From the Benchmark Wilderness Ranch it was a three day hike on the Continental Divide Trail through the Scapegoat Wilderness to Rodgers Pass near the small town of Lincoln, MT.
I had the Benchmark Ranch all to myself (except for the owner and about 25 horses and mules). My resupply package was waiting for me, I pitched my tent, and enjoyed my first hot shower in six days.
When I departed the ranch, a sign at the trailhead discusses the 1988 lightning caused Canyon Creek Fire which burned 247,600 acres and became the largest forest fire in Montana since 1910. The fire burned about half of the Scapegoat Wilderness that I was about to hike through.
True to the sign, much of the Scapegoat had burned. Some burn areas looked more recent than 1988, while other were probably from the Canyon Creek Fire. In many areas you could see small Lodgepole Pines regrowing. It was both encouraging to see the forest coming back, but at the same time it’s been almost 30 years and the small size of the new trees is a reminder of just how long the recovery will take.
The final day of the hike was a spectacular ridge walk along the great Continental Divide. Skirting Caribou Peak and then following ridges connecting Red Mountain and Green Mountain to Rodgers Pass the views were windy but spectacular.
Currently I’m taking a zero day in the pleasant little town of Lincoln, MT. It has several motels and restaurants and a small but good grocery store. Tomorrow I depart for the four day hike to Helena.
Trivia: Ted Kaczynski (AKA the Unabomber) lived near Lincoln until his arrest in 1996.