Continental Divide Trail Journal 2006 – Part 1 – Montana and Idaho

Here is my journal from my journey on the Continental Divide Trail .



Unlike my other journals, this journal was kept up every few days or so rather than every day.

Part of the reason was that I was also writing articles for the Boulder Daily Camera about my journey.  Keeping two writing projects going (while hiking ~25 miles per day) was difficult enough. Writing a daily entry, in addition to my newspaper articles,  would be another ball of wax entirely.

Originally, I transcribed these journal entries with Pocketmail. Both the journal entries and my articles would be sent out. The articles would show up every two weeks. My entries would be uploaded to a framed Blogger entry courtesy of my friend Emily. This method made it easier to add the entries to my website without Emily having to futz around with any interfaces.  The downside is that while it worked, it was kludged on.

Two years to the day of finishing the trail, I finally incorporated the entries into my site fully. I did not clean them up too much, (the small keyboard of PM made for some interesting typos!), but enough where it fits in OK.

Walking the length of the Continental Divide Trail was perhaps the most difficult  of the trails I've hiked. It was also the most rewarding. As my buddy d-low advised about the trail, I embraced the brutality of the CDT. The wildness, the route finding, the sheer beauty of this journey.  Two years later, I miss the experience. Two years later, I again want to be out on a trail. To embrace not just the brutality, but to again embrace being out in wilds for an extended period.

In the meantime I'll look back on CDT journey and remember it fondly.

–Paul Mags


April 26th, 2006 – Boulder, CO

I wrote this e-mail back in January 2006. Seems an appropriate way to start my journal for the Continental Divide Trail.

..who can say where a voyage starts – not the the actual passage but the dream of a journey and its urge to find a way? –William Least Heat Moon, RIVER HORSE

The first step on a thru-hike is not when you are the trailhead. It is
not looking north of the Springer summit, and seeing a series of white blazes heading towards Katahdin. It is not being at a border

fence, looking at the rolling high desert hills. It is not being at Glacier, following where the waters divide.

The first step on a thru-hike is not getting the maps, marking your
route. The first step is not plannning your resupply. Or buying your gear. Or training for the hike. Or buying a plane ticket.

The first step on a thru-hike is when you make the commitment to walk
the trail. The feeling that the journey is going to happen one way or another. When you know the journey is something you don't want to do, but something you HAVE to do.

This past week or so I made the decision to do my CDT regardless of what happens.

The journey has started in January 2006. I still have to fine tune my intinerary. Plans still have to be solidified. Gear has to be tweaked a bit.

But the journey has started.

And I could not be happier.

May 3rd, 2006 – What goes into planning a thru-hike?

What goes into planning a hike of the Continental Divide Trail?
Many, many many maps!

A thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) involves a bit more planning
than a hike of the Pacific Crest (PCT) or Appalachian Trails (AT). The AT is an
easy to follow foot path marked with white blazes. Alternate routes are few and
rarely taken.

The Pacific Crest Trail has more alternates and requires some basic map and
compass use in the the snow covered High Sierra. After that challenge, the
navigation becomes easier (if not as easy as the AT).

The CDT? There is no true official trail. It is more of a corridor that uses existing
trails, road walks and cross country travel. There are two places to being the trail and
three places to finish! Grab (many) maps a compass and plot your way along the
divide. The picture to the below illustrates best the challenges I'll find on my
CDT hike!




That's 200+ 7.5"quads on 8×10 paper, a whole bunch of Trails Illustated maps, the DeLorme Gazeteer road maps and a slew of guide books!

Lots of navigation in remote areas. A trail that is a work in progress. I'll probably get lost at some point. Would not have it any other way!

May 5th, 2006 – The Legend of YoMagLow

What is YoMagLow? YoMagLow is the Pocket Mail device I am using on the Continental Divide Trail this coming year. It has been used previously by my good friend Yogi on her PCT thru-hikes in 2002 and 2003. Also has been used on her CDT thru-hike in 2004. One year later, D-low (another PCT 2002 cohort) used it on his CDT thru-hike. This year? I'm using it.

