Sunday, August 24, 2014

Anaconda to Roger's Pass

(We have finished the CDT for this summer and are currently back in Flagstaff.  Due to a lack of wifi the last few sections we are still posting our blogs in order.  This post covers the section from Anaconda to Glacier.)

Trestle Bridge hidden near the trail
The hike out of Anaconda was not the most pleasant experience we have had on the trail. We spent another 9 miles walking paved highway with little shade before crossing under I-90 and switching to dirt. It was very tempting to jump in the Clark Fork River and float to Missoula from there, but the area was trying to be returned to wetlands so water travel was restricted. We ended up doing another 11 miles that day on well traveled dirt roads before settling down.

At this point we were in a conundrum. We had enough food for 5 days but the section was short enough for us to comfortably do in 3 full days. The problem was that the Elliston PO closed at 11:15 on Saturday (day 3) and we needed to hitch down into town. Our original plan was to zero on the trail Sunday since it was also closed then, but we didn't see an enticing zero option on the trail. So, we decided to do a 40 mile day and get in to Elliston in time on Saturday.

The 40 day actually went pretty well. The trail was a lot of dense lodge pole pine cleared out about three feet on either side so we felt like we were hiking down a hallway for miles at a time with no perspective on distance. We had a few miles of dirt road and few miles of bush whacking. But the greatest thing was not hurting the next day. Last year our 40 sidelined us for two days. The next day we got up early and hiked the last 9 miles to MacDonald Pass. Along the way I picked handfuls of berries before catching up. Delicious, yes, but I did miss most of the bear that Sara saw as she came over a hill.
Setting up the Big Agnes Copper Spur for the first time

We made it to MacDonald Pass above Elliston around 9:15 so had two hours to get to the post office.  We decided that I would start hiking the seven miles to the pass and Sara would try to hitch so if she couldn't get a ride then I would still be there in time to get our box.  To help me hike quicker I gave Sara the tent and took the swedish fish and started off.  After about a mile a car came by honking.  Sara's hitchhiking skills were still above par and she grabbed a ride for both of us with a couple very active in the Montana Wilderness Association. We got our box without issue, but realized that in all the excitement of getting a hitch, the tent did not make it into the car and was still on the side of the road.  Bill and Marita (our ride) gave us a ride back up to the pass to find it, but it had already disappeared into the wild.  Fortunately Bill and Marita were the greatest people to have around in this situation and they gave us a ride the other direction to Helena (calling police, sheriff, and outdoor shops for lost tents along the way) so we could replace our shelter at The Basecamp.  The staff at The Basecamp was also incredibly helpful and helped us find a new tent, let us leave our packs in the back while we found huckleberry and white chocolate mint ice cream, and watch Guardians of the Galaxy (you should see it). The hard goods buyer even drove us back up to the pass when we were ready to leave town.  So despite having a very stressful day after an exhausting stretch, we met some great people who saved the day.  
Bit smoky but still a beautiful trail to Roger's Peak

That night we camped in the campground at the pass before setting out towards Roger's Pass for our next stretch.  The first couple days of this section we spent a lot of time on hot dirt roads and had plenty of opportunities to test out our new tent in evening rains.  The first two days of this section were difficult to get through.  We were both still a bit tired from our 40 mile adventure and stressful day in Helena, and we didn't feel a need to press the miles since Taylor would be meeting us at Roger's Pass on Monday night/Tuesday morning.  The last day to Roger's Pass was beautiful, however.  We popped out on a beautiful ridge with storm clouds constantly threatening a downpour and wind that allowed no tree to grow more than three vertical feet.  The view was incredible though. The east side of the trail was lined with cliff faces that fell away to the plains of eastern Montana, while the west and north led to the Bob Marshall Wilderness.  By this point Sara was feeling pretty tired, but the the cooler weather had helped me throughout the afternoon and I felt ok enough to scurry up to the top of Roger's Peak and get one last look around before dropping to huckleberry elevation and the pass.  We camped next to the highway waiting for Taylor through another night of rain and a rare night of traffic noise before heading up to Glacier for our last section.  

(We will try and get the post up from our last section in the next couple days.  For now,

Happy Trails,

Forrest and Sara)

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