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.

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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!

Tomatoes, Bear, and Fire!

Rounding a ridge (2381.0)
Day 136 – 9/4/17
Miles – 20.9
Total miles – 2132.8

We woke to a lot of smoke this morning. The tents were speckled with ash. The sunlight stayed orange until mid-morning when the wind blew some of the smoke away. Supposedly, we are surrounded by beautiful rugged mountain peaks, however they are completely hidden out of view by thick smoke. The heavy smoke we have been in is taking a toll on our spirits. As we hike along, our heads are down, not looking around while bathing our hearts and soul in the beauty around us. Today’s hiking was going to be a hard. The trail traveled from saddle to saddle as we crossed different drainages. It was slow going and very tiring. We have more to do tomorrow, but we also have a big 3,000′ down as a reward for our efforts of the day. Midday, we stopped to talk to a family of day hikers. The main topic of conversation was the fires. As our conversation was coming to an end, the mom asked Mama Raven if she wanted any cherry tomatoes. With a big smile, she replied with an enthusiastic yes. She was given a quart size bag filled to the top with sweet, homegrown tomatoes. Knowing that none of the other Ravens like tomatoes, she had the whole bag to herself which made her even happier. She did not have to share! Mama Raven continued her hike up the trail with her tomatoes. She could be heard making noises of bliss and excitement as she ate each one.
Bling is always way in the lead, so he tends to see more wildlife than the rest of The Ravens.  He was coming up to Upper Slag-a-Melt Lake and he heard a noise off to his right. It was a light brown bear running away from him. He did not see the bear in profile, thus he could not tell if it was a Black Bear or Grizzly. For safety and peace of mind, we hiked closer together until we crossed the saddle into the next valley.
You might have noticed we are hiking in a lot of smoke lately. There are many fires North of us and we are getting closer to them. There is one fire that will cause us problems, the Meyers fire. We found out several days ago that it has closed part of the CDT in our the next section. There is a road walk around the fire. What we are supposed to do is hike to Chief Joseph Pass, hitch to Sula for our boxes, hitch back to Chief Joseph Pass, then start the road walk around the fire. The first leg is 26 miles to Wisdom Montana. What we have decided to do is to hike to Big Hole Pass then take a 21 mile dirt road to Wisdom.  From Wisdom, one of us will hitchhike to Sula for our boxes. Going to Wisdom this way, will save us 22 miles of asphalt road walking. What we still have to figure out is how to get back to the trail. The write up we have seen mentions a road that we have not found yet on our maps or app. We have not had a cell phone connection in days so we cannot look it up. Hopefully that will change tomorrow or the next day.

Soaking the Feet

Hamby Creek (10_203)
Day 135 – 9/3/17
Miles – 24.6
Total miles – 2111.9

It was another red sunrise we woke up to. The smoke was down in the valleys below us. Again, the air smelled heavy with smoke. This is getting to be a normal occurrence with red sunrises and sunsets. We hiked the four miles over to Goldstone Pass and dropped our packs. The spring was 1/4 of a mile down a dirt road and we did not want to carry the packs back up. Mama and Papa Raven went down and filled all our breakfast bottles and got 5.5 Lt of water, while Bling and Whisper stayed with the packs. This should be enough to get us through the rest of the day. We walked around several peaks before crossing a ridge and dropping into a valley. This was the beginning of a long down, but first we had to cross a small pass and drop into the next drainage valley. As we rounded the head of the valley, we stopped for a break at a small stream where there was a wooden bridge. It was a pretty spot with rich green mosses and some of the first wild flowers we have seen in a long time.  Most of the lush vegetation we have seen in the past is now dried up. Many of the low plants are even turning yellow and red as fall approaches.  We decided to take a break for lunch on the bridge. We relaxed in the sun and Mama Raven soaked her feet, followed by Whisper. Soaking our feet is a pleasure that we have not had many chances to do on this trail. Mama Raven said this is one of those beautiful, lush spots the imagination could see woodland nymphs floating down the stream in boats made of leaves. Not wanting to leave and enjoying ourselves, we lingered a while, however the trail called for us to pack up and start hiking again. It was a nagging voice from a mother, so we were grudgingly obedient and did what were suppose to. We continued our hike down the valley. We spent many hours heading down, first down one valley and then we crossed North to another. The day was very hot and we tried to take advantage of the shade under the trees. Late in the afternoon, we came to a larger stream and we dropped our packs on the bridge, but instead of sitting on the bridge we all sat by the streams edge. Everyone took off their shoes and soaked their feet in the cold water. It felt really good to get the heat out of the feet and clean them. The trail has been terribly dusty. With each foot step, a fine powdery cloud of dust puffs up beneath and around our feet which then penetrates the mesh of our socks and shoes. The legs up to our knees also gets a coating of dust on them turning them a dingy gray color. After eating and letting our feet dry, we headed around a ridge to the next valley to stop for the night. The sun was a red ball in the sky again and ashes gently fell on to us like snow flakes. We have no cell phone connection so we did not have any information on the status of the CDT and fires. We found a flat place to camp on the far side of Hamby Creek. Surprisingly to us, we are having an easy time through this section and moving well. Hopefully, tomorrow will be another good day.

