Gonna miss this..

Well the first day into Glacier was great. What a beautiful area. There was only 11 miles to Two Medicine where we’d get our backcountry permits. About 2 miles out I ran into some goats on the trail!


Unfortunately at the ranger station we found out many other hikers beat us to the punch. Most campsites were full so our next day would have to be 26 miles, a long day, then 14 miles the next day. The other news was that the border at Waterton was possibly closed due to fires. We might not make it to the monument. The detour would put us at Chief Mountain…nooo (well ok, im being dramatic). Basically we’d have to wait til we got to Many Glacier for updated fire information.

Luckily Toasted Toad met us and had a campsite already at Two Medicine. He also brought drinks and dinner! Other hikers came in and enjoyed hot dogs, chardonnay and jack daniels shots!


Thanks to ME for grabbing my buff I dropped on trail! So glad I got to see Garbelly, ME, and Thor we were all on the same shuttle to the border the very first day….later sharing shade in the desert! There’s not a lot of people out here but the ones that are are pretty awesome.

To Canada….

So I managed to get my package, but Kelsey did not. Hanging around town we run into Flip flop and Quicksilver, apparently they were hiking about 5 miles behind us coming into town. We hung out that night and caught up over some beers. The boys were zeroing the next day and that is contagious. Suffice it to say we decided to stay and zero also. Plus we were hearing news other hikers were headed our way.

The next day we spent hanging out checking news on the fires. There are fires everywhere. Matter of fact turned out we had hiked through a fire closure. There were signs at the north end of the trail but not yet posted at the South!

Later about 10 hikers rolled in to town! Wow, I was super happy to see everyone. Garbelly, ME, Thor, Drive by, Scrapbook even Kate and Liam! We all went to the Mexican restaurant for dinner. Had a great night hearing everyone’s trail adventure stories. Funny how we are all on the same trail (sometimes within miles of each other) and have different but similar experiences. This was one of the best nights for me. The trail community really makes the experience. It sucks for those that had to skip the Bob Marshall wilderness due fire. We are not sure where some hikers are, hope they are safe if they pushed on into the Bob.


Today wake up early for one last hot coffee. We will wait a bit for Kelsey’s package then hit the trail. Most everyone else is doing the same thing. It would be awesome hike to then end with a fun group.

For now the CDT is open to the border, hoping that does not change and the fires stay to the east. I heard this is the worst fire conditions in 50 years. I’ve been looking forward to Glacier National Park for this whole trip.

Still can’t believe only 100 miles left about 4 days. But time to move, it’s getting chilly again. These last 5 months have been an incredibly crazy journey. Guess this is my last post til Canada…….see on the flip side!!

So close but yet so far

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Laying in my tent stealth camping in East Glacier, Mt. I lose track of days on trail, didn’t  realize that it was Labor Day weekend. Hostel is booked and so are most hotels. Hiking straight through that last section (with no town stops) was tough. It’s a 140 mile section if you go straight through. I under estimated my food needs, had to start rationing.  (This was poor planning and me being lazy. But food is heavy, yo. Ha, you’d think this was my first thru hike. Certainly not the first time I ran out of food. Doh! Was doing some 27 to 30 mile days to get done. I wasn’t hungry but my energy levels were super low. Pretty much stumbling into camp (seriously, over ever tree root) eating a tortilla with peanut butter and passing out.


My legs are so scratched and tender from all the branches scratching, over growth, climbing over blown down trees and just tripping.


The route is beautiful taking us right by the wall and through the Bob Marshall wilderness. (The Chinese Wall is limestone averaging about 1,000 feet tall and stretches unbroken for miles. The rock face marks the Continental Divide through the Bob Marshall Wilderness) However, there a lot of fires, one we passed within 1/4 mile of the trail. The smoke limited the views and made the sun an eerie red. Many of the trails were closed, glad we made it through.
the wallThe Chinese wall

Our last day we hiked 29 miles to get to East Glacier. That was a super long day, but being that I was down to a bag of Skittles and a granola bar….well I was motivated. Made to town just in time to grab a burger before the restaurant closed!!

