Day 16 – 22 The Bob pt 2

Day 16

First rainy day in the Bob. Well, the scapegoat wilderness, now. It was a pretty light off and on rain. It was more of a nuisance getting vegetation wet than the direct rainfall. It turned vegetation car washes into a wet affair. I forget if I’d defined it earlier, but a car wash is just (very) overgrown trail where you have to push through it. And if it’s wet then…

The weather mood for the day

Made good time in any case. Kinda gloomy day didn’t really inspire breaks. Though the weather cleared up and became sunny for the two mile / 2,000′ climb at the end of the day.

Christmas trees, anyone?

Neat little campsite and spring towards the top of this climb. Camping with Gadget the Grey and One Track again. May be tomorrow as well, though they’re taking a lower route, so we’ll see.

Pro: last river ford for some time. Con: last time carrying just one liter of water at a time

Getting close to the end of the Bob!

Day 17

Out of the wooded valleys and up onto the ridge today. Much nicer views.

Novel view, soon to be the new normal.

At a cost of less water and more elevation gain. Around 6,000 ft gain and loss over 20 miles.

Just the comments I look for on the last climb of the day.

The weather was quite calm for it, too. Relatively little wind for having walked on a ridge all day.

Glad I wasn’t the one to trigger this slide

Another aspect of the ridge travel and lack of water is that tomorrow is pretty well dictated at 19 miles. But it has a bear box and a privy so that’s nice. I have low hospitality standards in the backcountry.

Day 18

Photogenic, and poorly chosen, campsite

Second night in a row of sleeping poorly. My main culprit is the tent site. It sloped more than I should have accepted. My laying down on the footprint test was foiled by… being tired. And anything likely would have felt pretty good initially. Oh well, not the first and not likely to be the last time.

Where I wish I had spent the night.

Officially left the Bob Marshall / Scapegoat wilderness complex!! It was the early section giving me the most anxiety. I got lucky with pretty good weather, and fairly few blowdowns (probably to the chagrin of any 2022 CDT hikers that read this). Thanks, trail crews!

Passed both Roger’s pass and Fleishman pass today. After being mostly by myself in the backcountry for a couple weeks, cars on a highway seem really fast.

First, of many.

The actual hiking was more ridge walking. Embarrassingly, the thing I was probably overly excited to see was a wild and elusive… cell phone tower, one ridge over. It’s the first time I’ve had signal since coming to Montana.

The perfect excuse to take a break from a relentless climb.

Camped at a trailhead with all the amenities: a toilet, a table, and a bear box. It’s my first time camping alone since early in the Bob. I’m surprised since it’s a nice spot and near, ish, the only water for a dozen miles in either direction. Also, apparently, I’ve gotten to the drier portion of Montana.

Day 19

Pretty easy day. Twelve or so miles to High Divide Outfitters / Dave’s gear shop. The uphill sections felt harder for some reason. Cumulative fatigue, I suppose; they were similar to climbs in the past few days. Relative to the Pacific Crest Trail, the climbs are steeper. Even in places where the trail designer put in switchbacks, it’s still pretty steep.

Warning: photography may be poor indication of actual trail steepness

Anyhow, pretty steadily marched here. Once it got near Stemple pass xc area, I took a wrong turn and ended up on a parallel road / xc ski track. Ended up bushwhacking for a few hundred feet to right the situation.

Hiking in an xc area has its benefits

Arrived around noon and sat around for the rest of the day. Realized that it makes planning sense to stay here for the night. It’s 19 miles to the next confirmed water. Though I could’ve hiked shorter days and gotten to Helena Monday, I’d have to dry camp twice and haul more water.


It’s an interesting little store. Somehow, he manages to have a huge inventory of specialized ultralight backpacking gear. It’s the right audience, but anyone who has hiked in here already has a pack, so…

Day 20

Lot of trip firsts today. First long ish (19 mile) water carry. First time really getting wet in a rainstorm.

Somewhat typical, getting dumped on while there’s blue sky in most directions.

First drink from a cow tank on the trail.

Dinner at the cow tank.

First cows, too, for that matter. I was glared at by a few bulls for hiking through the herd.

Parting the herd.

The actual hiking was more up and down ridge walking through a mix of meadows and trees. Punctuated with some very steep ups and downs. There’s the odd switchback occasionally, but mostly a New Hampshire-esque approach of just going straight up (or down) the peak or shoulder. Combined with the rocky terrain, I feel like I’ve been staring at my feet all day.

I question the efficacy of this cattle guard.

Day 21

Today’s hiking was less than exciting. Almost entirely on dirt roads, which made for easy, if rather boring, miles. My tent site had surprisingly good signal, so I downloaded a bunch of podcasts prior to hiking.

The view du jour.

I missed a turn on one of the dirt roads and added a couple miles to the day, whoops. Toward the end of my detour I ran into Gadget and One Track who had caught up from going into Lincoln. They had taken a different and somewhat shorter set of forest roads. Aside from that I mostly just marched 20 miles on a mission for tomorrow’s milkshakes in Helena.

Due to a trail closure South of Helena I’m taking a road off the CDT before getting to the pass.  Otherwise I’d need to hike eight-ish miles along Rt12 to avoid the closure.  I’d rather walking a dirt road than a highway, ergo the improvisation.

The long and winding road.

Somewhat exposed campsite which was rather sunny. And then abruptly very stormy. With my vestibule facing right into it. Doh. It ripped the stake out, resulting in a fun, if wet and messy game of leaning out of my tent and pounding in a new stake. That worked and I spent the rest of the short storm bracing the inside of the vestibule to keep it from collapsing. Thankfully the storm left as quickly as it came. Which so far seems typical of Montana storms.

Day 22 – Into Helena

Town day!  Texted Outburst’s friend Tim prior to hiking the last few miles down the alternate road.  The road itself was unremarkable other than some *gigantic* washouts.   Anyhow, I met Tim at the highway for a ride to town, a bakery, and where I’m staying in town at Outburst’s aunt’s house.  Thanks Tim and Jauneen!

It’s nice to be able to finally shower and do laundry.  This was the third longest stretch I’ve gone without showering and I was pretty grubby! Aside from that I’ve mostly been resting and getting caught up on this blog.

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