Coyote Gulch 

There’s all kinds of ways to explore Coyote Gulch. This is the hike I did on the weekend of 11/3-11/5/17. Starting at the Hurricane Wash trailhead we did a 25 Mile round trip and it was really cool. 

Friday morning QB and I found some omelettes in Panguitch, UT then drove over to Bryce Canyon NP. Bryce was cool, a lot to see even on a short walk through the canyon and up along the rim(to see pictures  of Bryce Canyon check out my instagram @endlesspsummer). From Bryce we drove to the town of Escalante and stopped at the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument Visitor Center(that’s a mouthful, from now on I’ll refer to the area as: GSENM). We talked to the rangers at the VC and got a little info about the area plus our permits and wag bags(portable toilets). There’s no pooping in the canyon so wag bags are required, I’ve never used one and hope that streak continues. From the town we drove 4 miles to Hole in the Rock Road and followed it for 34 miles to a little parking area at the Hurricane Wash trailhead. This was a slow going, bumpy, and rocky dirt road. 4wd is encouraged but the Mazda 3 that I rented got us there, fingers crossed we make it back. It’s important to check the odometer on Hole in the Rock Road because the little pull off is easy to miss and there’s no reception down that way. We got to the trailhead at Hurricane Wash around sunset and walked less than half a mile before we set up for the night. Had I known better I would have night hiked further and found a canyon to camp in to keep out some of the wind. 

Saturday morning we started walking down Hurricane Wash and it wasn’t long before canyon walls grew up around  us and a trickle of water developed at our feet. After about 5 miles the wash reaches a confluence with Coyote Creek where we took a right into Coyote Gulch. The creek twists and turns for 7+ miles before joining the Escalante River which eventually turns into Lake Powell. Along the way it created huge red rock canyon walls, a land bridge that we walked under and a few natural arches. We also saw ancient ruins of a cliff dwelling just upstream of the  land bridge and about 3/4 of a mile after the bridge there are American Indian pictographs on the canyon wall. Shortly after the pictographs there’s a cairn marking a short trail to Black Lagoon. We checked out this reflecting pool that was home to hanging gardens high up on the wall. For the majority of this hike the trail is  flat and simple until we were about a mile or two from the Escalante River. It gets a little dicey towards the end but there’s nothing too tricky, just be prepared to get your feet wet. There’s a handful of ways to get down to Coyote Gulch and there are ways to do this hike as a loop but we went with the out and back option. We turned around from the river and walked back about 5 miles to Jacob Hamblin Arch. I think this is the most impressive feature of the whole trip. We found a spot to camp next to a canyon wall just downstream of the arch. The weather was decent enough to cowboy camp, so even with a bit of an overhang we have a view of the arch and also a slice of the starry Utah sky. Add in the soothing sound of the creek plus the soft, flat, sandy ground and this just might be the greatest campsite of all time. Jacob Hamblin Arch Jacob Hamblin ArchLandbridge! Pictographs or petroglyphs The Black LagoonHanging gardens I want to live in a cliff dwelling so bad but this one is falling apartMilk Jug Arch 

On Sunday we got up from our arch view campsite and walked upstream a couple miles back to Hurricane Wash. The trail follows the wash for about 5 miles to the parking area. Slowly the canyon walls got smaller and smaller and the stream dried up and transformed back into the sandy desert. Once back at the car we drove towards some slot canyons a few miles away and spent the afternoon exploring those. 

Spooky and Peekaboo Canyons; you have to be really slippery to get through these slot canyons

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Zion Traverse 

Let me preface this post by saying Zion is an absolutely magical place and well worth the visit. If you’re a regular reader of this blog you may have noticed I tend to put a positive spin on most places but this time I really mean it. The Zion Traverse aka the Trans Zion trail is roughly 48 Miles that many people run in one shot but Queen B and I decided to enjoy it as a multi day backpacking trip. With good planning it is very runable. I highly recommend this hike. 

Day 1     10/31/17     5 Miles

This morning, after climbing out of Goldstrike Canyon, QB and I started driving towards Utah. We stopped in Boulder City to eat fish tacos at the famous ‘Coffee Cup’ then proceeded to Zion NP, about 2–3 hours away. Pulling off the highway at the visitors center we got permits for a couple nights in the backcountry then drove up to the Lees Pass trailhead. The traverse is a 48 Mile tour through the park that many people run in one shot. Running it sounds fun but this time the plan is to backpack it over the course of 2+ Days. From Lees Pass we walked about 5 miles along the La Verken Creek Trail and got to campsite #6 right at sunset. From the beginning the scenery has been spectacular. The soft dirt path we walked on was nice and easy and well graded and there were views of huge red mountains all over the place. Tonight is clear, cool, and calm so we decided to cowboy camp. Hopefully being Halloween and everything this canyon isn’t haunted. If you ever do this hike make sure to check out the swimming hole at campsite #6 and get here early enough in the day to swim. 

Day 2     11/1     25 Miles 

Cowboy camping in the canyon was pretty cozy although the cool air woke me up a couple times. I’d rather sleep through the night but each time I woke up I was rewarded with a sky full of stars and some awesome shooters. The light of day didn’t reach us until close to 8am so I ended up sleeping in a little by default. From our campsite we walked about a mile until we reached a side trail to Kolob Arch. This added another mile plus to our day but the natural arch was worth checking out. Once back on trail we climbed a little then dropped into Hop Valley. This place was awesome! We followed a creek as it serpentined through a red rock canyon with cottonwood trees wearing yellow foliage. From Hop Valley we took the Connector trail that had some great views of distant rock formations then walked along Wildcat Canyon. I still have yet to see a big cat in the wild. Eventually we climbed up onto a plateau and followed the West Rim trail to our home for the night; campsite #5. It got breezy and chilly on the plateau so once we got to our site we bundled up and from a cliff watched the sunset over a landscape unlike anything that I’ve ever seen before. 

