Day 130: Cold and wet

Miles Hiked: 24.5

Total Milage: 2253.4

I woke up to small puddles of water all over the floor of my tent. Last night it thunder stormed and rained for hours. I laid awake scared as blinding lightning flashes struck all around my tent and thunder boomed so loud it felt like the ground was shaking. I’m not sure if a sleeping pad filled with air can insulate me from any lightning strikes but I curled up on my sleeping pad in a very small ball anyways. It was freezing cold and the rain still hadn’t stopped. I did not want to get out of my sleeping bag but I had to go to the bathroom so bad. I braved the cold and rain for a few minutes only to crawl back in my bag as fast as I could. I ended up laying down until 7:30am which is a very rare occasion for me. By 8am, I had completed the dreaded camp chore of packing up my soaking wet tent and I was hiking north again.

I left camp in my sleeping clothes and rain gear over top. I never ever hike in the clothes I sleep in if there is a chance that they will get wet. Today I was so cold I decided to take a risk. There was no way I was stripping down to put on my other clothes. The morning started out by walking through a sopping wet cow pasture and following posts with CDT signs on them. It was so foggy I couldn’t see the view at all. There was a large electrical wire I had to pass under that was buzzing extremely loud. It gave me a lot of anxiety and I realized that the trauma from all the close calls with lightning in Colorado still hasn’t left me. Any time there is a threatening looking cloud I feel like my body goes into the flight response. I have started to have internal dialogue with myself about how not every dark grey cloud wants to kill me and that eventually I’ll be living in civilization again with a place to hide when the weather turns dangerous. Some day I will no longer be running for tree line when the lightning strikes nearby. The rainy day and the buzz of electricity sent my heart rate sky rocketing this morning. The anxiety left after I was about a mile past the stupid buzzing wire.

For most of the day I hiked through a green tunnel of conifer trees. My body was so stiff because I was so cold. I wanted to stop and take breaks so bad but I was too cold to stop moving. Every time I ate a snack today I struggled so hard to get the packaging open because I didn’t have good dexterity in my fingers. Yesterday my headphones broke so I had nothing to distract me from the painfully cold and wet day. I felt like a zombie moving through the forest, thinking about absolutely nothing for hours except for how much I wanted to curl up with my dog and a hot blanket from the dryer. I checked my maps to see if there was any possible way to make it to town today. Negative. I just had to suck it up and deal with it. I was not looking forward to setting up my soaking wet tent at camp tonight.

I didn’t sit down until I had already hiked 17 miles. It was way too cold to lose my body heat by not moving. On my break I cooked a hot meal to keep me warm. I had a breakfast burrito I made with a tortilla, sunflower seed butter, and scrambled eggs with ham and green peppers. I was excited about the scrambled egg mountain house meal I found in the hiker box at the Butte KOA. Unfortunately it didn’t settle well with my stomach and I’m pretty sure I never want to eat scramble eggs on trail again. I’ve also learned when I find food that seems too good to be true in the hiker box, it’s typically not the best. After my hot lunch, 12 pack caught up to me. I had some company for the last few miles to camp. We stopped two miles before our planned campsite and made dinner. I ate a protein bar since I already made my hot meal and we had some hot apple cider that helped warm me up. We got to camp before 6:30 which is super early. I was still freezing cold and everything I had to set up was still soaking wet. Luckily my clothes did manage to stay dry today! I was so happy to finally crawl into my sleeping bag. My feet hurt pretty bad since I hardly took any breaks or stretched today. All my joints and muscles were still super stiff. I need to stretch but a warm sleeping bag is the priority tonight. Tomorrow I will walk 18 miles and hitch into Helena where we have a room with a bed reserved. I’m so excited to lay in bed again, eat town food, and sleep. I just felt so fatigued today. Cold rainy days are hard to get through. Today wasn’t the first and I’m sure it’s not the last.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 129: Champion Pass

Miles Hiked: 26.7

Total Milage: 2228.9

This morning I woke up in the hotel feeling rested but I did not want to leave the bed. It was so comfy after not sleeping in a bed for so long. We had a ride back to the trail scheduled for 9am so I had some motivation to get up and start moving. It was 8am before I knew it but luckily I already had most of my things all packed up and ready to go. I had a caramel frappe from McDonald’s for breakfast alone with an English muffin from the hotel. Our ride was there at 9am as promised. It’s a local guy that runs shuttle for CDT hikers only. We were dropped back off on the side of the highway around 9:20am.

