CDT Montana Day 3: CDT Take Two

Today’s miles: 5.6

Miles to date: 55.0

At the hostel I’m the first one packed. My time for hiking is ticking by and I’m so ready to leave this town. But Cowboy and DJ obviously need time to rest and ice their sore knees/feet. It’s not clear how far we will be able to hike today, given different folks’ injuries and energy levels. So we lie around in the sun on the grass for a long time, while I feel antsy. A new hiker is joining us at least for this next section — her name is Susan and this is her first thru-hike so she doesn’t have a trail name yet.

I eat a burrito and talk with Cyn for the last time for a week. We sit on the hostel porch charging our phones and external batteries until some strange shift happens all at once, like we just collectively know it’s time to hike out. We shoulder our packs and walk a few blocks to the trailhead. “CDT, take two!” crow the four of us who’ve been stuck in town.

It’s the same trailhead we used last time, but now we turn south instead. I walk with Whiz and Susan for a while, through rutted out dirt roads. We are legally on Blackfeet tribal land for the first few miles, for which we have each purchased separate permits. Then we enter Glacier National Park again. There are a few brief views of big mountain backdrops, but today’s miles are primarily forested. The trail here, in terms of elevation change, is the gentlest we’ve seen.

I fall behind a bit and walk alone, though I can see Whiz and Susan ahead most of the time. I hear a sharp, short, one-note bird call. DJ, just behind me, says “You hear that bird sound? That’s exactly what a mountain lion sounds like.” I had forgotten this, but it’s true. Well then. He and I make short work of the next three miles to our meet-up spot, talking trails and future goals and southern foods along the way.

We all convene at a wide stream. Given the physical ailments of many in our group, we will camp near here even though we aren’t supposed to. The mosquitos are thick here and I cover up every sliver of bare skin. We sit and eat, chat, filter water. We tie up our Ursacks and find spots for our tents well away from them. I try very hard to make minimal impact with my tent and as a result am sleeping on quite a slope. The protective tape has come off two of my toenails, I find when I do my nightly foot inspection, but I’m relieved to see that they don’t hurt much. Tomorrow we will aim to do a 20 mile day. As I curl into my quilt, a deep pink sunset blooms through the pine trees.

Only one picture from this short day: Whiz walking into the forest.

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