A Historic Spot

Once again, on a ridge (2336.0)
Day 134 – 9/2/17
Miles – 24.2
Total miles – 2087.3

It was noticeable darker when we woke this morning. The days are getting shorter. We were on the trail a little before seven and we got to watch the sunrise, which was a red ball floating in the sky because of all the smoke from the fires in Montana. We have had smoke since Colorado, however it is much thicker now restricting our views to only a short distance. The air even smells of  thick smoke. Today was not nearly as difficult as the past few days have been. We quickly went over a small climb and started a long ten mile down. We moved fast. At least four vehicles drove by. All were hunters. Elk season for bowmen started a few days ago. Although, several hunters were seen with guns. Bumping into men in camouflage clothes was a common site today. After several hours, we came to Lemhi Pass. This is our only water for the next eighteen miles thus we filled up. This is a historic pass because the Lewis and Clark party crossed the Continental Divide here. At the spring, we filled up with water. Lewis and Clark believed this very spring was the beginning of the Missouri River. We were thinking that Lewis and Clark’s expedition were the first long distant thru-hikers in America. And to think, we got water from the same spring as these great American figures of history. We also took time to see the Sacajawea Memorial. Sacajawea is one of Mama Raven’s hero of American history so she was excited to be at this location. After the historical spot, we had a big up, about 1,200′ and very steep. It took a while to get to the top, but once up, the hiking got much easier. The rest of the day we rolled along tree covered ridges with small easy ups and downs. We have about four miles to Goldstone Pass, our next water. Hopefully, tomorrow will go as well as today. We could use another twenty-four mile day.

Lemhi Spring

Northward

A ridge (2312.4)
Day 133 – 9/1/17
Miles – 18.6
Total miles – 2063.1

Leadore was a very small town and they work on their own schedule. We wanted to have breakfast and go back to the trail as soon as possible, but we could not find out what time the restaurant opened. We asked several times and it was any where from 7:00 to 8:30. It sounded like it opened whenever someone got there to open it. Waking at 6:00 in the morning, we finished packing and then walked over to the restaurant at 7:30. It was closed. We decided to walk to the other end of town and back. They were still closed, that was around 8:00. We went back to the Inn and talked to Redcross and Napoleon. Their room had a kitchenette, thus they made breakfast in their room. We all were going to get a ride back to the trail with Sam, who is owner of the Inn, after we had breakfast. They said they were not in a hurry, so we shouldn’t worry about time.  A few minutes later,  Sam said he saw that the restaurant open sign was on, so we headed back down at 8:15. The breakfast was good and huge. Bling and Mama Raven had one pancake, 2 eggs, and sausage and bacon. It was a good thing that they only had one pancake because it was about a foot across. Whisper and Papa Raven had French toast, which consisted of four, thick, egg covered toast. They offered the French toast deep fried. In fact, Red Cross had the deep fried toast for yesterday’s breakfast and she said it was amazing! We decided to keep it simple and it was still really good. We were all full and most plates still had food left over. This is another small town with no cell phone service. In this modern age we live in, we expect cell phone and Wifi service everywhere. Hiking these long trails, we have learned otherwise. Actually, it is a breath of fresh air to know there our communities across this nation that are still so simple! Folks here still sit on their front porches, drinking ice tea and talking to one another, face to face. No devices of social media held in the hand to distract. Just two people having quality time together. Nonetheless, It was about nine thirty when Sam drove Napoleon, Red Cross, and The Ravens back to the trail. From Leadore, the trail heads North. For the last few weeks, we have been hiking west and sometimes northwest. It is good too be heading in the right direction, toward Canada. Most of the day, we climbed easy hills, slowly building up to the highest ridges. We stopped to talk to Napoleon and Red Cross at a spring while they had lunch. Later, they past us on a climb. They are both strong and fast hikers, however they are in no hurry to finish the trail. Red Cross is from Switzerland and Napoleon is from Louisiana. When their trip is over, they will have to part ways. Something neither one is looking forward to. The end of the day we had several very steep ups, which exhausted us. We came into camp very tired. Now we are nestled in a stand of trees and ready for sleep.