After stealth camping we headed to Brownies Hostel to grab our last packages. Unfortunately, the did NOT have them!! I was more than upset. I purposely had the packages sent early AND to the hostel to avoid the post office being closed upon arrival.

So frustrating, so close to Canada (like only 100 miles left) and this happens. I don’t want to (and can’t afford to) to sit here and wait. Mostly annoyed that the hostel is like, oh well.

On the upside, walking through town I run into a hiker I met on the PCT, then randomly in Portland, then ha here in Montana! Small world! They were in town for a wedding, gave us fresh fruit (Oh how I miss fruit,yum plums) and drinks! Made me feel better.
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Not sure, guess I may have to leave without packages. I’ll keep checking til we leave tomorrow. Packages have been known to just “show up”or “be found”. Fingers crossed.

PS:  Thanks Gary for the lift back to the trail! Oh and my shoes….yep duck tape!

Highway to HELena..

Hiking south from Anaconda turned out to be a great idea! The trail was nice, but it was really nice to run into other hikers we haven’t seen since Colorado! They were all guys, where my girls!? I wish I had taken pics, hope to see you guys up the trail!
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Last day hiking south I hiked 26 miles in about 9 hours, with breaks and stopping to chat, guess I was in the flow and feeling good. I love times like that everything just clicks and your floating down the trail. Got lucky on a hitch from a guy nice enough to give us a lift 60 miles back to Anaconda! After a good night’s rest Kelsey took off early, I slept in. She is itching to get home. I on the other hand want to savor these last days. I did a quick resupply at the Dollar then found Kelsey at the McDonald’s, we headed out on a long hot road walk. While hiding in the road side shade a local guy (Eddie Murphy, yes jokes were made) came by and said not to drink the water from the nearby stream. Instead he said stop by his house for water and camping in his yard. Took him up on the water but just rested in the yard til it cooled down, then night hiked on further.


The terrain in Montana changes quickly from farm land to forest. I really love that the climbs are gradual. However water is getting scarce. Learned quickly when there is water you better take it. Second day out planned on hiking and camping at a lake. I had about a cup of water left when I got to the “lake” The lake ended up being a shallow swamp. Ended up hiking another 1.3 miles to a dripping creek then carrying water uphill to find a campsite.

Other than limited water I’m enjoying Montana and cranking out 25 mile days! Less than 400 miles to go, I’m gonna make it! But first a stop in Helena…

On the highway to HELena we met trail angel Barb!! She gave us a lift to town, a tour, and McDonalds (I was so hungry)! She even let us shower and do laundry!! She lives in a nice neighborhood where people hang out on their porches and chat. She even took us to the grocery and back to the trail!! Thanks to you and Max, you went above and beyond.


There are fires in the area and trail closures ahead. Thanks to all those firefighters out there on the ground and in the air!

Montana Idaho part 2

Well you really haven’t lived til you have slept on the floor at a truck stop. Yep that happened. The bus left at 5am and stealth camping was not an option with all the truckers and mosquitoes. Greyhound, man, I have no words. Seriously this girl on the bus (who had already been told to stop singing by the bus driver. His words: “this is not American Idol”, too funny) got kicked off the bus for shoplifting, for real.

Had a layover in Salt Lake City (why are people fascinated with the SLC convention center? ) Spent the 6 hour layover laying in the grass, looking real homeless, watching tourist take pictures of the convention center. Back at the bus station I did a happy dance when I found out the rest of our trip would be on this comfortable sprinter van!!!!

Finally arrived in Butte, Montana at 3:15 am, walked 1.7 miles to my motel. What? It’s to early to check in, shocked. Oh well luckily there was an empty couch in the lobby where I took a little nap. I don’t think they really liked that, but hey I got in my room by 10 am! I was in need of some real rest. The next day back on trail headed for Canada…..or so I thought.

To get back on trail where I had gotten off (Idaho not Montana, aka Montanaho) a few hitches were necessary. Seemed simple enough, wrong.
4 hitches and 6 hours later, found myself in nowhere, Montana! By nowhere I mean nowhere near the trail. DOH!! Finally gave up getting to the trailhead and took first ride I could get into town. See the trail goes right through the town of Anaconda, way north of where I wanted to be. So guess who’s southboundING, this girl! Then I am so headed to Canada.


