Getting my feet wet on the Continental Divide

I started out in a bad way. Most everyone would have headed to the
doctor when their knee hurt that much, instead I headed out on a 200
mile backpacking trip. Luckily it worked out, and I’m feeling all
better. But that wasn’t before my knee pain, became ankle pain and I
limped for an additional few days on a swollen ankle.

The memories will be of other things though. Generally the walking was
pretty easy. Lots of long river valleys to go up and down. Really nice
as it stayed below the snowline. Before our resupply at Bechmark
Ranch, we did two higher bits though. Went up and over the enjoyable
Trilobite Range in beautiful weather. Also hiked the famously remote
and famously grand Chinese Wall. Both on snow, both not a problem.
Neither were stream crossings, nor bears. The immense sense of
wilderness highlighted the trip. The Bob Marshall is wild, and feels
even more so when you’re thruhiking the CDT in a season where not even
the rangers are out yet. It will also be remembered for my hiking
companions. Lost and I met up with a trio from Iowa. Boone, Moosa and
Jessie are new friends.

At Bechmark, we slept in the grossly underused “Fly in Campground”
next to the airstrip. I also carried a WAY too heavy pack out of
there. It was loaded with seven days of food so that I could skip
Lincoln. And it’s from Lincoln that I currently type. My pack was so
heavy that I bailed out of the wilds to mail some stuff home. Seven
pounds!! The 25 miles into town included over 9000ft of elevation
gain. I obsessed over my pack weight much of that distance. Doing
20-30 miles a day is rediculously hard, and it’s stupidly hard with
anything other than an ultralight pack. Those up and down miles were
on the actual divide. Initial huge views became clouded yesterday and
today when severe thunderstorms rolled in. We bailed off the crest for
a while yesterday to sit on our foam pads, in pouring rain, hoping to
not be killed by lightning. Then again in the middle of the night,
sitting on my pad in a wind whipped tent and flashing pounded down on
Lewis and Clark Pass. Storms in a ultralight tent SUCK. It’s just a
constant misting, like someone is spraying you in the face with a
bottle.

Hotel tonight, trail tomorrow. Computer on the 8th when my parents
visit in Butte.

– We keep turning to eachother saying simply “this is brutal”. I
expect that to continue.
– I sent my ipod home. It’ll be sorely missed.
– I’m an inch away from dropping hundreds of dollars on new ultralight gear.
– Deepest stream crossing was waist deep and not very dangerous.
– Hitch in to Lincoln took about 15 minutes.
– Most everyone I know is in front of me.
– I saw a grizzly this morning digging from tubers.
– The wind today was so strong that it was blowing us around.
– I’m burnt out on granola for breakfast.
– The host of Benchmark Ranch told me that I’d scare the bears the way
I looked.

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