Leadore

Leadore (08_000 R)
Day 132 – 8/31/17
Miles – 15.8
Total miles – 2044.5

Smoke. We woke to thick smoke. We could smell it clearly. The valleys on both sides of us were filled with it. The alarm worked this morning and at 6:00 we got going.  A good starting time. It is barely light at this hour. Soon we were heading up Elk mountain. It is the last 10,000′ mountain in Montana or Idaho. It was a big climb but it was well contoured over several miles. It was one of the easier ups we have had this section despite it’s altitude. We crossed just below the summit and stopped at a saddle on the North side. This is one of the few locations where there is a Verizon connection. Papa Raven called the only hotel in Leadore and got a room for the night. The owner, Sam, said he would pick us up at Bannock Pass, fourteen miles to the west. We needed to be there at 3:30.  We also asked Sam if he could pick up our packages from the Post Office because we would not make it by closing time.  He agreed to. Next, Papa Raven had to call the Post Office to tell them he was coming. With all that set up, we hiked to the pick up point. We arrived at 3:00 and sat in the shade of a sign to wait for Sam. He drove up about 5 minutes later. A short time later we were at the hotel with our room and boxes. As we walked up to our room, we found out that Napoleon and Red Cross have the room next to us. We are all planning on leaving tomorrow, however there is much to do before then. Priority always is food and showers.

More of the Same

Near a spring (07_091 R0)
Day 131 – 8/30/17
Miles – 21.1
Total miles – 2028.7

We tried something new this morning. Papa Raven set his phone alarm for 6:00, so we would not sleep in. Of course it did not work. There is this thing called am/pm, he set it to pm, thus the alarm did not go off. He will try again tomorrow morning. We did not get up until 6:20. Quickly and efficiently, we ate and packed. Surprisingly, we were on the trail by 7:15. Clouds covered most of the sky but they were thin. We headed up the last of the climb we started yesterday. For the first three miles, we hiked post to post with no trail in sight. We misplaced ourselves just once and that was when we were going down a dirt road. It was nice to hike a clear path all down hill.  As afternoon came on, the clouds started to thicken and darken. We could see rain falling to the North, our direction of travel. We put on rain gear knowing what was coming. And it did. It was not a hard rain but the wind blew it sideways. Afterwards, when the sun came out, it became hot and humid which made us wish for cloud cover again. We thru hikers are never satisfied! For lunch, we came to Morrison Lake. A good sized lake nestled in the valley at the bottom of a big up. The climb took us from a tree lined lake up a tight valley and out into the open sage covered mountain tops. There rest of the day was ridge walking with beautiful views. Some of the climbs to the next summit were very steep others gentle. Around 7:00, we came to one of the only springs up on the ridges. A massive black cloud was forming to the West. Papa and Mama Raven walked down to the spring to get water for dinner. Thunder started in that big black cloud and we decided to stop for the night. We have learned from past experience to stop a little early if it looks like rain and thunder are coming. We do not want to get caught in another storm just as the sun goes down! Also, we have a safe spot to camp off of the ridge. If we went on, we would be forced to camp on an exposed ridge with potential thunder and lightening. We pitched the tents in the most shielded place we could find. Shortly after getting into the tents, it started to sprinkle and the wind came up. It is still blowing out there but we are safe and warm.