Oh many thanks to the Adventure Camp Anaconda trail society for providing that sweet shed for hikers to crash in, in Anaconda!

Got to catch the eclipse from the Idaho/Montana border. Then had a great day seeing our hiker friends, on trail, we haven’t seen in a month or 500ish miles. They were all headed north while Kelsey and I were headed south!

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Light Years

The trail both humbled and disappointed me when I had to bail off the snowy Colorado trail. But my safety was more important to me. Flipping north and then back south was an expense and logistical mess. But I will soon be in Montana/Idaho and headed for Canada!
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After 4 days on trail, escaping Colorado I finally got signal and with that the sad news that a dear friend (Mr. French) had passed. It’s times like that I just want to go home, or fall to pieces. But I can’t quit or stop I have to keep moving forward, thus is life.

But when things get tough angels step in. At the trailhead I met some folks on vacation from Georgia, Cooper and Jane. They not only offered a ride to town but took us to their rental home for lunch, showers and laundry. Cooper reminded me of my friend, witty/funny, lifting my spirits. Later they took us to dinner in town, lettings us camp on the lawn after chatting around a campfire. THEN…drove us up to catch our bus the next morning!


With all the craziness going on right now, know there are people out there like Cooper and Jane. People so kind and generous, to strangers just stumbling out of the woods.
I’ll be very busy when I get back home, paying forward all the kindness showed to me out here. I can’t wait.

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This next section is for you Mr. French! Thanks for the laughter and believing in me (even on the trail I didn’t finish). I’ll be rockin that AT buff, see ya on the other side.

And wherever you’ve gone
And where ever we might go
It don’t seem fair
Today just disappeared
Your lights reflected now
Reflected from a far
We were but stones
Your light made us stars- Eddie V.

 

Extreme hiking

There’s a sign in Rocky Mountain National Park with the saying “the mountains don’t care”. Yep they don’t. They are there to marvel at and for those, who dare, to climb. I am not a fan of climbing (hiking uphill), heck I didn’t even like biking uphill. So thank the sweet baby Jesus I am out of Colorado, but the mountains don’t care.
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I was told I picked the wrong hobby to not like climbing. I don’t think so. At home I can hike over the mountain or around, hike the city or the desert. Going where I want/choose, at my speed. Out here I’m on the trail (when I’m not lost). Out here is not hobby hiking, it’s extreme hiking.

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More of this please..

“Embrace the Brutality,” the unofficial motto of the CDT, isn’t just hype. On the CDT you face risks that are rare on the other long-distance trails and challenging climbs. Thru hiking ain’t for everyone. But ‘hobby hiking’ is!! Get on the trail, or street (Urban hiking); make your own route. Find your own way, even if it’s around the mountain. That is all……now go!

It’s the climb….

I wake up chilly, no actually cold. Why is it so cold, in August? Stealth camped just outside of Grand Lake, what cute town, I’d live here. From my tent the lake is not visible through the fog it’s only .5 miles away. I don’t want to get out of my sleeping bag, but I have to potty so I’m up. It’s a later wake up than usual, headed into town for AYCE buffet, resupply, and make plans to get back up to Montana.
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The last 4 days have been rough for me. Moral is low, energy is low but the climbs have been high. Guess I’m just trying to see the light at the end of the tunnel but I can’t with all the rain, hail and clouds! Really I’m not good at climbing, toss in crappy weather and I’m a mess.


Just south of Winter Park I got lost. After a huge climb I got to the peak and couldn’t find the trail down. It was covered in rock with like a bjillion cairns. The jagged rocks hurt my feet and I kept tripping, that’s when it started raining, great. I clumsily got myself down to some trees thinking I’d find the trail, nope. My crappy GPS would only show where I was but not any direction. I ended up climbing back uphill then following a forest service road to where the trail crossed it. So frustrating. I had shooting pain in my feet by the time I made it to camp.


