* It’s really been amazing hiking since leaving Anaconda
* I just started running into a lot of NoBos on trail
* I’m in the small town of Leadore, and likely will have a tough hitch getting out
After leaving the small town of Anaconda I snaked my way into the Pintler Wilderness, largely heading south west — not in the direction of Yellowstone. Because the trail follows the continental divide, this means it sometimes does seemingly silly things — like circumnavigating Butte or traveling due west before snaking south and then due east back toward Yellowstone.
Because of these silly things, the trail is exceptionally great for the creation of numerous alternate routes. Unlike a well-defined trail (e.g. PCT), the CDT presents so many hiking opportunities that almost no two hikers will hike the same set of miles in a given year. The culture of the CDT is also super supportive of finding and hiking different routes. This is something unheard of for the PCT or AT, the other two exceptionally long National Scenic Trails. There isn’t much notion of “purity” out here, and no one tries to insist that you have to hike a continuous footpath along the “official” CDT route for the hike to “count”. One such Alternative route is to cut directly from Butte into Western Yellowstone.. This circumvents a couple hundred miles of real trail, but also circumvents mountains in favor of grasslands…. And I guess I like mountains.
From Anaconda (which has been an alternate that circumvented Butte) I journeyed to the town of Darby, taking a couple alternates through interesting meadows in search of water and a change of scenery. The trail took me across beautiful ridges and down steep embankments before surfacing back onto exposed ridgelines. after 2.5 days I got to the pass and got a hitch into Darby almost before I could get my backpack off; a labor union representative for the Screen Actors Guild picked me up and took me to town. This fellow was a super nice guy, out to make sure actors (like Kevin Costner) on the “Yellowstone” set were not being taken advantage of. Conversation flowed well, although I couldn’t quite shake the idea that he may possibly be on a lot of cocaine — but who’s to say?
After a quick stop in town to charge my devices, resupply, and eat a bunch of calories I got a ride with some Floridians (who were casually driving and sipping margaritas…) back up to trail and headed for Leadore. After four more glorious days of alpine lakes surrounded by glaciated peaks and metric tons of mosquitos and I got to Bannock pass. The gravel “highway” at the pass was visible for quite a few miles in both directions, with no sign of dust from traveling cars. I quickly concluded that this was going to be a terrible hitch. As I sat down and prepared myself for what I assumed would be a four hour wait, a lady from a government agency swung by. She informed me that she could not give me a ride into town, as this would create concerning liabilities for the not mentionable government agency. She did offer me a coconut le Croix and some non-bubbly water. As she was finishing some routine work, she had a change of heart and decided to give me a lift to the edge of town. Score!
I’m headed back out tomorrow and will be in Lima in 3 or 4 days, depending on how my hitchhiking goes (not optimistic on this one). Trail is great, my feet are holding up well enough, and I have a shiny new pair of shoes waiting for me in Lima (hopefully!), which is my last stop before Yellowstone.
With love and adventure, and many pounds of dead mosquitoes clinging to my body,
P.S. I need some fiction book recommendations
list of books I’ve exceptionally enjoyed on this trail:
* Cloud Cuckoo Land
* Invisible Life of Addie La Rue
* The Night Circus
* The Name of the Wind series
* American Dirt (enjoy isn’t quite the right word)