We Create An Alt

A pass (06_250 R)
Day 130 – 8/29/17
Miles – 19.7
Total miles – 2007.6

This section is wearing us down. It was very hard to get up and moving. The body simply does not want to move. Bling, especially is not doing well. We do not know if he is sick again or just worn out from hiking. Even the cows all around us, mooing loudly, had a hard time waking us up. When we did get out of the tents, we found the sky and clouds painted with red and oranges. Just to the West, a thunderhead was raining and a full rainbow could be seen.  No sooner than we got pack covers and rain jackets on, it started to rain.  It did not last long.  Not long before we hiked away from the clouds, we switched to cooler clothes. Despite the trail being so difficult, the country all around us is beautiful. We hope the photographs do this area justice! The trail rolled up and over sage covered hill tops and down the other side. Rain fell again, just before we came to the drop to Deadman Lake. Once at the lake, we took a break.
There is a comment on my GPS app that talks about a road alt. So, sitting under a pine tree by the side of the peaceful lake, Papa Raven explored this possible alt. What he found was a 6.5 mile road walk that would cut about 5.5 trail miles off. This was a big savings. The road was easy except for the first mile, which was very steep. We decide to do it. We left the lake and slowly worked our way up the steep road. The steep section did not last long. After reaching the high point, we went down to a steam. There we stopped to eat and filter water. Once again, Bling is very tired and is wanting to sleep. At this location, our only choice is to hike on the best we can.  It probably will be a low mileage day. As we ate at the stream, a thunderhead built to the West. About the time we decided to start hiking,  it started to rain. With the rain, came a very strong wind. We had to hold our umbrellas sideways to block the driving rain. We knew that this storm would not last long because we could see blue sky behind it. It rained hard for about 20 minutes and then let up. Several miles, after leaving the stream, we joined back with the CDT.  We hiked on to Hackness Lake and then started several climbs over unnamed passes. We camped at the top of the second pass. Our hard days work was rewarded with this camp site in a saddle and its amazing views of the surrounding mountains.  Bling fell asleep before dinner was made, although we woke him up to eat. It is raining right now and we hope our location does not flood tonight.

Depleted

Bannack Pass (2232.1 0)
Day 129 – 8/28/17
More – 21.0
Total miles – 1987.9

Yesterday was an unusually tough day of hiking and no one wanted to get moving. Very slowly, we started to move. All our energy reserves were used up yesterday. However, we must keep moving forward. We got out of the tents in time to see the sun as a big red ball in the sky.  Smoke, from a fire North of us, must have moved down south over night. Before we set out for our morning hike, we picked up several more liters of water from a spring near the stream. The first few miles was through tree covered valleys and a lot of cows. At one point, we came across two male elk, hiding in the trees, bugling back and forth across the narrow valley to each other. The sounds they were making did not sound like a friendly conversation. Instead, it was two males telling each other off and saying whose the boss around here.  Short time later, we came to a stream at the base of today’s big up and stopped to fill-up on water and eat something. The up was 1,800′ in three miles. Not as bad as some of the ups yesterday, but we are still tired from the previous day’s hike. We climbed up through trees and open sage. We got to the pass in about two hours. Not bad. However, not great. From here, we had miles of down punctuated with small ups. Even though we were going down, we did not move very fast. After several miles, we stopped at a spring. It was very small and it took a little time to fill up our bottles. Then it was on down the valley and back into the trees. As the day went on, we took more and more breaks. Not long ones but many of them. We were very tired. Mama Raven said it felt like she had bricks tied to her feet and each step was very labor intensive. Yesterdays hike, produced very low energy levels for today. As we came to the end of the valley, we climbed a ridge and stopped at several water troughs. This was the last water for 13 miles and we needed to fill up. There was no water coming out of the pipe into either trough, but Papa Raven found a valve and turned it on. After several minutes, water started flowing out. We now had all the water we needed.  We had three miles of down, so we slowly made our way up and over. When we made it to the bottom there was a very large flat area and we stopped for the night. It was an early night, but nobody was moving very fast by this time. We just wanted to get dinner and go to bed. We hope we have more energy tomorrow.

