Presidential Traverse 10/17/17

New Hampshire’s White Mountains 10/17/17

This post is a few months in the making. I would have liked to have written it immediately after finishing but it I was too tired and then I started procrastinating and time got away from me. You know how it is. Let me set the scene a little. After spending the majority of the summer thru hiking the CDT, and then another 3 or 4 weeks of traveling and having adventures, I knew transitioning back to living in a civilized society wouldn’t be easy. Queen B wasn’t quite ready to be done hiking either so she ambitiously decided to try to hike all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4000 footers in 10 days(and succeeded). Hiking all these mountains is often undertaken as a goal to be completed over the course of a lifetime or at least a few years. 10 days isn’t any kind of record or anything but still pretty badass and spontaneous since she only thought it up about a week before starting. Supposedly she was going to write a guest post about her adventure on this blog but I’m still waiting. Anyway I wasn’t able to get away for the full 10 days but I joined her when I could and over 4 days I hiked 20/48 mountains.

Some of the 4000 footers can be done as just a quick out and back from a trailhead parking lot, some can be done 2 or 3 at a time and then a bunch can done in big traverses. 2 of the more notable hikes in the White Mountains are the Pemi Loop and the Presi Traverse. Both of these hikes summit at least 8 peaks and can be done as an overnight or an ambitious day hike. QB did a modified Pemi Loop during her first couple days on this venture extending the loop to bag 3 or 4 extra peaks nearby. When I joined her at noon on day 5 we went up and down Mt Waumbek, then drove over to Hale and quickly went up and down that one. She was halfway through this quest and had been sleeping in her car or the woods the last few nights so we got a motel room in Franconia, got some rest, and took full advantage of a pretty solid continental breakfast in the morning. With 2 cars we were able to get a little more creative with routes so the next day we dropped one car at the Highland Center then drove over to the Kedron Flume trail and went up and over Tom, Field, and Willey. Back at the Highland Center we retrieved a car and drove over to the base of Mt Carragain then hustled to get up that one to find the summit covered in snow and ice and the views socked in with fog. After we finished Carragain we ate a bunch of food then shuffled cars around in order to do the Presidential Traverse in one shot the next day. leaf peeping with a fresh shave and haircut I was feeling pretty aerodynamic

First things first we ate a bunch of food after hiking all day, then we dropped my truck off at the Highland Center, before driving over to the Appalachia parking lot where we spent the night in QB’s Mom’s CRV. There’s a handful of trails starting at Appalachia and because of that there was about a dozen other cars in the lot. I figured there were definitely other people sleeping in their cars so I tried to be quiet, although that didn’t stop me from setting off the car alarm when I got out to take a leak at 3 in the morning. We got going around 6 am and started up the Valley Way Trail then took a left on Watson Path towards the Mt Madison summit. Once we got above tree line I got cold, really cold(I need to start carrying a thermometer but those things are just such an extravagance). The mountain wasn’t helping as it was between me and the sun on the way up but right as I reached the summit the sun must have warmed me up 20 degrees. From the top of Madison we had a great view of the ridge all the way over to Mt Washington. It was a cold day but it was nice and clear with blue skies and low wind. We took a right onto the Gulfside Trail(which is also the AT) and walked southbound over to Mt Adams, then Mt Jefferson and eventually to the high point of the Whites, Mt Washington. Going up Washington we crossed the railroad tracks, took a minor detour and met one other kid doing a similar hike, John from Maine. At the top of Mt Washington we ate lunch at the cafeteria with John and all of a sudden there were lots of other people around. There’s an auto road and a cog railway that dump loads of tourists on the Washington summit, making it feel a little strange. Whatever, I’m glad there was hot soup and cold sodas and stuff. We took Crawford Path descending the south side of Washington after lunch. The temperature rose and it became quite a comfortable and pleasant afternoon. Following Crawford Path we climbed up and over Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce before stopping in the Mitzpah Spring hut to eat some of their muffins or whatever and check the AT logbooks for names of people we knew. From the hut we took the Webster Cliff Trail(still the AT) to the top of Mt Jackson where we ran into our friend John again. The sun was just setting which was really good timing since we were just getting below the tree line. Less than 5 miles later the three of us were out of the woods and back at my truck at the Highland Center. We gave John a ride to his car at Pinkham Notch and he ended up being a wealth of knowledge about Escalante, giving us some good info and tips for our upcoming trip to Utah. QB and I were famished so we stopped at this place Mr. Pizza in Gorham and it sucked. Usually even lousy pizza is decent, especially if I’m wicked hungry, but this place was memorably bad. After supper we shuffled cars again to prepare for our next day then crashed out for the night once exhaustion set in. I think the Presi Traverse is only a little over 20 miles but it’s notoriously difficult. With almost 9000 Feet of elevation gain the traverse is almost completely exposed above tree line. In lousy weather it can be extremely dangerous and often times deadly. I think somewhere it’s listed as the second best day hike in America(don’t quote me on that but that’s all subjective anyway). Whatever you want to call it I personally think a 1 day Presidential Traverse is something of a right of passage for anyone who considers themselves a serious hiker of the White Mountains. on top of Madisonwalking towards Washington

