CDT Day 86 ( ID/MT – Leadore to Darby)

From Lush to Burned

  • CDT Miles: 2,328.6-2,349.9 (21.3)
  • Total Hiked: 1,470.8 miles
  • Elevation Range: 5,700-8,775

“So, good news. I saw a dog today.” – Buddy the Elf (in Elf)

I woke up in the night to a stronger smell of smoke. Must have blew into my valley, although when getting up in the morning, it seemed to have dissipated some. I packed up and got up to the trail (I’d camped a bit off trail) at 6:01am. About 20 minutes later, there came Snickers and Cheer.

The day’s hike began with a steady uphill traverse across a very steep side slope. The trail was in really good condition thankfully because it was a little sketchy how high up we were and how steep the downslope was. Made for a really nice morning though with picturesque views all throughout the valley…

After making it to the high point, we crossed into a new valley and started our long trek downward.

Thought it an opportune time to take a time lapse vid to show this amazing section…

After this, it was down down down.

We entered into the forest and eventually started following along the South Fork of Sheep Creek. The overall trend of nice trail continues! Some steep spots and a little overgrown at times, but solid trail, much to my liking. We crossed the creek a few times and then as we neared it again, took our second breakfast pretty much right on trail in a spot that seemed to be a bit more open. Once hiking, it was only about 0.1 miles to the creek and we filled/filtered…

Slow-mo waterfall…

After this it was mostly up until lunch. Pretty much all forest covered.

Saw our first potential edible berries (we think), huckleberries?

And took a break on the dilapidated porch of this old cabin.

Smoke is still lingering around, although each day seems to get clearer and clearer…

On the climb, we came across a southbounder named Two Can (or Tucan?). And yep, she had a awesome Golden Retriever named Copper with her. Super friendly and excited and rolling around on the ground. She said they hiked together all the way once out of Glacier National Park, where I assume you can’t hike with your dog. She warned us of a tricky junction ahead, which was very helpful.

A ways further up, another encounter…

This little doe may have been sick or something, not sure. Wasn’t scared of us at all and seemed to walk in an odd way. I was singing and such and it still didn’t move. Eventually it jumped up above the trail and we were able to keep moving onward. We trudged towards to the top and had lunch at a little campsite there. Pretty windy, which seemed to stick around most of the day.

Post lunch was some forest cruising…

In the afternoon, we popped out on a dirt road and had some ATVs come up to us. There were three of them and we ended up chatting a good while seeing as they were pretty intrigued about this whole thru-hiking thing. After parting for a while, we actually met them up ahead again, as well as a sobo hiker named Ghost Hiker, down at Big Hole Pass. This is yet another spot where the trail aligns directly with the continental divide and also the Idaho-Montana border.

Also saw these Montana Conservation Corps (MCC) trucks, but no crews in sight. I was hoping to bump into them since I know a few of my folks from Utah Conservation Corps ended up switching up here for the summer.

Leaving Big Hole Pass, we had a series of some steep uphills through a generally burned area. There were some swaths that got missed by the fires, but most areas showed some impact. The black soil dust left our legs (I suppose our whole bodies really) nice and dirty.

At one point, we noticed some pink flagging. First, it went off to our right and then switch backed to our trail. Appeared to be a flag line marking a future trail layout. Intersecting with our trail, however, it didn’t rejoin, but instead crossed and seemed to be making a line that traversed our upcoming mountain we were headed up. On a whim, I told Snickers I was going to follow it. After a bit, it led to some recently constructed, albeit still in progress, trail…

The route continued it’s path of almost horizontal traverse off from the actual red line trail, but still running somewhat parallel, just below. I followed and soon found the MCC crew whose trucks I’d seen earlier! It was so great to talk with them and hear a bit about their hitch. Almost felt like I was field bossing again haha. Didn’t find my former UCC folks, but nice talking to Shelby and the crew.

After leaving, I followed the flag line ahead, which ended up rejoining the CDT not much further. It’ll be such a nice reroute when done and was even better when not done because I’d find out later that Cheer and Snickers had some serious uphill stupid stuff in my absence.

Once again, I found myself not sure if the team was ahead or behind me. I talked with the trail crew for a bit, but it also seemed I’d taken a shortcut. I looked for footprints, but didn’t really have conclusive evidence either way. So, after waiting a bit and having a snack, I moved on. I found out soon that I was going to miss another super steep up and then down as well because some more newly built trail (within a few years at least) had been built and my app was wrong. I was loving this. Superbly nice trail with great views. It really allows a hiker to enjoy the experience when it’s like this!

And the views out would be stellar the rest of the day!

It’s a little hard to see, but this next pic is looking back. You can see a feint line cutting across the middle of the mountain, which is the new trail I took. The original goes up along the crest of the mountain, which you can see zig zag going down along the left ridge…

I ended up meeting back with Cheer and Snickers at our last water source for the day, a spring that was about a quarter mile off trail downhill. We all filled up and filtered there before the last push to camp. We wanted to go another 1.7 miles to a spot that someone had said was flat area out of the burn.

It was pretty exposed when we found our spot. And windy too, but still… it didn’t have the black burnt dust and we could set up where dead trees wouldn’t be at risk of falling on us. We were so tired and hungry though, we decided to eat dinner before anything else. I think we got in around 7:30pm. I had some Pasta Roni with added tuna. And the skies and view were outstanding as we dined and then set up our spots…

Pretty stellar day, but yet another tough one.

A while back when we were chatting with a hiker called Wow, we joked about how on this trail there’s no sympathy, “It’s the CDT, get over it!” Well…. at least among our group, we allow and encourage a healthy amount of complaining as well as emphathy for each other.

Album of the Day

“Guardians of the Galaxy: Awesome Mix Vol. 2 (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Podcast of the Day

“Fully Equipped – The Bible Series: Week 3” (Jeff Manion of Ada Bible Church)

One thought on “CDT Day 86 ( ID/MT – Leadore to Darby)

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s