Day 160 – Good-Bye CDT

16 Sep

It poured around four in the morning. I think we all woke up in the wet dark ready to hike to Canada, but instead we passed a restless night.

Bo had set an alarm for six and the four of us (Bo, HighLife, Portrait, and I) were out of camp before seven. On the way up the spur tail we encountered a bear. It seemed small in size until it stood up on its hind legs to get a good look at us. There was some debate about it being a black bear or a grizzly bear, but when it ran away it was clearly a black bear.

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The storm cleared up by morning, but it left a heavy coat of water on the underbrush. I was soaked from the thighs down in minutes. A few times the trail opened up and it seemed like it may stay that way, but then the wet brush would close in again.

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We crossed a handful of suspension bridges. The robes they crossed were all flowing into Waterton Lake.

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Some clouds moving back in. We had a current weather report that said we should expect rain in the morning.

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Unlike the AT and the PCT there were no signs along the way telling me how far it was to the end. We had less than four miles before we saw the first sign that mentioned Canada.

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Waterton Lake.

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Portrait with HighLife, who was thinking of going for a swim, behind him. We had less than a mile left to hike to the border. I was pretty pleased to be in the lead. I had thought that HighLife, who’s a much faster hike than me, would be the first of our group to the monument, but he seemed content to let me lead. I had discovered on the PCT that its really important to me to get to the milestones first. On this hike I had forgotten about that (maybe did to the lack of milestones), but had remembered when we hiked with Bo for the first day in Glacier and I was getting to the views first. I think I like to pretend I’m the first person there ever.

And there it is…

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The International Border. Oh Canada.

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A kiss.

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A crown. And then a rain storm that threatened the life of my paper crown. We took shelter under some pines until the rain passed and then it was back to the monument for more photos.

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All four of us Triple Crowned (we all hiked the AT, PCT, and now the CDT). And we all had crowns (Bo had an extra for HighLife)

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There’s Bo taking his turn at the monument after the sun came back out. HighLife was next, but I somehow didn’t get his picture. And Portrait was apparently to busy taking pictures to have any taken of him alone at the monument.

We left the clear-cut when it started to rain again. We had four more miles to hike to get out of the woods and into Waterton Townsite for a celebratory lunch and a couple of shuttles back to East Glacier.

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Good-bye CDT.

Day 159-Last Full Day

15 Sep

Deer romped about all night making it hard for me to sleep knowing they are just waiting to chew on my salty gear. I’ve also been battling a cold for the past few days.  Between the cold and the deer I didn’t sleep well.

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Dawn on our last full day as CDT thru-hikers.  We woke up early, but I didn’t feel rested, to get our last twenty mile day started.

Portrait and I felt like it was our last chance to see a grizzly bear–my eyes swept the terrain in a constant grizz shearch.  Bo suggested that we try to hike around the next bend in the trail quietly and then look around for five or so minutes and see what we see.

And we did see some creatures:

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Not grizzlies, though. We thought goats, although they didn’t look like the pure white flecks we saw from a distance a few days ago.  Perhaps we had discovered a new creature?  Once in camp we were told what we saw were big horn sheep ewes–which makes more since than a new species.  We actually saw two different herds during our morning hike.

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Bo and Portrait looking for grizzly bears, and finding none.

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Nice waterfall if you need to cool down your feet.  Portrait got both feet wet when crossing, but Bo and I managed one wet foot apiece.

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On our way up to cross the Divide one last time.

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Looking around from the Divide.  We take the trail up to check out Sue Lake Overlook.

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There’s Sue Lake way down in the valley.  We had lunch in the shade of a handful of scrubby pines.  Being the last full day everything seemed a little more special and a little more important.  It made me want to end everything on a good note and that was lunch.

Almost as soon as we got back on trail HighLife popped up.  We haven’t seen him since Selida, CO.  Portrait and him took off like a shot leaving Bo and I to make our own way to camp.