A Cruel Trail

Shineberger Creek (05_210)
Day 128 – 8/27/17
Miles – 21.1
Total miles – 1966.9

Having a real bed to sleep in is always a comforting thing and one would think we would sleep in late at a hotel. Not so. We started moving at about 6:15. By now, we are self trained to wake early, no matter where we are. A few minutes after seven, we headed across the street to Jan’s Cafe for breakfast. Bling and Whisper each had French toast, scrambled eggs, and a huge sausage patty.  Papa Raven had toast, hash browns, two sunny side up eggs, and a huge sausage patty. Mama Raven had a piece of caramel apple pie with ice cream and a big hot chocolate. The kids could hardly finish their French toast and eggs, but they did.  However, we had lots of sausage left over. The sausage patties were enormous, about 3/4″ thick and about 6″ across. Not wanting to waste them, we put them in a zip lock bag and ate them at our first break on the trail. Mike had the truck ready for us when we finished breakfast so we packed the last minute items and loaded everything into the back of the truck. There were two sisters, Nakita and Landslide, who also loaded their gear into the truck. A short time later, we were unloading on the side of the freeway. We said goodbye to Mike and his sweet dog Bella.  We first walked along a frontage road. We passed by a sheep pasture were someone was training the sheep dogs and the sheep to work together.  The dogs were amazing to watch as they herded sheep forwards, backwards and through an open gate. Later on, in the same stretch of trail, we saw another wild herd of horses. We did not make great time, because we were busy being entertained by the roadside shows. Nonetheless, it was an easy eight miles of road walk. The countryside was a wide open valley covered with sage. There were few trees and they only occurred on North facing slopes, in small clumps. At the end of the road walk, we stopped for a break in the shade of one of those clumps of trees before we began a big up. The worst problem was that it went up in hills. You would have an incredibly steep climb to the top of the hill and then drop down only to climb up the next incredibly steep up that was even higher than the first. This went on all day. The ups never stopped being really steep. By really steep, we mean near vertical at times. We were worn out! This by far, was the most difficult day we have ever hiked, including the San Jauns with all of its snow. The trail designers of this section had no mercy for the hikers. It was simply a cruel trail! Fresh out of Lima with heavy packs made the situation even worse.  Additionally, there was no water up on the ridges except for a small spring way down a ravine late in the day. Skipping it, we  pushed on farther into early evening to get to water. Finally, as the sun was setting, we started down the mountain. On the way down, we saw a very large herd of elk. Our biggest one yet, maybe 70 or so. A few miles later, we came to a stream and camped there with the cows that serenaded us all evening.  Our camp was on a small rise above the stream.  We have to climb under a barbed wire fence to get to the the water.  With all the cows in the area contaminated water is a concern. Luckily, another hiker, who we caught up with, found a spring near the stream.  We filled up on water.  Todays hiking absolutely exhausted us! We have heard that this section had a lot of ups and downs. If today is a sample of what the trail will be like, we are going to be barely moving when we get to Leadore. We are not looking forward to tomorrow’s trail adventures.