Day 3     11/2     19 Miles 

Right away this morning we enjoyed an impressive sunrise from the plateau then began our descent along the West Rim trail and into Zion Canyon. The fall colors of the park combined with the colors of the canyon were so cool. Early November is a great time to be hiking here; the crowds are thinner, the air is cool and good for hiking, and the foliage is worth seeing. The West Rim Trail passes right by the notorious Angel’s Landing Trail so QB and I decided to take a little detour. Angel’s Landing is an extremely narrow trail to a rocky outcropping in the middle of Zion Canyon. There are chains built in to the ground to make it safer but it’s still pretty gnarly, plus there’s lots of people getting in the way and stuff because it’s so popular. I mean it was scary and everything but it didn’t stand a chance of derailing us and was a great little side trip. From Angel’s Landing we walked down about a million switchbacks to the Grotto in the canyon floor. There was a mile of road to our next trailhead and since there was no trail along the road, we took the shuttle up to Weeping Rock TH. From here we power walked up a ton of switchbacks to get out of the canyon. It was about ten more scenic miles along canyons to the east entrance of the park where we ended our hike. So many tourists just go to the attractions in Zion Valley, while those are cool, there is so much more to see in this park and the Traverse is a great way to experience it. According to the ranger who gave us our permits, the east side of the park is the “Bitchinest!” We got to the East Entrance just before 5pm and got 3 quick hitches back to our car an hour and a half away in Kolob Canyon(1 from a kid who grew up in the town next to me in Mass). It was hitchhiking as it should be, it wouldn’t have worked out better if we had booked a shuttle ahead of time. 

 

Olympic Peninsula, WA

9/11.    The day after finishing the CDT Queen B and I spent our time in East Glacier relaxing, eating food, hanging out with other hikers and waiting for the train. It was cool because a lot of hikers were either just finishing up their hike or getting into town and about to go into Glacier NP. From East Glacier we took an overnight Amtrak to Seattle. I’ve never taken a long distance train and the ‘Empire Builder’ runs from Chicago to Seattle and I guess has a lot of history. It was a relaxing way to travel. There was a half dozen other hikers so for awhile we hung out together in the observation car. Back in the seat I was able to spread out better than I would on a plane and got some halfway decent sleep. It was something like a 15 hour ride though so even though it was fun and comfortable I think I would still prefer a flight. Supposedly

9/12     When we got into Seattle I heard from Little Spoon and Moaglee who were spending the day in the city before flying to Alaska that night. QB and I met up with them for lunch and got all caught up on each other’s hikes since we last saw them about a month ago. After lunch we had to run a couple errands in town then took the light rail south of the city and got picked up at the train station by our friend Malibu. We went out for Hawaiian food in West Seattle and walked around Lincoln Park. Mali put us up in his van for the night and I slept so hard! Met up with Moaglee and Little Spoon when our paths crossed in SeattleMalibu’s sweet van/spare bedroomMali

9/13     In the morning Malibu cooked a delicious breakfast casserole then dropped us off at the ferry terminal in downtown Seattle. We took the ferry over to Bainbridge Island then did a little walking before catching a hitch for about a dozen miles in a tiny Smart Car. Our next hitch was from Andy, a Seattle Firefighter, who makes a 2.5 hr commute from his home in Port Angeles. It was a great ride! He brought us exactly where we needed to go; the ranger station in PA. We got set up with permits for a couple nights on the Olympic Coast then resupplied, ate a late lunch, and started making our way towards Rialto Beach. A county bus drove us down some windy roads towards Forks for a couple hours before letting us out and we got a ride in the back of a pickup the rest of the way. We got to the beach right around sunset and walked a mile north on the coast before camping. It was awesome! Beautiful sunset and a very nice night camping in the woods just next to the beach. A gigantic shipSeattle waterfront on the ferry going towards Bainbridge IslandRialto Beach 

9/14     Today was a great day. I did a backpacking trip along this coast in the spring of ’14 and loved it. Since then I’ve always wanted to come back. Today we walked north for about 20 miles along beaches, tide pools, and rocky coastline. There’s a bunch of headlands that we had to get out and around which can be dangerous at high tide so using a tide chart and doing a little paying attention was important. In a few places we had to go inland a little bit and hike overland even using some ropes and in a couple places crawling through natural tunnels. The weather was absolutely perfect today, not a cloud in the sky with a cool ocean breeze once in awhile and warm enough to jump into the ocean for an afternoon dip. A few years ago when I was out here I saw a ton of bald and golden eagles. Although we only saw one bald eagle today, there were a bunch of other animal sightings. We saw two black bears at different times walking out on the coast eating seaweed or whatever. A few deer, 4 sea otters, a close encounter with a seal and a bunch of dead stuff that washed up on shore including an octopus, a seal, 2 sea lions, and some kind of shark or something.  Around sunset we found ourselves a campsite in some woods next to the ocean. For the second night in a row I fell asleep to the sound of waves crashing against the shore. A man among buoys

