Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Day 134- Disappointment

Sunday August 26, 2016
Straight Creek to S. Fork Sun River
15ish Miles
Total Miles: 2507.5
Elevation: 4,670 ft

Today started off as a fun day. Since we were camped close to the road we needed to hitch into town from we were able to sleep in. We also took our time getting out of camp. We didn’t leave until almost eight o’clock. Once we made it to the road we walked a few miles to Benchmatk Ranch. Some hikers sent packages to the Ranch, but I didn’t like their rules so I decided to hitch 30 miles on a dirt road into the town of Augusta. Benchmark Ranch required a $25 fee for holding a box. The box had to be a certain size and sent three weeks ahead of time. Payment for holding the box had to be sent in the form of a check. The owners of the ranch were also charging money $5/hr to charge your electronics. That was just too much for me. After waiting a twenty minutes for a ride we saw a car coming in the opposite direction. All of a sudden Enigma jumped out. He had gotten ahead of us and was heading back to the trail. We talked for a few minutes before he left. The girl driving him said she would pick us up on the way back. We hoped to catch up to Enigma tomorrow. 

The seventeen year old girl that gave us a ride was really nice. She had her dog with her. During the drive to town the dog startled her when it jumped into the front seat with me. The girl veered off the side of the road. The car was seconds from rolling over and crashing when she skillfully recovered. For a second we all thought we were going to die. Just goes to show you that we are actually safer on the trail. The rest of the ride went by quickly. We were dropped off at a local diner called Mel’s. We had to wait for a table to be cleaned. While we waited we scouted for a place to charge our electronics. This town stop would be another in and out, our top priority was eating and charging up our power packs. I had a half breakfast: 1 egg, 1 sausage, half a hash brown, 1 piece of toast. I went with the smaller portion to save room for s huge pancake. It was the perfect amount of food. 

Yesterday we got the bad news about the Brownstone Fire closure. We weren’t too happy about that closure, but we came to terms with it. The reality of hiking out west in this day and age is having to deal with fire closures. While we were researching the alternate route we discovered that the cdt is closed in Waterton. That was a major blow. The trail ends at the Northern Terminus in Waterton National Park. We had just found out that we wouldn’t be able to finish at the official ending point! Everyone was quite as they absorbed the impact of the closure. As of today there is an alternate route that will allow us to end in Canada, but it is not the same. I’m still trying to process this news. I’m extremely disappointed. Ending at the Chief Mountain border crossing will have to suffice. It is almost fitting that this hike will end on an alternate. 

Dental hygiene is important

After breakfast we walked next door to resupply. The tricky thing about alternates is figuring out the difference in mileage. Our best guess is that the Bob Marshall alternate route is about twenty miles shorter than the official route. I bought four days of food and I hope we guessed the mileage right. The next twenty five miles will be tough to figure out. I don’t have the greatest map of the area and the alternate is not on my Guthook map. Hopefully following the Forest Service route will be easy. 

Not the best map

We managed to get our town chores done quickly. We ate, resupplied, and charged our electronics in a little over three hours. We could have paid a shuttle to take us back to the trail, but it was expensive. No way I was paying $60 for us to get back to the trail. We made a sign that said CDT hikers to Bemchmark. A lot of cars passed us by. Eventually a white truck stopped. Coincidentally it was the same guy who gave PiƱata and Straws a ride into Lincoln. He was on his way somewhere else, but said if we were still there when he came back in ten minutes he would give us a ride. We decided to continue trying to hitch while we waited. Unbelievably the very next vehicle stopped. We piled into Ron’s truck. He had a boxer puppy riding in the back. The puppy was adorable. Ron was on the way to Benchmark trailhead to pick his sister up from a backpacking trip. He was a much better driver. I noticed that everyone was wearing their seatbelts this time around. 

Hiker trash hitching at its finest 

We started hiking just before three o’clock. Even with getting our town chores done quickly we got a later start than we would have liked. Two hours of round trip driving and time spent hitching slowed us down. We started off on the official cdt, but the alternate rapidly approached. I don’t care for hiking without a good map or gps waypoints. Z is the only one who has a decent idea of how this whole thing comes together. He has a pretty good gps app with a good map on his phone. We did s few more riddles at the start of the alternate. We are getting pretty good and typically find the answer quickly. 

Partial boundary sign seemed appropriate for hiking part of The Bob

Wet stream crossing

Terrain for the day 

Z running out of rocks to step on

We weren’t too happy with the wet stream crossings. Z tried to make his way across the first one and ran out of rocks half way across. The forecast calls for rain all day tomorrow so I don’t think having wet shoes today will mater in the long run. 

Z and PiƱata setting the pace

Straws and I laughing about something 

Group selfie 

Sun River 

Cross country route finding 

Group shot inThe Bob 

We got off trail a few times before finding the correct path. We were looking for a place to camp for the night when we found the perfect spot. Unfortunately, someone had beaten us to it. As we passed we noticed that it was Larry Boy. We have been over lapping with him since Helena. He left us squeeze into his spot. We are nice and sheltered from the wind. We had a fun dinner together. I hope that we can continue to hike the right trail tomorrow. My disappointment has lessened a little. Now the name of the game is speed. We are all focused on finishing this trail before more trail is closed. Think fast thoughts with me. 

Campsite for the night 

“Some days you go bear hunting and you get eaten. Some days you come home with a nice rug to roll around on, and bear steaks. What they don't tell you as a kid is that sometimes you get the rug and steaks, but you also get some nice scars to go with them. As a child you don't understand that you can win, but that's it's not always worth the price. Once you understand and accept that possibility you become a real grown up, and the world becomes a much more serious place. Not less fun, but once you realize what can go wrong, it's a lot scarier to go hunting "bears".”
- Laurell K. Hamilton


  1. A scary ride into town! You are doing well dealing with the unpredictable changes in the last part of your CDT hike. Keeping good thoughts for you.

  2. Keep good thoughts on making it through. We have been very anxious to get a blog. Alternates can’t be at the ideal time. I really got a chuckle out of this quote. Dinner at club tonight and so many people asked about you. LU