Monthly Archives: August 2017

Lima, MT to Helena, MT

I had a warning about the trail leaving Lima from some Southbound hikers.  They told me that it followed the Idaho/Montana border and it would go straight up and down.  It was described as a steep roller coaster.

Sweet, I was ready!  I left Lima feeling refreshed…  Bring it, CDT!

It was an intense section.  We got rained on everyday as we tried to navigate our way up and down steep mountains.  It was beautiful, and reminded me of the San Juans again. I could see for miles and miles.  Every moment on the divide was absolutely stunning, and I loved it.

But, by the time I arrived at Leadore, I was completely spent.   The CDT had smashed me.

It wasn’t just my legs that hurt.   My stomach had started to feel tight, and things quickly went downhill.  I felt like I had no energy, felt lightheaded, chills, and GI issues.  I looked at myself in the mirror and I could see my ribcage sticking out.  The trail had sucked everything out of me.  I ran my fingers over my bones and thought “How am I supposed to pull another 700 miles out of this body?  What’s going to be left?”

The pain in my belly got worse.

I spent 2 nights in Leadore trying to recover.  But, Leadore is one of the smallest “towns” on trail.  It’s so small that I literally couldn’t find an apple, banana, or yogurt in town.  I was stuck eating frozen chicken pot pie and lunchables from the gas station.  My stomach was repulsed at me, and I was so upset that I didn’t have access to any fruit or veggies.

I couldn’t heal my body without healthy food.  I barely ate.

As I lay in my hotel bed, I caught up on blogs of other CDT hikers.  One group had apparently road-walked to Anaconda from Bannock Pass.  The 120-mile alternate route was mostly flat, had 3 restaurants, 3-4 hotels, and a hot springs resort.  It looked like a mixture of quiet dirt and paved roads.  I could do that with minimal effort.  And if my belly acted up, it would be easy to rest in a hotel.

I checked the CDT elevation for the next section, and it was clear that the roller coaster would continue.  I didn’t want to be on the divide. I felt too sick.  Was there another way to Canada?

Other hikers had similar ideas.  We were all tired. In the end, 8 hikers dropped down to roads.  Some wanted easier miles, some wanted hot springs, some wanted to carry less food and hit more towns.

And maybe that’s what I love about this trail.  You can do whatever you want and nobody gives a crap.  Because chances are that we are all taking an alternate at some point.  And frankly, nobody cares.

My body slowly recovered as I walked on the roads.  My belly started to feel better, and my energy returned.

I cruised easy miles, soaked in hot springs, listened to audiobooks, and most importantly, was happy.


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Dubois, WY to Lima, MT

In this section, I finally started to see Southbound CDT hikers.  Yes!!  This meant first-hand information about the trail ahead!  I would ask them how the trail was through Yellowstone.  The responses were varied… Everything from “Yellowstone is amazing” to multiple hikers complaining about the trail being boring.

Wait.  Boring??

Yellowstone holds a special place in my heart.  In my mid-20s, it became my first experience in a national park.  On that trip, I spent 4 days exploring, and instantly fell in love with the waterfalls, animals, geysers, and mountains.  I understood that the CDT would follow a different route, and I wouldn’t see the waterfall or herds of bison.

…But, I knew that I would still love it.

Walking the CDT through Yellowstone was still a beautiful experience.  I soaked my sore feet in warm hot springs.  I got first car hitches that took me to a grill to get cheeseburgers.  I had easy days where I curled up in my tent watching Game of Thrones in the rain.  And I had long days where I crushed back-to-back 30 milers.

One day, I stumbled across a mama grizzly bear and her cub.  They ignored me, and continued wandering through the woods.  I was completely mesmerized, as I snapped photos, and slowly backed away.

I watched Lone Star geyser erupt, completely alone, as the sun set.  The next morning, I visited old faithful geyser, with about 200 other visitors.

We demolished the breakfast buffet, and walked by pristine lakes and bubbling geothermal pools.  Grizzly bear poop was everywhere, and we carried bear spray and hung our food.
And finally, we left the park, and walked into Idaho.  The next day, we hit Montana.

I have a lot of words for Yellowstone.

But…  Boring??

That doesn’t even cross my mind.

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Lander, WY to Dubois, WY

I used to ask Will which trail was his favorite of the Triple Crown.  He would answer without hesitation: CDT.


It is hard to pick a favorite trail.  Obviously, they all teach us different things and come into our lives at different points.  The AT taught me that I loved long-distance hiking.  The PCT taught me how to fall in love.  The CDT taught me how to suffer and keep pushing anyway. 🙂


I have a hard time picking a favorite. But, until recently, I would tell Will that the CDT wasn’t my favorite. It was too brutal for me.  I missed the easy cruising of the PCT, or the community of the AT.


And then I entered the Winds, and spent 6 incredible days saying “Seriously??  Are you kidding!?” and picking my jaw off the ground.  It was some of the best terrain that I’ve ever hiked across, and that’s against some tough competition.


I called Will from Dubois.


I told him that I finally understood.  I couldn’t pick a favorite trail, but I had just experienced one of the best weeks of my life.


Here are way too many pictures from the Winds.  These pictures don’t even begin to do it justice.


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