9/15     From our campsite by the beach we walked about a mile north to Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the Continental U.S. We followed a trail inland for about 3 miles through a forest and came out at the Ozette Lake trailhead. The ranger in Port Angeles the other day told us this was a busy trailhead and we shouldn’t have trouble getting a ride out. Dude didn’t know what he was talking about. After 4 hours of relaxing by the roadside we got picked up by the 4th car that passed us. No big deal, there was a blackberry bush nearby that kept me busy and a huge bald eagle soared overhead. It was another firefighter that ended up driving us about 20 miles to the intersection with the busier rt 112. As we were getting dropped off, the bus to Forks was pulling up. Perfect timing! During the 40 minute ride to Forks we picked up a hiker and immediately I thought he looked familiar. It was Funjumper, I met him in Belden, CA in ’15. He didn’t remember me and may have even doubted that I remembered him until I recalled that he was from Quebec. Anyway he just finished the Pacific Northwest Trail that goes 1200 miles starting in Glacier and ending out here on the coast. When we got into Forks the town was bumping with Twilight fans, they were having some kind of festival for the book series. QB and I got some Chinese food then resupplied at a supermarket before putting our thumbs out to get out of town. After a couple minutes, Stephanie picked us up and drove us about 40 minutes down the coast. As we were driving by the ocean we saw a bunch of cars pulled over and looking out towards the water. From her car we could see whales breaching and raising their fins out of the water. Stephanie pulled over and the 3 of us walked down to the beach to get a better look. We saw a bunch of what we learned were grey whales close to shore and what they were doing was scraping barnacles off their backs on the ground. So cool! I guess it’s very rare. QB and I got a ride a little ways further to Kalaloch CG which was full but luckily had a hiker walk-in site.like 12 blackberries see that fin out there? I swear it’s a grey whale you can walk right under this tree 

9/16     After we packed up this morning we walked down to the beach again to check on the whales. Still there, doing their thing. We ate some breakfast burritos at a gas station, then walked over to get some info at the Kalaloch ranger station. Ideally I’d like to do a traverse of the whole Olympic park but they’re getting some serious rain in the next few days so we might do a shorter hike in case we have to bail early. Since we can only get permits from certain ranger stations we had to hitch south to Quinault. We got a 30 minute ride from Paul and Ron to exactly where we needed to go and got things taken care of. The rangers at Quinault were former thru hikers and much more helpful. From Quinault we had to get back up north to the Hoh rain forest. Oatmeal, a ranger and former thru hiker, drove us for about an hour then Elsie, a Belgian woman on holiday, brought us the rest of the way. I know I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again; as long as there are cars, hitching with QB is pretty easy. From the Hoh visitor center we walked 10 miles along a nice flat trail through an incredible rain forest. It’s green, mossy, and the trees are enormous. I can show you pictures but you really have to see it for yourself. We got to the Olympus Guard Station where there’s a bunch of sites and called it a day. Really hoping the rain holds off or at least isn’t too bad.swam here in the Hoh River this tree fell down and became a bridgesee? 

9/17     This morning we blasted up a long 7 mile climb to the High Divide. The weather was cool and cloudy until we got to the top and it got a bit more rainy and the clouds were moving in. Even with the weather we still had some great views of Mt Olympus and the Olympic range. There is some seriously beefy mountains over here. We hiked through 7 lakes basin and down to a beautiful lush green forest with giant trees. Oh and I saw 10 black bears today! All from a distance but they were everywhere. From the forest we had another stiff climb up to Appleton Pass and up there it started to rain a little harder and get colder. I knew I had hot springs waiting for me at the end of the day but the last 5 miles down from the pass were cold and wet. Not my favorite weather. At the Boulder Creek campsite we met and ate supper with Dustbunny and Tickled Pink, who are about a hundred miles from finishing their thruhike of the PNT. It was fun to hear about their hike and that trail and since they’ve also hiked the CDT and PCT we knew some of the same people. After we got set up and ate we walked down to the Olympic Hot Springs. Finally I could warm up. These springs were awesome! There’s like 7 or 8 rock pools that are built up around natural springs and most are pretty hot. After a cold rainy day this is exactly what I needed. Hoh Lakeso many black bears!beefy Olympic MountainsHigh DivideSeven Lakes Basinloving this forestbut it can be hard to see it through all these treesso green!Olympic Hot Springs

9/18     Overnight it rained and my tent didn’t do a great job keeping me dry. I was cold and didn’t sleep that well but I didn’t have much to do and was close to the hot springs so I could just go relax in those all day. It was really nice. A perfect day to just sit and soak in the warm sulfury smelling water. It’s only a 2 or 3 mile trail from a trailhead parking lot so besides the people that are camped at the Boulder Creek site, a fair amount of people just walk the short hike in from their cars. We met some cool people and had a lot of fun just doing nothing all day. I didn’t want to get out of the hot water and my hands and feet got so pruned up that I worried if they would ever go back to normal. We could have stayed another night but since everything was soaked we made a quick decision to pack up and walk out around 5pm. At the trailhead we got a hitch from a couple from Montana that brought us about a half hour to Port Angeles where we found a cheap motel for the night. Hot springs are good for the soul, but everybody knows that

Canada!!!

Day 130     9/6/17   16 miles

So last night, before going back to the trail, a bunch of us went out to eat at the Mexican place in town and I have to say it wasn’t the best burrito I’ve ever had. The portions were good but then they covered it in like velveeta cheese or something, it was weird. I was talking to a couple there and the guy was a retired firefighter from Ohio. When I explained to them what we were up to he left the tip on our meal so that was cool. Thanks Tom! After supper QB and I hitched back to Marias Pass, where we got off trail earlier in the day, and found a spot in the woods to camp. 