This little Pocket Mail has more miles on it than all but a few thru-hikers. When I am done with it, YoMagLow will have 13000+ long trail miles! Now, we just need a hiker to take YoMagLow on the AT. It will be a Triple Crowner pocket mail!

May 5th, 2006 – From an earlier pilgrimage

More than one person has compared an extended journey into the widlerness as
a pilgrimage.

A thru-hike is not just physically challenging. A thru-hike not just about being immersed
in a community of fellow travellers. A thru-hike is not just about the extended time spent
in the wilderness.

A thru-hike is all of the above and more. It is a pilgrimage where we are not seeking
just the end of the journey, but the journey itself. All the beauty, all the challenges,
the seeing all the people we meet along the way.

Around spring time, many former thru-hikers have what is called, rather apporpriately,
"Springer Fever" - the urge to return to the mountain that is  the start of the Appalchian Trail
and again hike north to Katahdin.

For many repeat offender thru-hikers,  think Springer Fever has gone beyond just the urge
to go to Springer Mountain. For many of us. It is the urge to pack up a bag and go!
To again head out  on a long journey.  To explore and see what is over the horizon.

As the weather warms in Spring and the flowers bloom, the urge for thru-hikers to wander
grows. A guy named Jeff[1] wrote this urge to wander previously:

As soon as April pierces to the root
The drought of March, and bathes each bud and shoot
Through every vein of sap with gentle showers
From whose engendering liquor spring the flowers;
When little birds are busy with their song
Who sleep with open eyes the whole night long
Life stirs their hearts and tingles in them so,
Then people long on pilgrimage to go,
And palmers set out for distant strands
And foriegn shrines renowned in sundry lands.

An old sentiment. For those who've hiked a long trail  the urge to go to Springer, Campo, Glacier,
and other places that being the start of wilderness pilgrimages is strong this time of the year.

Though it is raining and a bit misty  here in  Boulder, I still see birds singing, the trees are starting
to blossom with purple flowers. The flowers beds people have planted are fragrant with the smell
of Spring.

As I look past the foothills on the sunnier days , I catch a glimpse of the divide all covered
with snow. I want to be there walking along them...

Yep..Springer fever definitely transcends wanting to be at Springer. It is the urge to be
somewhere and someplace. To again be walking a long trail. Starting in July will be on
another wilderness pilgrimage. Another chance to walk. To be in nature. To see what is
over the horizon. To again be on a long journey.

[1] You know..that English hack named G. Chaucer? 

May 5th , 2006 – The many thankyous!

A long hike is not done alone. A long hike requires the support and well wishes of many people. This hike is no exception!

In no particular order, I'd like to thank to the following:

  • Family – They (Mom and my two Grandmas esp. ) still wonder when I am going to meet a "nice girl" and get married, but they still support me in all these crazy adventures. Thanks all!
  • The gang in Rhode Island – Wicked cool friends! Seeing them next week. Looking forward to my clamcakes and chowda fix! My good buddy Tim will be joining me for his "One Week Triple Crown". He has joined me for the last week of the AT, the PCT and planning to do the last week of the CDT as well. Catholic school obviously made both of us a bit daft….
  • The Boulder Crew (and surrounding areas) – too many to list them all! Thanks for the wonderful memories in the backcountry.
  • Special thanks to Marni and Josh for their continued friendship and support, (and many rides in the
    Subaru). This website is in large part because of Josh. Looking forward to meeting Little Z when I come through in September.
  • Thanks to Emily Reith for volunteering to be my "quartermaster general". She'll be mailing out my maps, shoes and copying and pasting my ramblings I politely call a journal. As a past thru-hiker, she'll be invaluable in this role. Thanks Emily!
  • Thanks to Dave Becher for all the off trails rambles he has shown many of us. Dave knows the Front Range better than anyone else I know; talk about a walking guidebook!
  • My good friend Nahum Arav. Nahum is another person you see in many of my photos. Twenty plus miles off trail…and with a star talk tossed in before we get to the car. Always do long hikes with an astronomer! Nahum's the "crazy Israeli who likes to wander the mountains rather than the desert." He'll be meeting me up in the Indian Peaks when I come through.
  • Another thanks to Terry Norton (author of the quote above) who actually plans on picking me up at the border. Wow! Terry is off on the PCT this year.
  • The staff at Indra's who heard my trail stories a bit too often! Spike plans on making a way-cool Google Earth applet so you can follow along. How cool is that ?!?!?
  • As always, thanks to the long distance hiking community for the many ideas, thoughts, discussions and needed boost as I've done my long hikes over the years. A crazy tribe…and would not have it any other way.
  • Special thanks to the Jim and Ginny Owen for all their CDT advice over the years. I hope to see you on the trail!
  • All the people who shared the trail with me on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2002. You were a large reason why I enjoyed the trail so much.
  • Can't forget my PCT buddy Yogi. Never mind the Pocketmail, the maps and a sneak peak at the CDT guidebook..but who can forget strawberry ice cream in Skyqualamish Meadows?
  • "I'm sorry D-low..what was that again please?"
  • Thanks to the Continental Divide Trail Alliance and the Continental Divide Trail Society for helping to make the CDT one of the premier wilderness experiences in the world.
  • …and to anyone else (many!) who've helped me over the past thirty-two years!


May 25th, 2006 – Coolest Birthday Card Ever!

I turned the ripe old age of 32 on May 19th. Indra's Net, the company I work for, was
nice enough to throw a combo Mags' birthday/Spring Fling cookout. Two hours of
eating hamburgers, potato sald and chips while sitting by Boulder Creek. Yes,
life is tough at times.

I was also given this rather cool birthday card that seems to summarize how
the walk is being perceived! I love it!

June 7th – Reflections on Community

The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and
joy in each other's lives. –Richard Bach

Throughout my life, have been blessed with friends who have
been such a large part of my life.

The community I have formed here in Boulder is no exception.

More than just people I have done outdoor trips with, they are
my extended family. Sharing joys that have happened, being
there when sadness occurs.

Last Friday (May 2nd), my friends Marni and Josh said they wanted
to take me out for a last hike before I leave. Marni is almost seven
months pregnant, so it was not going to be too arduous. Just to the
Bluebell Picnic shelter less than a mile from the trailhead.

The idea was to have a "picnic hike" as I often do with my friends.
Food, wine (for Josh and I) and good conversation. A chance
to spend some time together before I take off and Little Z is born.

My one regret for the upcoming CDT adventure is that I will miss
the birth of Little Z. This hike is a small way of spending time together
in lieu of missing the birth.

So the walk went well. We talked. About how much the friendship
means. How richer our lives were because of the friendship.

Then we made it to the shelter area. I turned the corner…
and there were fifty+ people yelling SURPRISE!

Needless to say, I was indeed surprised! Josh, Marni
and Bridgette were planning this party for two months!

Heard many kind words, had lots of food and
some polite ribbing!

The E-vite said it all:

Our dear friend, Paul Magnanti, is departing in July for a four month
trek along the Continental Divide Trail. We want to celebrate him for
all of the treks he has led us on, the milkshakes on mountaintops,
and the three years he has served as email gnome.

He thinks he's going on a hike w/ Josh & Marni….please be at the shelter
at 7 pm for a big SURPRISE! If you cannot be there at 7, show up
AFTER 7:40, to avoid spoiling the surprise.

Please bring drink, appetizer, or dessert to share, and please specify
what you are bringing. **If the weather looks bad, check the evite after
noontime that day for alternate plans, or stay tuned for further back-up
plans. If you have any ideas to roast Paul, let us know. We also want to
present him with some plaque or gift that we still have to think of!

