CDT Day 50 – The Fly By Resupply

251.2 @ 6063ft
The rain falls all night long, not very hard, but the pitter patter on the tent is incessant. Perhaps it was soothing and distracting me from the knowledge that I should be a bear’s midnight snack after eating dinner in my tent and keeping my food under my feet. Or maybe that was the advil pm. Either way I slept beautifully. I want to get up early but can’t find a window of dry to do it in.Eventually I give in and somehow manage to pack everything and put on all my rain gear inside the tent.
I’m out of camp before the guys who are still packing up when I leave. The trail is actually nicely maintained, the rain is keeping things cool, and it’s a nice gradual up and down topography that make the morning’s walk beautiful. I’m zoning out listening to Robin Arzon on my podcast and the miles go by fast. Yay!!! I’d forgotten what a satisfying morning hike felt like.
I keep expecting the guys to catch up to me but I’ve covered the 7.something miles to Benchmark Resort and haven’t seen them yet. This is exciting for me. Speedy Mcspeedikins! I sent my next 3 days of food to Benchmark along with the $25 fee and cross fingers my box is there. It’s not actually open so I climb under the fence at the front to get in. My resupply box is in a bear can on the porch of a cabin and I packsplode over the porch to arrange my things and restock my food.
Patience wanders over -she doesn’t hike on Saturdays and is zeroing here with Dupont and Llama. I chat with her and then Llama who appears, then finally Grizzly and Crunchmaster wander in with Alex and Coop following. Dupont is awake now to so it’s a hiker party! So many hikers!
We all chat as Grizzly and Crunchmaster sort out their food, then finally give in to the inevitable, say goodbye to the zeroing crew and hike on. Fastest resupply ever!
It’s freezing as we leave and backtrack a couple of miles to jump on the trail. As we hike on the sun comes out and suddenly I’m roasting and my R1 and jacket are stuffed away. Hot cold hot cold. ‘Tis the way here!
The trail follows along a stream through fairly thick forest for most of the day, then as we join back up with the official trail it thins out and there are large burn zones either side of the trail and river. I look at my topo maps and see in tiny writing that there might be a cabin in a few miles. This means a nice area cleared away, and maybe a pit toilet. Hopefully it wasn’t burnt down when this fire went through.
We take a chance down a side trail and yay there is a cabin!!! The cabins are always locked, but have large porches for us to sit on and usually a toilet. This toilet is locked too. BOOOO! Back to cat hole digging.
It’s a nice early night in preparation for some big climbs tomorrow. We hang our bags and cccccold sets in early; all the layers on tonight!

CDT Day 49 – The Chinese Wall

 23.9 miles hiked. Camping @5062 ft
I wake up super early and ignore my need to use the “loo” for as long as possible. My phone says 528am and a second later the alarm is sounding. Booo I forgot we are getting up early today to try and get some miles in before the forecasted rain hits.
I pack up, stuff my pockets with snacks, put on my R1, rainpants and jacket. My wet shoes are made bearable by my waterproof socks. Yay hopefully dry feet today.
We climb up through some snow patches and have about an hour’s grace before the temperature drops faaast. There is some hail, then the rain starts.
We turn around a bend and have a view of the valley below – the Chinese wall spreads out before us! It’s very cool with a valley of thick green pines in front and the dark storm clouds up above. The trail takes a turn as it descends and we hike along the front of the wall. The sun comes out so we have a break, drink some water, munch on some food, stare at the epic wall above us.
The clouds come back fast as we head up and over another pass. It’s raaaainy but not nearly as cold as the other day. It’s a mudslide hike and I end up hiking more cross country tha  on trail as I keep sliding backwards!
By the time we reach the top the rain has decreased to a very light drizzle, and the sun even comes out on the descent.
It’s a really pretty trail and spirits are high despite the weather. I’ll take the on and off drizzle over the freezing storm any day!
The rest of the day we are following along the side of the sun river. There are some burn sections but it is very pretty looking down from the mountain side to the river and the flat grasslands either side. The clouds and rain are in and out all day and we cross fingers we make it to camp before the next bout of rain. Nothing worse than setting up or packing up camp in the rain.
We cross a really cool bridge and enter a big burn zone. The wind whistles through the burnt trees and makes the most eerie noise – like people screaming far away. Somehow there is a magic clearing in which we set up, with no trees to fall on us during the night. I half think this is just over reacting, but as the wind picks up I hear a large crack as a tree falls down not too far away.
Tonight we are stupid. We eat in our tents as the rain is not stopping. We keep the food in  our tents as there is nowhere to hang it. We haven’t seen any bear tracks or signs… hopefully we will be ok. Of not… well…it will make a good story 😉

