CDT Update: The Bob

The Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness .
The Chinese Wall in the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

The Bob is the Bob Marshall Wilderness that begins about 30 miles south of Glacier National Park. 

Just to refresh everyone’s memory, since I haven’t had cell service in awhile, I departed East Glacier on the 4th of July. It’s a 16 mile hike on the Continental Divide Trail from East Glacier to the southern boundary of the National Park and I hiked a few miles past that. I have been hiking 20 mile days pretty regularly so it was not difficult to make it past the park boundary were I could legally camp. 

On the second day the CDT passed through a large wildfire burn area from a few years ago. The problem with burn areas, aside from green trees being much prettier than dead burned trees, is that the burned trees often fall down blocking the trail. It was slow going in a few places because of the downed trees.

The Chinese Wall was the highlight of The Bob. Named because of the similarity to The Great Wall of China, it was quite spectacular and it was fun to spend the day walking along it. Unfortunately for my photos it was overcast skys.

The area is popular with weekend backpackers. I saw around 40 backpackers the final day I walked the wall and into Benchmark Wilderness Ranch, where I had a resupply box waiting. Benchmark is the first road access to the trail since Marias Pass 100 miles and six days ago.

CDT Update: Glacier National Park

Oldman Lake, Glacier National Park
Oldman Lake, Glacier National Park

I decided to flip up to the Canadian border and walk south on the Continental Divide Trail for awhile.

After a pleasant three week break from hiking in Santa Fe, I flew to Spokane and then hopped on an Amtrak train. The train departed about 1 AM and arrived at the small town of East Glacier about 10 AM. It was pleasant ride with large comfortable seats that were easy to sleep in. (I heard that the next day’s train was seven hours late, so it’s best not to make any firm plans for your first day in Glacier).

In East Glacier I purchase stove fuel and “Grizzly Tough” bear spray ($48!!). Since you can’t take either on an airplane you have to wait until you arrive to buy these. Then I made my way to the small area known as Saint Mary closer to the Canadian border. Saint Mary has a visitor center where you can get backcountry permits, a campground with $5 hiker/biker campsites, grocery store, restaurants, expensive lodge (one hiker stayed there and said he spent $200 a night for his room!). I shared my campsite with a group of four bicyclists who were riding across the country. 

Speaking of backcountry permits, they are difficult to get in Glacier National Park. Backpackers are required to camp in established backcountry campsites and each campsite must be reserved when you get your permit, except that almost all the campsites are already taken. CDT hikers are having to do all kinds of crazy things — delaying there hike, doing really short or long days, hike alternate trails, camp in campgrounds, take extra zero days, hike northbound, hike southbound, etc. to find campsites and work through the permit process. I was only able to get a permit for three days of hiking from the Canadian border to Going To The Sun Road because of this.

Monday June 27, 2016

I took the noon GPI shuttle from Saint Mary to Chief Mountain ($30). The shuttle dropped me off at the Chief Mountain border crossing to Canada. I didn’t actually go into Canada, but hiked south from the border and I was off to my first night back on the CDT at Elizabeth Lake. It was an easy 11 miles — I started about 2 PM and arrive in plenty of time for dinner.

Tuesday June 28, 2016

Elizabeth Lake to Many Glacier via Redgap Pass

This was a very pretty day of hiking up to 7,500 foot Redgap Pass then down to the campground at Many Glacier. Apparently there is a shorter route through a tunnel, but it’s has not yet opened for the season and the doors of tunnel are locked. Not sure I can imagine what this looks like, someday I will get up there to see the trail going through a tunnel.

Many Glacier is a hub of tourist activity with several hotels and a busy horse concession. It does have a pretty good (and also very busy) restaurant where I enjoyed dinner with another hiker.

Wednesday June 29, 2016

Many Glacier marks the point I joined the official Continental Divide Trail. The previous two days I had been hiking the Chief Mountain CDT Alternate because the official CDT was closed due to snow. So far I have encountered almost no snow on any of the trails I have hiked.

Before departing Many Glacier I was able to stop by the ranger station and get another backcountry permit for three more days of hiking. It does start at a trailhead in Saint Mary, so I will have to hike about five miles to actually rejoin the CDT.

From Many Glacier I hiked up 7,300 foot Piegan Pass and then dropped down to Going To The Sun Road. The hike from the road to the pass is popular with day hikers and I probably saw 40 hikers — far more than I have seen anyplace else in the park.

Some hikers from California gave me a ride to Saint Mary campground. This time I had the hiker/biker campsite all to myself. 

Thursday June 30, 2016

Saint Mary to Atlantic Creek backcountry camp

I followed the Red Eagle trail about five miles to rejoin the CDT. The trail runs near Saint Mary Lake but sadly much of it runs through a large burn area from a wildfire in 2015.

After rejoining the CDT the trail climbs up to the 7,400 foot triple divide and then along the side of a steep rocky slope above Atlantic Creek. Tiny baby mountain goats looked down at me curiously from the rocky slope above.

