Off we go, once again back to the trail. I did check the weatherforecast just before we left town.
“What the f….. Are you serious??”
The locals (also) say these storms are not normal… The weather should be great, warm and cuddly by now.
We have lightning storms and rain forecasted for an eternety!
Dale drops us off where we had left the trail.
Felix figured out that this coming section crosses path with driveable (I hope!) dirtroads quite a bit. So this means we can meet Dale every evening, after we have done our miles per day, and he will be there with the van and our stuff, so we can SLACKPACK (!!) again!
We just carry a little food for the day, water, and obviously rain gear, and leave all our other gear in the van!
Enabling you to Slackpack is the biggest gift you can give a thruhiker!
“SO THANK YOU DALE!!”
So we slackpack our way throughout this next section.
Aha! We are obviously in Montana! And I can feel in my legs where this state got its name from!
It’s rather exhausting to hike up these ridges! Even with our itsy bitsy light packs! But it’s awesome and we get amazing views.
(Everytime I am on a ridge though, I am grateful when there is no lightning!)
And the meadows! Oh the meadows! Oh the flowers! They are owerwhelming! Felix and I keep discovering new flowers the further north we hike.
It’s getting late, it starts raining and of course there is thunder and lightning. But we will soon be at our meeting point with Dale, and can hop in the warm van!
There he is!
As we hiked “from North to South” today, we need to drive around this section to the Northern trailhead (don’t worry about it, its complicated!)
So we need to drive on this dirtroad! I don’t know exactly, maybe 15 miles up a valley. It gets really late now, and it’s foggy and cold, so Felix and I decide to sleep in the van again tonight instead of our tents. (Just because we can!)
We look for a place to park the van.
“Ah, here is perfect!”
We are all super super tired and can’t wait to go horizontal and sleep!
I get out of the van and hear something:
“Oh holy crap!! A tire seems to have a hole!!”
“We got to fix that right now”!,
Dale says, and starts to get out all the necessary gear.
We all would very much rather just go to sleep… But first things first!
Dale crawls under the van, gets out his spare tire from underneath.
Felix hooks up the spare tire.
I feel rather useless at the moment, as there is not much I can help with.
Ah wait, I can get my head torch out and shine some light, as it gets rather dark!
All is fixed and hunky doory about 40 minutes later.
“Yeay! Great job guys!!”
“Now we can finally go to sleep!!”
The night is as always very short, we are already back on trail. It is going to be another 20 miles (32 km) of hiking, this seems to be our standard.
It rains buckets today, but we only get a few thunder and lightnings so we only have to hide under trees for a few minutes.
We hike and hike, the days pass by so quickly. My umbrella is great for sun and also rain protection! A dual purpose gear item!
But we also get some good sunny moments thrown in!
Felix likes to keep book of things, so he knows that we had 30 days of rain so far.
30 days in three months! Thats one month of hiking in rain! That’s one month of wet feet.
But honestly, I don’t really care! It’s awesome to be out here, doing what we are doing!
(I could totally do without the lightnings though…)
We are certainly getting closer to Canada, the landscapes get more and more remote. Today and also tomorrow we will hike in the “Scapegoat Wilderness area!”
That’s what Wiki says about Wilderness areas:
A Wilderness is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: “the most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.”
Yes!! I like!!
The hiking and the views are amazing out here in the Scapegoat. The mountains we hike up and down clearly get higher!
It gets late and foggy, and we are on top of a ridge.
And the trees look a little spooky up here too…
“Oh please no lightning! Please!”
The fog gets thick, it gets windy, we get cold.
We are currently hiking with “Recalculating”, a very nice guy we see on and off on the trail.
“It’s good to be in a group in this fog, is it not?, I say to him.
We have about an hour of daylight left, so we can hike down the mountain to lower elevation, out of the fog and possible storm and cold wind. We find a great spot for our tents, right by a lake.
Felix and I jump right into the icecold water!
Recalculating does not want to…
We all go horizontal. As always, I pass out about 10 minutes later.
Alarm clock goes off 5.15 am. We hike on and leave this amazing Wilderness at the trailhead, where Dale is already waiting for us.
I am pretty damn knackered and just crash into the van. Dale always makes sure to have enough Coke, Ginger Ale and Chips in the van. So this is what I am gonna have. Right now! Lots of it!
We head into the town of Augusta.
No time for a zero though in town. We just do the shower, food, laundry, hotelbed, resupply thing and head out of Augusta today already.
We have to make miles if we ever want to hike the whole 3100 miles (5000 km) until End of September..!
So off we go, into the next big Wilderness: The “Bob Marshall Wilderness”. This Wilderness is adjacent to the Scapegoat Wilderness which we have left yesterday.
But “The Bob” as everybody calls it is special. It is one of the largest Wildernesses in the US! It’s huge! And we will be hiking right through (or rather up and down!) it.
I read in Wiki:
“With numerous waterfalls, lakes, and dense forests, the Bob Marshall Wilderness is prime Grizzly bear habitat. Forest Service claims that the population density of this species is higher in “The Bob” than can be found anywhere else in the U.S. outside of Alaska. The Bob is also home to many other large mammals, such as moose, elk, black bear, mountain goat, bighorn sheep, wolverine, mountain lion, lynx, and wolf. Bald eagles, osprey, pelican, and trumpeter swan are just a few of the bird species found.
As it is a Wilderness area, it means there are no roads in it. Not even dirtroads. So there is no way to bail out. We have to keep walking, no matter what, until we will meet Dale at Highway 2 in about 6 days.
Pure, almost untouched nature for a whole week.
