The Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas

Day 1

Today started off with getting our resupplies for the next section and sending some unneeded gear back home. Sending our ice axes home proved to be abit of a pain as we had to scavenge a box that was at least close to the right size from a small market in East Glacier. After quite abit of struggling we managed to make everything fit and send it off. Getting to Marais Pass was much easier then anticipated, we waited about 15 minutes and then got a hitch from a couple of very nice people who were going on a short rafting trip. The day of hiking began with a short walk down a fairly maintained trail and then turned into a nightmare of hiking through blown down spruce trees. We must have hiked 3-4 miles through some of the worst maintained trail I’ve ever seen. Our pace at times wasn’t even a mile an hour as we tried to make our way through a game of pick up sticks. It was truly awful. After awhile the blow downs became less frequent but the scenery really didn’t improve. We basically walked half the day through an old burn. The second half the day improved slightly scenery wise as the trail moved more to forest service roads and actual living forests. This is when we started noticing huge wolf footprints everywhere and a smattering of grizzly tracks as well. Some of which were the largest I’ve seen outside Alaska. Oh well at least this brought some excitement to the day. The day ended on a high point as we found a wonderful patrol cabin for the forest service to camp outside of. It had a water pump, outhouse, and a table to eat at. We were joined at the cabin by two other thru hikers named beacon and mermaid. We all chatted while we ate dinner and enjoyed a beautiful sunset. It’s amazing how the worst days on trail can end well and make you forget about the bad parts so quickly.

Day 2

The morning started off with a quick rain shower followed by blue bird skies, a light breeze, and warm temperatures. That changed very quickly. By 9 am the skies started to cloud over and a sprinkle or two of rain was falling. By 11 am it was a wind driven rain and the temperature had fallen at least 10 degrees. We were all soaked and frozen. This was an very low point for the three of us. We continued to trudge on since it was the only way we could stay warm and escape the early stages of hypothermia. We just hoped and prayed that the rain would stop, the winds would ease, and the sun would return. Finally all our hopes came true. It was too late for our soaking wet feet, but the rest of our bodies began to dry off alittle. The high point of the day happened when snakebite stopped on trail to stretch for a moment and I looked down the trail in time to see a lynx staring back at us from about 50 yards. I’ve seen three other lynx in my life but they were all in Alaska. This was very exciting to me. I love seeing wildlife, especially rare wildlife. We continued hiking and found a nice area near a river where we made a fire and tried to dry out our shoes and spirits a bit. Tomorrow is another day, hopefully a drier and warmer day.

Day 3

Today started off like the last couple days. Most of our time was spent in the forest, crossing rivers, bushwacking at times, seemingly lost at others. We had a big climb ahead of us today and none of us were looking forward to it. I was having a rough day. I began my day with a cold or sinus issue that was slowing me down alittle and sapping my energy. Then on a sketchy log crossing of a river I dropped my cell phone into the river. I almost fell off the log trying to get the phone from the bottom of the river. I also immediately remembered that I hadn’t closed all the plugs on the water proof case to give it a fighting chance if it did fall in. Oh great. I retrieved my phone from the river and discovered that it somehow stayed pretty dry. All functions except one button seem to work on it and it charges. I guess that’s a win right? The day got better surprisingly as we went up the steep climb. The scenery changed to more of an alpine setting rather then the forests we had walked through for two and a half days. It was beautiful. Finally the Bob Marshall that I had been hoping for. We climbed almost to the top of the pass and decided that we had done enough for the day. Our next good chance for camping that we knew of was at least two and a half to three hours away and we would need to finish climbing the pass. Instead we settled in for the night near a beautiful alpine lake. We quickly set up our tents in a nice area before the hikers we had passed going up the pass had caught up to us. It was a good day all in all. I hope my phone doesn’t get any worse since I bought it recently and can’t afford a new one. I need it for my gps and trail information. It’s silly how much we still depend on phones even out here in the back country. Tomorrow we will get to walk beside the very beautiful Chinese wall. This is the most famous feature in the Bob, and something I’ve wanted to see for a very long time.

