PNT to Bonner’s Ferry

Rail to Trail outside Eureka, MT

Miles hiked as of 7/14: 143.6

7/9 Walked up from 1972’s “most beautiful bridge” on a lovely day, but yeah, up. After awhile from below me on the trail I heard a “Go away bear!” yodeled periodically through the brush until finally One Gallon appeared, about 60, walking strong, lightweight backpack with no waist or sternum strap, no sticks. I caught up at the lookout and we had lunch and good conversation. Much later I saw him again when I walked in to camp and he was cooking dinner and then moving on. I had a crap camp spot, but oh well, no bears.


Biggest day so far, over 18 miles, because I couldn’t find a place to pitch my tent. 4 good climbs but I didn’t go up Mt Henry because I couldn’t tell from Guthook’s app, the PNTA maps or the guide whether it was an out and back. Not, as it turns out. It rained today for maybe 30” which is how long I wore my rain gear despite it not being cold. I could tell from the topo map that the top of the last climb would be flat, but there wasn’t any place to put a tent on the jagged rocks and burnt trees. Finally I found an abandoned road on the downside with even a little trickle of water and camped at 7, perfect!


I got to the road to Yaak at 8:30 am, not the planned road where Dan would meet me, but there he was constructing an “x” with sticks and flagging on the non-trail across the road, but listed as the red line, the primary PNT, that made Petra and Retune (and later Click) crazy trying to find it. I grabbed my resupply from the van and he drove me 2 miles where I trudged yet another gravel road for 13 miles, not steep, just relentless. 3 out of 4 cars stopped to talk to me—a guy getting wood, a USFS guy, and a hiker woman who didn’t stop on the way up but gave me Oreos on her way down. The 4th car was a family who parked and walked the short way to the lookout and back and talked to me where I sat before pitching my tent. They said 2 hikers were camping in the lookout (Petra and Retune must have got a ride past me on the road walk, the other 3 cars had only seen a single male ahead of me—One Gallon). So at 8 pm a car drove through the locked gate to their reserved night at the lookout. Uh oh. At 9, pistol poppings, at 10, Petra and Retune looking for another place to camp, bummer!


A lovely 4 miles of trail to another dirt road. Many easy miles later, the only vehicle I saw all day (seriously the locals are so nice here!) stopped and asked if I wanted a ride. I said no and then the back seat window rolled down and Retune and Petra were there, getting a ride to an alternative route. “We hate road walking,” she said.

The wind, I’m sick of it! All day and as I climbed I got cold. I totally lucked out and found a campsite in a little saddle at 6000’, protected and soft, absorbing 4 hours of rain and hail no problem. I’m actually kind of giddy that I found this spot. P & R came by again tonight, they had to abandon the NW Alt because of the wind and will camp a few more miles at a “trail camp.”


In the trail register today I saw that 2 days ahead of me are Backtrack, Gasket, Chance and Cougar. 1 day ahead is One Gallon. Seems like there were more miles today than what the maps show. I did not stop at Fiest Resort, good thing because I later heard they weren’t serving food today anyway. I did meet a local riding his bike with 3 enormous dogs galloping ahead to say “hi” to me. He said I was the first PNT hiker he’d seen all season and that normally he met and gave mostly European hikers rides to Bonner’s. We talked about the travel ban from Europe and Canada and how different summer felt this year.


P &R camped nearby last night with plans to get up early to get to town early. I slept well and got to the top of the climb on good trail by 10 am and messaged Dan I’d be at Hwy 95 by 3pm after walking many miles of dirt roads. After hours of road and no cars at all, I was trudging uphill in the heat and suddenly a pickup truck was parked. I had one of those funny jolts that happen when you’re locked into trail narcosis. In my mind I heard ominous movie music and the audience saying, “Reach for your bear spray, don’t be an idiot!” And in real life suddenly a friendly voice from the huckleberry bushes, “How’s it going? Look at all these berries we’re picking.” Ha ha, first huckleberry pickers I’ve seen this summer.

Dan got me a few minutes late because he’d just given P & R a ride into town, they beat me by about 45”! We first went up to where Dan and his brothers Doug and Dave were camping and fishing and I got to visit awhile before heading to Bonner’s Ferry.

We got a beautiful room on the river and relaxed enjoying watching an Osprey catch a fish and some jet skiers. Shower, laundry, dinner on the deck, happiness.

Dirt bikes allowed on this trail, this looks to be a great way to stabilize it


Zero day! Natasha came up from Spokane to visit—we met and hiked some of the PCT together in 2015 till she had to go home and she hiked Glacier NP on the CDT with me in 2018. She brought most excellent beer from Whistle Punk Brewery. I really like her, she’s happy, smart, extroverted and it was so great to spend an afternoon catching up. Thanks Natasha!

One thought on “PNT to Bonner’s Ferry

  1. Hi Alison,

    It’s great to hear about your latest wilderness adventure, especially now that our Enduring Volunteer work week has been cancelled. Take care,


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