Lima

Lima (04_318)
Day 127 – 8/26/17
Miles – 7.5
Total miles – 1945.8

Town day! We have a short hike to get to Hwy 15. Yes, the same Hwy 15 that is only 10 minutes from our house back in the San Diego area. Our first task was the walk through a herd of cows, about 100 of them. Walking into them caused many of them to run off down the trail the so way we were headed. We followed them for about a mile, when we went into another pasture. Around 9:00, we came to a high location over looking hwy 15. Papa Raven checked and had a phone connection. He called the only motel in Lima, the Mountain View Motel. We got a room for the night for only fifty six dollars and best of all, the owner Mike would pick us up. The only problem was he could not pick us up only until after lunch. We told him we will get to the 15 around 11:00 and we will wait for him. We arrived right when we said. We walk up the road to get a connection and find out that Mike would be here at 11:15, it was 11:16. We looked over to the freeway and he drives up will a load of out going hikers waving to us. We jump the freeway fence and ran across the four lanes of Hwy 15 to Mike’s truck. After saying hello to Napoleon, Red Cross, and Kool Aid, who were hiking out, we head to Lima. We will be leaving tomorrow for Leadore, our next stop.
An observation: Alcohol sales.
In New Mexico you could go into a convenience store and buy beer and food.
In Colorado the food and beer is sold in different stores, and you cannot buy alcohol on Sundays.
Wyoming is the same as Colorado, alcohol is sold in a store dedicated to that purpose.  Although, I did see a drive through on the side of a bar.  Yep, you can buy that six-pack without getting out of your car.
In Idaho we got back to buying beer and wine in convenience stores.
We got to Montana and wondered what rules this state had.  Bling and I walked into the only convenience store here in Lima and I turned to see a stand next to the door with chips at the top and beer at the bottom.  Well that answered that question.  I then turned to the checkout counter.  There in the glass counter were the hand guns, behind the counter were the rifles, and all the ammo.  That is not what I expected in a convenience store.  You can get it all in Montana.

Time of Our Lives Together!

Road-trail junction (04_243)
Day 126 – 8/25/17
Miles 21.2
Total miles – 1938.3

It was a warm dry night and we really did not want to get up. Nonetheless, our need to get closer to Lima drives us, and we got ourselves moving. We needed water so our first stop was a spring. The only problem was that we could not find the spring. Instead, we found a small stream, which required taking the time to filter ten plus liters of water. For this reason, we like springs, because we just fill our bottles and hike on. Filtering takes extra time, sometime a lot of extra time for a family of four. Most things take longer for us than the average single thru hiker. There our more pit stops, it takes longer to eat (especially with Whisper), more conversations, and more breaks for play time. Hiking in a group is simply slower. We might not be the fastest hikers out here, but we truly are having the time of our lives together! When most of the NOBO thru hikers are done and back home, the Ravens will still be out here. Our only wish is that the weather in Northern Montana, for early fall, will be kind to us.

The ground, for the last few miles, was all turned up and the plants were smashed down. Within a few minutes of leaving the spring, we came to the reason . . . sheep and many of them. This area is being used as an experiment on the affects sheep have in forested areas. As we worked our way around the sheep, the sheepdogs discovered us and let us know they were there to protect their flocks.  Some hikers said the dogs were very aggressive, however we just saw dogs doing their job. However, it was a good thing that the trail lead away from the sheep.  Hiking away made the dogs quiet down.

The weather was better today. There were thunderstorms, but not directly over us. One big one built up to the North of us, making us nervous, however, we hiked away from it.  Tomorrow the weather should improve, but we will be in town, so we will not worry about it.
We spent most of the day walking through fields of grass and flowers. It is really beautiful country. We are never quite sure what state we are in. It is either Montana or Idaho. We go back and forth between the two, all day long. That is why we call it Montanaho!

Thank You!