CDT Day 48 – My Lake

208.3 @ 7352ft “my lake” 19.1 miles hiked
We are up and out by 8am today, a much better effort than yesterday! It’s a climb down through snow, switchbacking across snow and mud and streams of snow melt. The trail climbs back up towards Switchback pass which is all snow. We can see two bodies heading straight up the mountain  – Beacon and Mermaid – and decide to take the shortcut too. The snow is hard enough that we can kick steps in with only minimal postholing and sliding. It looks super steep and hard- like climbing a ladder.
Thank goodness we got up at uber late o’clock because it would have been impossible if we’d tried to climb it yesterday afternoon.
It’s actually a surprisingly easy climb, then over the top of the pass and start switchbacking down the other side. It’s a 6 mile descent through forest and over blowdowns. I’m in “get to the bottom” zone and nearly step on a little silver snake that is slithering slowly across the trail. Eeps sorry!
It’s getting toasty at the lower altitude so we stop for water about 2 miles from the bottom. A quick break then the best maintained 2 miles of trail so far since Marias pass. Yay! Nice hiking! Our destination is a ranger station for lunch.
Waitup is there already, and as we sit and eat it turns into a hiker party – me, Grizzly, Crunchmaster, Waitup, Beacon, Mermaid, Steven and Lucky Strike.
Lots more blow downs after lunch and I am not loving it. I try to make it more fun by singing the mario theme song as I ‘bounce’ across the logs. But I don’t bounce. There are only so many scratches, stabs and blood running down your legs you can handle with a smile. How long will this laaaast?!?!? I want to throw myself on the ground and chuck a tantrum for someone to magically appear and make the trail nicer. As always the only solution is to ovary-up and keep hiking. So I do.
A final steep climb of 1.5miles through a recent burn area to our destination for the night called My Lake. Another beautiful campsite! Grizzly and Crunchmaster are already there with tents nearly set up.
Wait Up arrives “you guys can camp where you like, but this is My Lake.” He chuckles to himself “yeah I’ve been working on that one all afternoon”.
It is so so cold tonight. There doesn’t seem to be any good places to hang food, and we haven’t seen bear signs for a while so we decide to sleep with our food. Let’s hope there are no bears with midnight munchies nearby.

CDT Day 47 – Beautiful Bob

Hiked 17 miles camping at Dean Lake @ 7385ft
The cold and the blowdowns took itnout of us yesterday and we are up laaate. I definitely prefer getting up early so I can take lots of breaks, but when you are hiking with others and they are still in camp it’s haaaaard to get up.
Grizzly has woken up with a sinus infection, so hopefully the sleep in did him some good.
We hike through large burn sections with more blow downs, but nothing compared to yesterday. Crunchmaster’s feet are pretty torn up from the past couple of days – wearing goretex shoes means when they get wet they are wet a looong time.
I hike ahead, calling out my “hey bear”s and scaring I imagine thousands pf bears off the trail in front of me. Over trees, under trees.
Grizzly catches up just before the junction to the spotted bear alternate. Another hiker, Stephen, is at the junction eating lunch. We all sit in the sun and eat, get some water from the passing creek. Yesterday was freezing, today we are burning. Crazy weather out here.
It starts getting really pretty and lush, still with loooots of river amd stream crossings- sometimes via logs, sometimes rock hopping, and sometimes we have no choice but to march straight through the water. We have a climb up to where we are camping tonight and take a break before we head up. Everyone else took a wrong turn, so Beacon, Mermaid, Waitup, Lucky Strike and Stephen all pass us as we are sitting  (they passed us during our lazy sleeping in morning).
6 miles up and it’s haaard. But beautiful. I hike past louuud ribbon falls that are falling from high peaks above. It’s time to bring out the big guns and I turn my “Climbing Mountains” playlist to give me extra oomph to make it to the top.
Somehow I manage to pass everyone, except speedy Grizzly and Crunchmaster of course. The last mile or so is through some snow banks and it is mosquito city and getting cold when I arrive at Dean Lake, our camp spot for the night.
The water is pure blue snow melt, set against gorgeous mountains. Amazing. Ok Bob. I’ll stop swearing at you and your blown down trees.
Some ramen in my tummy and it’s sleepy time. Goodnight!