The day started out with a 3 mile paved road walk before we hit a dirt trail in a green tunnel. 12 pack and I shared a sprite that was in a trail magic cooler. We had to go off trail to a campground to get water because once again all of the natural water sources have dried up. After the campground I had an 18 mile water carry to get to camp. We stayed on a dirt road for a while after leaving the campground. Once we got back on the trail again it started thunderstorming with lots of lightning. We set up our tents for an hour just to be safe while the storm passed. I was glad it was only an hour. During that time I got to text Luke and I took a small nap. It was great.

We started hiking again at 3:30pm. We had about 15 miles left to go. The miles flew by. For dinner I made some cheesey risotto which didn’t taste that great. My stove is broken so I wasn’t able to cook it all the way. It was 8:30 when we got to the last water source and set up camp. Almost 27 miles after 9:20am isn’t bad! It started to rain the last few miles before camp so I walked in with wet shoes and a wet backpack. Not fun. It was also freezing cold so I was thrilled to get inside my very warm sleeping bag.

I didn’t take any pictures at all today. I’ve hardly taken any pictures the last few days. I haven’t been feeling super inspired to. I also keep falling asleep before I can write my blog. I’ve been really far behind on it and having to write it days later. I don’t enjoy writing shorter posts with poor quality. I’m sure they are boring to read. I write a lot better when I am recalling things the evening after they happened. I’ve been allowing myself to step away from the blog discipline for a little bit. The trail has been tough mentally so I’m giving myself a small break.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 128: A zero in Butte

Miles Hiked : 0

Total Milage: 2202.2

Today I took a zero. 12 pack had a box rerouted to Butte and had to wait until 5pm to pick it up so we ended up getting a room in town for the night. The room was actually provided by his friend Helena to us for trail magic! It was nice to be taken care of! Usually I wouldn’t take a zero to wait on anyone else but I decided to spend the extra day in town just because I could. I actually wanted to zero in Helena but Butte had just as much to offer. I left the campground around 10am so we could check into our hotel Early at 11am. Early check in is great. It was nice to not have to find a place to loiter or eat forever while I waited to get in. On the way to the hotel we went to Bob Wards ( a sporting goods store) where I got to exchange my holy Darn Tough socks for brand new ones for free!

Once we checked into the hotel I pretty much spent the rest of the day laying down and taking a bath. I had a ton of work to do on my blog once again which took up most of my time. We got dinner at a Chinese buffet with Melon. He was one hiker I met down in New Mexico that I was really excited to see again. I also couldn’t believe that Butte had not only one but two buffets! Definitely a good choice to take a zero here. I hardly saw the sun all day because the smoke was so thick once again. Probably the worst air quality I’ve seen maybe ever? I’m glad I didn’t have to do anything strenuous in it. Hoping the skies clear up when we leave tomorrow.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 127: Arriving in Butte

