CDT SOBO 18-28 July

Woke up at Pintler’s Portal hostel on the 18th in yet another stuffy room. It seems a good deal of places either don’t have AC, or it’s busted. Made breakfast and got my last Trek blog updated. Caught a ride to Butte and back for my new shoes and hat. Left on foot from the Hostel at 1045. 28 miles to go before I return to the redline. Walked 13 miles to a very interesting historic marker, the Flumes, and took a coffee break. An old section has been somewhat preserved and signs added describing the water system that was built to transfer water from Twin Lakes creek to Silver Lake. Made it to camp by 9 pm. Set up by the larger of the Twin Lakes.  Nice, cool, flat spot that is right under trees and by water. Not many mosquitoes and probably one of the best sites I’ve camped at yet. 19.1 miles for the day. Another 9 miles and I will rejoin the redline of the CDT.

 Rolling by 0600 on the 19th. Happy Birthday to me. Up and over both Twin Lakes and Storm Lakes passes, both relatively mild areas. Rejoined the redline and met up with a group of SOBOS, one of whom I had met last year on the PCT. Hiked over Rainbow mountain and Cutaway pass, giving me a new high point of 9,380 feet. 25.6 miles for the day and currently at trail mile 562.5.

 July 20th saw me moving a little late. Was encamped at Johnson Lake and just slept really well. The trail is starting to catch up with me and my sleep patterns are becoming more defined as a result. Over Pintler pass (8,736 ft.). Up on the Divide again with an 11 mile dry section. Beautiful weather and a bit of service for me to contact family. Pushed to mile 591.5 for a 29 mile day. I’d love to get to Darby Montana tomorrow.
I decided to set my alarm on the 21st so as to be more efficient and set me up for a good run to Darby. Moving by 0518. Pushed 15 miles by noon and stopped for lunch an hour later. Water has been scarce so I checked the map and detoured a mile down to a “road” where I found a glorious creek. Never mind it’s tinged red. Walked the road back to trail and made it another 10 miles or so to the Chief Joseph trailhead by 1600 (4pm). It was an easy hitch to town. Grabbed a bite to eat and my resupply from Peoples Harvest Grocery before heading to the RV park to camp/shower/laundry myself.
Woke up at the RV campground at 0500. Very damp at the lower elevation and I again slept poorly. There were a lot of hikers crammed into a small space between  the bathrooms and the fence. Made coffee and headed to the Montana Cafe by 0700. I ordered the largest chocolate chip pancake I’d ever seen, along with a delicious egg and meat scramble and of course more coffee. Caught up on my journal and blogs, repacked and attempted to hitch the 30 miles back to trail. Caught my first ride with Ira, another CDT hiker who was kind enough to pull his driver over for me. The guy let us out 4 miles up-road and we waited at an intersection for over an hour before another truck load of hikers pulled up and crammed us into the camper shell bed. Another 30 minutes later and we’re dropped off at the trail and hiking by 1345 (145 pm). My pack is heavy and the climbs feel steeper than “normal”. It’s late and I decide to camp in a safe-ish looking burn area with only 12 miles completed at mile 629.6. I feel like the few widow makers are leaning away from me and I pray I don’t die in the night.
Woke up the 23rd after sleeping very well. Figures, as soon as I get to the woods and at elevation, my body relaxes. There’s a nearby fire and the trail has become very smoky. The trail has some steep climbs, one going up 2,800 feet. The old burn area continued and was very hot and exposed. The one consolation is the plentiful water sources along this section. I’m almost out of electrolytes. Those keep my body feeling so much better in the heat. My thumb joints keep cracking and bleeding and I’m forced to wear tape to give them a chance to heal. My skin looks like an alligator. Set up camp around Lower Slag-a-Melt lake after a 25 mile day. Sitting at mile CDT mile 655.
My campsite was already swarming with mosquitoes by the time I’m out of my tent and moving on the 24th. The climbs today were long, but well switchbacked. Went over 2 saddles that put me above 9,000 ft. both times. Water was again plentiful and the weather cooperative. Passed a large group of SOBOs, confirming that I have now caught up to the bubble. It’s hard to believe there’s an actual gaggle of hikers on this “remote” trail. Pushed 27.75 miles and found a nice, flat campsite with LTE service.
I again find it hard to get out of bed and get a 0645 start on the 25th. I’m getting tired from the heat and bigger miles. Walked a marathon and camped at mile 708.8. A day filled with heat, steep climbs along the ridges and waterless sections with minimal shade. 30 miles to Leadore, Idaho.
Finally up and rolling earlier by 0600. Hiked the 3 miles to the Sacajawea spring/picnic area. It’s 1/4 mile off trail, but a wonderful source. Meet a few other hikers there including Snickers, who I hike around for the rest of my 28 mile day. We hop from spring to spring and stop for dinner at 1830. Ended up getting turned around at one of the road junctions and waste a mile total getting back to the redline. Set up camp at 2130 around mile 737. Just two miles in the AM to get to the trailhead and Leadore.
Up and moving with no breakfast or coffee and minimal water. Had to share with Snickers as the “source” we camped by seemed to be nonexistent. Pushed 2 miles to Bannock pass and waited over 2 hours for a hitch. Only 1 car was headed towards town and he blew right past us doing 60. I love being covered in dust. We decided to road walk and made it 3 miles before a truck filled with hikers stopped and told us he would swing by on his way back and scoop us up. After waiting, he returned with a cab full of NOBOs. We jumped in the bed and enjoyed the ride to town. I immediately grabbed pizza, a hot dog, Cinnabon and Pepsi/coffee/beer. Got my resupply package from the Stage Shop and had another meal, a cheese burger and chips. Pre ordered a large Pizza for dinner and set off to the campground, .5 miles down the road. Shower with shower laundry and set up in a nice shaded spot. This is the point in trail where all of the South/North bounders join up. Information is shared and tales are told.
Up on the 28th after sleeping ok. My 20* bag is a little too warm at lower elevations until about 0200 in the morning. Found myself covered in sweat and had to towel down my pad and air my bag out. Currently working on my blog and getting ready for breakfast and then a hitch back to Bannock pass. The next section is 102 miles and will get me to Lima, Idaho.


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