[cdt-l] Back in Butte - The End of the Chapter (But Not the End of the Story)

Jim and/or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 15 11:43:45 CDT 2006

A month ago we left our northbound CDT trek at Homestake Pass, seven miles 
from Butte, MT, and headed to East Glacier to begin hiking south through 
Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wildernesses and the 
Helena and Deerlodge Forests.  Yesterday afternoon we completed our journey 
from the Mexican border to the Canadian border when we once again wandered 
into Homestake Pass - this time from the north side.  With the exception of 
a section of trail in Wyoming closed by the Purdy fire, we managed to 
connect our steps the entire way.  We'll close that gap next year.

We had hoped to continue hiking south from Butte until stopped by either 
winter or Jim's knees.  Jim's knees got there first - but barely.  The last 
ten days have given us a taste of winter camping; we'll be happy to head 
south now to warmer climes.

Leaving Lincoln, MT, we enjoyed classic fall weather as we hiked the hgih 
meadows near Rogers Pass.  Blue skies and sunshine made the miles feel easy 
as we enjoyed far ranging views.  The third day out the clouds dropped low 
and we experienced intermittent snows all day.  Going over the meadows near 
Nevada Mountain in total whiteout was an adventure in itself as there are no 
cairns and virtually no tread - but that's why we carry a compass.  Our 
biggest surprise that day was that Dana Spring, our water source for the 
day, was bone dry.  We followed Jonathan Ley's suggested alternate route and 
found water five miles later, right where he said there would be a good 
creek.  Thank you Jonathan.

While we were in Helena another cold front moved through, dropping 
temperatures and four to six inches of snow on the trail.  At 9:00 a.m. it 
was 27 degrees in town - and much colder at the Pass 3000' higher.  Even so, 
the sun shone as we wandered through our winter wonderland.  I felt like I 
was walking through a Christmas card.  We were happy that so much of the 
trail in that section was on jeep roads as the trail tended to vanish in the 
open spaces.  It's hard to tell a deer path from a hiking path when the snow 
is fresh.  The snow covered mountains were beautiful - the Anaconda 
Pintlers, the Tobacco Roots and the Highland Range especially.  We enjoyed 
reading the many tracks in the fresh snow. It's one of the pleasures of 
winter hiking.  Days were beautiful and nights were cold.  The snow remained 
all week on the shady sides of the mountains and ice kept the trail firm 

Ending our hike in Butte is something of an anti-climax.  The hiking this 
week was easy but mostly on jeep roads or ATV and motorbike trails.  We saw 
24 motorbikes yesterday afternoon.  There was no Eureka moment, no Katahdin 
high, just an "I guess we're here, let's get to town."

We're both sad that this year's journey has come to an end, but we're 
already making plans for next year.  We aren't finished with the CDT.  There 
are still a lot of options we haven't explored and places we want to return 
to visit.  It's a vast, beautiful country out here and we've barely touched 

Our special thanks go to Leslie, who went 'above and beyond' as trail 
support for our hike - we couldn't have done it without you - and Mark 
Howser, whose kindness and generosity were invaluable - as well as to the 
cookie bakers who gave us much needed love and support for our hike.

Did we find what were were looking for on this long journey?  I think so.  
We both love hiking, being surrounded by the beauty of the mountains and 
deserts, exploring new country, discovering wildlife, following the 
progression of the seasons from spring flowers to summer sunshine to autumn 
leaves to winterr snows - and meeting new people.  The Continental Divide 
Trail provides all of that, and more.  The trail is still a challenge, but a 
beautiful one, despite our having done it before and despite its 
increasingly 'civilized' nature (i.e. better blazing/marking and hundreds of 
miles of newly built trail since we were here in 1999.)  We hope it won't 
take us another seven years to come back and do it again.

Walk softly,
Ginny and Jim


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