East Glacier

East Glacier (26_154)
Day 161, 162, 163, and 164 – 9/29/17, 9/30/17, 10/1/17, and 10/2/17
Miles – 8.1
Total miles – 2518.6

9/29/17

The trains were every loud all night. A major freight train route ran up and down the valley we camped in and our tents were only two hundred feet away from the tracks. Every half hour or so, a train would come by and the wheels would squeal really loudly. Of course the trains were those long freight trains that went for ever. Sleeping during the night was impossible. We did not rush to get packed up because we knew that we were only a few hours from town. Once we did start hiking, we made good time and were in East Glacier by 11:00. We found a room and then had lunch. Everyone ordered elk burgers except for Whisper, who had a regular beef. The elk tasted different, in a good way. While Mama Raven and Bling dried our gear, Whisper and Papa Raven went to get our re-supply boxes. Along the way, we saw Napoleon and Red Cross. We talked about coordinating this last section so we can finish together. There is a possibility that someone can pick up hikers and provide a ride back from the border. Glacier National Park still has the Waterton route closed, therefore we have to go to Chief Mountain. The problem with Chief Mountain is that the border crossing is closed for the winter on Oct. 1 and we will get there after that date. No vehicles will becoming through on the roads since it is closed. Hitching a ride is a slim chance. Therefore, we somehow need to find a ride back from Chief Mountain. Another problem we are working through is that Glacier National Park requires camping at specific locations. Thus we need to know exactly were we will be staying each night. The specific camps are either thirty miles away from each other or fifteen miles. Nothing in between. The park also charges seven dollars a night per person for each camp on top of a forty dollar registration fee. If it takes us six days, that will financially add up quickly. We do not even know which path we are taken with the incoming winter storm. Lots of snow is forcasted. High passes may get too much making it difficult to hike through. After this storm passes through, there are roughly four days of descent weather before another storm hits.  Of course there is always a road walk to the border. It is only fifty seven miles and would take three days. This may be our best plan, however, we never envisioned taking a road to complete the CDT. Glacier National Park is the grand jewel of the trail and we may be missing the entire park. Although, we have already missed much of the CDT in Montana with all the fire re-routes. Depending on what we do, we will get our permits tomorrow and either leave mid-day tomorrow or early the next day or even the day after that.

9/30/17

We are taking a zero today and it is raining up in the mountains above us. Snow is coming tonight, tomorrow, and the next day. The hikers are starting to pile up in town, because of this storm. Currently Napoleon, Red Cross, Dundee, Mudslide (AJ), Phish Out Of Water, Hot Rod, Spam and ourselves are here. Everyone is looking at the best path to the border with another early winter storm upon us. We are so close to Canada. We just have to get there. There is a good chance we will stay tomorrow as well. The big question is Monday and how much snow will fall between now and then. The town of East Glacier is actually in the Black Foot Indian reservation. Literally, it is located beside Glacier National Park and thus a tourist community, but only for the summer.  The town is closing down. Each day another business is boarded up for the winter. Amtrack train station for passengers has closed. Restaurants, hostel and hotels are in the process of closing. It is a mystery how we will get home once our CDT adventure is over. Perhaps the adventure will still continue!

10/1/17

Were in town for two more days because of the storm.  The main part of the storm is supposed to come in tonight and last through all of Monday. The high temperature in Glacier for tomorrow is predicted to be 19°. Currently there are 11 thru-hikers here in town. We are all leaving Tuesday morning.

10/2/17

It’s stared snowing in the morning and it did not stop until after dark. At first, the snow did not stick, the ground was to warm. But with the outside temperatures in the upper 20’s. The ground soon cooled and the snow started to pile up. We got a few inches and everything had a nice white cover on it. Hot Rod did a lot of work yesterday, trying to figure out how to get permits for Glacier National Park lined up for everyone . In the end Phish Out Of Water is taking one route, which is all trail to the border Napoleon, Red Cross, and Spam are taking a second route, all trail to the border, and the rest of us are doing a combination road walk and trail to the border. Our plan is to walk hwy 49 and 89 to Many Glacier and then take the Chief Mountain trail alt to the border. Why the road? The high passes have two feet or more of new snow. It will take us six days to reach Canada by trail. In five days another storm is moving in and by taking the road we should finish a day before. Our weather looks good for the next four days. Bowlegs walked in today. He jumped ahead up to the border and stared hiking South. He still has to go to Helena to finish.

Hot Rod, Spam and Papa Raven

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Blue Skies As Far As the Eye Can See

Hwy 2 ()
Day 160 – 9/28/17
Miles – 23.0
Total miles – 2510.5

It was a cold night with frost covering parts of the tents. We were slow in getting going and we did not leave until 8:00. This was the first day in several weeks where we had blue skies all day, not a cloud anywhere in the sky. It has been several weeks since we have woken to a perfectly blue sky. We headed up the trail and quickly came to our first stream crossing where Papa Raven dunk his foot.  He became a cranky Papa Raven.  We worked our way up Morrison Creek and down to it’s trailhead. We meet a thru-hiker named Phish Out Of Water, who also hiked the PCT in 2015. We had much to talk about, since that was the year we hiked the PCT. He informed us that Napoleon and Red Cross past us this morning with out seeing them. The three of them will be hitching to East Glacier from Hwy 2. Tomorrow, they will slack pack this section. Today, we will be hiking in from the trailhead along Hwy 2.  We hiked a little farther down the road. It was getting dark and are clothing are also dark so we decided it was safest to set up camp and finish hiking the road in the morning. We should have about 7 miles into town.

