Aloha Decorah!

In Sept we jet-set it to small town Iowa for our thru-hiking friends Tim & Nina’s wedding. We’d first met Nina as Silverfox on the PCT in ’09. Then we’d gotten to know her properly as Kombucha when she hiked the CDT with her boyfriend Tim (Hawkeye). We hiked with Tim & Nina on and off during the entire CDT. And afterwords, they continued vagabonding it – they bought a VW Van an toured all over the US before ending up back in Tim’s hometown of Decorah.

photo by Nina

And Decorah – wow, what a surprise! The town itself is charming, with a great main street that includes a local food co-op, yoga studio, outdoor store and some great bars & cafes. The hills in the distance were already blazing with autumn color and there’s acres of wild prairie, trails winding through the woods and a meandering river.

It was a shame we weren’t able to have a true CDT reunion (we are now spread far and wide – Heaps in Australia, Lost in Alaska, Yas in Japan, Found in Cali, Joker in Washington state) but Mike with a Y & Naomi were able to come. It was hard to believe it had been almost a year since we’d seen Tim & Nina and Mike & Naomi. As soon as we were together again, it seemed like we’d only been apart a few days. It was great catching up and also reminiscing about times on the trail.

the beautiful bride

Tim & Nina’s wedding captured their spirit in every detail. The ceremony was held in the dappled sunshine besides a bubbling spring.  Since they met in Hawaii (and Tim is half Hawaiian) they exchanged gorgeous leis (and hi-fives) at the beginning of the ceremony. Their beloved dog Rio also donned a lei and severed as flower-dog. The vows they’d written were funny, sincere and lovely.  Afterwords we enjoyed dinner and dancing at the historic hotel downtown. Instead of wedding cake, we munched on peanut M&Ms (which was Tim’s sole source of “nourishment” for a 100 mile stretch on CDT) and scotch-a-roos (an amazing chocolatey peanut buttery rice krispy treat that Tim’s mom makes and sent us along the trail).

The only disappointment was that our time in Decorah was much much too short. Reuniting with such kindred spirits was nourishing. We need to find a thru-hiking community in the DC area!  And  witnessing the union of two beautiful free spirits was such a joy.

Galactic Glacier

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.