The following day Queen B and I did a traverse of the Wildcats and also the Carter Mariah Range. I was beat! Thankfully I had to work the next day and had a good excuse to return home but QB carried on. She was in full on crush mode and spent the next 2 days finishing up all 48 of NH’s 4000 footers. I’m legitimately impressed. Maybe someday she’ll write a guest blog post on here but until then you can check out her pictures on Instagram @sarahikes or mine @endlesspsummer.

Thanks for reading!


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 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


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.


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! 

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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PS All My Love!!!

Leadore, Idaho

Day 99      8/6      30 miles

Yesterday after eating burritos at Mack’s Inn in Island Park we walked a couple miles on the highway before getting to the Sawtell Resort campground. Included with a cheap tent site was full use of their hot tub, pool and showers. Along with a couple southbounders, Magpie and Schweppes, and a pair of section hikers, Margo and Jasper, we soaked in the hot tub for a couple hours. I really hope they change the water in that thing after they let 6 stinky hikers stew in there for hours. After our soak I got a plate of Lo Mein at the Chinese food place across the street and called it a night. This morning we ate breakfast sandwiches then ice cream sandwiches at the little grocery store and began walking. The first ten miles were a dirt road walk that climbed up towards Sawtell Peak. Then we followed what wasn’t much of a trail at all for about 5 miles, more of a bushwhack, through tons of wildflowers next to a creek. At some point during this bushwhack we crossed into Montana for the first time and then walked along the Idaho/Montana border for the rest of the day. Once we got away from the creek the trail climbed through a forest and up on a ridge. We walked into an awesome sunset along the ridge but there was no place to camp up there. Luckily the moon was full and we are so far west that it stays light out until 9:30. Eventually we dropped down but the only decent spot to camp was right on trail. Oh yeah I saw a coyote puppy or maybe even a wolf puppy this afternoon jumping around and stuff, it was at the top of a hill probably about 50 yards away and I really wish I got a better look at this little rascal.Bushwhacking through buku wildflowersas you can tell from these pictures, I walked into an awesome sunset tonight

Day 100     8/7     25 miles

Today was rather uneventful. We got a later start than usual since we hiked late last night. The trail went up on a ridge this morning and then through forest for about a dozen miles before we stopped at Arduous Lake for lunch, not really fit for swimming though. After lunch we walked through a burn for hours and then had a nice climb up to a pass right before Rock Spring where we broke for supper this evening. I don’t want to say it was boring, I enjoyed myself and everything but it might have been the most uneventful day of the whole trail. We did see a couple of big sheep dogs barking at us shortly before we found a spot to camp but other than that didn’t see much wildlife and no other hikers. It has been a good section for birds of prey though, lots of cool hawks.delicious icy cold water at Rock Spring 

Day 101     8/8     16 miles

We pretty much just crushed the trail all morning and into the afternoon to get to Interstate 15 where we got a ride into the town of Lima, Montana. This is a tiny little town and the motel there was full of mostly southbound hikers who are filming a documentary or something. Jan’s Cafe across the street was renting out little cabins so that was cool, we got one of those for the night. In town we finally caught up to 3 hikers who we last saw in Chama, NM and have been just ahead of us for months; Moaglee, Little Spoon, and Kibbs. After we took care of some town chores a bunch of us went out for supper at Peat Cafe where you can cook your own steaks. The place was cool and the concept of cooking your own steak must work out especially nice for them since they don’t have to pay a cook plus nobody sends their food back. We ate our steaks then resupplied for the next section at a gas station. I’ve been eating all crap on trail and that’s what gas stations specialize bus for snow days that way you can’t send your food back 
Day 102     8/9     21 miles