Phish Out Of Water

A Nice Sunny Day

Morrison Creek ()
Day 159 – 9/27/17
Miles – 23.2
Total miles – 2487.5

In the cold morning, we had a few clouds but mostly clear sky. Hurray!!! Our camp was in the heart of a blackened burned forest. There were very few plants and those that were there, were small, just starting to regrow. The ground was black. Tree trunks were black and silver, All and all a very desolated place. Since we were so exposed last night, we got a great deal of condensation. The tents looked like it had rained on them, and of course, the ash stuck to the wet gear. After rolling the tents up, our hands were black. We packed everything wet and hiked out of the blackened forest. We crossed to the next valley system and started down toward Schaffer Meadow. In a short time, we left the burned area and entered thick forest. The clouds built up so thick to cover up the sun. Occasionally, the sun would peek out, only to disappear again. The walk to Schaffer Meadow was not hard.  Most of our time was spent hiking in a low level river valley. When the sun finally came out full force, we stopped to eat lunch and dry our gear. It was a relief to have everything dry. We never know how long we will be blessed with it’s presence. In the late afternoon, we came to Schaffer Work Center and a Forest Service airport. Actually, it was just a grassy spot where planes could land. We talked with the volunteer ranger before heading out. He told us that tomorrow is supposed to be sunny and then the weather will get bad again. We hope to get into East Glacier that day. About half hour later, as we walked down a long straight stretch of trail, we saw a bear ahead of us. It too was meandering down the trail. We all grouped up. It was a small, dark brown bear. It was walking away from us. Yelling “hello bear” as loud as we could, it looked back to us, then took off running around the corner into the trees above the trail. Up here, black bears almost all ways run from people, Grizzlies not so much. We’re pretty sure this was a Black Bear. We carefully hiked by the location were the bear had been and headed on. As the sun was getting low, we came to a wide river crossing. Off came our shoes and across we went. This was the second time today we had to take our shoes off to cross a river. After drying off, we started looking for a place to camp. We found a secluded horse camp and set up the tents back in the trees. It even has a place to hang our food.  We will finish the fire detour tomorrow and get back on the CDT.

Into a Burn

A burned out saddle ()
Day 158 – 9/26/17
Miles – 22.6
Total miles – 2464.3

One again, the sky was gray with clouds and our tents and sleeping bags were very wet with condensation. We put on our rain pants and jackets as well as our dry socks. We were not as concerned with rain, but with the wet plants. The trail is overgrown and we wanted to stay somewhat dry. The dry socks came in handy when both Bling and Papa Raven dunked their feet crossing a stream. Later, Mama Raven dunked one of her feet. Whisper came away with dry feet. We spent most of the day hiking down Spotted Bear Valley. The hiking was not hard, although it still took many hours to cover the 16 miles. The fall colors are out in full color. It was a beautiful walk. The clouds were still thick and we were concerned that the sun would not come out, so we strapped our tents and one sleeping bag to the backs of our packs and hiked on. It looked a bit funny, but it got the job done. Napoleon and Red Cross set up camp at Silvertip Cabin. They are each fighting colds and wanted to postpone the upcoming big up until tomorrow when hopefully they would be feeling stronger. The Ravens wanted to get the up over with. The up was a big 2,500′ in 4 miles. Finally, the sun came out in the late afternoon.  Being an alternate trail, the path was rarely used and was heavily overgrown. Thankfully, it had been recently logged out. We stopped to eat dinner and then continued on. Soon the sun was setting, in a mostly clear sky, but there was no place to camp. We hiked on into the evening into a large burned area. From the look of it the fire occurred last year and it was a hot one.  There were no plants, just blacken trees trunks and ash all about. With headlamps on, we hiked on looking for a flat place, hopefully away from any dead trees.  Burned trees fall all the time, for no good reason and we did not want any of them hitting us.  We were trying to reach a saddle, but the trail was very hard to follow in the dark. Eventually, we had to stop because we could not find the trail. We moved rocks and some dead burned plants and made enough room the pitch the tents. We could not remove the thick layer of black ash we would have to camp on. In fact, all around us was a charcoal wonderland.  Everything we touched was charred and left it’s black residue on us and our gear. In the morning, it will not be pleasant to roll up the tents, especially if there is condensation.

Back to Grey Skies

Spotted Bear River (SB_2.9 R)
Day 157 – 9/25/17
Miles – 20.5
Total miles – 2441.7

Being so far north and later in the year, we are getting up later and later. It is simply too cold and very dark. This morning was no different and when we did get moving, we found that the tent and sleeping bags were very wet. That is what we get camping so close to a river, but we had no choice. We hoped to dry it at some point today, but one look at the sky told us that that might not happen. The sky was full of gray clouds. Around 7:30 we started up the valley. As we gained elevation, snow appeared. It did not get very deep, although, it was a nascence. As it melted, the trail became covered with slippery, sticky mud.  As we topped our first saddle, we came to one end of the Chinese Wall. This is a ridge of vertical rock that loomed above us, which runs for miles. We hiked just below it. As we walked, clouds rolled over the wall and us. It rained several times. Just enough to get everything wet and prevent us from drying out our equipment. Snow is a good place to see what animals have used the trail by the footprints they leave behind in the snow.  Often we see deer, elk, moose, and bear prints but today we saw prints of a pack of wolfs. We think they past this way a day or two ago. They were hunting, because their tracks went everywhere, sometime down hill, other times up, then they would go every which way. Just before My Lake, Napoleon and Red Cross showed up. We hiked together for a little while and we caught up on what they did for the last food drop. They needed to go to Augusta, but the couple who picked them up took them all the way back to Helena then up to their cabin back in Benchmark. A short time after leaving My Lake, we came to Spotted Bear Pass and the beginning of it next fire alt. This alt will take us around three fires in The Bob. Apparently, despite the fires being out due to all the snow and rain over the past two weeks, the trails are still closed. Thus, down to Spotted Bear River we went, stopping once to eat dinner and filter water.  As it got dark, we could not find a place to camp because of all the undergrowth. We kept hiking with our headlamps on. Eventually we came to a river. As we crossed, we found Napoleon and Red Cross in their tent on the other side. They were enough places to put up our tents. Mama and Papa Raven’s tent went up in the middle of the trail and Whisper and Bling’s was tucked up underneath a large pine tree down the trail a short distance. We were thankful we had found home for the night.

Napoleon and Red Cross

It’s Good To See the Sun

W Fork S Fork Sun River (2826.1)
Day 156 – 9/24/17
Miles – 12.8
Total miles – 2421.2