A ridge  (2161.4 R)
Day 125 – 8/24/17
Miles – 23.3
Total miles – 1917.1

Three of us slept warm and one of us did not. I wonder who? That would be Mama Raven. She sleeps every night in her long johns, down coat, hat, fluffy socks, and mittens and she is still cold.  We all have lost weight, perhaps that is why she cannot keep warm at night? We got up not long after dawn and began hiking just as the sun came over the ridge. The hills around us have clumps of trees surrounded by fields of flowering plants. Soon after leaving camp, we saw a moose eating bushes up above the hills were we camped. We watched her for a few minutes and then we headed on. The morning’s sky had large clouds scattered about. There was a cold wind blowing. The setting was absolutely beautiful. Everyday of our hike we are surrounded by amazing beauty. However, once in a while, we stumble across an area that is exceptionally magnificent that touches deeply. This was one of those locations. We were experiencing it at the perfect time and conditions to show it off so grandly. The beauty was over powering and it filled us with benevolent energy. It made us feel equally magnificent and compassionate in the environment around us. The master designer of it all, out did himself in this area. Since it was so cold, we left our down coats on for most of the morning. Even with the big climb, we did not want to take them off. It was not until the sun came out fully behind the clouds, that we warmed up enough to remove them. In the early afternoon, a large thunderhead started to form to the West. Since the clouds were moving from the West to the East, we were concerned. We could see it raining to the North and on the other side of the mountains to the West as we headed south. We just did not move far enough South. As we stopped to fill 4L of water, it stared to rain. Taking cover under a thick tree, the black clouds began to hail. Big drops of rain followed. Since we were on the edge of the storm, we hoped it would not last long and it didn’t. After about ten minutes, it tapered off and we set out again. We decided to hike with all our rain gear on because the sky still looked threatening. At about 6:00, the sky darkened and soon it was raining again. We hoped it would not go on all night. It is difficult to set up the tents when it is pouring down rain. To the great relief of all Ravens, the rain let up just before we found a place to camp for the night.  In fact we could see clear skies beyond. Little things like this bring great joy to thru hikers!!! We are on track to get to Lima the day after tomorrow. After Lima, we have only seven more re-supply boxes before we reach Canada!

In our blogs, we have yet to thank our support crew who are at home mailing all our food and supply boxes and any other items we need. There has been a lot of boxes they have been responsible for. Everything has been delivered to perfection! Thank you Denise and Karin! Papa Raven’s mom and dad has also helped out. From the bottom of our hearts to the tippity tips of our soar feet, what you have been doing for us, is so appreciated.  They are old pros at this job. They held the same position, back in 2015, when we hiked the PCT. We could not have more loyal friends and family to do such a big task!

Montanaho!

Near a Creek (2138.1)
Day 124 – 8/23/17
Miles – 21.1
Total miles – 1893.8

We had a nice warm night in the cabin. Mama and Papa Raven woke with apprehension regarding how Bling would be feeling this morning? After sleeping twelve hours straight, Bling woke and said he was hungry. What a relief for all of us. We split four different muffins and had mini donuts and milk for breakfast. We hiked out a little later then we desired, 7:30, but not too late. We had to hike 1.5 miles down Hwy 20. A very busy road during the day, however, it was somewhat quite at this early hour. As we neared our cutoff, Sawtell Peak Road, came another lodge, gas station, and, on the corner, a Subway. As we looked at it with it’s open sign on, then looked at one another, off we went for Subway sandwiches to go.  They opened at 8:00 and it was 8:02. Simply, we could not resist! After having our sandwiches made, back to the business of hiking. As we hiked up the road, we looked closer at the route on the map. We had just stared an eight mile long up. Almost all of it was on a gravel road. It was not too steep, it just seemed to go on forever.  In the late morning, we stopped to eat our sandwiches. They were amazingly delicious! This is one of those times we wished we had ordered a 12″ instead of 6″. As we ate, we reminisced about our Subway sandwich adventures with our Auntie Raven in New Mexico. After the rest, we continued our climb. It was not until early afternoon that we left the road for a real trail. Within a mile, we left the trail for the bushwhack section. There was eight miles of little to no trail. Following our way down a stream, we made our way to a lake. Somewhere along the way, without any fanfare, we crossed into Montana. The only word of caution for this area was to “stay high and to the right” as we neared the lake. Supposedly, there was a deep marsh just at the month of the lake and by “staying high and to the right”, we would avoid sloshing through water. We succeeded at keeping our feet dry by following the instructions! Finally, we made it back to the official CDT. It is always comforting to be back on the trail. It is like joining up with a lost friend.  Of course, the first thing it did was to go up. We climbed about 800′ and crossed a ridge, passing back into Idaho. For the next week or two, we will be hiking right on or near the Idaho/ Montana border. We have nick named the area Montanaho. The sun was getting low as we found a great place to camp in a small stand of trees. We stopped an hour early because Bling was very tired. Roughly, in 2.5 days, we will be in Lima, Montana. Hopefully, we will move quickly through these mountains.

