100 miles. A roller coaster. A can of Coke. It’s really hot and dry! Am I nearly in Wyoming?
Sam gave a few of us a ride back up to Bannock Pass, John a Nobo (northbounder), Indy a NoboSobo flipper (northbound southbound flip- hiked New Mexico, hit snow in southern Colorado, flipped up to hike south in Montana), and I (i’m a Sobo, southbounder). Thanks Sam, I don’t know what the hikers would do without his help getting up and down from the divide near Leadore.
Indy and I were headed the same way so we hiked out together from the pass. We also ran into a Thermometer, a Nobo from South Korea, whose command of the English language i’m pretty sure is simply “Whiskey? You want Whiskey?”. The day went quickly and the views were better than I was expecting from this section. To be honest, I haven’t been looking forward to this section. I’m really close the Wyoming now and I just kind of want to be done with Montana because it’s been with me for over 700 miles. I’d heard this section was the last hard slog before a pretty easy 100 miles into Yellowstone National Park and WYOMING!
Today was a bit of a slog. Lots of climbing. It was really hot. Some shitty trail, wait, if there’s no tread and you can’t tell where to go, is it a trail? I don’t know what i’d do without my GPS out here, sometimes the trail doesn’t seem to exist except on my little digital screen. But, there were great views. That’s about all I have to say about today. Oh, and the sunset was gorgeous, and i do really love the smell of sage brush in these hills. And it was really hot, did I say that already?
Today was another long hot day. The highlight was getting an ice cold can of Coke, in the middle of nowhere, at the hottest part of the day, before a long uphill climb. Indy and I had spotted a truck on a pass way ahead of us on a long desolate gravel road walk. We spent the next mile or so fantasizing about how awesome it would be if it was someone there to provide trail magic to CDT hikers and what would be the very best thing they could have in a cooler for us. I’d settled on an ice cold Coke and Indy a pint of coconut and lemon ice cream. To our surprise the truck was still there when we arrived and a man was sitting on its tail-gate. He’d decided to drive up there because he lives locally and had never been into this part of the mountains. He saw us coming and decided we must be crazier than he was for being there, so decided to wait to talk to us. After some discussion about CDT he said, “I sure wish I had something to offer you, I feel bad, all I have is a can of Coke, but it’s been in this icy cooler so it’s very cold, would you like it?” Ha! Best can of Coke ever.
Today I got to walk the ‘rollercoaster’. The rollercoaster is a 10 mile stretch of ridgeline that goes up, and down, and up, and down, and up, and down…… Just as has been the case for most of the last couple of hundred miles, the divide is the Montana/Idaho border. I’d heard about this stretch of the CDT for a long time and I was excited to hike it. It was also a stretch of trail i’d been worried about should there be thunderstorms in the forecast. Ironically enough, today was the first day in a week that thunderstorms were forecast and the skies were dark in the afternoon.
Before climbing up to where the rollercoaster started, Indy and I sat in a grove of trees eating lunch and waiting to see if it was going to storm or not. Once you’re up on the rollercoaster, there’s really no good place to bail to should the weather turn bad. We were only 12 miles in for the day and while the skies were dark, there wasn’t any thunder, so we decided to go for it.
It lived up to its name, certainly a walking roller coaster. I loved it, although we were running short on light at the end of the day and by that point we were wishing the ups and downs were less steep and that the ride would hurry up and end. We got rained on a little bit and the wind was very intense at times, but to my massive relief there was no thunder or lightening. Yay.
We dropped down to Medoc Creek, a couple of miles shy of the end of the ride, but an alternate that most hikers take. Somehow we missed the trail and landed up bush-whacking down a steep rocky gully, and then to top it off, a stretch of stinging nettle. My legs sure did appreciate that at the end of a 24 mile day. Thanks CDT. We set up camp in the dark at the bottom of the valley, happy to be off the ridge and that tomorrow was a town day.
Town day, yay! 12 miles of gravel road walking through cow pastures and highway frontage road was as exciting as it sounds. Arriving at I-15 felt comforting in a strange way as it’s the same highway that runs through Salt Lake City. I could stand on the other side of the road and hitch home? Nah, not done with this crazy little adventure yet. Mike from Mountain View Motel in Lima, a town 15 miles north, had offered to come pick Indy and I up so we didn’t have to hitch into town. Thanks Mike!
Rest in Lima, Montana
Well, back in Montana, in the small highway stop town of Lima, population 224. Checking in was awesome because not only did I get my bounce box and resupply box, but I also got a special delivery all the way from Australia courtesy of the Richards Family! The package is very perfect for me: Tim Tams, Lucas Papaw Ointment (This stuff is awesome- why isn’t it sold in the US?) and some really good moisturizer. Richard, Sonja, Sascha, Bella- THANK YOU! As I type i’m munching on a Tim Tam, I was hopeful they would last a couple of days but they barely lasted 12 hours, ha! Definitely no Tim Tams in small town Montana, so it was a fabulous treat. Yum! I suspect Tony and Katie had a little too much fun doing my last resupply box because my Mountain House dinners had been hijacked, I have grown to HATE the lasagna with meat sauce meal and so they seem to have had some fun with that. Thanks guys, that’ll make dinner a little more entertaining this next stretch!
Town was especially fun because I got to hang out with Bright Eyes and her black lab, Sadie, for the afternoon. You may recall we had a 3 hour breakfast in Leadore last week and that i’d commented how nice it was to get in some girl talk time with someone I instantly clicked with. Then dinner with Dora the Explorer and Dirt, Dora I hadn’t seen since that delicious breakfast in Anaconda a few weeks ago. I love how people just randomly show up when you least expect it. It’s so easy to feel like there’s no other hikers anywhere near you, especially with the bulk of the southbound hikers already in Wyoming.
Connie, Mike’s wife and co-owner of the motel loaned me her foot massage bath too, so after taking my ritual ice bath, I got to enjoy the more pleasant experience of a warm Epsom salt foot massage. Happy to report that my new big foot shoes are much better than anything I’ve worn so far on the trail, jury is still out about whether they’re the magic bullet, but it’s lookng good and my feet have held up better than on any prior stretch of trail. Came into town with one bad blister, but I think it was a lacing issue. We’ll see…
Other than that, it’s town time as usual: laundry, figuring out the next stretch, catching up on Snowbird work, writing my blog, eating, watching the Olympics, yaking with other hikers and… my favorite… sleeping in a bed with pillows.
Thanks for reading.