CDT Day 97 (MT – Anaconda to Helena)

Finally Getting Got

  • CDT Miles: 2,611.3-2,617.5 (6.2)
  • Total Hiked: 1,652.7 miles
  • Elevation Range: 6,220-6,860

Some of your reading along might occasionally think to yourself, why doesn’t he slow down and enjoy it? I think each of us out here figures out our own way of doing that. Even the folks that are super speedy and from the outside it seems they don’t ever pause to take a look, I’m sure they still have their moments of being still and soaking in the surroundings. There is a season for doing these long hikes and if you’re too early or too late (or for me, potentially both of those situations), you’ll likely encounter some snow and cold temperatures. So, there’s some pressure each day to get miles in.

This morning, I wasn’t worried about all that and set my alarm late in hopes that I’d just wake up naturally. Indeed, right around 6:00am I was up and could hear Cheer and Snickers packing up. They too planned to sleep in, but still gave themselves a set time of 6:30am being on the trail and hiking. I moseyed around and halfway packed before setting up my stuff to make coffee. It was nice letting my legs (which feel especially stiff today) rest a little longer before jumping back into things.

Our tenting spot was in the forest, but just like last night, looking out through the gaps in the trees there were pretty colors as the world became filled with light.

As I made my way to the trail and started hiking at 6:59am, the word brittle came to mind. That’s what my body felt. I think a lot of it has to do with the many downed trees across the trail yesterday and climbing up, over, or around them…Or, maybe it’s just my body protesting, saying, hey, I need a rest… Or, maybe an illness is brewing inside me… Or, maybe all three options are colliding to form a perfect storm! Let’s hope that’s not the case.

Either way, some rest is in my future regardless. Fortunately, today’s hike is just 6-ish miles to get to Mac Donald Pass and Hwy 12, then a nero and a zero day in Helena!


So I wrote the above stuff sort of in the moment at different breaks hiking in the morning. The rest was all created afterwards when staying in town.

There were more downed trees to climb over right away on trail. Thankfully though, there weren’t too many and it seemed these were only the most recent blow downs because folks last year commented about how it was horrible. Thanks once again to another trail crew for clearing!

I was surprised to catch up to the others. Found Cheer on the second of these open grassy knoll-like mountains. Snickers was ahead just a little and while the two of us were chatting, he was down below spotting a Black Bear. It apparently ran off and he said it was a cool experience.

A while back, I think it was in our stretch before Anaconda, we came across a trail crew that was a mix of volunteers and Forest Service staff. One of the volunteers with a trail name of Sun Dog recognized Cheer and we all got to chatting.

I’ll brag for Cheer here a bit and say, she’s kind of a big deal. She’s humble about it, but the stuff she’s doing with the “organization/community” she founded, Thru-r, is pretty awesome (Thru-r.com). Part of what Thru-r does is connect folks that want to do a long-distance hike with those who have some experience. Mostly, this is done via group video chats hosted by Cheer.

I’m saying all this to tell y’all that Sun Dog met Cheer in one of these vid chats during her prep for the PCT last year (I think). And that Sun Dog lives in Helena, our next resupply town. And that she said she’d pick us up from trail and bring us into town. So, pretty awesome stuff! She even hiked out with her dog, Mazy to greet us 🙂

We got dropped off at the Early Bird Cafe. Sun Dog went to bring her pup home and we went inside to the far corner, furthest away from folks. Breakfast was tasty and my second round of coffee was wonderful. We took our time since unable to get into our hotel for a few hours. Even so, we left around 11am.

Here’s where things got interesting.

We parted ways, Cheer and Snickers off to a coffee shop, and I headed down the street to a CVS Pharmacy. Got a Covid rapid test… positive. Hmm, I thought, my symptoms don’t seem too bad, that doesn’t seem right. Better go and get another to double check… positive. Dang. The Covid finally got me after two and a half years of evading it, it tracked me down on trail of all places. Or, more likely, the last town is probably where I picked it up.

So, what to do? Trying to be proactive, I did the first few steps I could think of… Find myself a separate hotel from the others. Luckily, I still get the occasional free hotel night through my credit card points and Helena is big enough that there’s a Holiday Inn Express in town!

Next, I figured out the local public transportation, which had a sort of Uber style to it, and the bus came and got me and brought me to the grocery store next to the hotel. I was double masked up after finding out about stuff, but still felt like I shouldn’t be walking around anywhere in the vicinity of others.

What choice did I have though? I needed food, right? I suppose I couldve ordered stuff for delivery, but I felt alright enough double masked and hands washed going into the store. So, into the grocery store I went and then after a short walk, into the hotel I went. They got me in early after some finagling, and then I felt safe.

I’ve mentioned before how these Holiday Inns feel comfortable to me having lived out of them for years when working out of town for my old job. I eventually got two nights figured out. The rest of my night consisted of resting up, lounging around watching an actually tv, and doing some of the things I could do to prepare for up ahead. Even got my laundry done. And, really enjoyed my shower.

Figure I’d see how I feel tomorrow and talk with the team then about what to do as far as going forward on the trail and such. We’ll see what happens.

One thought on “CDT Day 97 (MT – Anaconda to Helena)

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