Day 4

Today we began our day around 6:30am and packed up camp and and were on trail at 8am. Not bad for us. We’ve been getting on trail most days around 9am with one morning starting at 10am. Our morning consisted of finishing the pass we had climbed most of the evening before. As we got back on trail a curious mountain goat walked onto the trail to check us out. We ascended a steep couloir full of snow and the next thing we knew we were at the top. Easy peasy. The next part of the day was a long descent via switchbacks which seemed to last forever. We were excited to get to the bottom, because at the bottom was a ranger station. Why were we excited about the ranger station? Because it had a pit toilet. Unfortunately for me I took another hikers word that it was locked and didn’t check it out. It wasn’t locked!!! Oh well. The day was a struggle all around after our lunch break at the ranger station. A lot of blowdowns in the trail which slow things down tremendously. River crossing which soak your feet and spirits. Then we had a slow climb before a steep finish at My Lake. Yes the name of the lake is My Lake. Other hikers with delorme GPS units checked the weather and reported that tomorrow would bring a very cold rain storm. Temps in the 40’s and rain for 36 hours off and on. Sounds miserable and we are already dreading the hike tomorrow. We’re about 28 miles from the exit point to Benchmark Ranch, alittle too far to make in one day in these conditions. We should make it early on Saturday for our next resupply. We’re all badly in need of a shower and some clean clothes. That may have to wait until our next town in a few days time. On the bright side my phone is working perfectly again. On the negative side as I write this post from my tent I’m also patching my sleeping pad in three different spots because a sharp rock has sliced through my tyvek ground cloth, bottom of my tent, and into my sleeping pad. If it isn’t one thing it’s another out here. Good night for now.

Day 5

Sleeping pad deflated while I was sleeping last night. Wasn’t the most enjoyable sleep I’ve had on trail. After further investigation this evening I didn’t find any more holes so maybe the valve wasn’t fully closed. Oh well. Wake up call was at 5:30 this morning and we were on trail at 6:30. That’s early for me. I enjoy my sleep while thru hiking. It was necessary though because of a storm that was due to hit today. We began hiking under clear skies, but much like the other day that changed very quickly. It was raining, sleeting, and thunder was cracking all around us by 9am. Thankfully we got to see the Chinese Wall before it all started. The Chinese Wall is the famous feature of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. It’s something I’ve wanted to see for quite sometime. A giant rock wall stretching for miles towering hundreds of feet above your head. It makes you feel like you’re in Game of Thrones. As we walked next to the wall the storm departed as quickly as it arrived. We again enjoyed blue skies and dried out alittle. However this pattern of rain, sleet, wind, thunder then followed by blue skies kept repeating itself all day. It was a bit frustrating but at least the rain didn’t continue steadily all day. Tomorrow we will walk the remaining 7.2 miles to Benchmark Ranch for our resupply packages. It will be a quick in and out as we need to continue our hike and get further south with the hopes of a shower and mass amounts of town food. We’re all craving food that doesn’t come in dehydrated or bar form. This will be the longest stretch between town visits I’ve ever had, likely 8 or 9 days. God I smell rotten. After our next section we will be looking to rent a car, get Crunchmaster some new shoes, eat ALOT of food, and go finish Glacier. I’m looking forward to getting back to Glacier and finishing this unbroken line. That’s all I can think of now, Advil pm is kicking in. Gotta get my kicks out here somehow.

Day 6

The sound of rain on a tent fly. It went on all night and into the morning hours. Snakebite left camp around 8:30 this morning and Crunchmaster and I both shook the water off our tents and quickly packed up to hit the trail around 9am. Today is resupply day, which usually means town and unlimited food and water that doesn’t need to be filtered. However our resupply today is at Benchmark Wilderness Ranch. We’re not sure what to expect from this place to be honest. Crunchmaster and I are keeping our expectations low but have high hopes of at least getting a soda. After the 7 plus mile walk into the ranch, part of it on a gravel road which feels awful on our feet and joints, our hopes are dashed. The place is no more then a couple old cabins with no electricity. The two of us are at a bit of a low point. We want town, and food, and a shower, and well… anything, badly. The three of us quickly sort our resupply and chat alittle with a couple other hikers before getting back on trail. The great thing about the Bob Marshall Wilderness and surrounding area thus far has been the wealth of trail alternates that you can take to get through areas more quickly. Since the CDT isn’t a defined trail and more of a pick your own adventure trail, we’ve been choosing to pick the direct paths rather than dawdling. As a whole this portion of the trail has been a huge disappointment. Many many burn areas, a lot of blowdowns, and it seems like you spend most everyday walking a river valley not getting many views. The Chinese Wall was beautiful but I will likely not come back to this area in the future. Tomorrow we will begin to climb in elevation and into the Scapegoat Wilderness. I’m not sure what the weather is supposed to be like since I haven’t had phone service for almost a week. Hopefully it will be good the next two days since we will be on ridge lines above 7,000 feet the whole time. We’re all excited to get to town in a couple days to get cleaned up and treat ourselves. We’re even talking about not going back up to Glacier at this time if the rental car is too expensive. Who knows what we will decide.