Off we all go! We give Recalculating and Wallace a ride out of Augusta and we all head into “The Bob” together.
They hike faster than me and Felix though and soon dissapear into the distance.
Dark clouds are rolling in.
Of course! Another thunderstorm!
We hide under trees, as we have done before, and wait until the counting between lightning and thunder is at least 8 seconds before we keep hiking.
I look up to ckeck the clouds:
“Felix, look at these clouds, they look super weird!”
I hear a hauling. More hauling. Louder and louder and from more and more animals.
“These are not coyotes! These guys must be wolfs!!”, Felix and I figure.
We are right by a bloody pack of bloody wolfs!!
I have never heard a wolf before! Let alone a whole pack!!
The sound they make is amazing and sure enough gives me goosebumps!
I love it!
We are truly in the wild!
Oh my! How cool is this!
We find a good space under a lot of trees, set camp, go to sleep.
The forests here are so healthy, super dense and wonderful. It’s so amazing to see them, feel them, smell them and hike through them.
(We hear from Southbounders that we will hike through lots of burned forests later in the week. As this is a declared Wilderness, fires will not be put out by humans, they just let it burn.)
Whenever we are up a mountain, we have an epic view, whenever we are down the mountains, we are in thick thick forest.
And there are definitly bears here. There are obvious signs on the path:
We also see lots of scratches on trees, bushes which have been nibbled by bears, lots of bear footprints, and Felix points out big rocks which had been turned over by Grizzlies to eat the bugs underneath.
(I still am amazed about what Felix sees along our hike. He so very often points out things I would have missed or just not noticed. I had given him the Trailname “Magic Eye”, but as he already has a Trailname, he does not need another one.)
Anyway, best thing around bears is not to startle them. So we need to be loud.
We invent the “hey bear” game, where one of us starts shouting “hey bear”, and then the other needs to also shout “hey bear”, but louder, and this goes back and forth a few times, until we both screem “HEY BEAR!!!!!” on top of our voice.
Seems to work! We have not seen a bear so far and we plan to keep it that way.
We hike and hike and hike, the elevation gain and loss is tremendous. But the main problem at the moment are our wet feet. For one thing, the plants and all the grass is always wet, it’s muddy, and we have to cross SO many creeks and rivers and streams all day long, that our feet are constantly bloody soaking wet.
My skin is totally disintegrating and when I try to sleep at night they hurt.
Have a look. This is the status of my poor poor feet, how they look every night when I check them out in my tent:
We keep wading through creeks all day long.
And for good measure, in one valley, the path is even flodded, and we have to walk in even more water.
At one point, the trail turned into a little waterfall!
(So you see now why my feet are disintegrating!)
As this is such a wet (and cold!) summer this year, there is so much more water around everywhere than in normal years. The flowers seem to love and need it though. We walk by sooo many wildflowers! Felix and I often stop and just gaze at them.
“Frauenschuh!!”, I scream!! There are hundreds and hundreds of these wild orchids out here!!
We hike down a pass, through a thick forest. We are a bit tired of the “HEY BEAR” game, so we shout out obscenities.
That’s fun! But we both soon run out of obscene words (speaks for us I think!) so we now try shouting food words:
We have fun doing this and the bears stay away.
But even this gets exhausting after a while.
(Everything gets exhausting on a thru hike, eventually).
So we both just scream:
out loud into the woods.
The “Pizza” shouting eventually seems to turn into loud singing, so now we hike through the thick forest, both performing some freestile singing with the words “I love Pizza” and/or the words “go away bear, go away from me, far, far away from me”.
We do this for hours and hours!
Can you imagine!
We climb up our fourth or fifth pass in “The Bob”.
And get to sleep by (and jump in) a lake again!
As always on the CDT, there is nobody here, so we have the whole scenery for ourselves!
My feet hurt today as they are so cold and in a dissolving status (you have seen the picture). I cringe every time I have to cross another stream. Even though these streams are so very beautiful.
But I am DONE having disintegrating, wet feet all day long, for weeks now! If not for months!
Every morning, first thing I do is put on my soaking wet socks and soaking wet boots. The boots are so heavy since they have soaked up about at least two bloody litres of water.
But what can we do! Onwards we must go!
We have two more days now until we leave this amazing Wilderness. We both feel the same. It’s amazing here and a one of a lifetime experience, but yet we are happy when we are out of here.
Perhaps it’s a little too much nature at once…
Today we hike through burnt forest. When I was hiking through burnt forest on the PCT in 2017, I was always thinking, they should not just let the forest burn down. I was always shocked and sad seeing these burnt trees.
But now I come to the conclusion that these fires are an opportunity for so many other plants. The light enables a huge variety of flowers and grass to grow.
There is a true flower explosion here! For endless hours we hike through these fields of yellow flowers!
I realise, it is the right thing to do to let these fires burn. It’s not about us, the people living now in the 21st century. It’s about these untouched bits of nature who should stay untouched for as long as possible. So that nature can do its own thing without us interfering. These protected Wilderness areas are a true legacy for future generations.
Well done America!
Well anyway! One more day and we will be out of “The Bob”, it has been a mindblowing, mindaltering experience for me. I will take a piece of the Bob with me and keep it in a save place in my soul.
And as always: “Thank you Felix for taking me along! Thank you for making this hike possible and enjoyable for me!
We are both very much looking forward to get to town now, where we will ZERO!!
And then we will head on, on our last 100 something mile stretch to Canada!!
(From where we will drive back to Anaconda and hike south, to fill the stretches which we had to skip due to the snow – which has hopefully melted by now!)