GNP: O Canada!
- PNW NST: 8.2 miles
- CDT Miles: 2,966-2,975.3 (9.3)
- Total Hiked: 2,007.3 miles
- Elevation Range: 4,225-6,915
“Remember kid, there’s heroes and there’s legends. Heroes get remembered but legends never die, follow your heart kid, and you’ll never go wrong.” – “The Babe” (The Sandlot)
Not a bad way to start this monumental day, eh? Today would be the day Snickers and Cheer finish the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. And leaving in the morning, it did feel different. Excitement and eagerness and a whole slew of emotions going on, but a lot of the day felt just as usual. We had a ways to get there though and it turned out to be a particularly special scenic day!
Starting at 6:29am, we set out to tackle Stoney Pass. The photos above hopefully showcased how spectacular it was. It was a big climb, over 2,000 feet of elevation and so we were ready for a breakfast break when we “summited” the high point around 9:00am. I thought it was quite the awesome spot…
Keeping things moving, it was down around 2,500 feet to join back with the CDT. First, was switch-backing our way to the shores of Stoney Indian Lake.
Leaving the lake, it was a bit of a slog through some overgrown trail.
It took us til 11:30am hiking still on the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail before reconnecting to the red line of the CDT. As beautiful as our alternate has been, I felt there was a welcoming back sort of feeling . It felt good to be on this trail for the final push to the northern terminus.
Even though we may have felt welcomed back to the CDT, the grouse in the next picture was not excited about the idea.
In fact, after passing it by and continuing to trek, this tough protector bird followed right after us to make sure we were getting out of its territory. We made the mistake of filling up water when still being pursued and it tracked us down, started making a noise and puffing up its chest. At one point it flew at me. Or… Maybe it was attracted to the bright red of my shoes? When we tried to shoo it away, it wasn’t phased. In the end, we filtered while defending ourselves and got the heck out of there afterwards.
Got to be honest, once we got lower in elevation we were dealing with some seriously overgrown trail. There were some nice berries at different times, which is nice, but the constant whiplash of leaves wasn’t ideal. Here’s a rare meadows spot in the forest…
Around 1:30pm-ish we popped out at the southern shore of Waterton Lake. I was surprised to find several buildings including a sort of gazebo and also a dock. I guess it’s either NPS or border patrol stuff. It looked pretty empty during our visit. We ended up heading out on the beach and had lunch there. I went out on the dock and saw a few nice sized fish in the clear water. It was very pretty blue color.
We oddly had cell service there on the lake, but besides checking in with the Dave H and Sheryl team, I didn’t didn’t want to deal with all the stuff. So, we enjoyed our lake lunch and then kept on moving. It wasn’t far to our campsite and then there were about 4 more miles after that to reach the Canadian border.
Here’s crossing the Waterton River, which we camped near.
Had a bit of a roundabout trail to get to our site, but we found it easy enough. Snickers had the idea to set up a tent and reserve a nice spot in case it filled up later on. So, as he set up his tent, Cheer and I hung out and filtered some water. At 3:00pm, we left to hike the last four miles to Canada!
This next video probably isn’t super excited. It’s just us walking through the forest for about 30 seconds, but I took it just to show that’s normally what this is. Lots and lots of walking. What does it take to walk a trail from Mexico to Canada? Why would someone do that? I’m not going to even try answering those questions, but regardless, it’s not hard to comprehend that one would feel a lot of emotions upon finishing such an accomplishment.
We’d been chatting lightly about stuff, but after a mile maybe, there was a sign telling that this was an eagle nesting area and to proceed quietly.
It seemed fitting to me. It’s almost like the CDT put this sign here to force a sort of reflective mood as hikers rush towards the finish line. Or maybe there’s actually eagle nesting going on too. We were silent for longer than the 0.5 miles the sign cautioned us about and then, with 1 mile still to go, Cheer stopped (she had been keeping an eye on it) and said she felt the triple crowner should lead us onward!
Snickers took the front. As we got close, he started chatting about how when first thinking of trying to do this trail, he had this idea that the CDT is for really experienced hikers only and there was such a huge sense of doubt and questioning of the self… “Can I really do this?”
Well, here he was leading us to the border! The dynamic duo of Cheer and Snickers were making it happen having pretty much hiked this entire trail together. And for Snickers, not just to complete this massive trail, but also to finish the last leg of the triple crown of long-distance hiking… the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and now, the Continental Divide Trail!
As we made the final bend, Snickers paused. We could see there was a group of hikers standing around. And then we kept going and made it to the CDT Northern Terminus Monument! Some cheers and congratulations and a celebratory crowning ceremony! Woohoo, we’d hiked to Canada!
My solo shot at the border… Looks like I was sneaking in?
And my personal squad…
The other group of hikers hung around for only a few minutes. They’d been hanging for hours already. We knew a few of them, mainly Short Sticks who bumped into Snickers on all three of his trails haha. Pretty awesome coincidence she made it here for this. But we did our own hanging there. Cheer and I toasted, I went for a swim of course, and we all just soaked it all in… each in our own way.
This pic makes the lake look small. It is not. Just a cove. Its another one of the super long ones. And that’s me hanging on the dock after my dive in 🙂
If you look at the mountain in the background, you see the line of the border that they must keep clear.
Cheer’s was huckleberry whiskey. Neither of us had Canadian sadly. Soothed my soul nice and warm like, especially after a chilly swim when it wasn’t really all that warm in the day anymore.
A real Canadian maple though?
Maybe not. It’s not red afterall.
I think by 5:00pm or a little after we decided to get moving back to camp. It was pretty easy walking and there were still a few new views going at it the opposite direction.
At camp, while cooking dinner, we talked with a guy named Kevin who was backpacking around Glacier for a while. He was great and had good stories and I’m pretty sure we agreed to go to hike the Himalayas with him.
And just like that, I was now hiking with two super CDT completers, Cheer the Mighty and Snickers the Triumphant. As for me, well, I wasn’t done yet and I’ll go into all that eventually. And actually, none of us were really done yet, we still got tje chance to hike more with one another whilst getting out of the wild Northern Montana Glacier Wilderness!