Remember…it's a SURPRISE!!! Please keep it to yourself!

Was a great night to say tthe least! Bridgette also read aloud top ten list ala
David Letterman that I thought was rather amusing:

Top Ten signs that you're on a trip w/ Mags:

10)  You just saw a bear eating a Snickers bar

9)  The longest part of the trip report is the menu

8)  You can't have dessert until you've finished the third mountain

7)  He's the one offering to spike your cocoa

6)  His underwear doubles as a bivy sack

5)  Your annual pumpkin carving takes place on Mt. Sanitas

4)  A walk in the park means 26 miles

3)  If you're done with that Pepsi, I need a new stove

2)  You enjoy a good box of wine at 10,000 ft.

1)  If you thought you saw a middle-eastern looking terrorist, look again!

Do my friends know me well or what? High mileage hikes, lots of food oriented hikes, lightweight backpacking and the fact that I tend to have a certain ah "appearence" when having a large blackbeard and my complexion gets even darker after months in the sun!

Then the roast continued. Josh presented me a brown t-shirt with the following graphic:

Life is good. My friends who make up such an important part of my life is large reason why life
is indeed good.

June 12th, 2006 – Why go?

The long distance hiker community is a tight one. Many of us know
each other through online communities, hiker gatherings and
seeing each other on the long trails.

We share many traits in common: an odd mix of stuborness
and flexibility, the love of the long journey that is involved
with long treks, a desire to be in nature for weeks or even
months at a time.

One question we are always asked is "Why do we go on
these journeys?". Why do we leave friends and job behind?
Why do we walk through all kinds of weather and sleep
on the hard ground? Eat yet another meal of Ramen?

In 1998, I wrote this line in my Appalachian Trail

“The most asked question about my hike is a simple
“WHY GO?” I have several reasons, but I think the
best answer is for the journey itself – all the pains
and joys, all the experiences that comes with a 2160
mile walk in the woods”.

Does not matter if I am hiking the 2700 mile Pacific
Crest Trail or 2800 miles of the Continetnal Divide Trail,
the sentiments remain the same.

But the best reason of "Why go" was perhaps expressed
by a person I have never met. This essay was recently
published in a recent ALDHA-W newsletter:

Triple Crowner's Why
By Jackie "Yogi" McDonnell
Long Distance Hiker's Gazette
Summer 2006

It's been several months since I received THE PLAQUE.  I'm still
staring at it, not sure if it's REALLY REAL. Standing up therre at the West
Gathering, staring out at the audience looking at faces of those who'd
come before me: Lindy, Marmot, Bryce, Scott, Brian, etc., I was
overwhelmed.  I was seriously at a loss for words.  Didn't know what to say.
What I SHOULD HAVE done was read the following verse, which was sent to
me by my good friend True North (PCT'01). She sent this to me in a
Christmas card a few years ago. It's the only thing I've ever read which
actually answers the question WHY.  To me, it explains what's in the mind
of every Triple Crowner.  I hope you like it.

"Well, she's at it again," and they're right.  It's high time for
another long walk. Why?

Well, I HIKE THE LONG TRAIL because I love to.

Because there are no traffic jams or signals, no stop signs, parking
meters, or police.

Because nowhere on earth have I experienced lakes so deep in color they
appear purple.

Because in their pristine waters, a log can be seen 25 feet below the

Because the greens are greener out there, the blues bluer, and images
are crisp and sharp.

Because I like being supported by the earth each night when I rest upon

Because I experince the terrain, vegetation, and wildlife of the land
with an intimacy those touring in SUV's will never know.

Because, alas, campsites are plentiful and free!

I HIKE THE LONG TRAIL because "getting out of town" on a Friday night
is a daily occurrence --- and it happens every morning at 6am.

Because hiking defines freedom, adventure, peace, and beauty.

Because no two days are ever alike.

