Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Day 167: CANADA

10/5: Babb-Chief Mountain Border Crossing
Miles: 18
Total trip miles: 2930.2

It's strange to have a schedule but we do, a shuttle is picking us up to take us back to East Glacier and the Amtrak station so away we go one last time.

It's sunny and beautiful and while I'm still bitching that we missed some of glacier I can't argue that chief mountain and our route is awfully pretty. Besides now I have one more excuse to go back to glacier.

So what happens when you get to a closed border crossing and can't find the monument? You walk around in circles probably looking nice and suspicious past a million cameras searching for an obelisk. It feels like we're trespassing but we start taking pictures and within a few minutes have 2 armed guards walking toward us.

One has a sense of humor, the other not so much. We talk in circles and after they finally decide we aren't actually trying to go to Canada and really did just hike the CDT and want some photos they stand around making us nervous. I sheepishly ask for them to take a photo and we don't hang around much longer as they stare and warn us that there isn't any traffic and continually ask how we're getting back to town. We keep trying to explain that we have a shuttle and even if we didn't walking back wouldn't exactly be a major hassle.

We have made it to the border early and sit and twiddle our thumbs waiting for our ride. But they eventually show and an hour and a half or so later we're back in East Glacier chatting with Hot Tub and Coincidence waiting for Amtrak. And just like that it's over. What a ride, this trail sure kicks your butt but is worth every step.

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Day 166: Short Day

10/4: St Mary-Babb
Miles: 9
Total trip miles: 2912.2

It's a short leisurely hike today. Upper Saint Mary Lake and Blackfeet Reservation land.

Our permit still makes me giggle, even if it is totally irrelevant now.

The clouds are lifting but I'm still wearing every item of clothing. Not a lot of snow down here but a lot more up high for sure.

Mostly I just enjoy the colors and the sky as it comes out. A short storm but everything is even crisper and colder now.

We spend the night in Babb and tomorrow we finish. I'm tired and all melancholy, my body has liked the slower days but I'm still in a funny place. Back at the end of the PCT I remember being so very excited and in a whole world of hurt from my achilles. This time other than regular aches and pains I'm pretty good and not ready to go back to work at all. The overwhelming fatigue isn't present which is awesome and it helps that I'm already planning next summer. Still I continually feel like I should be happier than I am, but maybe it's just that this journey is coming to a close and it's hard not to feel on edge leaving something this big behind. Oh well I'm not quite done yet.

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Day 165: Sitting in St Mary

Miles: 0

There are no mountains when we wake up, the clouds have eaten them. We debate hiking and eventually walk down to the grocery store which is still open with limited hours. While we're there we run into Squarl and holly. They had the same idea as us and stayed in town last night. Except they have friends with a car and just slept there instead of getting a room.

We debate options and look at maps. Ultimately we cobble together our own new route, yes we will be skipping some of glacier but high passes above treeline today seem like a downright dumb idea. We've played enough on the snow and have nonrefundable plane tickets and a shuttle from chief mountain to consider. I'm a bit cranky, if I could have killed a few more days we could have avoided this reroute but time is not on my side anymore. And I'm not going to lie, heat is pretty darn nice today.

Later we talk to Hot tub and Coincidence about today. They finished at the border that morning and said it was so cold all they could do was turn on video on their phone and keep walking, stealing screenshots later of the end. I'll admit I'm not usually a fair weather hiker but at this point in the game it's pretty nice.

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Day 164: Glacier

10/2: Morning star lake-St Mary
Miles: 23ish
Total trip miles: 2903.2

There's elk bugling throughout the night, an eerie sound echoing through the mountains. Within 5 minutes of leaving camp we see more mountain goats and a giant bull moose. A few minutes later it's the herds of bugling elk. Not a bad start to the morning.

Fuzzy but still pretty neat

The day starts with us heading toward triple divide pass and then towards St Mary Lake and our campsite at Many Glacier.

After the pass we start heading down and the sky magically appears. And we're back in a burn zone.

They've taken down all the suspension bridges in the park and while I am sick of taking my shoes off and just barrel through wet shoes be damned Rest Stop decides to show off his old gym class skills and rope walks. I'll stick to my soggy feet.

Red Eagle Lake is a surprising treat in the midst of the old burn. This is also the split where we meet the fire closure and instead of the usual route we head around the east shore of St Mary Lake.

The change in scenery is abrupt but still so pretty.

Looking back at the lower half of Saint Mary Lake. This is where we change our minds again. We could road walk to Many Glacier and camp in the closed for season campground in the predicted 27 degree night or we could walk the short way to St Mary and grab food and a room.
St Mary isn't a hard choice. Turns out it's basically closed for the season and other than a hotel nothing is open. But after sitting in the parking lot for a few hours (the hotel owner was out to dinner) a nice couple gives us a ride up the road and we get dinner and then finally end up back in St Mary tucked inside watching a storm roll in.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Day 163: into the park

10/1: Morning Star Lake
Miles: 23
Total trip miles: 2880.2

We said goodbye to Viper and TraJik and headed back towards Glacier. They are all done and catching Amtrak back to the west coast.

Through town and towards the mountains, it wasn't too cold but was overcast and everything looked a bit fuzzy. But still beautiful, with our assigned campsites and impending weather the next few days could be interesting.

Bye bye town

And what a pretty fall it is

We climb up past Oldman Lake and over Pitamakin Pass. It's gorgeous even if it is gray. The miles seem super easy and we're both wishing we had planned more ambitious mileage. Oh well it's not such a bad thing taking it easy and getting to camp early.

We get to our camp at Morning Star Lake ridiculously early. We're the only ones there and almost push on but decide to be respectful and play by the rules so we stay at our assigned spot.

We hear clattering and spend ages watching the little white blobs of mountain goats before heading to bed hiding from the cold.

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