CDT Day 103 (MT – Helena to Augusta)

The Yurt and the Hail Storm

  • CDT Miles: 2,686.2-2,699 (12.8)
  • Total Hiked: 1,734.2 miles
  • Elevation Range: 5,575-7,645 feet

Last night, I designated Cheer as the one to decide our start time for this morning. 7:00am is what we went for and I was quite happy with the decision. Although we did not have to endure record setting low temperatures of -70 degrees Fahrenheit like the sign yesterday said might occur here at Rogers Pass, everything was wet from the rain. It’s unpleasant packing up in such conditions, but even worse when in the dark. So, a bit more time to collect ourselves was welcomed.

We crossed Highway 200 at Rogers Pass and then started going up.

This would be the overarching trend today. It was sort of two steps up, one down, and then some more up and then some more down sort of thing though. And each step should be thought of as an increment of a couple hundred feet.

The highlight of the early morning was a dip in the mountains where some air was funneling through and forming a cloud vortex air stream. Pretty sure that’s the official terminology. That’s the thing about writing your own blog, you can decide what’s official terminology.

After our later-ish (more official terminology for you) start, we continued the relaxed style of hiking by taking second breakfast inside a yurt we came across! Pretty perf. As I approached all confident-like I started to think hmm, this could be some private thing that people rent out and they might wonder why a long haired hippie wannabe is peering inside. Well… turns out, it’s open to the public and is sort of provided nowadays on a donation basis for emergency shelter..or that’s what it seems anyway. There was a hiker log book inside and chairs and cots and it was wonderful. We thought pretty great spot to get out of the wind!

photo credit @carollcoyne
photo credit @carollcoyne

A sobo hiker called Van Gogh who I met briefly a few weeks back left a nice artistic bit of flare for the yurt…

I was really liking the scenes today, but they were killer too. We got treated to one reroute that contoured around a mountain rather than straight up the sucker only to come straight down, but otherwise some good rollercoaster action going on.


During lunch we dried everything out in the sun and were happy we got that chance. Around 3:30ish, it started to rain and unlike last night when things remained pretty gentle, this one turned into a straight downpour. I got my raincoat and pack cover on in time, but unfortunately Cheer figured this one was going to fizzle out like so many before had. She eventually got it and we started going, although at that same time it turned into marble/”ow that hurts” – sized hail.

Here’s before it hit…

I wasn’t brave enough to have my phone out during the storm, but Cheer overcame all obstacles to get footage for the team…

The trail turned into a river of muddy water and white pearls. It was a sight to see and if I wasn’t trying to fight off the fear and keep my composure, would’ve enjoyed experiencing it. At first we tried hiding under a tree/bending over so our packs took the brunt of the hail. Problem was, we were up on a high ridge and surrounded by only dead trees. Didn’t take long for us to decide to keep hiking and get lower.

We eventually got down to a live tree that offered us some decent cover. The hail had turned back to rain and then to light rain. We took our chance to get out of our soaked clothes (apparently my raincoat doesn’t stand up in a deluge). I took my shirt and shorts off. Hiked in my boxers and rain pants and my fleece and raincoat. Instantly felt warmer with the changes although the chill would stick with me most of the rest of the day.

The rain kept up for the next while as we hiked and thunder had started to boom up above. Of course the trail goes right on the topmost ridge along the only spot without any trees. For a stretch, we decided to just go off trail still down in the tree line and hike parallel.

Eventually, we got back on the trail and found our way into actual forest. It was slow going and we both ended up soaked again. About 4:45 pm, we seemed to arrive at the spot where trees thinned again and the trail started up to another bare ridge. At this same spot, we discovered a small area that looked ok yet very slanty to set up our tents in. After going back and forth on whether to hike on or stay, I said, “I don’t think we’d regret setting up our tents early.” And so we stopped and made camp.

I don’t think either of us realized how cold we’d each gotten. The first step was setting Cheers tent up, then mine. We were inches away from each other. Then… organizing, getting dry, and warm. Warmth came and the rain did stop, actually not too long afterwards. We figured that would happen and were still fine with not making more miles.

Getting hungry, but not wanting to spend much time out of our tents, we ate in wet shoes, no socks, and in a hurried state. Then a quick bear hang and into the warm cozy sleeping bag! Hallelujah. What a day. Here’s the last pic I took, just some remaining hail near my tent…

Albums of the Day

“Waiting For The Dawn” – The Mowgli’s (2013)

“Five Score and Seven Years Ago” – Relient K (2007)

Audiobook of the Day

Started “The End of Faith” by Sam Harris

One thought on “CDT Day 103 (MT – Helena to Augusta)

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