CDT SOBO 7-18 July

   The AC decided to squat the bed, so I slept in a stuffy room. I never sleep well indoors, but with the almost continuous storms, I prefer to be dry when possible. Took a last, cool shower in the micro bathroom before heading over to the attached diner for a tasty omelette and cowboy coffee. Some other CDT hikers were heading back to trail and I was able to throw down some dinero to get in on the action. The driver was even kind enough to run me by Benchmark Wilderness Ranch so I could get my resupply. Rode in the back of the truck while reorganizing my food. Fastest packing job ever! Got dropped off at the trailhead by 1300 and proceeded to hike one of the worst blowdown sections met so far on the trail. The hike to Elbow pass sucked. Perhaps I need these legendary Ley maps others speak of…

The storms came in last night and I was pitched by the river under a pine tree. During an intermission I decided to re tighten the tent. When I stepped outside I came within FEET of a moose and baby traversing the length of the river. They were more surprised by me and deviated course. Put in 27.75 miles today and currently around mile 270. The lightning continued this evening after I had climbed to a current high point of 8,318 feet. That quickly ended my 30 mile attempt and saw me dashing downhill to lower ground and a flat spot for my shelter. Pitched in the rain and jumped in to weather the storm.
I awoke to most of my exposed gear being damp. Single wall tents are notorious for formation of condensation when the doors are battened down for a storm. I passed out and forgot to re-open them. Grabbed 3 L of water from the nearby lake to take with me as this is the beginning of the dryer sections. Pushed the 12 beautiful, hot and exposed miles to a spring. I decided to conduct drying operations and have a late lunch. Pushed on another few miles and came to a trail side yurt. The sky looked to be blackening again so I opted to stay put and camp inside. Within a half hour the storm descended on the yurt and I stayed nice and dry. Other hikers filtered in looking drenched but grinning. We all spent the night in the noisy space. I slept poorly on a cot by the door. Currently at mile 286.
Jumped up at 0400 to pull my gear outside and repack so as not to piss off everyone else. I prefer to camp alone when possible because I’m a rotisserie sleeper and I know it’s annoying to listen to a body move all night. Moving by 0430. Spent the day walking high and dry along the actual Continental Divide. It was beautiful and windy. I’ve started to experience some stomach cramping. It always happens when I have minimal water access and it’s too hot. Made it to High Divide Outfitters by 1930, for a 28 mile day. The owner Dave is an Air Force Veteran and extremely knowledgeable in gear. He has more cottage/niche gear than any other business I’ve seen. Was able to cobble together. 2.5 day resupply to get me to Helena. Also bought a new chest/fanny pack and a new stuff pack. My Thrupack fanny pack was already breaking down after less than 300 miles.
I awoke the 11th and went back to the store to grab a quick backpacker breakfast. Pushed 20 miles through rolling hills and intermittent forest/bare land to a cow pasture with a spring in the center. Pitched camp .1 away from the spring on a dirt pad. I always like having a tree on one side of me when sleeping amongst cows.

Up and rolling on the 12th by 0500. Conducted a 10 mile dirt “road” walk followed up with blowdowns and some good heat to round out the day. Went black on water about 2 miles before a blessed spring on a gravel road on the way to Helena. Currently at mile 358.1.  Tom, a local CDT driver, picked me up from the intersection and drove me to town. Went straight to a wonderful restaurant for a burger and beers, then walked the mile to my Airbnb. Conducted laundry and shower operations and ordered pizza for dinner.
Up on the 13th by 0600. Cold pizza for breakfast, cleanup and checkout by 0900. Walk to Safeway to resupply. Walk to dispensary, Taco Bell for early lunch and Starbucks for an Oatmilk mocha latte. Tom scooped me up and back to trail by 1230. Only pushed 8 miles with a heavy pack before calling it quits due to more storms.

Another long, mosquito filled, wooded day on the 14th. Ran into some ladies hiking for the week with a wonderful golden retriever named Murphy. Pushed to mile 389 and camped along a dirt road near many sites of ruined cabins. Storms rolled through from 1145 to 0230 or so.
17 miles to get to Route Anaconda, an alternate that trims 2 or so days from the red line. Attempting to do some alternates to put me in perfect position for later season Colorado hiking. Sobo hikers start disadvantaged with weather windows and being a kind of slow hiker, I am maximizing my chances here.  Reached the alternate at 1330 and made 28 miles on the day. Camped on the road in another cow pasture. Service is decent so I made calls to family.
Woke and rolling on the 16th by 0630. Pushed 13 road miles into Anaconda, where I am currently holed up at Pintler’s Portal Hostel. Already took a Zero day yesterday. Showers, laundry, town food and a night spent cooking a steak with all the fixins. I feel rejuvenated. New sun hat and shoes. Mailed unnecessary gear back home. Prepared to start this next hundred mile section headed towards the off-trail town of Darby Montana.

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