Trip Report CDT: Montana/Idaho pt2

Burn Baby Burn

I pass the guys in the morning and don't see them for hours. I take a large break in a field to dry my gear and fall asleep. I get spooked awake by a passing hiker, Rachael. Packing up, I continue to head forward as my friends are still nowhere to be seen.

Hiker Cruise

The afternoon is dominated by big climbs over burned out hills. A large thunderstorm approaches as I reach a crest, forcing me to backtrack a bit and set up my tarp. Thankfully it only rains for half an hour or so and then I'm able to continue. The sun breaks through the clouds and my spirits are lifted. With a big smile on my face I continue up and down the mountains.

Scapegoat Wilderness

As I approach camp I come across two hikers camped on a slanted hillside, Ice Age and Toast. Toast and I swear we know each other but can't figure it out. They do know Goose though and are excited by the news that he's close behind. A little further on I meet one more hiker, Forest, and then camp alone.

The climbs continue and the day passes quietly. I reach a yurt that is alongside trail and decide to once again wait for my friends. There is an old logbook inside that has hikers signing from 2008! Hours pass and Forest eventually passes so I buddy up with him to hitch into Lincoln.

A girl on her way to Vancouver picks us up. She had seen us waiting on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and figured we were cool so she turned around to grab us. She was from Brooklyn working in Montana as security for a nuclear missile site...woah!

Getting dropped in town I head straight for a large pizza. After we try to grab a hotel for the night but everything is booked up. We make friends with some other hikers who have a room, Beer Run and JK. Some other hikers are befriended: Milkman, Rainman, 50, and Chaos. Goose and Cruise do eventually make it to town and camp out near the brewery.

Waking early I go have breakfast with Goose and Cruise. They will stay in town for another day to rest up. Another hiker joins us briefly for food, Stay Puft from Denmark. Not wanting to stay put for much longer I hitch out with Beer Run and JK. Our driver lights a blunt and spends the ride talking about conspiracy theories like FEMA camps, New World Orders and other Alex Jones talking points.

The trail is pleasant and I spend a good amount of time chatting with JK since he's Japanese and I'd spent a year living in Tokyo. Water is sparse and we meet some other hikers while filling up. Rabbit and Easy Speak who were both from California I think. Easy Speak had already completed the AT this year before starting his SOBO CDT hike!

Hills of Montana

We only hike 13mi(21km) out of town as JK wants to interview me about my gear set up: Link

As the evening draws on more hikers arrive at camp. Quick Draw, a storyboard artist who worked on the Lego Batman movie! Professor, a computational biology scientist. Ketchup Daddy and Sloppy Joe, serial travellers. Some relatives of Professor show up and give us all trail magic in the form of Gatorade and off-brand Turtles chocolates.

I leave early the following morning to make up the perceived lost time from yesterdays shorter mileage. I pass Rabbit, Toast and Ice Age.

Peeking out of a tent in storm

I skip a crucial water source since I figure I can get by with 2L of water for 20mi(32km). The following section is brutal with elevation gain and loss, making my decision foolish. I run out of water with ~6mi(9.6km) left to go. By the time I reach the water trough I am hurting real bad. I take a long break to chug litres of water as biting flies unendingly pester me. By the end of the day the trail has turned into gravel roads and I set up past a gate minutes before a thunderstorm quickly rolls by overhead.

Storm passing in distance

Another early start with some drizzle and grey skies. I make a 0.6mi(1km) detour as I miss a turn off and have to double back to get back to trail. Pushing through brush the trail is a little rough with the occasional blowdown. I meet a hiker leaving camp, True Grits. Making it to the highway and trying to hitch into Helena doesn't go so well. Eventually True Grits catches me and then we are able to grab a hitch together.

The couple that picks us up is super nice. They swing by their local community garden and offer us fresh carrots, radishes, and lettuce straight from the earth! We get dropped off downtown, True Grits and I grab burger and shakes for lunch. We part ways in the afternoon to our respective hotels for the night. I run into Crush who I'd briefly met in Lincoln, an ultralight hiker using a 17L pack. We agree to split the room for the next two nights.

After some laundry, Crush and I go for all you can eat sushi. It isn't that great and they make the maki rolls with way too much rice but I guess I shouldn't expect too much from such a landlocked location. We grab shakes in the afternoon and then chill in the motel.

My first zero day, no miles hiked. I go to Safeway to resupply and get food to send ahead to towns which do not have grocers, Leadore and Lima. Ice Age and Toast arrive and get rooms at the same motel and I meet a hiker named Thresher.

Thresher and Crush are planning on doing a large cutoff called the Big Sky/Butte Super Cutoff which bypasses some 200mi(322km) of main trail. I go to the library to print maps for the Alan Dixon Wind River High Route which I'd like to attempt in Wyoming. The rest of the evening Crush and I watch sumo matches from Ryogoku in Japan.

Waking early I have a hard time deciding how to hitch out of Helena. I walk to the very edge of town and spend almost three hours with my thumb out. Eventually I am picked up by a gentlemen who somehow has mistaken me for JK. I get dropped off and do a fire closure alternate forced upon me by the CDTC.

Along the road walk I meet Gadget, who will do the Butte Super Cutoff, and pass another hiker in silence. Back on trail I pass Rabbit three times and I forget my spoon at my lunch spot. I meet a NOBO hiker who wants some advice on his self-chosen trail name, Nordic Norseman...

I end the day camping in a gorgeous meadow that is swarming with flies. I try to bear hang and tangle it up, having to cut the rope and trying again. Thankfully no one is around to make me feel embarrassed.

There is a bit of rain in the morning and constant navigation over blowdowns. I meet another NOBO hiker doing a section hiker, Running Bird. At the top of crest there are cows shitting and feeding everywhere as I do a quick off-trail hike to the top of Blizzard Hill.

Around midday I reach the turn off for the Anaconda Cutoff. It saves ~86mi(138km) and greatly simplifies the resupply so I plan on taking it. Of course I forget my cold-soak jar after having lunch and so have to do an extra 1mi(1.6km) to retrieve it. Unfortunately the whole cut-off is a pretty exposed road walk.

I try to follow some comments on FarOut talking about a trail angel that let's hiker camp on their property but no one is around when I arrive. I get some really warm water from one of their water hoses and continue on. I end up setting up near a trailhead but there are still so many hours of sunlight left. I spray myself with DEET to combat the army of mosquitoes and sit in my tent for a few hours sweating under the heat of the sun until nightfall.

The rest of the way into town is along paved narrow two-lane roads. I make it in alive and head to McDonalds. Some old gentlemen chat me up as I'm about to leave and then I head over to the hiker hut in town. There is a shed for hikers to camp out in with bikes to use to get into town, wifi, a porta-potty and showers nearby!

There are a bunch of hikers already hanging out. I meet Jersey, Coach, Adubz and Stan along with reuniting with Rainman, 50 and Chaos who I briefly met in Lincoln. For lunch I take a bike into town and eat an amazing 18" margarita pizza. In the evening Ketchup Daddy and Sloppy Joe arrive to camp out.

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