Ah, a nice warm bed in a cozy cabin in a very cold valley. What more could a CDT thru-hiker want? We all slept well. A little before dawn, Papa Raven got up and rebuilt the fire in the stove. Soon the cabin was comfortable and warm again, which was good because it was 21° outside. After breakfast, we got down to work, showers and sorting the supply box. We did not rush, our plan was to leave around noon and we did. We really enjoyed staying at Benchmark Wilderness Ranch. The cabin suited our needs at a critical time and we will have good memories of it. Most of the hikers mailed their re-supply boxes to Augusta, which is a long hitch. The advantages to Augusta is access to grocery stores, laundry, and hotels. This would result in losing a day or two of hiking. Re-suppling at Benchmark, took only half a day away from hiking. We did not look forward to walking the two miles back to where we got off the trail but it had to be done. Just after we started walking down the road a truck, coming toward us and stopped. The couple inside asked if we were The Ravens. We soon found out that they had just dropped Napoleon and Red Cross off up at the trail head. They offered to give us a ride back to where we joined this road and, of course we took it. Once at our destination, we talked a few minutes with them, and then said thank you and goodbye to the generous pair from Indiana. Next, we were headed up there trail. The Sun River Valley is wide and level. We moved along well, passing through thick forest and then into a large burned area. All along the side of the trail was Fire Weed that had gone to seed. If we hit the stock hundreds of small seeds would float up into the breeze. For more than a mile, we had fun wacking the stocks and watching the seeds create small white clouds. We walked up the valley until dark, then we set camp. We are in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, also know as The Bob. This area is known for it’s bears. Yesterday, we saw a great deal of bear scat and foot prints on the way down to Benchmark but, luckily, we saw none today. From The Bob’s reputation, we decided it was time to get back in the habit of hanging our food. Hanging 6 days of food is not easy. It is really heavy. We need to start earlier, so Bling and Papa Raven are not doing it in the dark. Tomorrow, we will hike along the Chinese Wall. This is a unique geological feature that thru-hikers look forward to seeing. It was a pleasurable day of hiking and best of all, we saw the sun again.

Benchmark Ranch

Benchmark  Ranch (23_586)
Day 155 – 9/23/27
Miles – 21.2
Total miles – 2408.4

Cold night. A very cold night. It was well below freezing.  Before setting up the tent last night, we scrapped several inches of snow away to expose the wet ground underneath. Despite our snow removal, all night, we could feel the cold coming through our insolite pads. The sleeping bag kept us as warm as possible, nonetheless, it was not the best night of sleep. It was in the low 20’s when we got up. Wet socks, and shoes, including the laces, froze solid. We did not want to go out and face the harsh weather. Nagging at us, the mother trail kept summoning us to get moving. After eating breakfast, we turned on the stove to thaw out our socks and shoes. By doing that, the tent warmed up, which made us take even more time to get going. Needless to say, it was a slow morning. Finally, at 8:30 we hiked out. With 24.5 miles to the turn off to Benchmark Ranch and another 3.5 miles to the Ranch itself, we had very little hope of making it to a warm and dry cabin, yet we still pushed on through the snow. The clouds were broken with blue showing through here and there. This encouraged us that it would not snow today. We started the morning off walking through. 6-7″ of snow. All the trees were covered with it. It was a beautiful winter wonderland!  Slowly, as we gained altitude, the sun crept out and the day warmed. Although, the ball of warmth did not stay out for very long.  Too many clouds were in its way. We took our first break at a cabin wrapped in tin foil. This year was the first time we have seen or heard of this fire protection method. The cabin was wrapped entirely in a heavy aluminum foil material. We sat on this shiny, silver porch and ate just as the clouds parted enough to let the sun warm us. A short time later, we went over our first pass of the day. The hiking got much easier on the other side and best of all, there was much less snow. In fact an hour or so, there was no snow on the trail and very little in the mountains around as. Our speed picked up. However, drudging slowly through the snow the first half of the day, our chances of reaching Benchmark Ranch was only a pipe dream. It looked like it was going to be another cold night with only wet sleeping bags to comfort us. Hours later, we reached the turn to the next pass and we stopped for a break. Papa Raven and Bling were looking at the map, we had over 12 miles to the Benchmark turn off then 3.5 miles more and it was nearly 5:00. Reading the app, Papa Raven read a comment that caught his eye. At this junction, if we headed down the valley instead of up to the pass, we could get to Benchmark Ranch in about 8 miles. Let’s see, 8 miles one way and 15 miles another. Quickly, we got up from our break and headed down the valley. We hiked fast. We had a lot of trail to cover still, but now we had a chance to a dry place to sleep tonight. With head lamps on, we made it to the Ranch at about 8:30. To our surprise, no one was there, but the main building was unlocked and warm. Within 5 minutes of us getting there, a truck drove up with the owners son. In a very short time, we were in a two room cabin with a wood burning stove. We are dry and warm and will sleep well tonight.

Let it Snow!

Dearborn River Valley (2789.9 S)
Day 154 – 9/22/17
Miles – 16.0
Total miles – 2387.2

The wind blew hard most of the night. Around 1:30, Papa Raven had to go out in the cold and put a tent peg back in that blew out. Shortly after he was back in the sleeping bag, it started to snow. Not hard, but we could hear it gently spattering the tent. When we woke in the morning, it was still snowing. Because we were so warm and comfortable in our tents, we took our time packing. A nice thing about snow is it can be shaken or brushed off easily, unlike rain, thus the tents start somewhat dry. However, over a long period of time, the gear eventually gets wet. Under a gently snowing sky, we set out hiking with every article of clothing on. Our price possession offering the most protection against the cold are the new rain/snow pants we purchased in Helena. Even though it was only in the low twenty’s all day, we managed to stay comfortably warm. In fact, there were times we even got hot on the long ups. Everyone but Mama Raven doubled up on gloves. We wore a pair of gloves covered by a pair of mittens. This kept our hands warm, but not dry. Mama Raven on the other hand had her single pair of winter gloves. In Lincoln, when we were picking up our box at the Post Office, Mama Raven asked the woman helping us if there was any place to buy gloves. She said “hold on a minute” and went to the back room and soon returned with a pair of winter gloves. She gave them to Mama Raven. We asked if someone had left them there and she told us that they were hers and she was giving them to Mama Raven. We thanked her profusely! Mama Raven loves them! They are so warm. Best of all, they do not become saturated with water like her thin micro fleece mittens.

The snow came down all day. Sometimes hard, sometime soft. The worst time was when we walked a ridge. The wind was blowing terribly hard and the snow swirled in small clouds. It was hard to rest because snow covered everything and there was no place to sit. Most of our breaks we stood.  All our water hoses and valves froze. We drank nothing all day. Snicker bars and dried fruit became rock solid and uneatable. Even Papa Raven’s beard froze. We received 4″-6″ of new snow. At the higher elevations, the snow fell on top of last week’s snow, making the snow level even higher. At the worst parts, we would sink nearly to our knees in snow with each step. Hiking was slow. By the end of the day, we were worn out. However, the only parts of our bodies that were really cold were are fingers and toes. The extra clothes we bought in Helena and Lincoln paid off. Thankfully, the weather is suppose to clear up tomorrow. We camped underneath a dense cluster of trees where the snow was not very deep. What snow was on the ground, we cleared away before we set up the tents.  When Papa Raven went out of the tent to tighten up the tent, he could see some glittering stars in the dark sky. We hope the weather breaks up over night. The thought of a repeat of today’s hiking is not pleasant!!!  We have a cabin lined up for tomorrow night, but it is 24.5 mile away. We hope we can make it. Our moral needs the boost of a warm, dry place to stay, but it is hard to push out the miles walking in 6″ of snow.