This morning we got up and started cruising right into town. We crossed rt 2 and some railroad tracks and got into Glacier NP but since our permits don’t start until tomorrow night we’ll be walking back into East Glacier Village and spending the night there. From Marias Pass the trail kind of parallels the road and the tracks all the way to town. There wasn’t anything too spectacular to see from trail, or maybe there was, it was just too smoky to see  much of anything. About a mile from town I saw and heard a small dark brown bear crashing through the woods 15-20 feet to my right. It scared the bejesuses out of me but I recovered quickly. Once again QB didn’t see it but she did hear it. Current bear score 12-2 in my favor. We got to town and ate a couple times at the Two Medicine Grill, which I recommend.  I did laundry and showered for the first time in a week and got a room half off at the Circle R motel because it didn’t have a TV. Fine with me, I feel like hotel TV’s only play Forensic Files anyway. Smoky!Ran into Recalculating in town and he’s become quite feral since I first met him in New Mexico, his shoes look like they got struck by lightning This license plate has my name on itMe and QB and some tall guy 

Day 131     9/7     25 miles

Right away this morning QB and I devoured a huge breakfast at the Two Medicine Grill; omelettes, pancakes, hash browns, even a slice of pie. After breakfast we got back on trail and into Glacier NP starting with a nice stiff climb up to Scenic Point. For a while we walked with Recalculating, who unlike most thru hikers has a wife and 4 young kids at home, pretty awesome situation but not the norm out here. Glacier has been incredible so far, even with a blanket of smoke from the wildfires hanging in the air. I’d love to see this place on clear bluebird days so that’s why I’ll definitely have to come back. The smoke however, puts a whole new paint job on things and makes the mountains and the lakes look really cool. I’ll let the pictures below speak for themselves. Plus I saw a bunch of animals, a moose laying around in the grass and probably about 25 bighorn sheep including a little baby. We’re camping at the Atlantic Creek site and also camping here tonight are Garbelly and Critter who we’ve been keeping in touch with but haven’t seen since Winter Park.A couple of bros just chilling out

Day 132     9/8     25 miles

Today was the day! We hiked with Critter and Garbelly for most of the day and started off with a steep climb up to Triple Divide Pass. Although smoky, this was one of the most incredible passes I’ve ever been up and over. There’s three sides to Triple Divide Peak (just to the West of where we crossed); any water that lands on the west flows to the Pacific, water landing on the east flows to the Atlantic and water landing on the north flows to the Arctic Ocean. So cool! While climbing up the Pass, Critter spotted a moose down in the valley from at least a half mile away, then we had a bighorn sheep directly in front of us on trail and on our way down we saw 4 mountain goats way up on the side of a steep wall. The rest of the day the trail was pretty relaxed but there was lots of water. We stopped to jump off rocks into an awesome swimming hole at Red Eagle Creek. In the afternoon we walked along Lake St Mary which was tough to get a good view of because it was super smoky but it’s obviously a spectacular sight. I got another chance to swim at the bottom of Virginia Falls then we stopped again at St Mary Falls. Because of the wildfire situation, QB and I weren’t able to get our backcountry permits so tonight we had to hitch to Rising Sun CG where we’re camping at the hiker walk-in site. Ideally we wanted to camp in the backcountry for our last couple nights on trail but it’s no big deal, I’m just glad the park is still open and I really hope it stays that way. This campground has a restaurant and we were able to get some good food, plus a couple guys that were eating there recognized that we were thru hiking and bought us dessert. Garbelly and Critter walking through the smokeTriple Divide Pass Cannonball!!!posing so hard Triple Divide Pass Swam where the mountain dolphins live St Mary Falls 

Day 133     9/9     14 miles

Before leaving Rising Sun we grabbed some sweet potato pancakes at the restaurant. It’s so tough to pass up a good meal when it’s close by. We had a short 14 mile day until the next campground so we weren’t in a hurry. Once on trail we climbed way up to Piegan Pass and the views were just awesome. I know I said yesterday that Triple Divide Pass might have been the most impressive pass I ever climbed but that title only stood for a day. Today the smoke had cleared some and we had some better views. It really was amazing. It was super windy on the way down but that probably helped get some of the smoke out of the area. We could see cascading waterfalls, aquamarine lakes, and jagged peaks all over. After we got down to the valley it was a relaxing 5 or 6 miles into Many Glacier, another front country campground with a store and restaurant. There’s lots of other thru hikers here tonight also. Garbelly and Critter, Maine Man, Flip Flop, Liam and Kate, Spindrift and James all are camping here and planning to finish tomorrow. A bunch of us went to supper tonight and it was a lot of fun. It’s weird, I felt like there weren’t many hikers around for most of the trail but I’ve seen lots throughout Montana and especially the last couple hundred miles. They say nothing brings people together like a common enemy, like the school kids rallying together against the lunch lady. In this case it’s the wildfires causing the thru hikers to bunch up right at the end. Queen B. MacklemorePiegan PassSwiftcurrent Lake 

Day 134     9/10/17     20 miles

What a day! First of all last night was crazy windy, all night long blowing wicked loud. Even with my earplugs in I hardly slept and it seemed like everybody had the same problem. Even with minimal sleep everybody was still pretty jacked up for our last day. We set off with a big crew of hikers; Garbelly, Critter, Flip Flop, Liam and Kate. From Many Glacier we climbed up to Ptarmigan Pass that has a tunnel going 150 feet blasted through the Pass. It was awesome! We all chilled out up there for awhile enjoying the view, then went through to the other side and the trail down was absolutely spectacular! I can’t believe somebody decided to build a trail and this tunnel up here. We walked half a dozen more miles before coming across Dawn Mist Falls and took the little side trail to it. This was the last highlight of the trail and my last opportunity to jump into freezing cold water so of course I did. After the falls it was only 6 or 7 miles until the road and the border crossing at Chief Mountain. We crossed the border, did the damn thing, got our passports stamped, and took a bunch of pictures by the monument. From the border our friend had rides up to Calgary and QB and I hitched south. We got a fun ride from Ina, Karen, and Jules (an AT long distance hiker herself) back to East Glacier. There are lots of hikers in town and after pigging out at the restaurant we hung out with all them out front.  Breaking camp on our last morning Pride Rock?Ptarmigan PtunnelWalking out of the tunnelQB, Garbelly and Critter at Dawn Mist Falls Dawn Mist Falls A bunch of kids walking to CanadaThis trail was overwhelmingly dudes, it’s cool that we finished with 3 women; QB, Critter and Kate

