CDT Day 121 Long day of rolling hills 

16th August

29.4 miles 

Spring Camp (1959.9) to Rock Creek (1989.5)

I was last to leave camp in the morning. I like to eat my hot oats and hot coffee before I leave. Nips and Easyrider are much quicker at packing up due to the lack of breakfast they consume. It wasn’t long before I caught up.

The morning trail was rather flat and the miles came easy. There was just a hint of smoke in the air. Occasionally we could all smell the smoke, but from where did it come. We did not know. There is a fire somewhere.

Later in the day we caught up to Elusive. One hell of an inspirational 72 year old. Hiking, cycling and canoeing all over North America. He left the town of Lima about five hours ahead of us. As we caught up to him we could see Stone, my PCT hiking buddy,  in the distance. It was a couple more hours before we went past him courtesy of an alternative route that saved a mile or two of trail.

By late afternoon we climbed to a fast flowing creek to camp. I started to bonk. My stores of energy were depleted. The last quarter mile to camp seemed to take forever. My legs were weak, my emotions starting affect me, my hands weak and ready to start shaking and I had the hunger of three men.

CDT Day 120 The Montana and Idaho Rollercoaster 

15th August 

25.4 miles

Ridgecamp (1936.5) to Spring camp (1959.9)

Yesterday was a wasted day, mileage wise. Today we all felt so much better. The trail, however, did its best to wear us down. In the morning we were either climbing or descending steep sections of trail. It did tire us a bit. But the views from the ridgeline kept it scenically entertained. The trail followed a fence line which not only marked the continental divide but also the border between Idaho and Montana.

When we finally reached the high point we were able to make the miles come a bit quicker. I struggled as my plantar fasciitis gave me some pain in my heal. I stretched, massaged and loaded up on ibuprofen. It worked, somewhat. It seems I can’t pick which day or which time I will suffer. It will not stop me from getting to Canada.

It was about 7.30pm when we stopped to set up camp. Southbound hikers appeared. I recognised Recon, a hiker I met on several occasions on the PCT last year. He was hiking with Aquacam and Laughtrack. I believe Aquacams mother reads this blog, he says hello. We all caught up and chatted for 30 minutes. The sun was getting low in the sky. My hiker hunger had me consuming around 1000 calories for dinner, I think I could have eaten more, I was still hungry as I went to sleep.

CDT Day 119 No energy today

14th August

7.7 miles 

Lima (1928.8) to Ridgecamp (1936.5)

I bid goodbye to some of my hiking buddies in the morning. I’d hoped to share some trail time with my old PCT hiking buddy Stone but his work schedule is tight and he had to make the miles. Earlier he retired his shoes to a tree out the front of the hotel. Over the years cyclists and hikers have retired their shoes there. Had I known about this place I would have retired my old Vasque shoes to this monument to hikers used footware.

I set off for the trail about 4 hours later with Nips and Easyrider.It was around 1pm when we started hiking. It’s not everyday that I leave a town with absolutely no energy. I really should have just had a day off to rest but Canada was calling my name. I ate little in the way if fresh fruits and vegetables, maybe that was part to blame.

Nips and Easyrider were not feeling it today either. This made me feel better for no other reason that I didn’t slow anybody down. It was almost comical as we would throw down our packs to rest and threaten to camp every 2-3 miles. 

Things were not made any easier by the excessive amount of food weight I was carrying. A misreading of the maps in town that led us to believe we needed 3 litres of water for a dry camp. The result, my pack was heavy with food and water weight.

We camped early on a slightly protected ridge. The wind at times was excessive, and we were climbing ever upwards. Setting up camp on the potentially exposed higher ridges could have proved to be a flawed decision. Even though the real reason was we had cell phone service nearby and we were tired. Some days are not meant for big mileage days. I was in my sleeping bag trying to sleep well before darkness arrived. Good night.

Stone retires his shoes to the tree of sole (shoe tree), Cloudbuster is looking for a better pair

Kiros, Cloudbuster, Stone, Elusive and myself (Shepherd)
Stone, a soon to be triple crown hiker

CDT Day 118 Lima town break

13th August 

10 miles 

Ridgecamp (1918.7) to Lima (1928.8)

We had an organised pick up at Interstate 15 highway. We organised a 10.30am pick up. The hiking was easy and mostly downhill. But we had a slight problem. Lucky organised a pick up at the highway. A communication problem led to our pick up being at a different location than we thought. 

We did get picked up and dropped off at the turn off Lima. Thank you to the kind people of the nearby town of Dillan they gave us a lift. I had to say goodbye to my hiking buddy Lucky. He is in a different schedule and we may not see each other again on the trail. Good luck buddy.

Nips, Easyrider and myself shared a room at the Mountain View Motel, the local hangout for hikers. They organise shuttles to and from the trail for hikers. So are rightfully popular.

