Friday, July 27, 2007

Lincoln, MT

Dammit Al Gore, we believe you already! Now turn off your infernal global warming machine! I'll never drive a car again, just let me hike the Bob!

If you'd asked me before this trip what parts I was looking forward to, I'd've said "Glacier, the San Juans, the Winds, and the Bob." And now the entire Lewis and Clark NF sections of the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Scapegoat Wilderness are closed thanks to fires, so I won't get to see the Chinese Wall, a 1000-ft shere cliff on the Divide that goes for miles and miles. Thanks a lot global warming-warmer winters-pine beetles-wildfires vicious circle. I talked to rangers at the office in town for hours this morning, but they're still working on putting together an alternate route. I met a sobo hiker yesterday, and his route hit the road way west of Lincoln (Lincoln is already ~30 miles west of the Divide) so I dropped from an earlier pass and walked directly into town in case I'd have to take that route. Turns out I'm gonna walk lower trails that are east of the closed trail in the Bob, but still in the L&C NF, but there's a route due north straight out of Lincoln, so it shouldn't be too bad.

In slightly more happy news, I have a heel blister and serious ankle tendon pain, it's hot as hell, my headphones only work in one ear, and the zipper on my pack is breaking. No, seriously, I hitched a ride out of Darby with a cute little Rexburg, ID Mormon girl (no, normally I do not get rides from small girls with their infant child in the back seat), the Ananconda cutoff put me 4 days ahead of schedule, I met cool guys in Helena that gave me a can of bear spray and a ride back up to the pass (I started talking to one of them at a street corner after I think he was laughing at me because I was talking to myself), my package got to Lincoln on time despite only having a couple days to get here, my parents are coming to meet me in Glacier, and the road I walked from Stemple Pass was again (the third time this has happened) part of Adventure Cycling's Great Divide bike route, so I again met cool mountain bikers riding across the country.

Finally, a good story is that when I was hitching out of Dubois back in Wyoming, a truck passed me with a cab full of people, an RV camper on the back, and towing a boat. Since the cab was full and the windows were down, I yelled "I'll sit in the boat!" They stopped and said "OK, get in." But it would've been a really long and windy ride, so they let me ride in the camper. People are cool.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Darby, MT

On schedule! I did 122 miles in about 73 hours because the Darby post office isn't open on Saturdays, so all the sudden I'm on schedule, assuming I can get a ride out of town this afternoon. I got a new pair of shoes (I'd had the previous since Steamboat Springs, so they were hating it.) I got a haircut (sorry, no unabomber beard--it's freaking hot out here, and it's kinda nasty to have dead mosquitoes and flies all up in your face). Speaking of flies, I killed either 82 or 84 in a two hour period the day I left Lima, MT (it's on I-15 if you're looking at a map). Usually I'd go at that pace from around 9:30 AM to 7:30 PM, but that day it rained so they went away. They've kind of gotten less bad of late--the trail's new challenge is that it's super PUDy. It doggedly follows the Divide and is full of Pointless Ups and Downs rather than PCT-style contouring from saddle to saddle.

I'm starting to run into southbounders, so that makes the hiking a lot more fun, and a lot more embarrassing when I'm singing off-key at the top of my lungs (OK, that hasn't actually happened yet). I met Foxtrot, Dave from Maine, Wildcat, Groovy, Donna, and the French Couple, and have apparently missed a few others. They left the border in Glacier about 5 weeks ago and had some snow and most had to take the low (Belly River as opposed to Highline) route. Hopefully I'll be catching up to some of these folks again somewhere in WY/CO.

I think I'll be taking the route through Anaconda when I leave here, so if anyone has sent anything to Butte, I probably won't get it until I go through there southbound.

I sent a full memory card home today, so hopefully my mom will post some pictures soon.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Alternate from Delmoe Junction/Butte to Yellowstone?

If anyone intimately familiar with the CDT happens to read my blog, do you know the details of a route from Delmoe Junction near Butte, MT to Lewis Junction on the Dogshead trail near Lewis Lake in Yellowstone NP? It's mentioned at the southern end in the CDTS guidebooks, but I don't know if it's described in detail anywhere. Does anyone do this route? It says it's much shorter, and it seems like it would facilitate hiking north-south across all of Yellowstone, so that would be cool, and if it was much shorter and didn't skip something cool in southern Montana, then if I do it soutbound it might give me time to hike the San Juans again rather than taking the Creede cutoff.

Thanks for any info.

West Yellowstone, MT

Hello all. I'm at Sun and Steph's cabin on the Madison river in MT near West Yellowstone for the afternoon. They picked me up from the road/trail near Macks Inn, ID. I tried to convince them that we needed to spend the day watching Transformers and whatever the IMAX theatre happens to be showing, but they weren't up for it. Apparently they come up here to do outdoorsy stuff. Whatever, lame-o's :)

Anywho, I finished Wyoming! I hiked through the Red Desert, then the Bridger Wilderness in the Wind River range, then Yellowstone NP. The Winds were amazing. They're too high and glaciated to stay on the crest most of the way, so the route stays pretty low and goes around a bunch of pretty ponds/lakes, but there are three alternates that hit some pretty awesome heights. I did one of the three, over Jackass and Texas passes through the Cirque of the Towers. (a la Robert Frost: Oh, I left the first for another day!) Google cirque of the towers, I'm sure the pictures you'll find will be awesome, as will mine whenever I manage to post them. Also, when you say "cirque of the towers," you need to say it in a loud deep tone as if it were the lair of some evil wizard from some dumb fantasy novel you read in high school, like "Mordor" or "Mount Doom" or whatnot. Yellowstone wasn't too awesome, as it was mostly low and flat through the '88 burn, but I was very happy to do a 39 and a 35 mile day. It was fun to act like a "regular" hiker for a couple days--camping in a designated spot rather than in the middle of the trail wherever I happen to be at 10:00 at night, hanging my food rather away from bears rather than using it as a pillow, etc. The trail goes right through Old Faithful, so it was very weird to see all those thousands of people milling about and speaking tons of different languages.

I'm feeling really good lately. My feet are well, which usually means all is well. I was given a pro-deal discount on shoes by my preferred shoe company Montrail, so that will definitely help the wallet. My mom sent me my MP3 player, and although the music on it is really stale (Aaron, I'll send it to you soon and have you load all the Johnny Cash/U2/Zep/Radiohead/Decemberists/Belle & Sebastian/Strokes/Weezer/Arcade Fire/Postal Service that you can onto it) I sometimes manage to pick up NPR, which is sheer joy.

Thanks to my mom for posting some pictures from the disposable camera that I used from Lake City to Silverthorne. The campfire picture is the only fire I have built thus far, built literally in the trail, in order to thaw my shoes the day after I left Lake City. Usually I was smart and put them in a bag in my tent and used them as a pillow to keep them warm, but that day due to the 50 mph winds, they were already frozen when I took them off, and I stupidly thought, "well, if I can get them off frozen, I can get them on frozen." Not true, especially if you stuff a couple pairs of wet socks down them.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Lander, WY - July 1

Just crossed most of the Red Desert. Heat up to 105 and no shade w/nothing but sagebrush for miles and miles and miles. Saw one group of wild horses and a million antelope. Also found a tick on me basically every time I looked. Took slightly longer alternate along Sweetwater River. Beautiful oasis, but too bad there were a million horse flies. Looking forward to getting off jeep roads and back on real trail in the Wind rivers. Still the greatest adventure of my life thus far. :)