Fall is Here!

Trail 438 on the fire alt (?R)
Day 153 – 9/21/17
Miles – 22.5
Total miles – 2371.2

Whisper and Dundee

We got up at 6:30 and completed our packing, which most of was done last night. Next, we walked with our packs, down to the Lambkin for breakfast. It was cold, about 30°. After breakfast, we started out of town. We had heard from Hot Rod that the hardware store had kid sized gloves, so we swung in and picked up a pair for Whisper. The sky was filled with broken clouds as we walked the seven miles down Hwy 200. We were apprehension as we walked. Today’s weather was fine, however tomorrow’s is the problem. It is suppose to be a cold snow storm coming through. When it hits us, we will be at our highest point of this section.  We are nervous what the weather will have in store for us. Are we prepared and do we have the right gear to get us through safely? We will find out tomorrow. Meanwhile, we turned off Hwy 200 and headed north up another paved road. The landscape is covered in pine and Aspen, huckleberry bush, bear grass and other low growing plants we do not know. The wildflowers are long gone. Much of the vegetation is turning yellow, orange, and red. Fall is here! Above us, the mountain tops have snow and the air is cold. It was very pretty. Yes, fall is here, but tomorrow it will be winter. The fire alt took us from road to road and finally onto trail. We worked our way to Heart Lake were we had dinner and then into the next valley. We are now headed up the last trail, which will connect us back with the CDT. In the sun, it was comfortable but as the day ended the temperature dropped. We are now camped in a open area with no trees above us. The only other people out here are a few hunters but there are not even many of them. As we are warm in our sleeping bags, we can hear a sprinkling on our tent. It may be rain or it may be snow.  Because it is so bitterly cold, we have no desire to put our heads out of the comfortable tents to find out.  It is suppose to snow tonight and tomorrow. We hope it does not get too heavy. However, the local weather reports, does not offer us anything to lift our spirits. Nonetheless, we are prepared, but we are not looking forward to it.

Lincoln

Lincoln (23_249 R)
Day 150, 151, and 152 – 9/18/17, 9/19/17, and 9/20/17
Miles – 25.5
Total miles – 2348.7

9/18/17

We took our time getting up this morning because our plan was to hike twenty miles, camp, and then hike the last five miles into Lincoln tomorrow morning. Well things always change on the fly. Instead, of coming into town tomorrow, tonight was our goal. We hiked off to find the water and shelter under gray skies. The clouds were thick and looked ready to rain at any moment. A mile down the road, we reached the shelter where Red Cross and Napoleon were just getting out of their tent. We picked up several bottles of water that the gentleman had left for us and headed out. We left a thank you note in the cooler thanking the trail angel for his generosity.  Eventually, we cut off the highway onto a dirt road. Still no rain. Every hour we hike without perception falling on us, is a blessing. Now we had 14.4 miles and one pass to get up to get closer to Lincoln. On the way up, we had a few very light showers, however, for the most of it, we stayed dry. Mama Raven’s heal (plantar fasciitis) has been extra bad the past few days. With every step, it felt like a knife stabbing into her heel. This trip has been extra hard for so many reasons for her. Mama Raven says she has been given a test of endurance to see how much she can take before she quits. We crossed the pass and started down toward town. Around 5:00, it started raining with only 5 miles to town. We were hoping it would wait until we hiked into town. Although, we should feel lucky it held off this long. Bling stopped under a large tree and we took a break to eat something and put our down coats on underneath our rain jackets. Finally, we pushed onto town, an hour and a half later. The first motel we came to was the only facility with a laundry, thus we got a room. The weather looks messy for the rest of the week. We will have to figure out what our plan will be to reach our next re-supply.

9/19/17

A zero for today in Lincoln. The weather was not bad. We saw the sun in the morning and it rained and snowed in the afternoon. We got our re-supply box and the extra food for the next section.
When Mama Raven and I were in the Post Office, getting our boxes, we asked if there was any place to purchase gloves.  The lady behind the counter told us no.  A minute later she asked us to wait and she when in back.  She returned with a pair of womans snow gloves.  Mama Raven tried them on and they fit.  She told us we could have them.  We asked if someone had left them behind and she told us they were her gloves.  We tried to return them but she said they were a gift.  The generosity of people is a wonderful thing.
We stopped by a convenience store to picked up liners for Papa Raven, Bling, and Whisper mittens, although Whispers were to big, but they were the smallest we could find.  Our fingers have been very cold with the thin micro fiber mittens that Mama Raven made for this trip. Unfortunately, the weather does not look great for the next few days. In fact, it looks down right miserable. Nothing we can do about it other than keep moving forward. We just have to get to Sunday and we should have more sunny days. We plan to hike out tomorrow afternoon, after the morning rain. Keeping an eye on weather reports is frustrating because it is constantly changing.  One hour it says one thing and next hour it is different. Thus, we really will not know until tomorrow when we will leave. However, we do know, we will be hiking the detour around the Alice Creek fire closure. Despite all the rain and snow, there is still closed trail due to fire.  The CDT is closed North of Rogers Pass.  The detour comes down close to Lincoln and then heads North on dirt roads and trail.  We will be taking the shortest path back to the trail we can. Nobody is exciting about the hiking conditions for the next few days because of the bad weather. Nonetheless, forward we go!

9/20/17

As we got ready for breakfast and hike out we saw that there weather for today was mostly rain. That did not sound good. We ate at the Lambkin. They have great French toast. As we were finishing someone walked up to our table. It was none other than Dundee. Has is a thru-hiker we know from the PCT. He has been behind us since he started. We had been hoping that he would catch up with us. He just got into town this morning and they are the other hikers that came in yesterday, AJ, Spam, and Hot Rod. We have not seen AJ since South Pass City back in Wyoming.
We do not like hiking in rain and we need to decide if we would hike out or not so I called Benchmark Ranch to see if they had a cabin for Friday or Saturday night. They had one for Saturday so that means we need to leave tomorrow. We settled back to enjoy a day of not hiking in the rain. Tomorrow should have little to no rain, Friday is our big problem, it is suppose to snow.