CDT Day 46 – The Cold and The Lynx

22ish miles hiked
157.2 @ 5751 ft
Beacon and Mermaid are early risers and I hear them making moves from 430am. I doze on and off and finally emerge at 630am just as some drizzling rain is finishing up. We take refuge on the porch and hang the tents to dry while packing up.
At 8am we leave the little compound and hike along the Ley alternate for most of the morning. It’s a much more direct route than the ‘official’ trail – we save 4 miles!
Rain starts up again and it is cooooold. It takes all my energy to keep moving. I find a tiny tiny spot under a tree for us to crowd under and eat some lunch, and Ia shivering terribly by the end of the break. My feet are soaked through and it’s one of those days when we are all asking “why are we here???!”
Lots of river crossings mean our poor feet have no chance. I’m walking in mini swimming pools.
Through the wet cold forest we hike, down through trees and meadows. We find another ‘alternate’ except it turns into a swamp and we have to bushwhack straight up a hill through thick vegetation and blow downs.
We’ve been swearing at F*ing Bob and his Blowdowns all day, but actually get to the entrance of the Bob Marshall wilderness late in the afternoon. I apologise to Bob and redirext my cursing at Lewis and Clark national forest. We see Beacon and Mermaid again as we take 5 and eat a few more things at a trail junction and decide on our campsite 5 miles away.
My poor muscles are hell tense from being so cold all day so I stop at the side of the trail to stretch. I’m vacantly staring ahead down the trail, then Grizzly realises there’s something staring back. A lynx! I miraculously manage to get a photo before she bounces away.
We arrive at our awesome campsite, set up tents then start a fire. Fire! Oh beautiful warmth! I stand in front of it in a daze trying to feel my body and defrost my numbed brain. We rotate shoes and socks in front, melting my shoes slightly (oops!) while eating dinner and avoiding mosquitos.
After dinner our food bags are hung from a tall tree and we dive into our tents fast leaving the mosquitos knocking at the tent door.

CDT Day 45 – Blowdowns & Bearzilla

15.3 miles camping at guard station 131.4 @ 5522ft
I’m awake before my alarm and lie in bed responding to emails as I take advantage of my last phone service for probably a week.
Soon the boys are up and we head to the post office to collect our resupply boxes. We explode everything on the ground outside and end up sending an entire box of food back to Denver as we have way too much. Crunchmaster tries to post his axe home and is told they won’t post ice axes…so we find a box from a store down the road and get creative packaging the axes and also send off our microspikes and a few other bits and pieces. Hooray for lighter packs!!!
Our food bags are still 6 days heavy and it’s a struggle to lift our packs.
We get an easy hitch down to Marias pass then commence the hike through the Lewis and Clark national forest around 1130am. Soon the trees all around us are burnt and we have to climb over some blow downs. Then the trail is not really trail at all but a giant game of pick up sticks – more trees fallen over than upright. It’s exhausting climbing up, over, along, around, under the downed trees. Soon my legs are bleeding from getting scratched up. oOw freakin ow!
I start feeling weirdly faint. I’m not sure if it’s the big temperature change from the past few days, dehydration, tough climbing or something else going on but I’m not feeling awesome 😣 I put my hands in running creeks as we go by, splash my face, sit on rocks, eat some sugar.
The trail is full of PUDs (pointless ups and downs). It takes completely unnecessary turns and climbs. Everyone is getting crabby and I’m entertained by a few rants from the boys.
We hike along a dirt road that has loooots of animal tracks. It’s a freakin animal super highway. We see some giant grizzly tracks, then some more giiiiant grizzly tracks. Grizilla and Bearzilla. Wolf tracks galore, moose and elk tracks. I’m very keen to hike off this track and find camping not on the giant animal dance floor.
Guthooks says there is a guard station up ahead so we hike laaate until 830pm and finally arrive at the promised land. It is surrounded by a barbed wire fence (no bears allowed!), with a pit toilet and water pump! Woot!
There’s a tent set up and we meet Beacon and Mermaid who are camping here.
We use a ladder to put our food on the roof of the horse shed, watch a beautiful sunset and fall asleep soundly long after hiker midnight in our little barbed wire protected world.

