[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.

Walk softly,
Ginny and  Jim


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