Another Road Walk and Another Storm

On a hill, in a field, near a highway ()
Day 149 – 9/17/17
Miles – 21.9
Total miles 2323.2

We woke to a beautiful, sunny morning. After, a good breakfast, we buckled up the packs. We were ready for our 9:30 ride to the pass. Yesterday we talked to both Red Cross and Dundee, an old friend from the PCT, they are both here in Helena but at a different hotel. The snow has forced the hikers out of the mountains. We have been hoping to see Dundee since he started the CDT, but he has always been behind us. Now we are in the same town and two miles apart. Red Cross said that the sisters are in town also. That leaves Rabinath and Johnnie (the German Morman) still unaccounted for, plus any other hikers we do not know. Anyways, Dundee, Napoleon, and Red Cross are thinking about taking a road, which is at a lower elevation, to avoid the snow. We did not know about the road walk, so Papa Raven looked into it last night. There are several options:  the CDT (69.1 miles), an all paved road walk (63 miles), a lower paved and dirt road walk (47 miles), and a higher dirt road walk (48 miles). We decided at dinner last night to take one of the shorter routes, mainly because we lost a day here in Helena to wait out the storm.

At 9:30, we loaded our gear in the car and headed up to MacDonald Pass. A short time later we were standing at the 6,300′ pass with 6″-8″ of snow all about. Now we had to decided which shorter route to take. The high one started up the CDT and climbed about 1,000′, which meant pushing our way through even deeper snow. The other followed Hwy 12 down from the pass and out of the snow. What made are decision was the weather forecast for the next few days:  sunny today, heavy rain Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and snow Thursday and Friday. Not a good weather report for the last few remaining CDT hikers trying to finish up. Hiking up high, meant a slow walk through deep snow. Additionally, we would have a hard time finding the path. In order to get to Lincoln before most of the upcoming bad weather, we took the fastest route possible. Thus, we headed down the mountain. Going the low route should get us to Lincoln early Tuesday morning.
The walk down Hwy 12 was not bad. We had about fifteen miles to go until the cutoff to Hwy 141. The town of Ellison was located part of the way down. As we approached the town, a car drove by honking it’s horn at us and hands sticking out from nearly every window, waving at us. Come to find out the car was dropping Red Cross and Napoleon off. We all meet up in Ellison, and hiked up the road together. The two of them had tried to hike out Thursday, but the storm was too bad. They made it as far as the 1,000′  foot climb, but were in knee high snow. They said the the snow and wind was horrible and they came back to Helena. The road took us through miles of ranch land, with huge hay stacks ready for the upcoming winter. Although, we would say, winter has already arrived. One day we are enjoying upper 80 degree temperatures, and in one day, we are in a white, winter wonderland. Late in the afternoon, someone driving by offered us a place to stay. We hiked later than normal trying to get to a that small building for the night. Fast moving cars and semi trucks whizzed by us as it grew darker and darker. We knew we were becoming hard to see with our dark clothing, therefore we decided it was time to call it quits for the night.  We found a gate we could open in one of the barbed fences and pitched out tents in a wide open field of grass. We know Red Cross and Napoleon made it to the shed, we just ran out of daylight. With a good days hiking tomorrow, we will be very close to Lincoln tomorrow night. We hope the rain is kind to us and holds off until we get there.

Napoleon and Red Cross, ninja warriors

Helena

Helena (19_775 R)
Day 146, 147, and 148 – 9/14/17,  9/15/17, and 9/16/17
Miles – 6.0
Total miles – 2301.3

9/14/17
Rain. It rained during the night and then let up. As we were finishing breakfast, it started raining again. We waited a bit to see if it would end and it did. We took are time as we packed everything we could inside. Now it was time to be brave and face the weather and go outside and take down the wet tents. The soaked tents were the last things we needed to pack away. Inside the warmth and comfort of our tents, we did not realize how cold the air temperature was. It was cold! We did not put on as many layers as we should of while inside. Everybody’s thinking was we will warm up as we hiked. And besides, we only have six miles to go. How cold can it get? Just as we set out to hike, the rain came down again.  No problem, we had our rain skirts, rain jackets and umbrellas. We started hiking to MacDonald Pass. At first, conditions were not so bad. The rain was not too hard, but as we hiked it got colder. For awhile, we had sleet. As we got closer to the pass, the rain let up but the air temperature was still dropping. We pushed and pushed hard to get to the pass as fast as the weather would permit. Finally, we could hear cars on the highway. Visibility was very low. Not until we had walked right up to the highway, could we see it. True to passes, it was windy! The kids got a first hand lesson on wind chill factor. It was painfully freezing!  We immediately started trying to get a ride. Papa Raven’s thumb was out before Whisper had even hiked up. Mama Raven was right behind him doing the same. We needed to get out of the bitterly cold environment. Bling and Whisper hiked without their gloves and their fingers were frozen. We made them take the time to dig through their packs to put their gloves on. There was no telling how long we would be hitching before we got  a ride. With their ice cold fingers, they fumbled through their packs till they found the mittens buried deep inside the packs.  As they were doing this, a car, heading the wrong direction, turned around and pulled over. Originally, the older gentleman passed us by because he did not think he could fit that many hikers in is vehicle. He changed his mind and decided to try it any ways and turned around for us. He said he knows what it is like to be stuck out in this kind of weather and he felt sorry for us. Four soggy and shivering hikers, eagerly piled into his warm car and off to Helena we went. The thermometer in the car said that it was 36° outside. He said the thermometer does not take wind into count, so it actually felt colder than that.  We were so thankful for this stranger helping us out!!! We were dropped off at the Post Office and we got our re-supply box, then we walked to a hotel. The man behind the desk told us that there were no rooms clean and we would have to want, so we settled down in the lobby.  A short time later we got our room.  Once inside, we shed wet cloths and we were warm and dry. One by one, we took hot showers. Each one of us stood under the hot water for a long time savoring in the joy of warmth!! Mama Raven said that was the finest shower she has ever had. The rest of The Ravens agreed. After settling in, Mama Raven announced she wants to go see a dentist. She has been having tooth pain for a long time now and it has gotten worse over time. Avoiding the issue has been her mission for all these months however she said she can not any more. She says the simple act of swallowing hurts. We called around and made an appointment for early tomorrow morning. Helena is a bigger city. All the places we need to go, are not conveniently located close to each other. Plus it is raining, making traveling to each location hard. Thus, we decided to rent a car for a day. But we had to do it tonight, because the dentist appointment was 8:00 in the morning. Papa Raven, being a trooper he is, had to walk in the rain to the airport to get the rental. Luckily, it was only a mile and a half away. Meanwhile the rest of The Ravens were curled up in warm beds.

