CDT Day 96 (MT – Anaconda to Helena)

Thunderbolt, Green Ground, and T Magic

  • CDT Miles: 2,589.4-2,611.3 (21.9)
  • Total Hiked: 1,646.5 miles
  • Elevation Range: 6,645-8,632

“Something within fisherman tries to make fishing into a world perfect and apart. I don’t know what it is or where because sometimes it is in my arms and sometimes in my throat and sometimes nowhere in particular except somewhere deep. Many of us probably would be better fisherman if we did not spend so much time watching and waiting for the world to become perfect.” – Norman Maclean (in “A River Runs Through It”)

Not to go too much into things again, but I included this quote resonating with the feeling that I don’t need to have everything figured out just perfectly to act. It reminded me of a phrase that someone I know used to bring up often having discovered it from a book written by Shauna Niequist…

“Present over perfect.”

Those of you who have chatted with me in the past few years know that I have lots of big ideas, dreams, and hopes and such. Those of you that have read some of these posts know I also feel a pull towards meaningful, tangible, positive actions centered around both people and the natural world in some way.

This is sort of a the cycle with me. I start thinking big picture ideas and then I realize there’s a point when I need to refocus and be in the moment. This isn’t a new revelation for me. I’ve found it’s certainly a balancing act and so right now, I feel it’s important for me to fully be in these moments out here, be a good friend and hiking companion to Cheer and Snickers, and to do my best to bring joy to whatever unknown encounters each day.

The big picture stuff will come my way and some tough decision making will come with that, but for now, I’m out here hiking the Continental Divide Trail!

Lastly, the Harry Potter books are never far from my brain and this quote of Dumbledore’s from the first book seems to fit quite appropriately…

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live.”


I did not get trampled by any hikers, bikers, ATV’ers, or any other trail users last night. I did wake up to my alarm and then fell back asleep. I’m not a believer in snooze, but I suppose today that would have helped. Still managed to be ready in time for our planned 6am departure. Cheer wasn’t, so Snickers and I left her in the dust. JK jk. Well, we did go on ahead, but only cuz she said to do so.

Things started out with a link glow above the horizon. We could only get glimpses here and there through the trees…

We had stopped in the middle of a climb last night, so for the first 0.8 miles we were going up. At that high point there’s a junction where a side trail heads to the top of Thunderbolt Mountain. I was going back and forth on whether to go for it, but when Snickers said he’d stay and watch my pack and wait for Cheer, I couldn’t resist the urge for summit views. I mean with a name like that. Plus, it was only supposed to be a half mile or less. Happy I went for it…

There was remnants of an old watchtower foundation up there…

Today was more forest walking with a few occasional views outward, and a road walk at the end of the day. The scenery was neat, but we’re pretty spoiled in that department, so for me it didn’t have a spectacular feel to it.

Here’s more pics of today…

Just before reaching this pond in the picture above, we entered onto a dirt road. Cheer and Snickers were counting on it as a water source. There were comments about it being pretty good, but after seeing a pretty grotesque dead frog and just turbid pond water in general, they decided to backtrack to a cache that someone had left for hikers. I had water from a previous streams so just hung out in the shade. There was a family hanging as well and it was fun talking with them. They knew someone that had finished the CDT the day prior, which is crazy fast.

It was about 6 miles of road walk at the end of the day with some rolling ups and downs…

At the top of our last “bigger” uphill, guess what!?

Woohoo, trail magic! Very kind of folks to put this out here in the middle of nowhere for hikers. We took a pretty long break, despite the late hour.

Snickers opted for Cream Soda, Cheer thought classic Cola would hit the spot, and for me, Cherry Cola did the trick. All were of the Shasta variety. We ended up finishing the road stuff and ventured onto trail for a little less than half a mile before finding some flat spots…

We rolled into camp late, at 7:55pm. Late usually isn’t good for me, I feel pressure to do things quickly which I don’t like. I was in a good mood, however and was trying to go with the flow. I succumbed to frustration and anger, however, during my failed bear rope hang (sometimes I hang the rope before dinner so as not to have to do so in the dark). I tossed up my rock and it got wound around a very sturdy stubby branch. It was way up there and I couldn’t get the bugger to move/get loose no matter what techniques I tried. Obscenities were yelled. Curses were muttered. Then, I gave up in defeat and went to eat my dinner, hoping that would improve things.

It did help, but unfortunately, Cheer had the same thing happen! We go our whole time out here hanging food nearly every night and then the same night we both get our rope immovably stuck. Dinner was fast and furious, then one last try at getting it unstuck. Didn’t happen, so I cut it as high as I could and hung my bags with the remaining rope in a nearby tree.

Next, I went over to where Cheer was dealing with hers. Got hers hung up after she too had to cut her rope. Much frustration at our “leaving a trace,” but what could we do? We tried not to get too grumpy about it, but really it was a just climb into the tents and tomorrow’s a new day sort of thing.

Some other things of note though…

I’ve been enjoying that I have copious amounts of food and can eat whenever I want. Since that time a few weeks ago when I got low on food, I’ve probably been overcompensating, but at the same time, my body is craving it like no other time before.

The new shoes are working great. Didn’t even seem like I needed to break them in at all. No blisters. Fingers crossed they hold up for many hundreds of miles.

My teeth seem to be doing well too. No more pain! Thanks Bartoletti Dentist folks!

We’re starting to think about Canada northern terminus plans. We’re still a few hundred miles away with what’s anticipated to be some amazing stuff, but we still have to figure out a sort of exit strategy. We’re planning to all take a zero day in our next town and use that time to do some research and at least get ideas of our options.

Albums of the Day

“August And Everything After” – Counting Crows

A Mix for the End of the World pt. 1″ – The National Parks

Podcast of the Day

“Episode #158… The Creation of Meaning – Nietzsche” – Philosophize This!

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