Miles Hiked: 6.5

Total Milage: 2202.2

This morning 12 pack and I woke up very early. We wanted to get to the road before the other hikers we saw yesterday so there were not 5 people trying to hitch at once. The more people, the less likely we are to get picked up. It was still super smoky as we walked 6 miles down to the highway. It was so strange, it was warm when we woke up and got colder as we descended. Usually it’s colder at higher elevation but for some reason all the cold air settled in the valley today. We got to the highway around 7:30am and tried hitch hiking for an hour. The other three hikers showed up and I decided to text a donation based driver and a trail angels too see if either were available to help us get to town. The cars on the highway were going super fast and it seemed like all of us would have been out there for a long time trying to get a ride. Weatherman answered us almost immediately and came to get us all! I was so so thankful. I’m glad there were five of us to make it worth his time! He dropped us off at Walgreens around 9am. In Butte we got breakfast with Ohm, Carrot, and Shepherd at the Hanging Five restaurant before going our separate ways. I walked to the gear store to pick up some insoles I had them put on hold for me. Then I got a slushy from the gas station and walked two miles to the KOA campground. We only had to pay $20 for our campsite and there were so many other hikers there. I was so happy to see them!

The group of hikers in the spot next to us were, Trigger, Horse, Frisbee, Stubbs, Ricochet, and Old Head. Ozark, Eternal, and Machine also made an appearance later in the day as well. This is the most hikers I’ve seen since Chama! I wasn’t looking forward to spending time in Butte because I’ve had a friend or family visit me in every single trail town so far which is crazy! Like I’ve said before, I struggle a lot with being homesick. At the campground, I took a shower for the first time since Lima. It has been 13 days since my last shower which is a new personal record for me. It felt so nice to scrub all the dirt off my skin and get my hair untangled from its knotty mess. I felt like a new person. I set up my tent before walking 2 miles to the pizza buffet with 12 pack. The other hikers showed up a little bit later. I couldn’t believe there was a buffet in town. It feels like a rare occasion for 2021 and I’m sure it will be a long time before I find another buffet. I got so many plates of pizza and salad. I was happy to catch up on the calories. On the walk home we stopped to check out some of the dispensaries. I got some CBD oil to last me the rest of the trail.

The rest of the night I spent hanging out at the campground with the other hikers. To end the night we walked to a bar down the street. The air quality ended up remaining very poor all day. I could hardly see the ridge we were hiking on yesterday from town.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 126: The smoke comes rolling in

Miles Hiked: 22.3

Total Milage: 2195.7

Today I took my sweet sweet time leaving camp. I didn’t get up until 7am. 12 pack left way before me while I took my time stretching. I was in no hurry at all today. Since we crushed miles the last two days we only planned to hike 22 miles today. Since I have all day to do it I was moving slow and in no rush at all. The day started with a long 7 mile climb. I listened to music and ate gummy bears the whole way up. At the top I took a break and called Luke. It’s so nice to have cell service on the trail! I could see a view of Butte for most of the day. It looks like they have some sort of giant mining operation on one side of the town. It looks like a whole mountain was removed.

The day was hot and dry once again. I caught up to 12 pack and we took our next break together at a water source. It was early afternoon and we were only 9 miles from our planned camping spot. Time to kill time! I made some PB and J sandwiches and enjoyed just sitting down on the side of the trail doing nothing. I washed my feet in the cold stream and also soaked my sun hoodie and let it lay out to dry. After that I hiked 3 more miles to the last water source of the day at a small stream. I cooked some mashed potatoes for dinner and took another one hour break. There were about five more miles left to camp. I noticed the smoke was very bad as I ascended a small mountain to camp. It’s probably the worst smoke I’ve seen since we started. It was thick and I could hardly make out the mountain ridge closest to me. I kept hiking until I ran into some NOBOs at a trail junction. It was Shepherd, Ohm, and Carrot. They just got back on the actual CDT at this point from their reroute they did around the fire. A lot of other hikers took a route called the Big Sky/Super Butte alternate that is about 200 miles shorter than the actual CDT that 12 pack and I hiked. Even with skipping the road walk we still walked a significantly farther distance. I’m so happy to see hikers again! After we flip flopped so many pros were about 1-2 week behind us. Since we slowed down a bit and also hiked an extra 200 miles a lot of people are finally at the same spot as us. I’m so happy. I haven’t enjoyed only seeing the person I’m hiking with very much. I’m thankful I had someone to hike with but I’d rather be alone sometimes than only see a single person. I missed the social aspect of the trail so much. I stopped and chatted with them while 12 pack caught up. We walked one more mile and set up our tents at a nice flat spot.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 125: Love from Butte

