SATURDAY JUNE 12th – After weeks of packing and planning, shopping and researching, and months of money-making and madness… we set off to hike the Continental Divide Trail. Working 4+ jobs each we didn’t have nearly as much time to plan or dehydrate food like we did for the Pacific Crest Trail, but we still managed to make our flight after frantic packing. Allie, Nattie & Russ saw us off at the airport (thanks!) and we enjoyed some “restless relaxation” before arriving in Spokane where we visited with my mom’s old colleague. Then at midnight, we caught the Amtrack Empire Builder Train to East Glacier National Park in Northeast Montana.
JUNE 13th – We awoke to gorgeous Montana views and were amazed to discover 5 other thru-hikers on our train: Jack, a wilderness counsellor from Utah; Tim a master diver from Hawaii; his girlfriend Nina (Silverfox) who we met at the end of the PCT last year; as well as Joker from Bellingham and Yas from Japan, two other PCT 09ers.
Glacier was majestic… wide open prairies and big sky meets colossal peaks cut by glaciers, blanketed with snow and skirted with scree. The weather was PERFECT – sunny and 70 with a cool breeze. Unfortunately we found out conditions were less than perfect on the trail were were planning to take. A lot of late snow storms meant the Highline trail from Waterton Lakes (the official CDT route) had high snow and a high risk of avalanche. So we’d have to do the route to the East starting on the Canada/US border at Chief Mountain. In Glacier National Park you have to plan your trip ahead of time and camp at designated areas so we decided the 8 (7 of us from the train + a recent college grad named Kristen or “Lost”) of us would camp together to be on the same permit.
In Glacier we also meet up with Wyatt and his friend David, who were road-tripping from NYC to Washington state. After dealing with some logistics we enjoyed a evening mesmerized by the view from the shores of Two Medicine Lake. They decided to join us on the trail for the first few days too.