Because the toughest executive decision out here is how much water to
carry, how many miles to hike, and where to camp --- best of all, none
need board approval to be put into action.

Because, mercifully, there are no phones or pagers on the trail.

Because some of the most awesome people I know walk trails.

I HIKE THE LONG TRAIL because I can gorge myself stupid on

Because I like the idea of carrying all I need to live on my back ---
which truly isn't much.

Because opening a resupply box comes closest to the excitement of
Christmas morning I've known since childhood.

Because starting a day doesn't rely on coffee and unwinding from it
doesn't rely on beer --- just 400mg of ibuprofen.

Because for every uphill there is a downhill, for every rocky path
there is one padded with soft pine needles...somewhere.

Because when no one is around to help me out of a snow bank or up a
steep canyon, I discover what I'm made of.

Because trail mix tastes better out here.

I HIKE THE LONG TRAIL because the sights on a thru-hike are ultimately

Because the trail is safer than any metropolitan area I know of.

Because hikers are patient, adventuresome beings, who genuinely look
after one another.

Because I'm inspired by the footprints left by those on the trail
before me.

Because June 21st (summer solstice) is "naked hiking day."

Because "taking a long walk" will never hold the same meaning again.

And finally, not because I regard hiking a long trail as being so
terribly important, but because I suspect that many of the other concerns of
mankind are equally unimportant -- and not nearly so much fun.


June 26th, 2006 – Almost outta here!

My "to do" list is done…
My bus ticket is ready…
My pack is good to go…

Now it is a just a matter of "hurry up and wait"!

In a few short days, will be on the divide, walking towards Mexico
and on my third multi-month journey.

Besisdes this journal, will also be writing some articles for
a local newspaper. The articles will be in the recreation section of
the Daily Camera. (

If you want to read the articles, the publishing dates are:

Friday, June 30th (intro)
Friday, July 14.
Friday, July 28.
Friday, Aug. 11.
Friday, Aug. 25.
Friday, Sept. 8.
Friday, Sept. 22.
Friday, Oct. 6.
Friday, Oct. 20.

There will be a follow up article as well.

Happy Trails all!

June 28th – The highway at night in Montana

Traveling down a highway at night always makes my mind wander. The
miles go by, one town is stopped at and another town arrives. Traveling
for many hours by bus makes feel speperated from the life I have lived
back in Boulder; putting me in the frame of mind to contemplate my life
for the next few months.

Though I have done other trails in the past, a new trail presents a new
set of challenges, and I must confesss, a new set of doubts. Will I
have the skils needed to hike the divide? Will I have the "fire in the
belly" needed to walk 2800 miles? I claim to enjoy solo hiking…will I
really be able to spend that much time in my head?

Realistically, I know once I am on the trail, the inate sense of
feeling at home in the wilderness will return. I will know my outdoor
background will make the experience of the CDT enjoyable. I know that a 2800
mile wildrness pilgrimage will be savored. And I know, for me, that
only a solo hike will make the CDT the intense experiencce I desire.

But for now, I will look out ofthe window and think. Think about my
doubts. Think about my hopes. Think about how a dream of many years is
about to become reality.

July 2nd – Rising Sun campground


On July 1st at 9:30 am, I arrived at the Canadian border. Took the
requesite border picture and then looked south. Saw the CDT emblem and a "a
long brown path, leading wherever I choose". My journey on the
Continental Divide Trail had begun.

My two days in Glacier has been everything I have expected of the CDT:
sublime views, alternate routes as needed, circumstance forcing
alternate plans. Frustrating and rewarding at the same time.

Today I had planned to be in Many Glacier camp ground. A local grizzly
bear had other ideas, however. The trail I had plan to use was closed!
Must have happened while I was onthe trail.  I hiked down to Logan Pass
(on the actual divide) and hitched here. Tonight I will look at my map
and figure out the best way to continue my journey and get back to the

Today was rewarding. Mountains with glaciers. Wild flowers blooming.
Being up high in the backcountry. It was just not the day I had planned.
And to me that is the essence of hiking the CDT. Adapting to what may
happen. Enjoying every part of the adventure.