This morning we had breakfast with Moist at Jan’s Cafe next to the cabins. He had been hiking with Mac and Appa when we last saw him down in the boot heel and got off trail in Winter Park but was about to rejoin his buddies. Mac and Appa walked in the restaurant and were shocked to see that their buddy had come back from the proverbial dead. B and I put a beating on breakfast then walked out to the interstate and put our thumbs out. We got the rare big rig to pull over and drive us the 20 miles back to the trail around 12 o’clock. Once back on trail we walked on dirt roads through desert for a couple hours until the trail climbed up on an open ridge. There were electrical storms all over the place so we took an alternate that kept us low for a few more miles and hopefully the T and L would subside. This worked out for us for awhile since we didn’t get struck by lightning but on the bushwhack up to the ridge I had to walk through all kinds of nettles that made my legs itch like whoa. The ridge was a roller coaster of steep ups and downs for about a dozen miles before eventually dropping down into some pines where we could camp. I ran into 3 southbounders today including ‘One of Us’ who I first met in Northern California on the PCT in ’15. On the left is Idaho, on the right Montana. Or the other way aroundThis rainbow started in Idaho and ended in Montana with the trail in the middle

Day 103     8/10     29 miles 

For some unexplainable reason I tossed and turned all night and barely got any sleep. Insomnia has been, without a doubt, the most frustrating and difficult obstacle I’ve had to face on this trail so far. I ended up getting a couple hours of sleep and didn’t start hiking until close to 9am. My first half dozen miles were miserable, I was exhausted and dragging ass through tall grass and constantly stepping on fresh cow pies. The trail then steeply climbed a few thousand feet and Queen B and I must have both caught the eye of the tiger or some other rush of adrenaline because we both bolted up that pass. The rest of the day my body felt pretty strong and thankfully the trail wasn’t too fierce. A good amount of dirt road and some long slow climbs and descents with wide open views. After seeing absolutely nobody all day we came across a group of 8 sobo’s all within a quarter mile of each other(rare to see that many people hiking together). Among them was Salt Lick who I met in ’15 in the California desert, it’s got to the point where every time I see a hiker coming my way I wonder if we’ve already met. QB and I walked a few more miles into the sunset and down towards Deadman Lake where we set up for the night just out of reach of a thunderstorm in the distance. Just when I thought this trail couldn’t get any weirder, we come up on all these huge white cliffs

Day 104     8/11     29 miles

I thought I would be pretty sluggish today after another lousy night’s sleep but I got my mojo back right after climbing the steep trail to a pass from Deadman Lake. We then descended and followed the trail onto rolling plains for awhile. This afternoon thunderstorms moved in right before we had to climb up on to an exposed ridge so we found some shelter in a few pines and waited about a half hour. Perfect timing. The clouds moved through and the 3 or 4 miles up on the ridge went smoothly. We saw Moaglee and Little Spoon doing the same thing, chilling out and waiting for the storm to pass. Up on the ridge we had some pretty sweet views and saw a herd of pronghorn bolting past us(I thought these were the same thing as antelope but I guess there’s a difference). We dropped down from the ridge and everything was nice and peaceful for awhile and then out of nowhere we had this super cold rain for a couple hours. Whatever. It cleared up and we found a nice spot to camp in some pines by Morrison Lake. Howling The sky hazy from distant wildfiresAbout 15 super fast pronghorn

Day 105     8/12     25 miles 

Finally some rest. Slept like a rock last night. This morning we got up and just cruised all day. The trail was mostly rolling dirt road up high on an open ridge but there were some good climbs in there. We saw a little red fox jumping around in the grass either playing or looking for mice and stuff. When it saw us it took off into the woods. Too bad because the last time I saw a fox it came right up close to play, probably expecting a frisbee toss or something. Once the trail turned off the dirt road onto actual trail and started up towards Elk Mountain I saw what I thought was a black dog. It wasn’t, it was a little black bear cub following another cub but this one was cinnamon colored and both were following a cinnamon colored sow. At first I thought it was a black bear cub hanging out with his grizzly bear friends, but I’m pretty sure this doesn’t happen. After this cool little bear sighting we got up over 10,000 feet on Elk Mountain and then just cruised downhill about 12 miles to Bannock Pass. Sam, the owner of the 4 room Leadore Inn, drove up to the pass and brought us down into Leadore(population 105) for the night. To get here from Bannock Pass we drove down gravel rt 29, the last unpaved highway in the country, supposedly. In town we grabbed some burgers at the town restaurant and then hung out in yard at the inn with Moaglee, Little Spoon, Kibbs and Lux. To see more pictures of this trip feel free to follow my insta @endlesspsummerQB crushing miles


PS All My Love!!!