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The eight miles to camp was the most I’ve hiked alone all trip.I crossed this lovely waterfall near the end of some sweltering hot side Hillingdon on the way into the valley.  Once into the valley the trail would stay there until the end–not just the end of the day, but all the way to Canada.

The trail followed a stream until it turned into a lake.  Our camp was on the edge of the lake.

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Made it to camp around 6 o’clock.  I sat on a small bench by the water’s edge watching a pair of swans swim around and listening to Portrait and HighLife in the food prep-area.  I went up and joined them when my stomach started to protest too loudly about the delay in dinner time (my hiker hunger has rejoined me after leaving when we got out of the snow of Colorado).

Day 158-Swiftcurrent Peak

14 Sep

Around noon we figured we had lurked in the hotel lobby long enough and we should probably go hiking (and Bo was getting antsy).

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We only had eight miles to hike, thus the late start. From the start we could see our pass, but it was so flat for the first few miles.

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I think we passed a half dozen lakes during the flat section. One of them had a bull moose standing in the water near the far bank.

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I think we are going up there.

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On our way up. It was neat to see all the lakes we passed spread out below us–I couldn’t see the moose way down there. Although right near the top of the pass we did see a pair of big horn sheep resting in the grass.

At the pass we took a break–Bo and I at leftover pizza we had packed out of town to fortify ourselves for the climb up to Swiftcurrent Peak.

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And there’s Bo, nearly at the top.

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And Portrait at the top looking at his favorite view of the whole trail.

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The summit building shut up tight for the rest of the year.

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The view.

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More of the view.

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We were all picking up cell coverage so of course we do what any nature lover would do and make phone calls.  We saw a handful of people on their way down as we climbed up, but we had the summit to ourselves the whole time. And we stayed awhile.

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We were worried about how we would spend our extra time in camp, but we actually got there late enough that we ate dinner in the dark.

Day 157-Many Glaciers

13 Sep

First thing we started up–this wasn’t the flat day of yesterday.  After a mile we crossed the Going to the Sun Road and took the time to check out the scenic view point of Jackson Glacier.  I think it was the first one I’ve seen.

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On our way up.

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There were so many views tucked away in the trees. I kept forgetting to look around and had to go back to see views that Portrait or Bo point out.

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There’s our first view of Piegan Glacier and we were on our way to Piegan Pass.

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The trail stretching out to the top of the Pass.

On the way up we caught up with a photographer who was setting up to photograph a big horn sheep down in the valley. We had just been talking about the big horn–so seeing one,  even from far away was fun.

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We were greeted by this massive cliff face at the top of the pass.

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And there is Bo and Portrait starting down, although we didn’t go far. We stopped in some shade for a break.

After the pass it seemed like our day was over–we must had to do the miles to Many Glaciers. We went down for miles, which was lovely while we were up high, but became less so down aways when there were no more waterfalls and cliffs to gaze at.

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To get to Many Glaciers we walked the length of Josephine Lake. That trail was swamped with day hikers. Bear bells were ringing loud on that section of trail. Bo beat us to town by an hour, but Portrait and I didn’t have town chores to do so it didn’t really matter when we arrived.

Day 156-Many Falls

12 Sep

I saw two satellites and a shooting star before Portrait made it back to camp at 9:10.  I hadn’t even started to settle into my bag yet–our Mr. Moose was making a ruckus woofing and crashing around in the underbrush.  He actually blocked Portrait’s  path back to camp.  The moose left for the rest of the night after Portrait bushwacked around him, but he was back early this morning.

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We crossed Red Eagle Creek for the third time.  There was a cut off we could have taken, but it was forgotten this morning.  Not that we needed to cut miles off our 15 mile day.

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We spent a large chunk of the day walking along St. Mary’s Lake.

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Bo taking a late morning break.

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St. Mary’s had some impressive views.

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One thing I like about Glacier are the bridges.  It makes our game of Bridge or No Bridge obsolete.