Miles Hiked: 28.1

Total Milage: 2173.4

Yesterday I looked ahead at water sources and realized that we have a very dry stretch ahead of us. Almost all the water sources have dried up and the ones that haven’t are questionable. I noticed some Guthook comments about a water cache that seems to be empty now. I ended up posting on the CDT Facebook page to see if anyone was still maintaining the cache and to give other hikers a heads up about the dry stretch. Within an hour multiple trail angels from Butte were commenting on my post. They worked together to put water caches out at some spots that we really needed them! I was so so thankful. It’s awesome to feel supported by total strangers who genuinely want to help hikers out. A little bit of water can go a long way. Not only did I have water to look forward to and not stress out about today, but one of the trail angels also left some treats in a cooler for us to get at the very end of our day. Some motivation to do the miles! A special thank you to weatherman, chickadee, and Lora from Butte!

I left camp around 6:40am this morning. The trail today was on some narrow and sandy mountain biking trails almost all day long. There were blown down trees absolutely everywhere I looked around me. It must have taken an incredible amount of effort to get these trails cleared again. There were so so many large logs that had been cut in half and moved off the trail. I imagine all that work must have taken a solid year to complete. I’m so thankful for whoever came out here to do all that work! The bad thing about so many blown down trees is that there isn’t much shade left. Today was very hot. I could tell early on when I could feel hot gusts of wind blowing early in the morning. I was extra thankful for the water.

My first and only really long break of the day was at pipestone pass where weatherman left a cooler filled with ice cold water. The best part? It was cold and I didn’t have to filter it. I drank so much water because it was so hot out. For lunch I ate a PB and J wrap. For the second day in a row I hiked nearly 20 miles by 2pm. Apparently my legs are feeling great. 12 pack caught up to me here and we had lunch together. I then continued hiking another 9miles along more sandy single track mountain biking trails. It was still crazy hot out and I was dripping sweat going up a very long but well graded climb. Once I got to the top I cruised to the bottom until I crossed interstate 90 over a bridge. My feet were hurt but I knew that treats were waiting for us. I didn’t want to take a break one mile away from my destination so I Sucked it up and kept going. The magic that Chickadee left for us was glorious. This has happened maybe 2 other times on the whole CDT. On top of the much needed water, there were cold drinks and lots of snacks that I was craving. I had a beer and I actually loved it! I plan on trying it out in town to make sure I really like the beer and that it doesn’t just taste good because I got done hiking so far. I also had some Cheetos and lots of cookies. For dinner I made a beef stroganoff mountain house meal. My mom sent it to me almost two town’s ago but I’ve been holding onto it to reward myself on a day like today. It was delicious. 12 pack and I sat there for well over an hour just enjoying the treats and relaxing. I’m really proud of myself for hiking 60 miles over two days! Eventually we packed up and walked to a campsite not too far away.

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird

Day 124: Feeling Good?

Miles Hiked: 31.8

Total Milage: 2145.3

Today I woke up early around 5am. My stomach was bothering me first thing in the morning and I knew we had to hike 30 miles today. I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it because I was feeling so bad. Luckily after I got through the first 8 miles things started to turn around. I was also on my period. What a rough day to walk so far! I had a lot of cell service today and I was able to talk to both Luke and my mom for a long time while I was hiking. It was so great to just hear my moms voice. Whenever I have a bad day on the trail she is always the person I want to talk to. She made me feel a lot better and eventually the miles started flying by. I didn’t even realize it at first, but I ended up hiking 20 miles by 2pm which is a great pace to set myself up to end a long day of hiking at a reasonable time.

