The Hike Before the Hike

East Glacier Park to Marias Pass

16 miles

While I haven’t officially started the CDT yet, today I did hike a 16 mile section of trail from East Glacier up to Marias Pass, the pass I crossed coming in on the train yesterday. There’s a few reasons for doing this pre-hike: there’s a brutal cold snap sitting over Montana for a couple more days making the high country a tad unappealing; there’s still quite a bit of snow up high on the passes with some fresh falling yesterday; but mostly it’s so that when I do the 135 mile segment south of East Glacier in a couple of weeks it’ll only be 120 miles as I’ll skip ahead to Marias Pass and start from there. Details aside, I started my CDT hike today, although i’ll reserve the celebration for when I start hiking south from the Canadian border later in the week.

The hike today reminded me a lot of hiking the Highline Trail from the Mirror Lake Scenic Byway to Lightening Pass, a hike I’ve done many times as it’s in the Uinta Wilderness back home in Utah. The trail was pretty much buried in pine forests the whole time, with occasional fleeting views up to some interesting looking ridge a couple of thousand feet above. Although the trails themselves are nothing alike, the Highline Trail is heavily trafficked whereas this trail was so overgrown that in places i was wading waist deep through foliage. I didn’t see anyone else on the trail, I get the feeling it’s not used except by maybe couple of hundred CDT hikers each year. Wildflowers were plentiful. Aahhh, it’s so great to be out.

It got plenty of practice getting used to being in Grizzly country. Shouting ‘hey bear’ and clanging my poles together at least once a minute, more if it was really dense forest. The bear bells i’ve added onto my treking poles are a little obnoxious, but i’ll get used to them. I wish there was a similarly easy preventative available to keep mosquitos away, those things are pure evil. I HATE them. There are lots of smart people in the world, why hasn’t one of them invented a way to wipe out this population of miniature vampires? Evil.

I got up to Marias Pass at about 7 p.m., 9 hours after leaving East Glacier. I took in the sights, including a Continental Divide marker, the Lewis & Clark National Forest memorial to Theodore Roosevelt and the John Stevens memorial statue.

The hitch back turned out to be pretty easy. I stuck my thumb out to nearly 15 cars before one pulled over. I picked up my pack and ran up to the truck. It was John from East Glacier Motel on his way back from Kalispell! What luck! That’s twice in as many days he’s picked me up and gotten me to where I needed to be. Thanks John!

Back in East Glacier I ate a pretty ordinary burger and fries at the Two Medicine Café. I haven’t had a good meal in this town yet, and i’m not especially picky when it comes to food. Oh well.

That’s it for now, I probably won’t blog again until I finish the first stretch of trail from the Canadian Border at Chief Mountain to Many Glacier. Tomorrow i’m going to organize my backcountry permits, then start the trail either Friday or Saturday.

The body is feeling good and the soul is happy. Thanks for reading!


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