Friday July 1, 2016

Atlantic Creek camp to Two Medicine Campground

Today’s hike climbed up to 7,600 foot Pitamakan Pass and then followed Dry Fork Creek to the Two Medicine campground. I saw more hikers in the back country than usual as I got near the Two Medicine Lake area. Fortunately it’s not as busy as the Many Glacier area. I’m sharing my hiker/biker campsite with a bicyclist and four hikers doing short backpacking trips in the park.

Saturday July 2, 2016

Today was a short 10 mile hike from the Two Medicine Campground to the community of East Glacier. The Glacier National Park area is pretty busy due to the holiday weekend, but Brownies Hostel allows camping in their shady yard behind the hostel. I have had lunch, showered, done laundry and plan to take a day off from hiking tomorrow. 

CDT Update: Chama, NM

We have now completed the entire state of New Mexico on the Continental Divide Trail.

After leaving Cuba, NM the trail climbed in elevation and changes from desert to alpine forest and mountains. Much of the trail is above 10,000 feet and often closer to 11,000 feet.

Our week hiking was made a little more challenging with snow covered trails, downed trees, rain and endless soggy meadows keeping our socks and shoes wet.

Deb has reached her goal of hiking New Mexico and will be taking a break from hiking until the snow thaws in Colorado so we can finish the Colorado Trail that we started last summer. I’m evaluating the snow conditions and taking a short break to decide where to resume hiking next.

CDT Update: Cuba, NM

Along the Continental Divide Trail south of Cuba, NM.
Along the Continental Divide Trail south of Cuba, NM.

The Continental Divide Trail between Grants and Cuba, NM was a really excellent section of trail.

We hiked up the 11,300 for Mount Taylor, our highest elevation for the trail so far. We encountered snow and many downed trees covering the trail on the north face, resulting in our first postholings of our hike. Fortunately it didn’t take long to get down.

That last fifty miles of the section of trail winds its way up rocky mesa tops and down canyons passing fabulous views and interesting canyons along the way. The interesting trail at this point made the days really fun. We would definitely like to explore more trails in this area in the future.

Hope those who are interested, the two days rest in Grants helped my shin splints which are no longer bothering me at all.

CDT Update: Grants, NN

The view of thunderstorms from the Narrows Rim trail.
The view of thunderstorms from the Narrows Rim trail.
We have hiked the 85 miles from Pie Town to Grants. About 70 miles of that was road walking (jeep, dirt, or paved).

We have now hiked more than 400 miles since starting our hike one month ago today.

The section did have several very nice areas. The Cebolla Wilderness, the El Malpais lava fields, and The Narrows Rim trail in the El Malpais. Plus Bonita and Zuni canyons.

The highlight of this section was The Narrows Rim Trial with its great views. Unfortunately, shortly after we hiked up to the rim thunderstorms rolled in and lighting started striking nearby, sending us and several other hikers scurrying down to the relative safety of lower elevation. We then navigated cross-country a few miles to a place identified on the Ley maps where you can bush-whack down what’s almost a 200 foot cliff to a natural arch. The route was a bit sketchy especially because it was rain-soaked (and steep despite Ley’s comment that it was a more “gentle” descent! – Deb’s interjection!!)

After two days of rain, we awoke on the fifth morning to freezing temps. Everything that was wet seemed frozen or icy, including our shoes. But with clear skies we made good time the final 16 miles into Grants.

All the road walking in this section has caused my shin to hurt. We going to take a double zero here in Grants in hopes that the pain clears up. We really aren’t in any hurry to reach Northern New Mexico which still has plenty of snow. And we are enjoying good food, hot showers, and rest – all much appreciated right now.

CDT Update: Pie Town

Walking Highway 60 into Pie Town, NM.
Walking Highway 60 into Pie Town, NM.
First of all, a big, big thank you to Shirley and Dennis who gave us a 28-mile ride into Reserve from the trail crossing 4 days ago. These trail angels actually gave rides to 7 hikers that day and were staying at an RV park about 10 miles east of the town so they went the extra mile for all of us.

We departed Reserve, NM for the three-day hike to Pie Town. Hiking the official Continental Divide Trail, which for the most part was a pleasant 50 mile walk through wooded rolling hills, and then across a grassland to Highway 60. Unfortunately the final 12 miles into Pie Town is a road walk along Highway 60. The highway walking got a bit monotonous although we did stop for ice cream and WiFi at the Top of the World market three miles before Pie Town.

We decided to take a zero day here, staying at a hiker hostel of sorts called the Toaster House. We have been sampling the pie and meals at the three small cafe’s here and all have been excellent.

Deb’s new shoes that she picked up in Reserve (Altra Lone Peaks 2.5’s) are working very well for her. Lon is now making seam repairs on his shoes. There is a wall of abandoned hiker shoes on the porch here at the Toaster House.

We leave tomorrow after breakfast for the jaunt to Grants.