Day 123: Lower Seymour Lake Campground to a few miles up Hwy 569 and Anaconda, MT, ~10 miles, nearing 2,300 miles total
Today we “celebrated” four months on trail. By getting up and walking. We sponged off the condensation inside our tent. Huddled under the roof of the Forest Service pit toilet to finish packing up; trying to will the tent to dry some some mirw. And partially shielded our bodies from the rain and wind with our umbrellas. Cold hands. Damp jackets starting to saturate. Hard to get warm even after downing a 1000 calories and walking 30 minutes. Sometimes living the thru-hiking dream involves a little physical and mental suffering.
An uncomfortable morning preceded by three wet, cold days. I thought hard about living this dream over the first few miles of the day. What is it that we are doing exactly on this quest to follow the Divide from Mexico to Canada?
Hiking the CDT is a spectacular journey. The sandstone cliffs of the Gila. The towering peaks of the Winds. The racing pronghorn of Great Basin. Meeting great people on trail and in the communities along the Divide. This has all been what I wanted. What Gabriel and I both wanted. We’d worked, saved, and planned for the CDT for several years.
This morning. This cold, wet, miserable morning of road walking four months into our hike. It was right where I wanted to be. Even if it wasn’t. It’s part of the dream. The rare gift of life to have the time, physical ability, life situation, and other resources to be on trail. All of this to be appreciated and not ever to be taken for granted. Living the dream shouldn’t be easy… all the time. The things worth doing in my life, to achieve and fulfill dreams, have almost all involved suffering. Lactic acid build up. Sleepless nights. Sacrifice. Work. Less comfort. Bushwhacking in the dark. Type II fun.
A month from now we won’t be on trail. The accumulation of 100+ days of simplified life and walking the Divide will begin to feel abstract. Off trail life will ebb and then wave, and wash over us. And so I breathe deep of the cold wet air, pull my sleeves over my gloves for little more warmth, and smile.
And then Gabriel and I both think practically. Maybe it was seeing houses crop up along the road. Warm, dry houses where we imagined people enjoying large Saturday morning breakfasts.
The long-range forecast calls for this to be the coldest day. 100% rain. Snow above 8500 feet. This forecast had prompted us to push for the last three days to make sure we’d be below and beyond Goat Flat; the last point along the trail-north bound-above 9,200 feet.
We’d figured we’d tough out the cold, push through the snow. Then nero in Butte tomorrow. Keep up the pace and trek to Canada by 9/15.
Our plans changed after the rains picked up and we left the shelter of dense lodgepole forest. In the open grasslands it was gray, cold, wet, windy, with clouds so thick there was no reason to hope they’d burn off. Just what exactly were those motivations and objectives we’d talked of while sheltered in the pit toilet?
Pragmatic beings, we stratagized. The forecast also called for improved weather starting Sunday or Monday. With four highway crossings that lead to Butte, spread over some 70-90 trail miles, we shifted priorities: dryness and warmth over miles. No significant trail time lost from the original plan.
Not long after reaching MT Hwy 569 we stuck out our soggy thumbs and got a ride into Anaconda.
Hot food and drink. Dry gear. More food. Chance to get a feel for a Divide community. Kind people. All moral boosting.
Tomorrow we hike. The snow should melt. We’ll regain the Divide and continue savoring the last 500 miles. By the time we roll around to month five, we’ll be home.
A special thanks today to Justin, from Butte, Montana. Thank you for the ride into Anaconda! We hope you have a great fall term in school and hunting season. We’ll be sure to stop at Nancy’s for a pasty!