Helena, MT to Wisdom, MT – Some Days I Don’t Feel Like Hiking, Yet Every Day I’m Happy To Be Here

Day 23

A nice lady gave us a ride back to trail. She tried to give us an entire uncut cantaloupe and we had to explain why an entire uncut cantaloupe is not something we want to take with us.

We had a long, exposed hike on a dirt road. A couple driving around on a four-wheeler gave us the berry report for the area. Spoiler alert: not good. It’s supposedly been the greenest summer Montana has had in a while, but the berries are not currently thriving.

Unofficial signs helping us find our way.

Day 25

We took our time this morning packing up, even carving out time to meditate in the sun. This spot was so beautiful it made me want to just sit and stare, taking in every single detail that together created such a magical place.

Cowboy camp on Blizzard Hill featuring a beautiful sunset.
A moose visited our camp in the evening.

We decided to take the Anaconda cut off route to save time because we are concerned about getting through Colorado before October. This route took us through beautiful meadows on dirt roads.

Montana = cool fences, cow pastures, mountains and meadows

As we got closer to town, the sun got higher and the trees became scarce. A house along the dirt road lets hikers fill up their water bottles with the garden hose. We were quite thankful for that trail angel. The dirt road turned to pavement, and this was the part of the route we were dreading. About eight miles from town, someone offered to give us a ride the rest of the way, and we accepted. We ate DQ and set up camp at the hiker hut with the other hikers in town. The hiker hut is a big shed with electrical outlets, bikes, a microwave, hiker box, etc. The public pool is next door and allows hikers to use the shower and toilet. It’s a great resource. I love when towns have stuff like this. This is a great example of a hiker friendly town.

Town deer 🙂

Day 26

This morning we borrow the hiker hut’s bikes to go get breakfast at McDonald’s and a few resupply items at the grocery store. Anaconda is a neat little town. Once a big mining town, now a small town with beautiful old buildings and an abandoned train station. We are in no hurry to do anything fast and finally meandered out of town around noon. We don’t get a ride this time, so we endure another road walk on paved road, then dirt road, then paved, then dirt, until we get to a trail head.

Taking refuge in the shade with Smokey

As soon as we are on trail again, we are immediately immersed into a pine forest. Walking in the trees again made me happy. We walked until the sun set. We set up camp on a soft bed of pine, next to a lake, under a large smattering of pine trees. What a spot! The mosquitoes also agreed this spot was pretty cool.

Day 27

Another slow morning. We enjoyed the lake view from our cozy quilt for an extra hour or so before finally packing up. We went by three beautiful lakes today. The second lake had a nice jumping rock that we couldn’t resist. Storm Lake was absolutely freezing but drying off in the warm sun afterwards made it feel worth it.

Ketchup Daddy taking a trail bath

We had a few good climbs today including Cutaway Pass, Rainbow Mountain, and Storm Lake Pass. The hiking today was prime. The climbs were difficult, but the views were vast. I wished the trail would keep us up on the ridges, but after every climb we eventually descended to the valleys again.

Day 28

I try to not falsely portray my experience on trail. Most the pictures I post and stories I tell are all rainbows and sunshine, but a thru-hike is not always lovely. Some days I don’t feel like hiking, yet every day I am happy to be here. Most days I hike with a smile, but some days are a struggle to try to be in a good mood. Today was one of those days. I woke up exhausted. I’ve been so tired these past couple days which most likely correlates with the feeling that this stretch has been the most challenging so far. I thought this difficulty may be because we’ve been steadily increasing our daily miles, or maybe I need to increase my calorie intake, or maybe I need to drink more water, or maybe … all the above. When we were packing up it started to rain but thankfully it didn’t last long. We were able to sit under our tyvek tree fort until it was done for the most part.

We did a lot of climbing today and my pace was slow as a molasses. I had to stop and catch my breath at every other switchback. I felt so weak, which contributed to my bad mood. We stayed above 7,000 feet elevation all day, mostly at 8,000 – 9,000. This is the highest elevation we’ve been hiking at since Glacier. I tried to force myself to enjoy the views, but unfortunately, I took today for granted and succumbed to my negative mentality.

Day 29

Today’s terrain was not as hard as yesterday’s. We stayed up on the ridge line and only had a few small climbs. We went through a large burn section with lots of dead trees in the trail to climb over. My attitude is just meh. I’m still feeling pretty exhausted and just slowly chugging along, while Ketchup Daddy is doing THE MOST and picking up the burnt trees and moving them out of the way as he’s hiking down the trail. We discovered an alternate trail that will cut off about five miles, takes us out of the burn section, and has more water sources so obviously we took that route.

Day 30

We hiked through the valley until we got to a road. There were a couple different ways we could go from there. We ended up walking a dirt road that led to the paved road we could hitch at into Wisdom, MT. Toughest hitch yet since there was not much traffic. We stood there for around two hours when finally two forestry guys we had passed on trail earlier in the day gave us a ride on their way into town. Wisdom, MT is super small and the business operating hours are irregular, but we were able to do/get everything we needed to and everyone was very nice and accommodating.

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