Day 7

We awoke this morning to frost. A lot of frost. Way more frost then you would expect in late June. Snakebite was up early as usual and off at 7am. Crunchmaster and I were abit slower to leave camp and didn’t depart till 8am. We had one small climb straight out of camp and then a very long gradual downhill following a river. Shocking we followed a river for miles and miles. Miles went quickly and by 2pm we had done around 15 miles. The scenery was about to change. We began to climb quickly and steeply into the mountains. The miles no longer come easy but the scenery began to become more and more beautiful. I climbed high on to a ridge line and began to look around, the trail followed the ridge line to a small summit and in the distance I could see something. On the slope just below the trail was a Grizzly Bear digging on the hill side, likely for ground squirrels or possibly for roots of the wild flowers growing up high. I sat and watched the bear which was probably a hundred and fifty yards away for about ten minutes. He had no idea I was watching. I waited till Crunchmaster arrived and after he had a good look I stood tall and yelled at it. It turned its head and looked at me then I smacked my hiking poles together a couple times. The bear took off running at an amazing speed across and up a hill away from us. It’s incredible how fast these animals are. We continued hiking abit farther and waited for snakebite while making dinner for the three of us. We decided to eat dinner in a small saddle earlier in the day and continue hiking till around 9. After dinner and some more climbing we finally reached the top. You could see for miles and miles. Finally the views I had been hoping for on this trail. As I walked the ridge lines alone I watched mountain blues birds fly past and took in the colors of the beautiful alpine flowers. This we the happiest day I’ve had on trail yet. We did 25.3 miles in total and it was a pretty hard 25.3 miles, but they wet so worth it. This is the CDT I was looking for, and now I’m hungry for more. Tomorrow we have around 18 miles to hike before getting to Rodgers Pass, where we will hitch into the town of Lincoln. I need a town day. I’ve been fighting a cold for almost a week and it isn’t getting any better. Hopefully a day off will cure me.

Day 8

Today was a tough day, I fact it was a very very tough day. I had almost no energy all day long and my legs were still sore from the climbs the day before. This and the fact that today was littered with climbs and sharp descents was gonna make for a rough day. The sun was shining brightly today with hardly a cloud in the sky. It was a beautiful day weather wise. Almost to perfect since we were spending most of the day above tree line climbing ridges. Needless to say I am sunburnt, very sunburnt. This part of the trail seems to go up and over every rise and ridge in sight. Crunchmaster said it reminded him of the white mountains on the AT. Crunchmaster and Snakebite hiked strongly all day, I was barely able to keep up. I took shorter breaks then I would have liked to keep myself moving forward at a slow pace. I had a rainbow at the end of this day, it was a TOWN DAY!!! The day was uneventful as far as any spectacular views or wildlife sightings until the end of the day. A Moose was in the trail ahead of me and Crunchmaster was posted up watching it for 10 minutes or so until I arrived. It was the first Moose we had seen so far on trail. Unfortunately for Snakebite it was gone before she arrived, she has been hoping to see a Moose. Shortly after the Moose sighting we arrived at Rogers Pass. After a short wait we were able to get a hitch into the small town of Lincoln Montana. We will now shower, do laundry, and eat and drink everything in sight before departing on Wednesday. Thank god for town days, especially after 8 long days on trail

 

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One thought on “The Bob Marshall and Scapegoat Wilderness Areas

  1. You guys are doing great!!! Lots of food and rest for the next day and hopefully you can kick the cold and get some help from the weather!!

    Like

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