Mack’s Inn

Mack’s Inn (MIa 15.2)
Day 123 – 8/22/17
Miles – 18.4
Total miles – 1872.6

We woke to another perfectly blue sky. After the last round of rain we had, we are thankful for every day that is dry. If it never rains again on our trip that would be perfectly fine by us! When we started hiking this morning, the sun was just rising. Over the next few weeks, starting at our normal time is going to get harder and harder. It will be darker and colder. The hiking was easy and we moved along quickly. We need to get to Mack’s Inn before 4:00, which is eighteen miles away. We will be cutting it close, but we should make it. In about 3 miles, we got to the beginning of the alt, a nice wide dirt road. We hiked quickly taking only a few breaks. One was by the side of Moose Creek, which is a deep, crystal, clear creek flowing through a meadow. This is a different Moose Creek then the one we encountered in Yellowstone. A little while, after lunch, we came to a paved road and followed it to a small town of Island Park where Mack’s Inn is. We arrived a little after 3:00. Our bump box was the first item of business we took care of. We also had a box of miscellaneous items such as rocks Mama Raven picked up, to send home. Papa Raven literally run to the Post Office getting there just before 4:00. He needed tape to close the bump box but they had none to sell.  They told him to go next door and they would not close up until he returned.  After a quick stop at the hardware store, the bump box was ready to mail. When he returned from mailing the box, we finished putting food away, made some important phone calls, and ordered a pizza. Bling had one piece and said he was full, that is not like him. Fifteen year old thru hikers eat a lot.  We sat a bit and talked then we went for ice cream. Bling did not finish his, in fact he had eaten only a small amount. Something was wrong.  He wanted to take a short lap before we hiked out. It was around 6:00 and we wanted to get another four miles in. But it was obvious that Bling was sick. Mama and Papa Raven agreed we should not push on and instead see if there are any cabins available.  There was, once again, only one cabin left. We got it and put Bling to bed.  He sleep for hours. We all, Bling included, hope he feels better tomorrow. He told me that he wants to hike out at 7:00 tomorrow.

Geysers? Eclipse? Idaho? . . . All Good Titles

A little way into Idaho (?)
Day 122 – 8/21/17
Miles – 19.2
Total miles – 1854.2
All six of us slept well. We headed off for breakfast around 7:30. Red Cross and Napoleon headed one way and The Ravens went another. The grill had not opened and the store would not open for thirty minutes, thus we headed over to that deli at the inn, which opened at 6:00. We picked up four cold croissant sandwiches, yogurt, drinks, and a cinnamon roll. When it was wrung up at the cash register, it came to the same price as the all you can eat buffet where the food was hot and much better. We told the cashier that we wanted to cancel our order. Quickly and excitedly, we headed to a repeat of yesterday’s amazing breakfast. It actually ended up being even cheaper than yesterday, because the waitress gave both Bling and Whisper, the kids price (age 12 and under). Yesterday, only Whisper received the lower price.  After breakfast, we got our re-supply box from the post office and went back to the room to sort it. Napoleon and Red Cross showed up with their box and soon everyone was ready to hike out. We left them and started down the trail. Our path away from Old Faithful, lead us past geyser after geyser. We saw at least six of them erupting. It took us much longer to get down the valley then we expected because we wanted to stop and watch.  We were nearing the end when the total eclipse started. We hiked on as the daylight lessened. In this area, the sun was 98% covered. Way back in South Pass City, we purchased some solar eclipse glasses so we could watch it. The first thing that happened that we did not except was the way shadows changed shaped. The more the sun was covered the more we could see the effect. The light coming between the shadows was crescent shaped. And the crescent moved from the left side to the top and then to the right side as the eclipse progressed. The other thing that we did not expect was how cold it got.

As we hiked out of the Old Faithful valley, the eclipse ended. We continued on toward Summit Lake. When we got there, we took a nice long break. Then we headed on to the Wyoming/Idaho border. Our next objective was the border of Yellowstone National Park, which we shortly came to. We could now freely camp where ever we desired. No more assigned camp sites. As the day was ending, we turned North on an old road, which we camped on. In a few miles, we will start the Mack’s Inn alt. This alternate route chops thirty-seven trail miles off.  Since were are now eight days behind on our schedule, it seemed like a smart thing to do. We should get there tomorrow.

Red Cross and Napoleon