[cdt-l] Back in Butte - The End of the Chapter (But Not the End of the Story)
Slyatpct at aol.com
Slyatpct at aol.com
Mon Oct 16 15:16:35 CDT 2006
I'm not sure if this made it to the list, so here's the repost..
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.
Ginny and Jim
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