July 5th – East Glacier, MT

Glacier National Park was full of unique beauty. Rugged mountains,
waterfalls plummeting from high snowfields, passes where I swear I can see
the divide going all the way to Mexico.

But GNP is what I think of as "Wilderness by Disney". Heavily managed,
many stops with camp stores or even restaurants, even the backcountry
campsites seem well managed.

I am enough of a realist to recognize the need for this kind of
management in a high use area(and the thru-hiker in me certainly likes the
Chunky Monkey at the camp stores), but I am ready for the CDT in the
rough. An untamed path. WILDERNESS.

My time in Glacier was spectacular…but I am looking forward to the
trail less traveled.

July 8th – Campsite by Hart's Creek

I am thoroughly enjoying my time in the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Since
leaving Marias Pass (Route 2) on the 6th, I have seen two people.

The views, the solitude, the remoteness. All attributes of a memorable
wilderness trek. Tomorrow I should pass by the famous "Chinese Wall";
sheer cliffs that form the divide. A sight I have been wanting to
experience personally ever since I first saw pictures of them a few years

Though I have only been on the CDT
for a week now, the trail is already proving to be all I hoped for when
I decided to walk the trail.

July 9th – Indian Creek

The Bob Marshall Wilderness has been everything I had hoped. Wild,
remote and scenic.

A beautiful Sunday and I have not seen a soul. It is only the ground
below me and the sky above. Instead of the voices of people, I hear the
sound of water rushing on rocks, the wind through the trees and song
birds in the morning. 

Today, I walked along side the length of the natural formation called
the "Chinese Wall; sheer cliffs that are the actual divide. A dramatic
way to visualize  why the divide is called "the backbone".

The day came to a close on an exciting note. Saw a grizzly today! The
griz was unmistakable. Was large, brown, had a slow shuffle and the tell
tale brown hump at the neck area. Observed it from a distance ambling
down the trail and finally down into the valley. It was out of range for
a good camera shot. Just as well, woukd not want to put to a test the
joke that bears would not want to eat me...Italian food gives them
indigestion. (Bad joke, I know. But I stil have hope it is true!)

Was a great day on the trail. Hope to have many more.


July 12th – Lincoln, MT

The past few days have been in the streneous, but exceptionally
beautiful stretch of the divide that my thru-hiker buddy D-low calls the "CDT
Roller Coaster". Steep ups and downs all day while on the physical
divide. Physically challenging…but rewarding beyond compare.

On a clear day, I could see where I had been and where I am going. The
wild flowers in full bloom were on the sides of the mountains like a
multi-colored quilt. My legs were tired, my feet ached…but my spirit
was full of joy. I have dreamed of places with views that never end and
mountains that seem to go ever higher. And that dream has become a

Joining me on this stretch was another thru-hiker buddy of mine from
Colorado – Sidewinder. He flipped from Berthoud Pass and is now heading
south on the CDT. Bumped into him in the middle of a dirt road! We have
been hiking together for the past 2.5 days. Since he is slowing down a
bit, suspect we will part ways tomorrow. Still it was enjoyable talking
to someone from my neck of the Rockies. I am a solo hiker by nature,
but even soloist enjoys company once in a while!

Another highlight for me on this stretch was going over Lewis and Clark
pass; almost two hundred years to the day Merriwether Lewis passed over
the very spot. The pass was quiet. Only a closed jeep road that nature
is reclaiming was any noticeable change from two-hundred years ago. It
was possible to almost be in the same frame of mind as Lewis. Being on
a wide, grassy area seeing the mountains all around. It was a sight to
inspire and contemplate. Contemplate the historic significance of the
pass. Contemplate my own journey on the divide. Inspired to further
travel the divide.

