CDT Day 72 (ID/MT – W. Yellowstone to Leadore)

The West Yellowstone In & Out

  • CDT Miles: 2,026.6-2,042.7 (16.1)
  • Total Hiked: 1,167.5 miles
  • Elevation Range: 7,080 – 8,130 feet

So getting up and fetching my food bag in the dark is a little spookier now that I’m solo for some reason. Or maybe it’s that I’m in Montana (even just barely) and associate the state with being “bear country?” All went well though and I started hiking around 5:44am (I know it bothers some of you when I use the precise time like that).

Yesterday’s easy striding downhill had run its course and this morning I started out climbing. Sometimes on my app I have the elevation profile stretched and mellowed out so much that the steepness surprises me. That’s what happened this morning. Once I scrunched it up, I could see that yes, indeed, there appeared to be about 1,000 feet of gain. It did bring me out of the forest and into some truly awesome flower-filled meadows though. Like filled filled…

Found Charlotte and her web…

I was loving it. I mean, who could I not be? Reminded me of sections of the Pacific Crest Trail, but couldn’t nail down if I was too thinking of a part of Northern California or Washington. Still, this had its own flavor and it would leave its own unique mark and memory. I had cell service for some of it too, so spent a little time trying to scope out what was in town and make a plan for my resupply.

Around 10:00am, I my first sobo CDT’er, a hiker that chose to start at the northern terminus and hike southbound. Her name was Blue Wren and she’s from Australia. We chatted for 5-10 minutes just about how the hikes been going, our different routes, water sources, and upcoming towns. Then, it was back to trekking.

After 13 miles of hiking in the morning, I made it to Highway 20, which gives access to the town of West Yellowstone, Montana. It’s a bit confusing. The town is not actually in the park, rather it’s more like a gateway town before folks enter or when leaving it. Anyways, I got down to the highway crossing around 11:30am ish and was in town by 11:50am or so. Pretty awesome. A nice guy named Nick who’s from North Dakota and originally from Mexico picked me up. Thanks to Nick!

My plan for town was to resupply, charge up my battery pack, get some town food, and then make it back on trail all in the same day. No big deal, right? To add to this aggressive scheme, I’m choosing to make this next stretch a big one, probably the largest on the CDT yet at 8 days, totaling about 197 miles! I’ll need to average about 24.5 miles/day for my plan to work. It’s just like walking from GR’s Calder Plaza to the Bean in Chicago, only have to add in a mountain range in the middle.

I started out at one of the two small grocery stores in town. First, got some lunch (a ham and cheese wrap, macaroni salad, and an Arizona iced tea), then proceeded to fill my cart with seemingly expensive food. Got my power banana too. Then began sorting it all out and removing packaging right outside under the stores awning. Got a lot of states from the Yellowstone tourists.

After the first grocery store, I was still missing a few items, mainly instant coffee and stove fuel. Off to the other store I went and luckily found fuel. Sadly, no coffee except Starbucks Via and I wasn’t going to pay $12 for 8 packets. Sheesh. I did visit a coffee shop afterwards and got an iced coffee about $4, so not sure how my logic all works out, but whatever, I felt like treating myself. And it was nice to sit and charge stuff for a bit.

I visited Subway quick to get some dinner to pack out and then lastly, the gas station to fill up with some water. Boom, just like that, I was walking the road to get into hitching position.

It didn’t take more than 10 minutes and some guys pulled over for me. They were headed to Henry Lake, which I wasn’t really sure if was before or after the CDT crossing, but they seemed to think it was on their way. Davis and Josh were super nice and also interested in the trail. Enjoyed talking with them. Thanks guys!

It was around 5:20pm when I got dropped off at Targhee Pass and 10 minutes later, I was moving. Up and up the trail went. I’d actually go from my low point to my high point for the day in these last three miles.

Subway eat fresh at the junction. One sweaty long haired dirt bag. Still, I think they’ll be calling for me to be the next Jared the Subway guy, remember him?

By the time I was ready to make camp, I felt I was back up in the marvelous Montana Meadows. Such a cool area and sets me up nicely for what I’m guessing is going to be a stellar day tomorrow. My bear hang was an ordeal since the trees in the area didn’t have many solo branches sticking out. I had to walk quite a bit further than normal to find a nice one and am getting better at this thing (with all the practice I’ve been getting) and got it up there. I’m ashamed to say, I have too much food for my two dry bags and so had to use a plastic grocery back for a few overflow items. Hope it doesn’t tear and fall overnight!

The last thing of note for the day takes me on a little tangent. So, y’all already know I do a good amount of music and podcasts and audiobooks and such. Maybe some have the opinion that takes away from the true wilderness experience of the trail. Maybe it does. For me, I’ve found it’s quite nice. It’s a long journey afterall and balance is key I’d say. Sometimes I use the technologies and sometimes I don’t.

What some of you might not know is that I also download shows to my phone when in town and most nights watch in my tent. Now, that might throw y’all of too. But, hike your own hike as they say and I am. Some others do this, lots don’t. But it finally brings me to point. I am finally ready to embark on the final two episodes of Stranger Things season 4. Wow. That’s all.

One thought on “CDT Day 72 (ID/MT – W. Yellowstone to Leadore)

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