Over the course of 134 days I walked roughly 2800 miles from one imaginary line to another (QB had her total mileage at 2795, I’ll go through my journals later but that seems acurate). The trail was significantly harder than I thought it would be, but also more incredible than I could have ever imagined. Finishing the trail hasn’t exactly sunk in yet and I’m sure it will take a while to digest. I’ll have it forever and I will look back fondly at this summer on the CDT. The fact that there are so few hikers on the trail makes for a  tighter knit community. Probably like going to a small high school or something. I met some great people out here that I look forward to seeing again. Oh yeah, I will definitely be back here too. The CDT introduced me to so many great places that I definitely plan to explore more.

 I have so much gratitude for everybody who helped me get through this trail; trail angels, folks who gave me rides, people who took me in and fed me or gave me a place to crash for a night, friends who came out to hike with me, all the support I’ve got from this blog and encouragement from friends following my hike online (it holds me accountable in a way, a good way, and provides motivation to finish this grueling hike). Thank you to my parents and family for their continued love and support and especially to my hiking partner Queen B who made this summer so much fun and without her, I would not have made it.

-Endless

PS All My Love!!! And thanks for reading 

PPS from East Glacier we are catching a train to Seattle and hiking for a few more weeks. The train should be fun, I don’t think I’ve ever taken anything longer than the commuter rail from Lynn to Boston. Originally we planned on hiking the last 350 miles of the PCT so QB could finish her triple crown but due to fires might have to come up with an alternative plan. Stay tuned there should be more posts in the next few weeks. And seriously thanks for reading, it has been a pleasure writing this blog and I appreciate the feedback I’ve got. If you want to see different pictures feel free to follow me on instagram @endlesspsummer

East Glacier Park, MT

Day 124     8/31     32 miles

After getting into town yesterday the rest of the afternoon proved to be very productive.  First of all we had to estimate our mileage for the rest of the trail then QB was able to get all our backcountry permits squared away for Glacier NP next week. The staff she dealt with on the phone at Glacier were super helpful. Next we had to take care of some logistics pertaining to a little adventure we have planned for after the CDT. We resupplied, cleaned up, did laundry, then wolfed down racks of ribs for supper. No doubt impressed with our appetites, a few forest service workers at the table next to us gave us a huge bag of buffalo jerky and some candy for the trail. 

This morning we tried to get out early but it took a little while to get a hitch. After about 20 minutes 2 cars pulled over at once. The first was Dave, who stopped to pick us up, the second car was his wife who stopped to give him his cell phone that he forgot and also a piece of her mind. She was not happy about him forgetting his cell phone and she was not happy about him picking up hitchhikers either. It got a little awkward, but only for a second until we got away from her. Dave was really nice and drove us the 6 miles back to where we got off the reroute yesterday. The kicker was, he was on his way to pickup his Mother-in-law(Her Mother!), and drive her to an appointment, the ultimate hitchhiker. After Dave dropped us off we walked along a series of dirt roads and then 3 or 4 different trails for about 25 miles before we got back to the CDT north of the Alice Creek Fire. Luckily Queen B is a solid navigator and we had no problems finding our way along the reroute. It was actually quite pleasant, the trails were smooth, there wasn’t much smoke, and we came across Heart Lake, a great place to swim and eat lunch this afternoon. Once back on the official CDT we walked high on a ridge and it got super windy and smoky again. Supposedly there’s a lot of grizzlies up this way so we’re trying to use good bear country habits; we ate about an hour before we stopped to camp and then hung our food a good distance from where we’re sleeping. Hopefully the grizz don’t bother us. We’ve got a 180+ mile section until our next town and Glacier NP, so today was definitely a solid start. Walking out of Lincolnswam in beautiful Heart Lake skies are clear for awhile back on trail then smoky again see? 

Day 125     9/1     34 miles

I woke up in the middle of the night last night to what I thought was a bear outside my tent. In my half sleep I thought I heard sticks breaking and the sounds of a bear snorting and walking around. For about 10 minutes I was terrified but in reality it was probably a dream so I put in my earplugs and went back to sleep. Starting this morning we just crushed miles all day. The trail went up over a pass then followed a creek for most of the day. We went through a burn with very little shade so laying down in the icy cold creek this afternoon was very refreshing. Eventually we got to a trailhead and started taking a side trail to Benchmark Ranch where we had sent a resupply box a couple weeks ago. A couple picked us up and drove us a few miles to the ranch feeding us cold delicious watermelon during the ride(best food ever). At Benchmark we ran into Mac, Appa, and JPEG and those guys gave us the bad news of a brand new fire causing a trail closure up ahead. We hiked out with them this evening and we’ll try to figure out a way to get around the fire, hopefully it’s manageable and doesn’t involve a lot of road walking or add tons of extra miles. Around sunset we found a spot to camp just  north of the West Fork of the Sun River(500 feet north of the river if you’re a ranger reading this). 