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More of St. Mary’s.  We could see cars across the water on the Going to the Sun Road.

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We had a late lunch at Virginia Creek Falls with about a dozen dayhikers.  Bo tried, but was unsuccessful, to yogi food.

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After the falls the trail was just beautifully maintained for all the dayhiker traffic.

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We stopped by another falls less than a mile from where we had lunch.

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The trail after the CDT split from the path down to the parking lot.

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Beware, Bear.  We haven’t seen any yet, but we saw a lot of scat this morning.

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Portrait crossing the bridge. Our campsite was right after the bridge.

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We got into camp around five o’clock which gave us a lot of time to deplete our food bags, so we went on a hike to see another fall. And then it was back to camp to stare at our foodbags.

Day 155-Triple Divide Peak

11 Sep

A heavy dew fell on us during the night.  My bag was soaked when I packed it up.  The plan was to dry gear at lunch time.

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We left camp as a group–me in the lead.  It was hardly past seven o’clock when we started our big climb.  The sun light up the mountains surrounding Old Man Lake where we camped the night before. 

By the time we reached the pass the golden light had long faded, but the sun hadn’t reached the other side yet.  When we got down there my feet got soaked by the wet underbrush.  Wet feet were totally unexpected for the day.

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Morning Star Lake.  We met a group of trail workers revamping the Morning Star camping area. They were about done for the season.

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There were some fabulous waterfalls today–this was just the first of many.

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We took a break a little south of this stocky cascade.

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Right after our morning break it was time to climb.  We had 3.5 miles of climbing to bring us to Triple Divide Peak Pass (the peak is so named because the water that  will flow off of it will end up in the Atlantic, the Pacific, or the Gulf of Mexico via the Hudson Valley).

The trail up didn’t switchback at all–I never lost sight of the peak or the trail ahead as it slowly unraveled before me. It was a long slow climb up, but a lovely one.

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We had lunch on top with another couple.  We dried out or gear as we ate.  Before the other couple headed down Portrait took their picture and they did the same for us.

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A waterfall on the descent.  There was plenty of time to dawdle, take pictures, and breaks if we wanted thanks to our early start and good pace.  We were able to admire a small herd of mountain goats grazing near a waterfall.  They were so far away they looked like white rocks that moved.

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Near the end of the day we crossed two suspension bridges over Red Eagle Creek.  Portrait crossing the bridge…

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And next was Bo.

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The second crossing the water was moving swiftly up river and was deep and the blue color of really cold water down river of the bridge

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Portrait on the second bridge looking into the clear blue water.

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When climbing up to Triple Divide Peak Pass a group of hikers told us about the moose they saw at Red Eagle Lake where they had camped last night and where we were camping this night.  I didn’t expect to actually see the moose, but there he was as soon as we got into camp.  He was handsome.  He seemed unconcerned by our presence and I think I managed a few really good pictures of him standing shine deep in the water.

The couple from the pass arrived shortly after he left. We had already started setteling into our campsite.  It was right about then that Portrait realized he didn’t have his ditty bag ziplock (that bag has everything from tent stakes to toothpaste to his passport in it.  He was pretty sure he left it atop the pass–seven long miles ago.  After a thorough check of his belongings he took off at a run.

At quarter to nine the moose is grunting steadily, Bo is asleep, I am finishing up blogging, and Portrait is somewhere going up.

Day 154-Sun Shines on Glacier

10 Sep

Around eight o”ock this morning Bo (who we met first at Doc Campbell’s and last saw north of Silverthorne), Portrait, and I left town (I did so while eating a giant chocolate chip cookie).  It was so beautiful. 

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Wasn’t it?  That view was just outside of town.

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There’s Bo and Portrait kicking off a day long gab fest.

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It was also a day of uphill climbing, but delivered view after view as we went.

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Bo and Portrait studying the map to figure out what we were looking at.  There was some debate about our location.  We decide we were at the scenic point, but a few minutes later when we arrived at a small sign with an arrow point further uphill we realized we had been wrong.  It was absolutely worth the side trip.

