CDT day 39: magical Montana!!

June 12
Mileage 20
691.5 miles hiked

I wake up way too early in the hostel- I never know what time it is here. It seems like the sun comes up at four a.m. in Northern Montana. The sun is always up! I order eggs and homefries from the Whistlestop cafe next door and eat them on the porch and then walk across town to do my errands. Noon finds me standing on the shoulder of the road with Spark, hitching. We’ve broken up into teams to hitch to the border. Almost back on the trail!

One of our rides drops us at the ranger station in St. Mary, where we can get our camping permits. In Glacier you have to pick an itinerary for your campsites, and stick to it. I pick campsites for 25 miles days, and Spark gamely goes along. I have no idea what to expect, but that seems safe. We have to watch a 15 minute video that tries to instill in us a fear of every large animal, and then we are set loose. Apache, Track Meat and MeHap arrive to get their permits just as we’re headed out. Hopefully they’ll be right behind us on the trail.

We finally get to the cool forested trailhead at 1:30, and boy does it feel good to be back in the woods. Just twenty miles to camp! The trail takes us into a green valley, lush with cow parsnip, nettles and wild roses. Purple mountains rise up on either side, streaked with snowfields. A lake glitters in the distance. What wonder! I pick some nettles for dinner, feeling happy. Oh, to be in the north! The weather is bright and warm, but soon it starts to cloud over. And then Spark and I are climbing up towards a pass-  a real pass! And the fog around the jagged peaks is breathtaking, and there are waterfalls! The temperature drops as we climb, and then it begins to drizzle. At the top of the pass are a couple of mountain goats, complete with baby mountain goats, and they stare at us. Mountain goats give no fucks. Then we’re racing down the other side of the pass. We’ve got to make it to camp! Good thing it never gets dark here.

We reach out camspite, a dim, forested clearing next to an aquamarine lake, at 9 p.m. We’re sitting in the “eating area” (in glacier you’re supposed to eat away from where you sleep, and there are special sites for this) boiling water for dinner when it really starts to rain. I pull my tarp over me and sit there, shivering and damp, while I eat my pot hot noodles. It’s good to be back.

Photos on instagram