CDT Day 43 & 44 – Outnatured by nature

Zero miles. Lazy hikers.
We wake and pack up most of our things and shove it into the bear box so that we can wander down the road to the ranger station. It turns out there really isn’t any alternate for us except for a 30 mile road walk. None of us are interested in road walking so we are at a stalemate. Crunchmaster has maintained continuous steps for the AT and PCT and isn’t going to stop now for the CDT. I don’t want to miss one of the most beautiful parts of the entire trail. But there’s nothing we can do right now except wait the 7-10 days for the trail to be reopened. They leave the carcass on the trail so that the animals can eat and remove all trace of it.
We eat a very very grumpy breakfast down the road and the only thing we can do is head to East Glacier with a vague plan to somehow get back up to Glacier to finish this section. Yesterday Crunchmaster found a microspike on Piegan pass and the owner is a CDT hiker. She’s coming to collect it and give us a ride to East Glacier as she and her hiking partner they have rented a car for the day to run some errands. Yay the trail provides!
So…back in East Glacier. We eat and shower and laze about. I head down the road to do laundry and bump into Llama and Dupont I met on the PCT last year!
I meet some other CDT ers including another vegan hiker, Patience, from Israel. Woot team vegan ☺
Grizzly has hurt his knee so is keen for another day off, and we have to wait for the post office to open on Monday to collect our food boxes and post off our ice axes so it’s a double zero. Not what I was planning so soon after having had so much time off in Denver, but we’ve been out natured by nature.
Sunday is spent …doing I don’t know what. We watch TV, chat online, eat, eat some more, have showers… Big fat sloth of a day! Thru hiking is hard! ☺

