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.

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