7/8 20 miles
Road walk out of town uphill. Rather than stay on the 2-lane Highway 1, there are several little dirt roads that parallel it so that helps to get away from the noise. Beautiful countryside and finally you turn off on USFS roads to trail. Whew. It was easy walking and I got an early start so could have gone for more hours but I rewarded myself with an early camp by the upper Twin Lake. The bugs are out!
7/9 20.8 miles
Tough day of climbs but I leap frogged with Sunshine, Sugar Rush, Rain Skirt, Snapper and Ninja. 3 passes, up and over, down down then climb back up. Camped by a creek in warm and quiet 2 miles below Warren Lake where the others were heading. Wore my rain pants all day as the weather never warmed up. There was one scary traverse with a sheer drop on a rotting patch of snow. My inside foot punched through about 3′ and I had to carefully, shakily, yard myself up without over balancing and falling off the mountain. Fortunately it was near the top of the pass so I used the fear adrenaline to power up the last 1/2 mile. The Anaconda Cutoff here joins the official CDT which is where Sugar Rush and Rain Skirt we’re hiking.
Of course there were two more passes to go all the way up and all the way down. I couldn’t face any more up at 7pm which is why I stopped at the creek. No bugs, weird.
7/10 21.1 miles in 12 hours
More passes, went by Snapper and Ninja, camped in a flat clear spot near the trail with no view at all. But it’s flat. First day I had to use stinky bug dope, dang the mosquitoes drove me crazy.
7/11 21.6 miles
Today was the first sunny morning the whole of Montana. Looked like an easy profile but then I hit the dead zone in an old burn, sunshine, uphill through tons of deadfall in the broiling sun. But that was the only bad section and nobody was around to hear me yell about a hundred times when I came to the next gigantic skin shredding blowdown, “Are you f*ing kidding me?” The ups and downs flattened out finally to follow the ridges on the Divide. This I love, views, gentle ups and downs and maybe I’m actually hiking the Divide. I only made it 22 not the 25 I wanted. Camped by Vortex who’d blazed by me earlier shortly after another in short shorts did the same.
Bug dope plus head net. No bites! Washed up so I’d stink less for hitching. My pack reeks, my shoes reek, I reek. The days blend of Arborvitae oil and Bens bug dope is barely better than stinky feet fumes.
7/12 Quick 19 miles and hitched a ride to Darby with Samson the Bear, stopping at Sula to get my box. Our ride Chuck said they’re filming Kevin Costner’s TV show “Yellowstone” in Darby but not right now. The little motel I’m in has no laundry and there’s no laundromat in town–bummer! Hand washing with dish soap is not that effective. Met my neighbor, sitting out front, he is a retired GP from Holland who has just finished a 1000 mile bicycle trip, bought a car and is on his way across the US to find himself. In one of those fabulous traveler conjunctions, he protested the Viet Nam war in Europe as I was doing the same in the US. How does that even come up in a conversation over Coors Banquet on a porch in Darby, Montana?