Day 126     9/2     31 miles

First thing this morning I saw a bald eagle soaring over the river, I took this for a good sign. The five of us turned right off the CDT and got onto a trail along the North Fork of the Sun River hoping to skirt the fire to the east. It was a hot one out there, luckily I was able to jump in the river a few times because the trail was almost always exposed. After almost a full day of hiking we got to an intersection with a sign posted from a ranger directing us west back onto the CDT then south to Spotted Bear Pass and an alternate off of that. A couple miles later we stopped at a ranger station and got the word from them. Things aren’t looking good. There’s about 5 fires north of us, they’re spreading and the CDT is closed. There might be a slim chance of a reroute but that would bring us way west before going north and rejoining the CDT, if somehow all those trails stay open. The plan right now is to head south on the CDT back to Benchmark Ranch to re-evaluate, essentially doing a big loop through the Bob Marshall Wilderness. I don’t want to walk through a fire, or a closed trail, or get into some kind of situation where I’d need to get rescued and put somebody else’s life at risk. If over the course of the next day we get some good news that a new route has been developed to get through the wilderness we can continue north. As of right now we’ll probably have to hitch to East Glacier in a couple days and miss about 75 miles of trail. It’s a bummer but it’s not heartbreaking, a similar situation happened to me in ’15 on the PCT so I guess I’m used to it. Anyway after talking to the rangers we walked about five more miles before finding a nice campsite by Baldy Bear Creek. Saw an eagle flying over this and a beaver swimming in itNorth Fork of the SunAppa examining a swimming holeMac keeping his feet dry QB and Mac walking towards the firethe infrastructure in the BMW is impeccable 

Day 127      9/3     33 miles

Today was quite the day. First of all this morning we were all sitting around eating breakfast and Queen B saw something in the woods not too far from us that she thought was a small grizzly. I looked over and I saw something too, just real quickly that I thought was a big cat because of the way it moved (this is based on nothing though since I’ve never seen a big cat). We started hiking south at a relaxed pace because there was really no hurry to go back to Benchmark. We passed the Spotted Bear alternate and there was a map posted with a rat’s nest of closed trails but nothing about a reroute through the fires so we continued South back towards Benchmark. About a mile and a half later we ran into Griggs who was hiking north with a map, a plan, and some good info about a reroute from the forest service. This was some unexpected and really good news. Since nobody had service he air dropped us all pictures of the maps and the details of the ‘Schaefer Reroute.’ I turned around along with QB, JPEG, Mac and Appa and we all went north back up to the Spotted Bear trail and 10 miles down that way. At Pentagon Creek we talked to a forest service worker, who confirmed our route was safe from the fires, and we took a left heading west from there. We walked about 10 more miles to the base of Gunsight Peak and decided to put as much distance between us and the fires as we could. From there we night hiked for a couple hours to a saddle near the peak. It was a hot night and a steep climb. Once we got up top it was super windy and smoky and we were walking through an old burn with an almost full blood moon. I felt like I was on another planet. I’m glad I wasn’t camping alone because it was definitely spooky up there. Ran into Griggs and got some awesome news, figuring out the reroute north trying to walk out of the smoke

Day 128     9/4     29 miles

The light of day this morning put a whole new paint job on the apocalyptic world I went to sleep in last night. The burn we walked through was really crazy looking and we also got a good look at Gunsight Rock. We all stopped at a lake up there and took a nice long break, it was a relaxing morning since we walked so late last night. From the lake we carried on for about 10 miles to a river with a good swimming hole then walked a little further to the Schaefer work station and talked to the kids working in there. We carried on from there walking about 10 miles on a nice manicured trail through a lodge pole pine forest. At one point, while walking with Mac, I saw a big black bear that was safely way down in a ravine. QB and I usually always walk together but for some reason she never sees any bears. I’m not keeping score or anything but if I was it would be 11-2(not counting yesterday morning). We carried on to a road then walked about 3 more miles to the locked Challenge Cabin and camped in front of it.Gunsight RockGunsight Lake 

Day 129     9/5     8 miles

Woke up to a super cold morning and frozen shoes! No big deal, warmed up quickly and walked 8 miles to Marias Pass. Along with QB, I got a hitch to East Glacier Village in a Glacier NP tour bus. It was a sweet ride! I’ve been spending the day relaxing and eating in town. QB and I are planning on getting back to the Pass tonight, camping there, and then we’ll hike 15 miles of trail back to East Glacier tomorrow. Our National Park backcountry permits don’t start until September 7th so 2 short days will be very nice.thanks for the ride Ron! 

Lincoln, MT

Day 117     8/24     25 miles 

First thing this morning I put a nice beating on the continental breakfast at the Trade Wind Motel. It was a good one too, they had like 20 different boxes of cereal to choose from. I felt like I was in Jerry Seinfeld’s apartment. So many options but I gotta have my Pops, like 4 bowls of them. After breakfast we hit the trail, actually a road. For miles we walked along pavement and it was not ideal. We crossed under I-90 and it turned to dirt road which was better. This section of trail, about 52 miles today and yesterday, is actually an alternate of the official trail. The regular route is east of here near the city of Butte and a good deal longer. I originally planned on going that way but I heard that was also a lot of road walking and I don’t think I missed too much. Another time. Besides the city of Anaconda though, which was cool, the last two days have been a bit of a slog. I definitely was excited to be back on trail when we got there this evening. Road walking on dirt road is one thing but pavement walking is for the birds, especially highways with lots of cars. What’s cool about taking the Anaconda route is that all of a sudden we’re around a bunch of other hikers. The CDT is weird. Sometimes it seemed as if we would get into these vacuums where we would barely see other hikers for hundreds of miles but lately lots of hikers have been taking different alternates and all seem to be converging at the same time and place. We’re seeing lots of people. Pei Mei and his crew caught up and we walked with some of them today after not seeing them for a couple of states. Shortly after getting back on the official trail QB and I found a good spot to camp and called it a  night. Anaconda Stack, this is one of the biggest smokestacks in the world and is now a state park. Google it for some interesting infoI did this for milesand then some of thissweet coyote fence!this guy George gives water to hikers at his hunting camp 

