Here is a small entry from Liam’s Dad on a trip he took at the beginning of September.
I have always wanted to see Old Faithful in Yellowstone, I just never thought I’d walk there. Even though I haven’t seen it yet, we are only 20 miles from Yellowstone and Wyoming. Well Montana, it’s been fun. Even though your part of the divide is like a maniac roller coaster on steroids, it has been unforgettable and beautiful. Here are some pictures of the rest of our time in Montana:
Celebratory food on Mt. Tiny. Our 50th summit of the trip thus far. We had cider (of course), gorganzola, potato salad, and pita. Mmmm.
Although this spot doesn’t look significant, it is.This is Brower’s Spring. From here, water travels 6275 km to the ocean via the Missouri/Mississippi River. This is its ultimate headwaters. When we were there the spring was dry, I hope the Mississippi is still flowing…
We thought we would ask whoever is reading (if there is anyone) a question. What is the lowest point Jake and myself will walk through on the way to Mexico? To make it easier, you can just guess a state/province. So take you’re pick from: British Columbia, Alberta, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico, and Mexico. If you can guess the exact location, talk about bragging rights! You can put your guess in the comment section. Good Luck!
I think there is a notion that fit people may sustain themselves on carrots and lemon juice. While that may be for some, I can assure you for many it isn’t. In fact, it has been on the CDT that I have met the worst chain smokers. People that hike 50-60 km a day, smoking every 15 minutes. One guy, probably only a few years older than us, had a discolored mustache from smoke. When he ran out of cigarettes, he tore up his map and smoked that with whatever tobacco remained. Thru hikers zoom by, chewing tobacco and smoking at the same time. Carrots and lemon juice eh? We would probably try to stuff it into a cigarette.
The other day I realized I hadn’t had any fruits/veg for weeks. In fact, the only greenery I’m getting at the moment is whatever comes on a burger. You see, when the going gets tough, the tough don’t eat salad. Instead, you drench everything in ranch dressing. Eat the butter packets on the table while you wait for your deep fried meal. Chug the condiments and sip the coffee cream. Fill the Nalgene bottles with Mountain Dew. Maybe even add sugar packets.
We are in the best shape we have ever been. We can do 60 km in a day, with a full backpack, up and over mountains and passes. No worries. Then repeat. However, we are surviving on cookie-dough pop tarts, chips, and candy. As already mentioned, the only greenery we are eating is green number four food dye. I don’t even remember what strawberries taste like. Sadly, I don’t even care. If it’s not deep fried and smothered in butter and ranch – I’m not interested.
We emerged from the woods to rolling sage brush. In the distance, we could see a single track, desolate road. There were no cars. Our knees ached and we were low on water. We didn’t want to hike the extra 13 miles down a hot dusty road to the highway to resupply. We were going to get a ride, no matter what. Even if we had to lay down on the road to stop the come-every-three-hour-car.
We finally reached Lemhi Pass a little after noon and sat in the middle of the road. Waiting. After an hour or so, a cloud of dust appeared. A car! Better yet – a truck!
The truck stopped and the window rolled down. I started the speech, “We’re hiking the divide and we were wondering if we could get…get…getttt…” I stammered. I had noticed that their hands, up to the elbows, were covered in blood. Uh oh. We had been warned about crazies. Quick! Mutter something about the weather and make a run for it Liam! I’m sure the knees still have some life in them! However, my stomach growled. In the end, the stomach always wins. And so, I pushed on, ” a ride into town.” My hand quivered near the bear spray.
“Well, we are a bit full”. The men pointed to the bed of the truck. It was then that I noticed something large and hairy laying on top a pile of wood. A black bear. Now it made sense! These weren’t psycho killers that preyed on defenseless bearded skinny hikers from Canada. They were hunters!
“But you can get in the back with the bear.” There are some rides you never forget and this was one of them. We sat in the back on a pile of wood with a bear between us. Watching beautiful country roll past. All we needed was a beer.
We thought once we got to the highway the remaining 20 miles to Salmon, Idaho would be easy. We were wrong. So utterly wrong. Four hours passed. We wanted to throw our hiking sticks at passing traffic. To make matters worse, the owner of the gas station we were hitching from kept coming outside and telling us we couldn’t stay there (it’s not like we wanted to!). We planned to call it quits at 6 PM and camp in the ditch with the roadside trash.