Dubois, WY

Day 88     7/26     7 miles

After sleeping in this morning in the comfortable guesthouse at the 3 Peaks Ranch I enjoyed a substantial breakfast with some much needed fresh food. Cereal with milk and bananas for a change(instead of the off brand dry lucky charms that I’m always eating on trail) and fried eggs with cheese on bagels. Plus grapes, lots of fresh delicious grapes. We hung out for awhile with some of the Nols staff and then Nina took us into Pinedale to resupply. In Pinedale we got pizza and grilled Nina on all things Nols and she told us about her fascinating job as a cowgirl, super b.a. After pizza we grabbed milkshakes and then Nina dropped us off at the trailhead. Queen B and I hiked for a few hours on the Seneca Lake Trail that led back to the CDT. We found a sweet spot to camp near Hobbs Lake and enjoyed the sunset with a view of the mountains while we ate dinner. QB and Nina and a whole buttload of horsesSeneca Lake

Day 89     7/27     29 miles 

Today was awesome. Honestly it might have been the most scenic landscape I’ve ever walked through. I could try to describe it or you could just look through the some of the pictures below but the camera never does the scenery justice. I had heard the Winds would be pretty impressive and they definitely lived up to the hype. The beauty of the Wind River Range rivals anyplace I’ve ever walked through before. We passed Seneca Lake early this morning and then walked through a landscape of snowy jagged peaks in every direction and crossed countless icy cold rivers. Eventually we descended into a the Green River Valley and before we camped had awesome views of Square Top Mountain. Green river really is green! 

Day 90     7/28     30 miles

Today started off with a moose sighting. There was a great big bull moose eating grass or something right across the river from where we camped last night. We walked through the valley that contained Green River and the Green River Lakes for half a dozen miles this morning and views looking back were incredible. Square Top Mountain dominated the horizon above the snaking Green River that is literally bright green, there must be some minerals in it or something that give the water it’s unique color. After passing all this water the trail climbed steeply up to Gunsight Pass, this might have been our steepest climb in Wyoming to date. On the north side of the Pass we got a nice view of the Grand Tetons (I think) in the distance. The CDT doesn’t go through the Tetons but I’ll most definitely make it a point to come back and traverse that park some day. After lunch QB was leading the way and had a close encounter with another moose and then we both had close encounters with about a million mosquitoes. The forest we were walking through led to a huge open meadow and it was something of a mosquito hell. I put on long pants, my rain jacket, and head net and not only was I still managing to get bit now I was walking around in a sweat box. It was annoying. On a positive note we saw a massive bald eagle this afternoon and this was definitely a confirmed eagle sighting (usually if either of us see a large bird in the distance and don’t know what it is, it’s an eagle until proven otherwise. We’ve had many unconfirmed eagle sightings). After walking across some fields with views of the massive Tetons we found a pleasant place to camp for the night.tough to see in this picture but this was an awesome moose sighting, first thing we saw this morning.ol’ Square Topcrossing Clear Creek, coldest water everQB climbing up Gunsight Passand me at the topBlame it on the Tetons!

Day 91     7/29     29 miles

There was nothing all that remarkable about today except I’m pretty sure we saw a grizzly. Plus lots of birds of prey. The trail was rather tame all day following fields, snowmobile tracks and gravel roads. Shortly after lunch we were walking down a dirt road through a burn area when we saw grizzly bear running in the opposite direction about 50 yards away. Now I’m not 100% sure it was a grizzly but if it was a black bear it would have been the blondest black bear I’ve ever seen. This was a little alarming but it wasn’t a dangerous situation just a gentle reminder to continue to be aware. After a full day of hiking we got to Togwottee Pass and started to hitch towards Dubois. This is the first paved road the CDT passes in 180 miles. After a little while a couple in a pickup towing a boat pulled over. Walking up to the truck I recognized the voice of Joe Castiglione announcing a Red Sox game on the radio, I knew this was a good sign and the couple drove us all the way to town. St. Thomas’s church has a free hostel in Dubois for hikers and bikers, it was awesome. There were a few other hikers there that we hadn’t met yet and also 3 cyclists riding cross country. The hostel had a kitchen so QB and I whipped up some spaghetti with meat sauce since we both had been talking about pasta for about a week. Dubois is a cool little town and it was really nice of the church to let us crash there. We were walking towards a view of this thing all day, whatever it ismy favorite kind of hitch, the back of a pickup truck

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PS All My Love!!!