Day 118     8/25     31 miles

Today was relaxing. Just crushed miles all day and the trail didn’t have anything too spectacular for us but at the same time was pretty easy. While QB and I were taking a little break this morning Spirit came bombing by. We hadn’t seen him since near Breckinridge so we talked for a few minutes and then leap frogged with him a couple times today. At some point this afternoon we caught up to Griggs and walked with him for a few hours. We hadn’t seen him since he passed us climbing up the Argentine Spine. He’s been staying on the official route and absolutely crushing this trail, the only reason we caught him was because we took the shorter Anaconda route and he took the Red(official) route going to Butte. We moved right along while hiking with him but the 3 of us missed a turn and went a half mile the wrong way before realizing our mistake and doubling back. In everybody’s defense the turn really wasn’t marked all that well. Queen B and I walked a couple more hours before finding a campsite. While we were eating gummy bears or whatever, Bones, who we last saw near Breckinridge, walked up with a headlamp on. He was trying to catch Spirit but decided to camp here also. 

Day 119     8/26     23 miles

The trail was a bit bland today. Easy but bland. Although it’s been enjoyable, this whole section since Anaconda has been somewhat dull as far as the CDT goes. We walked a soft dirt path for awhile through a lodge pole pine forest and then joined a dirt road for miles. We walked in and out of the forest and over a few open meadows until we got to MacDonald Pass. Everything was all good today except for one mile that had tons of blowdowns that we had to walk over, under or around. A total nuisance. At the pass we put our thumbs out and the first truck that went by turned around and picked us up and took us into Helena. Hitchhiking with QB is pretty easy. Ted, a retiree and avid hiker, along with his dog Trip, took us all the way to our hotel and even offered us a ride back to the trail on Monday. We’re planning to take a day off here tomorrow and enjoy the capital so we took care of our resupply tonight then went to dinner downtown before crashing out for the night. a view of the valley from MacDonald pass 

Day 120     8/27     0 miles 

Took the day off today to enjoy Montana’s capital city, Helena, and possibly our last zero on this trail. Helena is a nice little city rich in gold mining history. At one time it had the highest concentration of millionaires in the world living in it, or something like that. Queen B and I took a nice little walking tour of the city this morning and it was cool. First of all we switched hotels to one closer to downtown so while we walked there we explored the State House and ran a few other little errands. The other day one of my trekking poles got stuck closed to the point that it was rendered useless. So we had to go to a gear shop and instead of selling me new sticks, they let me borrow some pliers and with a little bit of effort I fixed the stuck one. We also checked out the St. Helena Cathedral, the original governor’s mansion, and a really cool art museum but the name is escaping me right now. It was a regular good old fashioned walking tour of a state capital on a nice 95 degree day. Today also included McDonald’s for breakfast, pizza, gigantic burritos, and ice cream. It was a very enjoyable day off.the State House Red Sox nation is everywhereis this creepy?the original governor’s mansionSt. Helena’s Cathedral, I’m not against incredible architecture. This building is impressive.QB beautifying the sidewalk with a chalk mural

Day 121     8/28     20 miles

This morning we got breakfast down the street and looked over the upcoming section that includes a potential fire closure and reroute situation up ahead. After breakfast we went back to the hotel and noticed some of the other hikers had fresh haircuts. These guys bought clippers in town so we borrowed them and I gave QB a haircut. Not really, I just shaved the lower half of her head, I guess that’s all the rage these days. We then started back to the trail and got two relatively quick hitches back up to MacDonald Pass around 11. Back on trail we met up with Mac, Appa, and JPEG and hiked with those guys for most of the day. At some point we were in Ted Kaczynski’s old neighborhood(the Unabomber). The FBI seized his whole cabin though so there was no sign of the weirdo. This section is pretty dry and very smoky due to the wildfire up ahead. We took an alternate to the west of the trail that had a better water situation. Once back on the official trail we made it to a water source and shortly after that found a place in the pines to camp. This is an old train tresses and looked extremely apocalyptic possibly what the unabomber’s cabin would have looked like, as this was in the area where the lunatic livedJPeg, QB and Mac

Day 122     8/29     31 miles

Today was a hot, humid, hazy, and smoky day to walk to Canada. The water sources were very limited but luckily we came across caches twice. There’s some awesome person in the area that stocks caches at both Stemple Pass and Flesher Pass and because of them I didn’t dry up today. Due to the weather and a bunch of short steep climbs it was a tough day to conserve water. We hiked with Mac and Appa this morning until those guys took a different route towards town. As of right now there’s a big wildfire up ahead causing a trail closure and a reroute so hikers are taking a few different routes to get down into Lincoln. Queen B and I got to Flesher Pass tonight and instead of going to Rodgers Pass(where the trail is closed), our plan is to walk the road from here to connect with the reroute a little earlier. This plan will eliminate some of the highway walking around the closure that will be inevitable. Wildfires and trail closures are a pain in the ass but also part of the hike and not really all that big of a deal for us compared to the people who are living up here and who are actually affected by the fires. Anyway after a long hot day we found a spot to camp about a quarter mile from the road and we’ll be walking that for awhile tomorrow before getting into Lincoln.lots of hikers along this ridge, I felt like I was in the desert in on the PCTa large group of hiking enthusiastscool house!moo!!! I drank a bunch of this gigantic cow’s water

Day 123      8/30      13 miles

Holy smokes!! It’s been a super smoky morning as we walked down from Flesher Pass and even smokier here in Lincoln. We started walking down a trail that Queen B invented, following power lines steeply down to a road after a mile or two. Once we got to the road we walked along it for about 6 miles, took a left and walked another 6 miles to the point where the reroute cuts north. At this point we hitched into Lincoln and we’ll start back here tomorrow morning. We’ve got a big section coming up going through the Bob Marshal Wilderness so we’ll take care of a few chores in town this afternoon and hit the trail hard tomorrow. The sun looks crazy in the smoke, don’t even need eclipse glasses