At mile 22 I took a long lunch break and made a PB and J wrap. I carried water for 20 miles today! There were no sources on the trail since the creek I passed two miles after camp. I spent almost the whole day alone and I was so glad. 12 pack was going slower today and never caught up to me until dinner time. I was so grumpy all morning and just didn’t want to talk to anyone except my mom today so it worked out. I remember being on the phone with my mom telling her that I just wanted to be alone and I didn’t want to see any people at all today. At dinner we cooked some ramen noodles on the side of a dirt road because it was our last water source for miles and there is private property on both sides of the road. While we were eating some bike packers passed us. After dinner I had 6 more miles to camp up a dirt road. I saw the bike packers ahead of me pushing their bikes so I made it a goal to see if I could catch up to them. I did and we got to chat a little bit. They have done quite a bit of long distance hiking as well. It was awesome to meet other people out doing another big adventure years after their first few. It gives me hope that I have more adventures in my future than thru hiking!

I made it to camp around 8pm. Honestly it didn’t feel like I hiked almost 32 miles today. I didn’t really start hurting until the last two miles. The rough part was the beginning of the day with my stomach pains and being super grumpy because of my period. I was so happy to finally lay down in my tent.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 123: Wise River

Miles Hiked: 18.5

Total Milage: 2113.5

Today I woke up very early so that we could get to town as early as possible. The goal was to get to town, resupply, charge all of our things and get back out to trail. The hard part about the plan is that we will be trying to hitch hike on a road that isn’t very busy so it could take a while. It was dark when we hiked out of the campground around 5:45 am. It was a 6mile road walk until we hit a paved road with a small amount of traffic. I enjoyed watching the sunrise as I walked. Right when we got to the road, we got super lucky. A girl who works for the forest service was on her way to work in Wise River so she picked us up. We made it to town by 8am. I couldn’t believe our luck!

The town of Wise River has one small mercantile store, a post office, a cafe, and one hotel/saloon that was closed on the day we got there. We got dropped off at the mercantile where we did a resupply that was pretty expensive for what I got. Small towns with one place to buy food are always expensive. The ladies at the store were super nice and let us hang out on the porch while we got to charge our things inside. I was thrilled with how accommodating they were. I was able to eat an orange, an apple, and a chicken salad sandwich on some hearty wheat bread while we waited. I also took a nap behind their campfire wood storage container. There was no cell service in town so it was a great excuse to lay down and do nothing while my things charged. Lots of fire men fighting the local fires went to the store while we waited.

At 11am our stuff was finally charged up. We walked down the street to the cafe that just opened to grab a snack before hitting the trail. They had WiFi so I called Luke while I ate my sweet potato fries. I also found out that they offered showers, laundry, and tenting. I wish I knew ahead of time. I’m currently going on my longest streak without a shower or sleeping in a bed so I’m going to keep it going until the next town. Around noon we were ready to leave so we walked to the road to start hitch hiking back to the trail. Not many cars drove by. It took about two hours for us to get a ride. A very nice man took us back to the trail in an old jeep with the top down. It was pretty fun to be honest. It was 3pm and blazing hot with no shade when we got dropped off.

After we got dropped off we walked about 5 miles down a dirt road before taking a break. My pack felt really heavy. This time I packed out a glass jar of jelly, peanut butter, and tortillas to make PB and J wraps. I made one for a pre dinner snack while we took a break. It was incredibly hot and I was sweating a lot. We walked a bit further before crossing the paved road we hitched into town on for the second time. When we crossed the road we saw another hiker in front of us. I got excited. It ended up being “Sweep” who we hung out with in Lima. We all ate dinner and camped together tonight. It was great to have another hiker to hang out with for once!

Happy Trails

– Early Bird

Day 122: Rainbow Mountain

Miles Hiked: 24.3

Total Milage: 2095

Today I woke up around 6am. It was still kind of dark out and very very windy. I thought the weather might be bad today because of how ominous it was when I woke up but it ended up being a beautiful day! There was quite a bit of climbing to be done today and it looked really intimidating on the map. Luckily the trail was built and graded incredibly well so although the climbs were long I didn’t feel like they sucked a ton of energy from me. To start the day I had a smoothie pack my mom sent me and a “protein puck” for breakfast. I was nervous my stomach might be as bad as it was yesterday.