The evening was spent at the local bar, eating, drinking a beer and playing pool. Very relaxing.

photo credit – nips
Nips and Stone photo credit – nips
photo credit – nips

CDT Day 117 Hiking the Montana Idaho border

12th August

24.3 miles

Aldous Lake Trailhead (1894.4) to Ridgecamp (1918.7)

It was near on 7.30am when we started hiking. The early part of the day was spent in the rolling hills which didn’t really provide inspiring hiking but that changed late in the afternoon.

The afternoon was spent hiking on the continental divide which is also the border between the states of Montana and Idaho. Views were extensive. On the Montana side, the dry rolling hills of gold. On the Idaho side, flat fields of farmland with rugged hills in the distance.

The sun was getting low in the sky as we continued hiking along the borderline. Lucky, Nips and I were all rather pleased to enjoy the sun low in the sky lighting up the ranges.

Tonight was meteor night. The peak of the Perseids meteor shower. We set up camp on a high ridge with expansive views. The sun put on a show for us as it set. Lighting up the sky and mountains in every shade of red, orange and pink. Many photos were taken. Sunsets like this keep me coming back to the outdoors.

Nips and I were cowboy camping. No tent, just under the stars and hopefully meteor shower. The clouds that gave us a great sunset prevented a lot of star viewings. 

Around 9.30pm we heard voices. Two hikers appeared wearing headlamps. It was my old PCT hiking buddy Stone and another hiker Cloudbuster. They’d hiked 39 miles that day. We invited them to camp with us but they wanted to hike another mile to hike a forty mike day. Men on a mission.

Shortly after they hiked on we settled in to sleep. Tiredness trumped our desire to watch the cloudy skies for meteors. Then the water droplets started falling. Are you kidding me. It was raining. Directly above us was a large patch of clear, star studded sky. Surely it couldn’t last. 

After maybe five minutes of light rain it stopped and I rolled over to sleep. I woke on numerous occasions to glance at the skies. Fatique called me to roll over and sleep. Only once I forced my eyes awake long enough to try and take a photo of the meteors. I failed. But did see maybe 20 flashes of meteorites burning up.


CDT Day 116 Eating berries

11th August 

23.9 miles

Lillian Lake (1870.5) to Aldous Lake Trailhead (1894.4)

A combination of a cold night and a grassy campsite left every surface of my tent covered in condensation. My sleeping bag was also a bit damp. I guess slowly but surely I’m moving further north into the cold weather of Montana. Speaking of Montana I crossed into that state today, then back into Idaho. In fact I crossed into both states on numerous occasions. The trail follows the state borders for a lot of the time which follows the continental divide.

While climbing up a section of trail on the state line a couple of cyclists caught up to me. They were doing trail maintenance. As a bit of a cycle touring dude I had to check out one of the guys bikes. A fat bike with 5 inch tyres and a custom rack for a chainsaw. Love it. I would love to ride a fat bike when I cycle tour.

Nips, Lucky and I were not in too much of a rush. All of us have been beat down by the trail in recent weeks, we decided not to do any crazy big miles. We rested often and ate more often from all of our overstocked food bags. On several occasions we found wild berries to eat. Huckleberries, blueberries and raspberries were numerous, until we devoured all the biggest and juiciest ones. I do love the wild berries.

Camp was made early. Each of us eating around 1500 calories for dinner. A combination of hunger and excessive food in our backpacks.

nips demolishing hucklberries
wild raspberries

CDT Day 115 Hiking the headwaters of the Missouri River 

10th August 

15.6 miles

Sawtelle (1854.9) to Lillian Lake (1870.5)

The three of us woke early, before the sun as usual. We all decided to have a lazy morning. After breakfast and packing up our gear we parked ourselves in the reception area of the RV park to use the wifi.

After several hours of catching up on social media and the world news I needed to resupply. I made a big mistake. Never resupply on an empty stomach. I bought way too much food. It was only 70 miles or so to the next town of Lima in Montana.

After buying two foot long subs at Subway then we set off. I did of course consume one of the subs. But I was not prepared for the long hill climb. It kept going for maybe 3000 feet. My backpack was heavy with food and my stomach full. I was slow.

Initially the trail followed a minor road before it detoured to a faint trail. I needed a little navigation to make it to the high and remote source of the Missouri/Mississippi River. It was quite a buzz to be at the head of the longest river. There was a log book up there. I was surprised to see that more paddlers signed the book than CDT hikers. It must be more popular to canoe the rovers from the source than hike the CDT!

I continued hiking late. Till 9pm. I lost contact with Nips and Lucky. The last hours of the day I hiked alone through very beary looking terrain. I hiked with the bear spray in front of me through scrubby bushes much taller than me. I was shouting loudly. At one point I took the safety catch off my bear spray. 

Eventually I caught up to Lucky and Nips. It was 9pm and almost dark. I went to put the safety catch back on my bear spray. It was missing. So now I don’t have a safety catch on my bear spray. I better not fall face first into the ground, I might just inadvertently spray myself.

the headwaters of the missouri river
the spring that feeds the missouri river
gps of the headwaters