8/5 – This is the rock that kicked Dan’s butt. Yes, Dan had a hearty fall onto a pointy rock while attempting to walk across a fallen tree to stay dry for a river crossing. When he fell he wasn’t yet over the water, thankfully, but he did land on a rock and the pain was bad enough to send him into shock. He writhed in pain/huddled in the fetal position for a good 45 minutes (during which time NoBos Jack and the Beanstalk, Sarong and Chief Hua Hua came along… goodness what an akward introduction). But thank God, in the end he was ok and able to walk (crossing through the stream on wet ground rather than log). Nonetheless, his fall gave us some prudence when considering whether to attempt to cross the narrow gorge about 30 feet deep formed by the Buffalo River… this picture doesn’t capture it but, goodness was Buffalo Falls a phenomena! Churning white and turquoise waters rushed through the narrow slice of black cliff. Heaps has a tattoo on his feet that says, “Gravity does not grant me the privilege of failure” and it certainly applied when considering a jump across the gorge.
Later that day we arrived at Brooks Lake Lodge, a gorgeous old log-cabin style lodge, where the lovely Naomi (Mike with a Y’s wife) met us to be a true Trail Angel (again!) and give us a ride into Dubois, Wyoming.
7/11 – A low cloud in the valley hiding a herd of elk lifted as we trotted down through sage brush to a spring at Home Ranch.
Hundreds of swallows darted about the old barn in the morning light. The snowy Anaconda Pintler’s loomed large on the horizon. By 7/12 we were up amongst the stunning alpine peaks doing an incredible ridge walk which involved scrambling and rock climbing up to Kurt and Fish Peaks at around 10,000 feet.
July 4th – July 6th
In the early morn of Independence Day we spoke to the Pizzos on the phone. Dee reported that the “thought for the day” at their church was “Is it better to be independent or work together?” Classic, eh? Well, we’d certainly enjoyed the free 4th of July BBQ in Helena the day before.
We hitched back to the trail….. along with many other thru-hikers who had caught up to us during our second 0 day in Helena. So far on the CDT every single time I’ve hitchhiked, I’ve gotten a ride in the back of a pick-up truck. Sometimes it’s just been 2 or 3 of us, other times as many as 7 of us have squeezed in. Often the bed of the truck isn’t empty either. We often end up wedged between old tires, random bits of metal and rusty machinery and tool boxes. We even got a hitch from a truck carrying a trailer with a Caterpillar digger on it.
Riding in the back of a pick-up is a great way to see the countryside but with the wind it’s CHILLY and if you’re sitting up high (on top of all the random bits and bobs in the back) at all it can be rather frightful, especially on the curvy mountain roads. But so far so good!
Hitchhiking Montana Style
For the next few days hiking through the Helena National Forest we had periods where we were the “Dirty Dozen” – DnA, Kombucha, Hawkeye, Joker, Rock Steady, Mike with a Y, Rolling Thunder, Don’t Panic, Wing It, Lost and Found (Jack). It was incredible, especially considering there’s only about thirty 2010 South-bound (SoBo) thru-hikers total and other CDT thru-hikers we’ve talked to hiked entire states without seeing a single other thru-hiker. At Four Corners, at an off ramp of an interstate highway, Naomi (Mike’s wife) met us with food and refreshments and we enjoyed a delightful picnic before saying good-bye to Team Naomi as they headed to Butte to resupply. We, on the other hand, were hiking onward to Homestake Ranch where we’d mailed food earlier.