Anaconda, MT

Day 112     8/19     0 miles

Took a day off from hiking today and went on a little field trip up to Missoula, Montana. My mom made us breakfast sandwiches in the cabin to start the day before the car ride. QB and I had to take care of a couple errands this morning including resupplying and buying food that we’ll send to ourselves later on at a remote ranch. After getting to the supermarket we checked out the town of Missoula and some friends, BK and Prickly Pear, met us in town for Vietnamese food and ice cream. On our drive back to Wisdom we passed a massive wildfire, the Lolo fire, and it was smoky for miles. The smoke cleared up and we had good views of the Bitterroot valley and the ride up and over Chief Joseph Pass. Back at the cabin Queen B cooked dinner(and I helped) for the rest of us. Prickly Pear and BK, who are traveling to Colorado from Missoula, stopped at the cabin for dinner and tented in the backyard for the night. Drove by the smoky Lolo fireYeah rightthe Wisdom Cabin 

Day 113     8/20     23 miles 

This morning my parents cooked us all a bunch of pancakes for breakfast. I don’t know what got into them but 3 hot breakfasts in a week is a real treat. When I was a kid we might have had ‘Cream of Wheat’ once a month but it was mostly either cold cereal, instant oatmeal or pop tarts. I’m not complaining, I like all that stuff, but hot breakfasts are where it’s at. After breakfast BK and the Pear headed south, first to an eclipse festival in Wyoming, and then down to Colorado. My parents drove me and QB back up to Chief Joseph Pass where we got back on trail and they joined us for a mile before saying our goodbyes. During that mile the 4 of us had a really cool sighting of a red fox that was just chilling out in the woods watching us for awhile. They turned around and are heading up to Helena for the night and will be able to enjoy the eclipse tomorrow before heading back home. It was great seeing them and definitely gave me a boost I needed in getting towards the end of the trail. The rest of the day was relatively easy, a lot of smooth trail through forest and old burn areas. At Chief Joseph Pass this morning we turned away from Idaho for the last time and will be walking through only Montana until we reach Canada. The last state, it better be good. A little after 7 tonight we found a spot to camp in some trees just after a burn and called it a day. Cat and Den Me, B, BK, and the Pear 

Day 114     8/21     27 miles 

Today was pretty awesome, as far as solar eclipses go anyway. I remember when I was in second or third grade and all the teachers brought us out into the parking lot to see the eclipse and told us, “whatever you kids do, don’t look directly at the sun.” Of course everybody looked directly at the sun. This time I was armed with eclipse glasses. We didn’t exactly have a total eclipse here in Montana but it was pretty close. At one point it was just a big thin crescent. The hype didn’t get me too excited before the eclipse but having experienced it I’m definitely saving my glasses for 2024. After this awesome cosmic phenomenon we just hiked the rest of the day. We saw 4 other thru hikers, which is an awful lot for one day on this trail. In the morning we ran into Chardonnay and Kelsey who I met last year on the AT. This afternoon Kibbs caught up and hiked with us for a few hours and then we saw Glider, who I first met in Washington in ’15 (he’s easy to remember because he has a striking resemblance to one of the 7 Dwarves and has told me good stories both time) today he told us a pretty good bear story. The trail was pleasant all day. We walked through a long burn in the morning but luckily the moon provided a little bit of shade to keep us cool and we were up and down the rest of the day before a significant climb up to Pintler Pass in the evening. A couple miles after descending the pass we found a place to camp beside Johnson Lake. There’s only a few times in life when the universe comes together and you’re allowed to look this coolthis was one of those times Definitely a cougar print, maybethe moon was providing a little shade, so that was nicebeautiful and pristine Johnson Lake

Day 115     8/22     28 miles

Today was the day! We had serious climbs one after another all day long. Right away we climbed for a couple miles up to Rainbow Pass then dropped down into a valley for a little bit then right back up another steep climb. Around noon we came across Warren Lake and it was perfect timing for a swim. The cold water was invigorating and exhilarating. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, “alpine lakes are good for the soul.” From Warren Lake we had a beefy climb to the top of Cut Away Pass and then dropped way down before climbing to the top of Rainbow Mountain. We dropped way down again then followed switchbacks up to Goat Flats before contouring around a huge mountain to Storm Lake Pass. From here we descended down to Storm Lake and found a place to call home for the night. Up and down all day. Probably the most vertical we covered in a day so far. Up over Rainbow Pass first thing this morningWarren Lake Icy cold water with a view Looking out from Raimbow MountainThe trail work in this section of Montana has been impeccable. Hats off to the Montana Conservation CorpsWalking over Goat Flats Storm Lake Passlooking out over Storm Lake Pass, only one of the coolest passes I’ve ever seenStorm Lake

Day 116     8/23     23 miles 

Today was mostly roadwalking. Relatively dull hiking especially after the day we had yesterday but relaxing. I don’t mind a long road walk on this trail once in awhile. It’s easy, not much elevation gain or loss, rarely any blowdowns, good footing, and hard to get lost (but not impossible). Eventually we were walking down Main Street of Anaconda, MT. This is a big city by Montana standards, only around 9,000 people but still the 9th largest city in the state. It was pretty cool walking down main street, there were lots of places to grab food before getting to the hotel we’re staying at on the far side of town. We ran into Moist, Mac, Appa, and JPeg, and hung out with them for awhile. They filled us in on a little trick awhile ago, the McDonald’s app, and we finally got a chance to use it getting all kinds deals on already cheap food.somebody crashed their truck and just left itpigged out all the way down Main Street there’s so much open land in this state but for whatever reason all the houses in this town are right on top of each othersee what I mean? 

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