9/15/17

It rained all night and MacDonald Pass received 6″ of snow. Our minds keep thinking about our hiking friends still out in the mountains. We hope they are OK. Our timing of reaching the pass was pure luck. Instead of still being out in the miserable weather with freezing wet toes and legs, we are thankfully warm and dry in a hotel room. We have friends that got caught in the weather, which is by far the worse we have had on our entire CDT adventure. However, Mama Raven thinks about all the amazing photographs she missed out on. Despite this, she is very happy right here in the hotel. Mama Raven is not looking forward to her morning dentist appointment. She says they never have good news for her and they are too expensive. She is correct on both accounts. However, when a tooth hurts, what is one going to do other than to make a visit to one of the most feared people on the planet Earth…..the local dentist! We took the rental car and headed to the dreaded appointment. Well, the dentist had both good and bad news for Mama Raven. He does not think anything is wrong with any of her teeth but instead the problem is her jaw, which is causing her back teeth to hurt along with her jaw bone and muscles, ear, throat swallowing, head, and other miscellaneous facial aches. Mama Raven’s has had TMJ for years and it is getting worse. Many years ago, she had a running accident in which she face planted, knocking her jaw out of alignment a little bit. Dr. Johnson made a small mouth piece for her front teeth to take pressure off her back teeth which is where the jaw pain is originating from. She is to wear it at night. Hopefully, this will help until she gets back home. While at the dentist, it snowed the entire time. After words we headed to The Base Camp outfitter for some new tent pegs, water bags and valves, fuel canister, a buff (Mama Raven lost hers back in Southern Colorado) and rain pants. In past situations, our rain skirts have served us well. In fact, they are one of our favorite pieces of gear we have. However, with this last storm, we have learned that when the temperatures plummet below a certain level, they do not provide enough warmth. Thus, we are in the market for rain pants. More than likely, before we reach Canada, we will have another storm like this one. Unfortunately, the pants were $100 a pair. With the dentist, hotel and food, we could not afford them. But we need them! In a dilemma, we decided to try a local hunting supply store. But first, it was time for lunch. Taking advantage of the rental car, we picked up Bling and Whisper from the hotel, and headed to Panda Express, a fast food restaurant we have dreamed about for months. It was better than we envisioned! Our lunch was absolutely, delicious and amazing! Next, we went to a hunting and sporting goods store with the hopes of finding more affordable rain pants. We feel it is important to do before we continue on. We had great success! The Ravens walked away with four pairs at fifty dollars each. It still added up, but we really needed them. It would be unwise to not get them. This was our last large town we would have the opportunity with an outfitting store. Papa Raven returned the rental car and thus had to walk back from the airport in the rain. Today, it never stopped snowing or raining. We are planning on heading out tomorrow, however we will have to see if the storm is really breaking up. All the weather reports says that it should be clearing tomorrow, but not until the afternoon.  It is suppose to be sunny on Sunday. Do we take another day off and let conditions improve. From the pass, we hike up 1,000′ in elevation where it will be colder and more wet slushy snow. Taking another day off, makes us later to get the kids back in school and return home. Taking another day off means another expensive hotel room plus food. Take off hiking, we will be in miserable wet and cold weather.

9/16/17

It was another gray, wet morning when we peeked out the hotel curtains. We looked at the MacDonald Pass webcams and there was about 8″ of snow on the ground. The trees had snow covering them. This would be a very difficult and no fun day off hiking if we left today. We did not make our decision until 10:30. Unanimously, we voted to stay one more day. We will loose one day off of our schedule but this will be for the best. All weather reports indicate a sunny day tomorrow. We have lined up a ride to the pass tomorrow morning. The emotions revolving around our decision is weird. We would not be happy if we left today, yet we are not happy about staying. Nonetheless, we are staying and will make the most of our day to rest and relax.

Weather is Coming

A hill top (2680.7 R)
Day 145 – 9/13/17
Miles – 22.7
Total miles – 2295.3

Just before going to sleep, we could see the stars shinning bright above us. However, around midnight, it was sprinkling rain on us. It stopped after a bit. Sometime before 5:00 in the morning, it started sprinkling again. This time it lasted until we finished breakfast. Thankfully, the only wet gear was the outside of the tents. In our minds, we saw a wet day of hiking ahead of us. The storm came a day early. We packed as much as we could in the tents where it was dry. Then we got out and packed the wet tents. The sky was a dull gray. At least it was not raining at the moment. We hiked back up to the CDT and started North. To great relief, the sky broke up and blue poked through. Our thinking was that hopefully, with seeing a bit of blue sky, we will have a couple of more hours of rain free hiking before the clouds build overhead and dump on us. Today’s walk was through more thick lodge pole pine forest. Around lunch, the sun was out in full force as we broke out of the trees on to a rocky mountain top. The perfect place to dry out. Quickly we pulled out the tents and sleeping bags and we sat in the sun and ate. Everything dried quickly in the sun and soon we were on our way again. We hoped that the rain would hold off till evening. Emptying onto a dirt road, the trail took us on an easy path all afternoon.  It contouring along the mountain ridges and over several low passes. As the afternoon went on, big puffy clouds began to collect and grow. Toward evening, our trail left the road and climbed a small hill. By this time, the sky was thick with clouds. It was getting dark when we found a place to climb. We quickly setup the tents and settled down for the night. When we woke this morning with rain falling on us, we knew we were in for a wet day.  Nonetheless, our fear of rain did not come to fruition today. The wind is starting to blow strongly in the trees. We know tomorrow will be a wet day. Although, we now are hoping that the rain holds off until later tomorrow. We have only six miles to reach the pass where we have to hitchhike to Helena. It would be nice to be dry when we get there.