At 5:50 PM, a car stopped. They were going to Salmon in a hour after cowboy church. They invited us to join, saying there would be drinks and food. I don’t even think we let him finish talking before we piled into the car. And so in a whirlwind of ten minutes we went from the side of the highway to singing hymns and drinking lemonade with peach cobbler (after putting on a few layers to hide the I-haven’t -washed-for-a-week-smell of shame). Tray (our saviour) introduced us to the congregation and we even had 2 ladies come up and offer us rides back to Lemhi Pass the next day. What luck! We even stayed for the night at the church in Salmon. It just goes to show: In the end, everything will be alright. And if it isn’t alright, it isn’t yet the end. Thank you so much everyone!
There is hiking and then there is hiking. Hiking is what most people know. A nice day stroll to a meadow or lake with some comforts, such as a picnic lunch and lounging in the sun. Some may even be more adventurous and go hiking for an over-nighter or two. Hiking by comparison is quite different. See for yourself:
First, the size of the backpack. Hikers don’t have large backpacks, forgoing many luxuries. Some have no tent, only a tarp. Some even carry no stove, just a peanut butter jar. When you are within an hour of where you wish to camp, you add cold water to Mr. Noodles. It slowly hydrates…The ends of toothbrushes are sawn, clothing labels torn off, and pages of books burned after reading. They become obsessed with weight and the never-ending-battle to carry less. It takes over your life…
Hikers have trail names. Traditionally, you are named by someone else. Each name has a story attached to it. So far, we have met Rainer, Snowplow, Birdy, Viking, Chili, Pepper, Tibetan (He likes to read about Budda) and Strider (He has llooonngg graceful legs). Sometimes you don’t even learn people’s real names.
Muppet (Or Liam) apparently has a hair problem at the moment. Ducky (Known by Jake to Some) waddles down the trail.
Mileage! Mileage! Mileage! People think we have a lot of spare time during the day. We don’t. We go from dark to dark. If I get my half an hour to knit, write, and read at the end of the day before falling into a sleep coma, I’m happy. Most hikers do between 35 – 60 km a day. Hmmm no wonder my feet are falling apart (See below).
Your feet fall apart. Rapidly.
In order to contain the damage, hikers wear running shoes. I’mNeverWearingHikingBootsAGAIN! You try 50 km in hiking boots. Vile! Vile! Vile!
You binge eat. You become obsessed with food. And given the opportunity, you can out eat anyone. We just ran into a hiker who went to a pizza buffet. After eating 28 slices, he was asked to leave. It reminded me of the Simpsons…Our life is a cartoon! http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=yL9bPjkOc1Q
Your only fruits and veg are what you can forage or really grab as you rush/pant by.
You grow a beard. Carrying a shaver just isn’t worth it.
Expect to get lost. It can be hard to tell one sage bush covered hill from another. And navigating amongst backcountry roads is the worst!
Sometimes there isn’t any trail and you have to bushwack. Also known as character building.
Everything falls apart. Nature shows no mercy. Eventually, you begin to wear rags.
You struggle with guides. Eventually you become to realise that some of them are practically as useful as going blindfolded into the woods. Except they weigh more.
You are always racing Old Man Winter…Gah!
You hike through all kinds of weather. Rain, snow, or shine. Hopefully, just shine. Unfortunately, that is not always the case.
You depend on hitch hiking to towns to resupply. Think of the following the next time you drive past a hitch hiker. Perhaps he has walked to that very spot from another country. Perhaps this is the first time in weeks he has encountered people. Perhaps he’s hitching because his feet are blistered and bloodied. Perhaps its Friday and he desperately needs to get to the post office before it closes for the weekend. Perhaps he is in desperate need of cheesecake and beer. Perhaps he doesn’t want to be there just as much as you don’t want to pick him up. Perhaps.
You have wet feet. For days. Hello trench foot.
People seem to always be keen to tell you about upcoming dangers. Avalanches, bears, cougars, getting lost, crazies, the borders, the mexican border (this one especially. We have had people tell us to walk through Texas instead of New Mexico. Of course they fail to realize that we are hiking. To walk to a neighbouring state instead would add weeks!), winter, snakes, and did I mention bears?
Hikers become best friends with the postal system. You send things to yourself in the future. Such as maps and shoes. I have even heard of people mailing their backpack to themselves just a few miles down the road. Sometimes you get desperate and do the absurd.
Obviously, the CDT follows the divide. Water becomes a huge concern. Sometimes you don’t come across a single puddle for over 25km. Sigh.
You get to camp in amazing places.
But no matter what the trail throws at you. You always have that cup of tea to look forward to at the end of the day.
And beers in the next town. Its moments like this that make you realize that all the unpleasantness at times is totally worth it. In the end, it’s one big grand adventure! Yeehaw!