It has become hard to enjoy the incredible sceanary when I am constantly just trying to out run the daily rain storm or not roll my ankle on a rock. It is beautiful, really, lakes surrounded by mountains and nice camp sites. I’d like to come back…..and car camp, sometime when I’m not racing to Canada.

Salida social time

Well I made it to Salida by getting a great hitch from a girl named Chelsea. I had been watching cars pass for about 40 minutes before she stopped. Chelsea is from Gunnison and was headed into Salida to meet some old friends.

I hadn’t run into Kelsey on trail and couldn’t figure out how I could have passed her. So I was hopping to find her in town. I ended up at the Simple Lodge hostel. Great hostel in a great location, only blocks from the Arkansas River. The hostel was full of hikers on the Colorado Trail, it was fun talking and hanging out with them. Reminded me of being on the PCT.


I met Blaze (from La Jolla) and Michelle (from Pennsylvania) we all went out to celebrate Tequila Day and watched people body surf in the river. Salida is cute little town, with its own town deer! Yep, actually there is about 3 that just hanging out in town.

When Kelsey didn’t show I resupplied and hopped a shuttle with Blaze and Michelle back to the trail head. They headed south on the CT and I headed north on the CDT.

I passed about 20 CT hikers that day all headed southbound. Just me hiking solo northbound. I have to say I do enjoy hiking solo, there is a different feeling when you are are alone. There is a sense of freedom, independence and self reliance. I also hike differently when solo, my own pace.

I hiked two whole days by myself and enjoyed it. (I do miss having someone else in camp at night though, and I suck at selfies) I hiked out that morning and got surprised by a moose!! I took a picture and watched him standing in water for a bit before heading up the climb to the pass. At the top of the pass guess who comes up behind me? Kelsey! She had taken the alternate route. We exchanged stories of the last days as we hiked into Twin Lakes.


Twin Lakes was not so great. Very small and the store did not have a good resupply. After getting kicked out of the restaurant/inn, yeah that happened. We decided to hitch into Leadville, as I had heard it was a hiker friendly fun adventure. We got a ride quickly and planned on getting supplies and getting right back on trail…..but Leadville.

Rebounding and Ragbrai

After counting to ten multiple times and being on the phone with Verizon for 30 mins I got them to overnight me a new phone! Honestly they did not make it easy. They could not send it to the post office I was sitting right in front of, nope. I was there to get my box with my much needed shoes. Luckily a nice guy at the Coffee on the Fly shop let me use their address.


The phone arrived late afternoon the next day. I worried most of the day that my apps (mostly I was concerned about my trail map app Guthooks). While I sat on the floor of the post office, charging the new phone (and saying prayers) a local lady invited us to spend the night in their “trailer”. Turns out the “trailer” was a motor home with a queen bed, electricity and a shower! The trail does provide.


The next morning after as we headed out I realized that my GPS did not have a locator button. Kelsey was itching to get back on the trail so I told her to go ahead while I headed back into town to fix the problem. I was not going into the wilderness with it not working, nope. It only took about 15 mins to correct once I got on Wi-Fi. But by the time I got on trail Kelsey was long gone.

I hiked most of the day til it started to rain and I got wet/cold. About 18 miles in I gave up and set up camp. It was actually a good day even with the rain because CDT joined up with the CT (Colorado Trail). It was fun to all of a sudden see other hikers. All though they were headed in the opposite direction, but yeah people!!

The next day I was sure I’d catch Kelsey but nope. I admit I was distracted by OMG, trail magic! I was gifted rice krispy treats and coke at the first stop. Woohoo!! With that sugar injection I was off to the races. I was really moving, 10 miles by 10 am! Feeling good with good trail I set out for 10 more by 2pm. That’s when I hit the next trail magic stop. Fresh water, hot dogs and yes more coke. With that I took off determined to pull a 30 mile day. Racing the rain I made it 33 miles. Biggest mile day this whole trail. I really need to start packing out soda pop!!! Or maybe it was those spiffy new shoes and insoles. Or maybe all those encouraging comments from everyone, thanks guys! What a difference a day makes, hang in there.

To all you guys on the Ragbrai stay safe and keep the rubber side down!

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