lodge that reminded me of a hut in the White Mountains but nicer. There were easily 20 thru-hikers staying there and I caught up with a few buddies I haven’t seen in awhile. A party group of hikers rolled in complete with cases of beer. We spent the evening enjoying each other’s company, enjoying the views of beautiful Grand Lake, enjoying our beer buzz, and regaling lodge guests with stories of our hike. It was a wonderful way to spend the fourth.
Landmarks: Monarch Lake, Granby Lake, Grand Lake, Colorado River, Rocky Mountain National Park
First backcountry hiking and camping trip. Day 1 didn't go according to plan, of course. We hiked several extra miles after missing a junction. Forded a river crossing just above the knees while hiking the last few miles to camp with heavy and soaked boots. It was supposed to be just over 10 miles that day. Ended up being close to 15. When we got to camp it was twilight. But we were both rewarded with something we had never seen before shortly after arriving. Check out my Insta-story for that surprise.
First time visiting Yellowstone and it surpassed every expectation. Hiking from Mexico along the #continentaldividetrail to get here made it that much more grand. Old faithful was faithful and some dude dropped his rainbow on the ground. Oh and I made it to Idaho!!