CDT Day 42 – Piegan Pass

14.3 miles hiked, Camping at St Marys lake campground @ 4626ft
Highest elevation today: 7326ft (Piegan Pass)
We are out of the room at a respectable-ish time and head to reception to check out. I ask about the food we saw two hikers dropping off in a hiker box there. I can see there are cliff bars and kind bars on the desk, the staff go very red faced and say we have to check at the ranger station as they don’t have a hiker box. Riiiiight.
In beautiful sun we walk along the west side of Swiftcurrent lake, described by the Ley maps as the more scenic alternate. It seems the east side is purely through trees, so I think we’ve chosen well.
A boat docks in front of us that came from the hotel and a giant bunch of tourists plod out, taking up the trail and walking veeeery slowly with a thousand bear bells. Irrational rage boils up as we manage to pass one or two, only to have a child dart in front of us blocking our paths. They are cunning these day-hikers. Eventually I just put on a saccharine smile and yell out excuse-mes and we all push obnoxiously past. It’s quite hilarious as we look back and realise they walk about 200m along the path where the boat has darted ahead and the get back on board. Woah nature! Totes back country! #Wilderness
Thanks to the downpour yesterday and a thousand horses on the trail since then we are squooshing our way uphill through sticky sticky mud. It tries to steal my shoe a few times, but just manages to add an extra 2kg of weight on the bottom with each step.
We come into a meadow and have a wee rest and a snack before a freezing river crossing (no bridge! Boo!) and the climb starts up to Piegan Pass.
It’s absolutely stunning. Giant jagged mountains stare down at us, the ground is lush with grass and flowers and trees. We are heading straight towards Morning Eagle Falls and it is breathtaking. We stop to take more and more photos as we get closer. The trail is winding up through snow now and there are a couple of sketchy crossings so I finally take my ice axe out.
We’re near the top and there are some animal tracks zooming across the snow -wolverine tracks!!! Very very cool. I don’t ever expect to see a wolverine, but to see its tracks is pretty amazing.
I stop for a minute to photograph and chat with a social marmot, then up to the top! There is a cool rock shelter someone has built as a campsite where speedy Crunchmaster is waiting and we sit for 5 before heading over the otherside.
It’s a steep drop to the valley below amd we hike along a thin path on the side of the trail. The valley below leads to the Going To The Sun Road, the peaks around it a perfect mix of greens and blues with patches of snow.
The avalanche chutes are sketchy on this side. We have a nervous few moments watching Grizzly start across the first veeerry slowly (without axe or spikes) only to have him stop halfway and declare that he doesn’t like it at all. I take out my axe again and finally don my microspikes and it feels so much safer!
We spot a mamma bear with 2 cubs far across the valley climbing around some bushes in a snow patch. Thankfully far away!
2 more dodgy chutes and the path leads down below treeline into the forest. There is a LOT of snow here! Compacted so no postholing, but it still makes for slippery slow downhill hiking.
It takes us a long time, but eventually I see cars I can head Grizzly’s voice at the bottom talking to someone. A hitch before we’d even got to the road!
We jump in and enjoy the fast view along St Mary’s lake. We are at the St Mary’s campground tonight as there were no permits available at Reynolds where we wanted to camp.
As we arrive at the campground there are some hikers with a car in a site at the entry. They give us some giant rotten news- the trail is closed further ahead due to a mountain lion killing an elk right in the middle of the trail!!! And on the other side of the triple divide pass it is closed due to aggressive bear activity. Whaaaat??? We make plans to visit the ranger station in the morning and see what alternate trails we can come up with. Boooo. Giant booooo.
We find the hiker/biker site we have reserved and there are 2 bikers there. They’ve taken up the 2 tentsites so we settle with a tentsite on the gravel.
There is some good news – phone reception tonight for Grizzly means we get to eat dinner and watch Game of Thrones! #Wilderness 😉

CDT Day 41 – Red Gap Pass

18.8 miles, expensive lodging @ 4944ft
All night rain and snow dripped on our tent amd thwacked on the new tyvek. I had to brave the walk to the toilet in the middle of the night -headlamp on and bear spray in hand.
It cleared around 730am so we begrudgingly rolled out of bed and packed up all the things,  before trotting over to the food prep area to eat some bits and pieces and retrieve all our smelly things from the bear boxes. How lovely our packs would be without all this heavy stuff!
The trail started ascending right away the 4 miles to Red Gap pass. It’s a freezing morning so we’ve all got a lot of layers on, but we’re sweating a mile in. The heat doesn’t last as the rain starts again which quickly turns to snow. The view is beautiful but it’s hard to enjoy as the wind has picked up and wants us off this mountain. At the final trail intersection we start seeing big patches of snow, and have a few sketchy crossings kicking in steps.
The last mile is haaaard. The view below has disappeared underneath snow and fog and I have to stop several times to lean over my poles, brace against the wind and make sure I don’t fly off the mountain. The snow is being whipped around by 65mph wind and smashed against my skin. My eyes are only open a sliver – my sunglasses too covered with snow and watermarks  be of any use.
Finally at the top no-one has stopped for a break – too bloody windy and cold. They’re waiting around the corner hiding behind a boulder, the view hidden by the snow and clouds.
We trek down down down switching back and forth across the mountain side. We hit tree line and are shielded by the wind somewhat, but now have trees and forest right up to the trail making it scary beary country. Every few steps we’re yelling “Hey Bear!” so we don’t surprise any fluffy bummed giant mammals on the trail. I pitch in with “Cooee!” as it carries much further than my “hey bear” attempts. There’s a tiny clearing around the trail so we sit and have a tiny break. I am ccccold!
Another small climb, the wind is whipping and we are marching on. We grab another mini break at Poia Lake where we collect some water and bump into some other hikers and some NPS workers. It’s hard to settle and sit when it’s so windy!
Through the forest we hike on, “hey bear”-ing the whole way as the trail twists and turns, crossing streams and weaving through trees, stwpping over a lot of bear scat. I’m still excited at every water crossing and get nervous when we don’t stop at every one to fill up with water – New Mexico dehydration has scarred me!
The trail ends up on a few mile road walk leading to Many Glacier campground ( where we are supposed to be staying) and the swiftcurrent lodge (where we want to stay). Ouch the road hurts my feet, my new hipbelt is hurting my hips too. Boooo. I hope it settles down or somehow just kills whatever nerve it is  pinching so I can stop walking in pain! All day I’ve been alternating between hip belt on with hip killing, and hip belt off and therefore shoulders hurting. Blergh I’m over it! Any suggestions greatly appreciated!
Finally at the lodge and we end up getting the last room! We only have to sell a few arms and legs to afford it. Montana is going to be am expensive state if I continue being soft and sleeping in beds!!! The lure of a hot shower and drying out our tents is too strong. Wait Up is stronger than us and camps at the campground.
We four run in for some hot dinner at the restaurant. I brace myself for zero choice, but they have a few vegan options! I end up with tempeh stirfry, a side of chili and fries. Mmmm hot food! There’s even some smoothies on the breakfast menu. Viva la veganlution!
At the little shop we pick up a few things – nothing is quite as awesome as a shower beer at the end of a long hiking day. Today wasn’t that far, but I think the bad conditions drained all of us.
Clean, dry and warm, with bellies full we fall asleep.
* If you’re enjoying reading along, see if you can spare a few dollars on my fundraising page for Sea Shepherd and Animals Australia ☺ Link here.
Cheers from the animals ☺☺☺

