Week 15. Finishing The CDT Thru-Hike & Triple Crown. Glacier National Park.
The Beginning of the End.
Hiking out of the Bob and into Glacier was a huge mental page turn. I realized that this was it. The suffering and joy of the last 100 days was coming to completion. And the culmination of thru-hiking the AT, PCT, and CDT magnified those reflections.
My body walked on auto pilot as my mind contemplated the complexity and simplicity of it all. Complexity in the way of planning the trip, overcoming obstacles, physical and mental wellbeing. These things had broken me and rebuilt me. The simplicity of waking, walking, eating, and sleeping. And repeating these through beauty and brutality. These have made me believe in impossible things.
And so I came into East Glacier with a peaceful mind ready for the icing on top that Glacier National Park could give.
Glacier National Park
The hike into Two Medicine was the perfect transition. The first pass displayed snow and colorful rock formations. A dead tree bleached white stood strong on the way down to the camp. It represented to me of an old life dead but still standing in the harsh and happy landscape.
I came to the backcountry permit station and planned out my trek to the Canadian border. I was going to both Waterton Lake and Chief Mountain terminuses. The ranger didn’t like that I was hiking alone, over 25 mile days, and without bear spray but she gave me my permit after watching the backcountry movie. I took a mental note from the movie that “if the bear eats you, fight back.”
I met some thru-hikers and camped with them at the site. It was fun to talk hiking lingo with seasoned hikers. We laughed into the sunset and then went to our seperate tents.
The morning was rainy but I set out anyway. I went the wrong way but after a mile I got back on track passing by glaciers then down into a old burn. Far from trailheads in a place not as beautiful I had the path to myself.
Red Eagle Lake
When I came to my campsite I was surprised to find crunch and pocket rocket. Two hikers that I’d been leap froging. We ate, talked, and then hung our bear bags. I made a small campfire and was hypnotized by its dancing flames.
The next day they were gone. But I was glad they went first. Because they cut through the morning cobwebs and took the brunt of the car wash (wet vegetation). The views of waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, & a tunnel were amazing.
I came to Many Glacier and went into the lodge. There was a grand piano there so I played a Bach prelude. After a little music I headed over and had some pizza at the cafe. Pocket rocket and crunch were there too. It was the last time I would see them.
In the morning I hiked out and found out from other hikers that a bear went into someone’s tent. The park was closing down the campground.
I took an alternate route that led me through Ptarmigan tunnel. It was a cool feeling to walk through the mountain. The jade colored lakes sparkeled in the sunny wind on my way down to my campsite.
Stoney Indian pass
Waterfalls and glaciers were everywhere. Some huckleberries made for a great breakfast snack but between eating, yelling, “hey bear” & hiking uphill I was out of breath. Grizzlies were spotted in the area so I was a bit nervous.
A black bear was walking down the trail in front of me at Waterton Lake. It looked over its shoulder not caring that I was behind. I kept my distance then it disappeared into the brush.
Arriving at my last campsite I set up my tent then headed to the Canadian border. After 105 days of hiking I felt something brewing in me. It was the same feeling of finishing the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail.
When I got to the border I touched the monument. It felt like a static shock. Memories of the journey flashed by. Smells of rain on sage, stings of bloody injuries, laughter of friendships, joy of incredible sights… Many sensations filled my senses.
A Canadian family took my picture. After they left I could feel tears well up. The quiet walk back to camp was reflective. A peace swept over me and I found myself in great spirits.
Out of the Wilderness
The next day I hiked out to Chief Mountain. It was the other terminus on the Canadian border. I caught a hitch in a van back to East Glacier. My train ticket back home was for the next day. So I got a bottle of wine and headed up to the hostel.
The hostel was hopping with thru-hikers. It was fun to visit with everyone. But after finishing my celebratory wine I was incapable of setting up my tent. So I cowboy camped on the lawn. The stars looked just right.
To combat post trail depression I’ve begun trainning and planning for my “Run Across America.” I can’t wait to get on my next adventure.
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Congratulations on finishing your CDT hike and completing your Triple Crown. Enjoyed your excellent journal journal.
David Odell AT71 PCT72 CDT77