A Little Alt

Little Blackfoot River (? – 0)
Day 144 – 9/12/17
Miles – 23.3
Total miles – 2272.6

Oh, we did not want to get up this morning! We kept stalling and stalling. Grudgingly, we got moving. The morning was cool as we hiked through the lodge pole forest. Continuously, we are being surprised by the Montana topography and vegetation. It is not what we envisioned. We have hiked through terrain that looked like the Great Basin with rolling hills. We have seen more grasses and sages than any other plant. Where are the high mountain peaks? The forests we have walked through are not giant pine trees, but instead thin lodge pole pines that look like oversize pick-up sticks. We have learned much about the geography of this state and it is always surprising us. We are curious what the next few weeks will be like. It was another warm day, although, we were up in elevation and had much more shade from the pine forest. The weather has been very nice this past week or so. Finally, we are having summer weather. However, that it is about to change with heavy rain and snow forecast in a few days. As we hiked through the morning, our goal was a spring. When we reached the water source we saw a pipe feeding a water tank for the cows. It was cold, clear water. We filled up and took a break. After leaving the spring, we climbed up onto a ridge and then traversed the mountain tops for several miles. The trail moved between lodge pole pine forest and then into open grasslands. Papa Raven was able to get a phone connection and took care of a bill. The rest of the day, we hiked on the east side of the mountains. Toward the end, we headed toward Cottonwood Lake. Right after the lake, there was a 1,000′ climb to the top of Thunderbolt Mountain then it dropped back down again. We dislike PUD’s (pointless ups and down) and this is exactly what this up was. To make matters worse, finishing the big up and down, there was a second shorter one of 500′. We would have loved to just traverse around, but the forest was too thick and thus too difficult and time consuming. Looking at maps, we saw a trail that dropped into a valley then climb 600′ back to the CDT, avoiding both needless climbs. We checked Ley’s maps and it showed the trail also. So let’s see, drop into a valley, then climb 600′ climb, 2.5 miles shorter than the CDT, water, flat places to camp, and it avoids the needless 1,000′ climb. Well that was an easy chose for us to make! We made it to the bottom, getting lost only once and we are now camped just before the 600′ up. That we will be tomorrow’s first task. Meanwhile, we are snug in our tents getting ready for sleep. In fact, Bling and Whisper are already out for he night. They usually eat dinner, and then they are sound asleep.

Back on the CDT

Flame Gluch Road (19_214)
Day 143 – 9/11/17
Miles – 24.7
Total miles – 2249.3

We woke from our warm beds around 6:30. Mama and Papa Raven walked over to the grocery store and picked up donuts and milk for breakfast. By 7:30, we put our packs on and headed over to the Subway for sandwiches to go. Next, we headed down the trail. This was one of the clearest days we have had in a long time. The sun was not a big red ball this morning. Smoke could be smelled in the air, however, we could see mountains ranges way off in the distance. Not sure why, perhaps because we are well rested, but today we hiked with much enthusiasm, something we have not done in a while. Most of today’s hiking was on paved and dirt roads. It was a warm day, probably in the high 80’s, with very little shade.  Mid-morning, we took out first break at a small lake and ate our sandwiches and drank lemonade. It was a pretty spot. Next, the paved road changed to dirt. Dirt roads are better and worse to walk on. Often times you can find a soft space to walk on, which is easier on your feet. But more often you end up stepping on small rocks, which hurt your feet. By the end of the day, the feet are really sore. As we hiked North on the dirt, the temperature rose even higher. We were very hot with no way to cool off. Finally, we turned onto a road heading west and we started to climb. We slowly left the grassland and went into pine. The warm temperature dropped a bit, as we got higher in elevation and as the day grew late. Towards sundown, it even got a bit cold and the smoke started to move back in. Finally, about 8:00 we reached the CDT and found a place to camp. We have a few more days of good weather before a change. Rain is coming Thursday and it is suppose to be a wet storm with snow at higher elevations. This is both bad and good. It is never pleasant hiking in rain, especially rain that lasts all day. Our miles go down and it is just not fun. In fact, it often gets miserable! Most hikers would agree with us. However, despite the dislike of rain by hikers, the state of Montana desperately needs rain. Over a million acres have burned in Montana this summer and none of those fires have been contained. Much of our upcoming trail is closed because of them, The hardest hit areas are the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. Both crown jewels of the CDT. There are alternates around the fires but they are often longer than the real trail and they miss the most beautiful sections of an area. Hopefully, the incoming weather will offer relief for the Montana fires. Because of the weather, we may have to take an extra day off to wait out the storm. Time will tell as we wait and see what happens.

Anaconda

Anaconda (A_27.3)
Day 141 and 142 – 9/9/17 and 9/10/17
Miles – 0.0
Total miles – 2224.6
We took two zeros in Anaconda. Our original plan was to nero on Saturday and zero on Sunday, but since we got into town Friday night, we could zero both days. Saturday we tried to get everything done that we needed to. We worked on blogs and photographs. We ate. We sewed up ripped gear and clothing, glued Whisper’s hiking poles, glued new Velcro on shoes for the gaiters, and we ate. Next, we cleaned water valves, and backpacks and ate more! This way, when Sunday came around, we would really have a day off. The only thing we would had to do was eat and rest.

Anaconda

Anaconda (A_26.0 R)
Day 140 – 9/8/17
Miles – 28.5
Total miles – 2224.6

It was hard getting up. Everyone was extra tired after yesterday’s long road walk. Walking on a paved surface is much harder on the body than a soft dirt path. The feet suffer the most! When we got out of the tent in the morning, we were hit with a very cold wind. We decided it was best to wear long sleeves, down coats, and gloves. Because of the cold, we quickly hit the road hopefully we would warm up by walking. We also joined by our friend, the big red sun ball in the sky.  After several miles, we came to Hwy 569, which was our road to Anaconda. Since the sun was muted by the smoke, the air temperature stayed very cold for a long distance. Nearly half the day past, before we started to notice an increase in warmth. We could finally remove several layers of clothing. Our road walk was somewhat uneventful. This morning we agreed to push all the way to Anaconda today. This means, we were going to be very tired tonight when we reach town. In the early afternoon, we went over one small pass and started down toward Anaconda. As the trail flattened out, we stopped and figured out that we had 10 miles to go to reach town. We could do that in 3-4 hours. Needing a place to stay for the night, and we called several hotels until we found a room and off we went. We had a small delay when Mama Raven and Whisper came across four horses that wanted to be petted. While hiking, Whisper spends most of her day dreaming up horse stories and acting them out as she hikes. She is always asking us what we think a good name for a cream colored horse or a black horse would be? Can a horse do this or that? She always corrects us when we use the wrong term. Such as when Mama Raven said “look at them run across the field” and Whisper says “mom, horses do not run they canter!”  There are two question she asks nearly everyday….can she take horse back lessons and can she get a horse? When we were hiking with Auntie Raven, she would respond to Whisper, “yes, you can have a horse! Come to Alaska and we will get a horse for you!” Thanks Catwater! As Whisper rubbed each one of the horses on it’s head, she talked to them. She was so excited for the opportunity to be with these horses. Unfortunately, it was time to move on. As we walked down the road, so too did the horses along the fence following us, until the fence prevented them from going any further in our direction. Near 7:00, we came to Hwy 1 and turned toward town, down a two mile walk along a busy highway. That is when the wind started. It blew straight into our faces and was so strong, it pushed us around.  With it, came a light rain. That worried us. We pushed on as fast as our aching feet would carrier us. We walked into town, straight to the hotel, dropped our packs, and since we had not eaten since 3:00, we headed across the street to McDonald’s. We were in calorie bliss. As we sat eating, it started to rain harder. We were thankful to be inside and not outside with no pace to hide from the miserable weather. Instead, we were dry and warm.  A good ending to a very long day!

