[cdt-l] Indian Summer in the Wilderness

Jim and/or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Tue Oct 3 15:13:02 CDT 2006

It has been a fantastic journey through the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat 
Wilderness Areas - nine days of warm sunny days, brilliant autumn color, and 
great hiking along the Divide.  We took our time, as usual, and were able to 
enjoy this last real wilderness section in our long hike.

The day we left East Glacier the weather changed, from the cold, rain and 
snow of the previous 9 days to 60 and 70 degree days with sunshine.  Snow 
melt made for a boggy entrance to the Bob, but it was still good as we were 
able to see fresh, very fresh sometimes, tracks in the snow and mud.  We 
actually saw bear tracks every day - sometimes four or five different bears 
- but no fur this time.  We did see lots of deer and some elk, plus a couple 
of golden eagles.

It was hunting season (earlier in the Wilderness than for the rest of the 
state) but we didn't see all that many hunters - at most one group a day and 
some days none at all.  The one that surprised me was the man who asked if 
we had seen the grizzly feeding on the dead horse next to their camp.  I 
wanted to ask him, "Don't you think you ought to move your camp, or at least 
get your horses out of there?"  But I kept my mouth shut.

I was surprised to learn that the first 20 miles south of Marias Pass are 
open to ATVs and motorcycles.  We stuck to the 'High Water Route' and 
avoided most of them, but on a sunny Sunday afternoon, the place is busy.  I 
talked to the Ranger (on his ATV) and he said that it was legal during the 
summer season.  He highly recommended part of the 'official' CDT - the Kip 
Creek - Lee Creek Loop near the Ranger station - he said it was "Way cool" - 
but we were running so far behind for the day after spending an hour 
searching for Jim's lost glasses that we decided against it.  Has anyone 
else done it?  Is it really as scenic as he said?

We hiked the Clack Creek alternate - very beautiful.  We reached the Chinese 
Wall at the wrong time of day for best photographs, but it was still 
beautiful. We had a resupply at Benchmark - the box was there, but no one 
was home and the water was shut off so our long awaited and badly needed 
showers had to wait for three more days, until we reached Lincoln.  Fires 
closed the CDT south of Benchmark (Straight Creek Trail) - it was still 
burning when we were there.

We also had the excitement of walking right into another fire yesterday in 
the Scapegoat on the south side of Green Mountain.  A prescribed burn had 
gotten out of control, due to high winds.  We thought we knew where the fire 
was, we could see the smoke two valleys over, so were very surprised to be 
walking down the trail and see smoke on either side of us.  The ridge 1/2 
mile ahead was clear so we hightailed it through the smoldering grass and 
trees to safety.  As I told Jim, "There's a time to take pictures and a time 
to move it"  but he disagreed.  "There's always time to take pictures."

If you hike through there on a dry year, as this one was, and there seems to 
be no water at Valley of the Moon - go upstream.  We found good water about 
1/4 mile up, but it sinks into the sand there, leaving the stream and pond 
totally dry.

Walk softly,

Ginny and Jim


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