The first 4 miles were downhill. I grabbed some water at the bottom before starting a very long climb up cutaway pass. There were some very long switch backs so it made the 2,000 foot climb feel a lot nicer than some of the short steep 500 foot climbs along the Idaho border. At the top of Cutaway pass I took a break before hiking on. I dropped down into a valley before doing a second long climb up to Rainbow mountain. At the top of Rainbow mountain I took another break but much longer this time. I gave Luke a call since I had some cell service. Rainbow mountain was very pretty. I was glad I had such a nice view while I made myself a tuna wrap with Mayo. Mayonnaise makes tuna wraps taste so much better! Rainbow pass marked the halfway point of my day and it also meant I had already finished most of the climbing. I had to drop into one more valley and climb one more big mountain side before the rest was all downhill.

The last climb was the prettiest part of the day. There was a 360 view with mountains all around and a very blue Seymour Lake. I got a cool picture on an outcropping of rocks. At the top of the last climb I was feeling very tired. I took lots of breaks on the last 9 miles downhill to camp. I stopped at a stream and soaked my feet for a short period of time because they were hurting and I sat down to take lots of short breaks. For dinner I had some Ramen and Hot chocolate. I camped at Lower Seymour Lake campground. A free National forest campground. When I got to camp I was craving town food so bad. 12 pack and I had a 45 minute conversation about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I thought it was really funny how hikers fantasize over the simplest food. I decided that I’ll be buying some PB and J to pack out in the next town.

Happy Trails!

-Early Bird

Day 121: Warren Lake

Miles Hiked 23.1

Total Milage: 2071.7

This morning it was very chilly when I woke up. Last night I slept amazing. I didn’t open my eyes until about 6am and it was still sort of dark then. The sun is definitely starting to rise later! 12 pack and I left camp just before 7am. We started the day with some rolling hills through a burnt forest. Luckily it wasn’t sunny so we stayed cool despite having no tree cover. I ended up hiking in my hoodie dress almost all day because it was so cold. I don’t think this has happened many times on the trail yet so far. 10 miles in to the day we found an awesome patch of giant huckleberries right before our break spot. I ate a couple handfuls. Exxon caught up to us right there so we all hung out a little bit before going up Pintler Pass together.

When I was going up Pintler Pass I ended up getting some pretty bad stomach cramps. At the bottom of the pass I was hurting so bad that I took another break. I realized I may not make it as far as we were hoping to go today. At that spot I got to switch over to our last map of the whole trail on Guthook. Crazy! I picked out a camp-spot 9 miles away that was promising great views. It will also set us up to hike 24 miles to a campground with a pit toilet tomorrow which is perfect! After that 12 Pack and I climbed up Rainbow pass. It ended up taking me and extra 20 minutes to get the the top. I sat down several times because I was in so much stomach pain. I really hope tomorrow is a lot better! I may consider seeing a doctor in Butte if things don’t get better by then but I have a feeling I’ll end up paying a lot of money for not much help at all. I just can’t wait to finish the trail so I can stop eating such a crappy diet and maybe figure out what’s going on at home with my doctor who I trust.

After rainbow pass I descended for almost 4-5 miles. I took a break at a super nice flowing creek before going up the last climb of the day. Once again the stomach pains became crippling and I had to stop several times. When I finally made it to camp it was 6:30pm. Honestly not bad timing at all for how much climbing we did today and how bad I was hurting. I was so happy to be done so I could just lay down and not get anxious about getting to camp. For dinner I made some mountain house chicken fajitas my mom sent me and 12 pack made us hot Apple Cider. They were great treats to have for a chilly evening! I was in my tent trying to fall asleep by 8pm. What a long time I’ll have to rest before tomorrow!

Happy Trails!

– Early Bird