Off to the post office as soon as they open to mail home the ice axe. Even if it’s only 7.5 ounces, just knowing it’s gone eases the burden of my pack. Toek and I met with Jug and newly named Switch to continue south on the CDT. Prophet had left earlier to get a head start. Oh, and there was another hiker who joined us – Fatboy – one of the many free range town dogs who inhabit East Glacier. He romped along with us as we walked even though we gave him no food. After a few miles we tried to yell at him to go home, but he was stubborn and kept going.
About 8 miles into our warm sunny day, the clouds moved in and started raining on us. The temperature soon dropped and it turned into snow! The combination of soaking wet foliage and frigid temperatures made walking cold and uncomfortable but there was nothing to do but keep moving forward. Bundled up and trudging along I looked up to see a large furry face round the corner of the trail in front of me and stop. A bear! As soon as I said ‘Hey Bear’ it turned tail and bolted away. Even though I never got to see more than its head and shoulders, I’m confident in the shape that it was a grizzly. Fatboy chased it, and we were terrified that would bring the bear back to us.
The sun finally peeked out and the snow stopped and we reached Maria’s Pass as a BNSF train lumbered by. Spotted a few boxcar tags from Whistleblower! There was also a nice continental divide billboard for photos. Ol’ Fatboy the dog was still tagging along and even though it was nice to have him along, nobody cared to share their meager food supplies with this hairy freeloader. Luckily there was a pay phone at the pass, so Jug called the hostel in town and they sent a car to play dogcatcher. The last time the dog was in a car however, it was to be neutered, so he wouldn’t get in. There was a brief chase and he ran away, so we hiked off before he could follow us again and the hostel folks continued trying to lure him into the car. 15 miles on the CDT – not bad for your first day, pooch!
Our troop of five continued on, the trail now a muddy jeep track through the woods. With the weather being so fickle it was an easy decision to take the low route along the Two Medicine River. Ended the day at a large backcountry hunting camp, roughly two hours after we had cooked our dinners. Cooking and then hiking on puts your tempting heated food odors miles away from where you sleep. It’s a safe way to camp in bear country.
Six days of food in my pack to get me to the next re-supply 125 miles away. Even though my knee has me hiking slower than usual it should work out just fine. I’m tempted to hitch into the town of Helena to see a doctor and get an opinion regarding my pain. Unfortunately I can’t afford to wait around town for days to get an appointment, so we’ll see what happens when I get there.
- Starting Location: A new hiker joins the group
- Destination: Two Medicine River