CDT Day 40 – The Night of the Grizzly

9.7 miles, Canada/ US border to Elizabeth foot campground, 4902ft
So many zeros!!! I felt I should include them in my grand total of days for the hike. Seems crazy that I’m now on day 40, when it also feels like Im just starting. New gear, new state, new border, new direction.
We have a nice chilled morning in East Glacier before jumping on the shuttle to take us the few hour drive up to the Canadian border. A bunch of photos and a selfie with the border agent and we are on our way!
Grizzly, Crunchmaster and myself are joined by another hiker Wait Up who was on the shuttle with us. Safety in numbers.
The trail is mostly downhil through some lush growth and valleys. The mountains around us have a little dusting of snow on top, and the sun is shining! Yay to be back on trail ☺ And yay for hiking in a beautiful new state. Hi Montana!
Shoulders, knees and feet are groaning at us as we adjust our new heavier pack weights (and new pack for me!), and to being on trail again. Hopefully our bodies will adjust and be happy soon.
It’s only 9.7 miles to our campsite (we have to stay at specific campsites) at Elizabeth Foot (right on Elizabeth lake) so we make it there in good time. There’s still light after 10pm here, so I guess anytime is really a good time! We unload all our smelly things into the bear boxes at the food prep area, set up our tents in the designated spot, then wander back to eat our dinner.
There are 4 others staying at the campsite with us (not CDTers, people out in Glacier for a few days). We’ve finished eating, some are cooking and we’re  hanging about chatting when a couple who are also camping at the site come wandering back to the food prep area. “There was a bear on the path near our tent. It wandered that way” pointing towards the pit toilet.
Grizzly is at the loo and I give him the scary news as he comes back.  We carry bear spray here and have it with us always, even going to the loo!
The couple comes back again, looking more worried this time “It’s right on the path heading this way!”. We all decide to go together to check it out – I figure there are a lot of us so should be safe, plus more of us to scare it off.
It’s big, it’s a grizzly, it’s right near the tents digging in the ground. Then it starts moving towards us. 8 people yelling, making noise, all have bear spray in hand but he doesn’t care. He’s a ballsy bugger that has clearly had luck in scoring food at this campsite before. This is his territory and we are in his way. We are all backing up into the food prep area with the bear following. Grizzly (the human, not the bear) starts banging on the bear boxes making a big noise which finally sends the bear running. Eeeeps.
First day in the park, first grizzly bear encounter.
The temperature drops fast and I am suddenly freezing. I dive into the tent and put on all my layers and bundle up. Everyone is a little on edge from the bear and crossing fingers and toes he doesn’t come back tonight. I’m crossing everything in hopes of not having to go to the loo in the middle of the night!
Goodnight Glacier! Goodnight bear!