A Long Road Walk

A campground (?)
Day 139 – 9/7/17
Miles – 25.5
Total miles – 2196.1

We had a late start today. Hoping to be at The Crossing for breakfast at 7:00, when they opened, was our goal. Instead, we did not even wake up until 7:00. When we did rise, we quickly finished our packing from last night, and went to breakfast. It was a bitterly cold morning outside! At the restaurant, we ordered and were eating by 8:15. Mama Raven had Denver hash browns, Bling had an sausage and cheese omelet. Whisper had basic French toast. And Papa raven had stuffed French toast with strawberries, bananas and cream cheese. It was all delicious! We also had a round of hot chocolate for everyone. Shortly, after our food arrived, the ranchers filled the place. We are glad we got here before they did, so we did not get stuck in the crowd of food orders. After eating, we went back to our room to gather up the packs and hit the trail, which actually was a fifty three mile asphalt road walk. It was nearly 9:30, a bit of a late start, but what could we do. We were not about to skip out on a good town breakfast! The four of us along with the big red sun ball went down highway 43. This we did all day. All we saw were plains covered with sage and some low rolling hills. Oh yes, there also were hundreds and hundreds of cows as we passed through each ranch property. Although there were mountains to the North and South, we could not see them because of the smoke. In fact, there were times we could not see a huge barn less than half mile away. As we walked, the dim outline of a building would come into view. Then, as we grew closer, it would show itself. With so much smoke about and the visibility being so low, we felt like we were walking in a gray smoked glass bowl. We knew there was more beyond the glass walls to see, but we could not see what it was. It was not until the late afternoon that we started seeing trees. We also paralleled Big Hole River.  Just as we came upon our goal of 25 miles, there was a campground with sites still available. It was getting dark so we quickly found a campsite and settled down for the night. We have about 30 more miles of road walk tomorrow before we get to Anaconda. A gentleman in the campground offered us a ride to town tomorrow morning. We thanked him but declined. Our goal is to walk to Canada to Mexico. To get a ride and skip a section, feels like it would be cheating! In fact, after Keith dropped Papa Raven off in Wisdom yesterday afternoon, Papa Raven went back to walk the small section where Keith picked him up and back to town so he would not miss any foot steps.

Wisdom

Wisdom (?)
Day 138 – 9/6/17
Miles – 16.0
Total miles – 2170.6

It was a cold damp night with a lot of condensation. We knew that when we decided to camp in a meadow next to a stream. We continued our road walk to Wisdom. It was not a difficult route.  After several hours we walked out of the mountains and trees and into grassy plains. Cattle were everywhere. It seems as if we were in the heart of ranch land of Montana. A little after lunch, we came to the paved road to town with just 3 miles till town. Just as we got to the edge of Wisdom, a pickup truck pulled over to talk to us. It was Keith, Tour Guide’s husband. We first met Tour Guide on the PCT in southern California. We then crossed paths with her as she hiked towards Silverthorne, several months ago in Colorado. With us going to Wisdom instead of Sula, we had a problem, our re-supply boxes were in Sula, an eighty mile round trip of hitching rides.  After talking with Keith, he offered to drive Papa Raven the forty miles to Sula and back again. This was a huge relief for us . It will also save us from having to take a zero in town tomorrow to resolve our box issue. While Papa Raven rode to Sula with Keith, Mama Raven and the kids got a room and some food.  Mama Raven went to the Nez Perce Motel and got a room; the only problem was that she did not have any money.  Papa Raven had left and forgotten to give her any way to pay for the room.  She arranged to have Papa Raven pay when he returned.  She did have a little cash so she could get something for the kids at the grocery store.  As Papa Raven and Keith returned from Sula, Keith stopped to picked up Tour Guide as she completed her road walk section and the three of them headed back to Wisdom. It was good to talk with the two of them and Keith truly helped us out. Trail Magic seems to happen when it is needed the most. Thank you so much… and that is one heart felt thank you! Back at the hotel room, we went through the food boxes and packed for the next section. There is no laundry here, so we washed our clothes by hand and air dried them on a nearby fence. There was no time to work on photos or blogs. That will have to wait for Anaconda, our next re-supply. We ordered a pizza from the Antler Saloon and brought it back to our room. It was really good pizza. We ate it while we watched Whisper’s favorite television show, Too Cute, on Animal Planet. It is a show with nothing but cute kittens and puppies. It shows them from birth till adoption day and it is really too cute!!  Wisdom is another small town with no cell phone service. The ranchers and their wives, from miles away, come into town in the evenings and go to one of the two gathering spots: The Antler Saloon or The Crossing Restaurant. We will hike out first thing tomorrow after breakfast. We have a very long road walk ahead of us. Due to the fire closure, we will have to hike the asphalt road all the way into Anaconda.  We are sorry for this because we will be missing beautiful country and our feet are going to be hurting!

Fire Alt

Pioneer Creek (? 0)
Day 137 – 9/5/17
Miles – 21.8
Total miles – 2154.6

It was a colder night and we had an early start to our days hiking. We watched the glowing red ball rise in the east as we hiked in the morning smoke. We had to cross several ridges to get to our big down. It took all morning to get there. On the pass before the down,  Papa Raven got cell service. His priority was to check on the Meyers fire. Unfortunately, it was still going on and the trail closure was still in effect. That means we will be taking the fire alt. At the far end of this big down, we have a 1,500′ climb. What Papa Raven found last night while studying the maps, was a road leaving that saddle and connecting up with our road to Wisdom. Taking this road will cut 1.5 miles of our walk into town. He also tried to call a hotel to reserve a room, but he could only leave a message. We will find out tomorrow if we have a room or not. It was late afternoon when we reached the cut off for our alternate route. We stopped and cooked dinner then walked down the dirt road. We are not sure where there is water for tomorrow’s hike since we do not have maps for this section.  Thus, we stopped to camp at the second crossing of a stream in this valley and filled everyone’s bottles plus a little extra. We will be in Wisdom sometime tomorrow. Meanwhile, in our tents, we will be lulled to sleep by nearby cows mooing!