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After the scenic point the trail started down.  Our mid-day goal was the Ranger station at Two Medicine–we saw it from our view from the top.

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The scenery stayed dramatic on the way down.  We passed a lot of day hikers on their way up.

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Portrait on the decent.

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Somehow I got far enough ahead that I took a break in this awesome tree until the guys showed up.

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At the Ranger station we picked up our permits.  We finish on Monday.  There’s something about the concreteness of Monday that makes the end seem real.  It’s no longer the vague answer of mid September, or a couple of weeks, now it’s just Monday.

The trail took us between two lakes and into the forest after we finished at the ranger station.

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One dry Creek Bridge.  It had one of the nicest bridges I’ve seen lately.

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We were climbing again.  We had 6.5 miles after the Ranger station and I think all of them were up.  It was hot and the sun was relentless and I started to get a headache and a strong desire to be in camp.

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Camp ended up having some of the hardest ground we’ve seen.  We had no choice but to cowboy.  There should be a wonderful display of stars tonight.

Day 153-To the Sun

9 Sep

While Portrait and I were making breakfast Bo came into the hostel with an idea:  he wanted to rent a car and drive around Glacier like a tourist and he wanted to know if we wanted to go.  Of course we did.

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Around 12:30 the three of us and Ninja and Sweetfish piled into the rental car and set off on the Road to The Sun.

Day 152-Nero into East Glacier

8 Sep

Sleeping damp wasn’t too bad, and it made it all the better to wake up to see blue sky and sun filtering through the trees.  Hiking I almost had to put on my sunglasses for the first time in days.  It was certainly pretty when the sun hit the wet trees. It made the water sparkle–the occasional gust of wind sent that same water down on us.

We came to a little view and I looked behind me to see what had been mired in clouds the day before.  The view was still lost to the clouds–thick, dark clouds that looked like they meant to storm on us.  We picked up our pace a bit.  The clouds didn’t get us–we checked into the hostel around 9:30.

Day 151-Troad Strolling

7 Sep

Around 4 a.m I started  to feel rain on my face from yet another storm.  This one was complete with wind driven rain.  I moved my sleep set up so I was against the cabin’s wall, but still a mist found me.  Before the thunder had died off and before the patter of rain quieted the stars were out.

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We had ended yesterday walking on Trail 101, which was also the CDT and picked it back up in the morning.  It was a cold, damp, mist filled morning.  Whatever was wet stayed that way, and whatever was dry slowly grew wet.  It was okay though, because we planned on being in town that evening.

After 13 miles of hiking we would arrive at one of the major roads into East Glacier.   After the road the trail entered National Park Land which has its own rules two of which being no camping without a permit and no camping in non-designated areas. We had no permits yet, and even if we did there were no campsites between the road and town. So we were stuck with a short day.  Town would be just a 10 mile hitch away.  How could we resist?

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New tracks littered the trail.  Two wolves went south and sometime after them a moose headed north on the trail.  Among them, deep, wide, and clawed, we’re the grizzly tracks.  Those are Portrait’s feet next to the grizz print.

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We took to calling the road – like trail a Troad–it made for an easy stroll–except for crossing the same river nearly a dozen times.  There was a high water trail that bypassed most of the crossings, but it looked guaranteed to soak a hiker from the waist down–the vegetation car wash effect.

We had a late lunch at the road crossing, but our grand plan of hitching into town to avoid the fate of sleeping in the damp had burned off.  Portrait discovered by studying the maps that after a dozen miles the trail left National Park Land and entered Indian Reservation Land–which had its own rules–which seemed to be there are no rules enforced. We had camped illegally the past two nights so we decided to make it three in a row.

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After leaving Trail 101 at the road we entered the National Park and the vegetation car wash until just south of the Indian Land.  The trail opened up again into a troad and made for a pleasant end to another long day.  We set up camp trailside just two miles outside of town.