A thru-hike of the Continental Divide may not be as wild and remote as
what the "Corps of Discovey" saw two-hundred years ago, but a journey
on the CDT is letting me appreciate the wild and remote lands that still
exist in this country.

For the two readers of my journal
The company I worked for just made a Google Earth applet to track where
I am! Go to

Hope to update my website soon with this info as well.

Thanks to Spike for his work on this cool idea!

July 21st – Johnson Lake

The Anaconda-Pintlers have shown to a place that deserves every
accolade I have heard about them. Jagged peaks, gorgeous alpine lakes, long
climbs that end at the top of a pass.

With all the elevation gain and loss over a day, the hiking can be very

As I sit by the shore of the lake and hear the lapping of the water and
see the sun slowly sink behind the mountains, I can't help but think is
where I want to be.

Every day is challenging, but the beauty that is seen daily is a more
than just payment for the effort put into a day.


July 24th – Salmon, ID

The past few day have been hiking through more historical areas. The
"The Corps of Discovery" passed this way and Sacagawea was supposed to
have been born in this area.

Further peaking my interest, also walked where the Nez Pierce fled the
American troops.

Both these historical routes make my own jaunt look rather tame.

Walking in the foot steps of history holds as much fascination to me as
the scenic wonders. Something tangiable that connects to the past.

As I walking to the pass late yesterday afternoon, it occured to me
that it was a Sunday night.
From what past thru-hikers have told me, nothing is open in Salmon on a

So, was looking at a rushed Monday to get my town chores (including
purchasing some despertely needed new shoes) then hitch back up to the
pass fifty miles away. Did not sound too fun!

So, decided to take my first zero day on the CDT. Get out of the record
heat, eat some town food and generally do nothing. I don't absolutely
feel the need for zero day. After more than five hundred miles of
hiking a day of rest certainly can't hurt!

Enjoyed my town stop. But I am ready to be back on the trail again. To
be back on the divide and to continue my journey further south. To walk
more in the footsteps of history and to see more of the wonders found
on the trail.

July 29th – Leadore, ID


The overall impression of the divide in this area is "vastness". Wide
open spaces. Large mountains. Ridge walks that go on for miles.

The trail heading into Bannock Pass was astounding. Have been wandering
on the Montanna/Idaho border for most of the past few days. The divide
and the surrounding area has a desolate, almost raw beauty about it.
The terrain is sage brush and scrub with nothing around for miles. Adding
to this feeling of isolation is that fact that I have only seen a
handful of people in the past few days. Being alone only seems to increase
how large the land feels.

The CDT is seldom subtle. This   untamed and raw nature of the trail
makes the journey so memorable.


August 2nd – Lima, MT


Have been on the trail for over a month now. I am at the point where
the trail is the life I know. Hard to believe a little over a month ago I
was in Boulder going to a local coffee shop, having dinner at friends'
homes, running a favorite local trail. All part of my daily life that
seems so long ago. A month on the trail seems longer than a month in the
"real world".  Time dilates out here. Living by sunrise and sunset and
walking from morning to evening makes the days seem full. And when I
return from my journey, the time on the trail will seem like an
espicially vivid dream.


One part of this trail I have come to enjoy is the unexpected "trail
magic". Random acts of kindness from
strangers that help ease the hardship of the journey and also helps to
make the journey so memorable. On the Appalachain Trail, trail magic is
almost instutionalized at times.  On the CDT? Trail magic is truly
random. I've had locals out on their ATVs offer me cold drinks once they
found out what I was doing. Have had people take me to and from town for
re-supply. Locals in town giving me the often colorful history of the
area. People offering me meals when I was in the  campgrounds back in
Glacier.  Even had a  couple out camping one  night who were as surprised
to see me walk by their camp on the remote jeep road as I was to see
them. Was asked if I was hiking the trail. Was then offered a Coke. Told
to  take a seat, have some extra food, and aske if I would I like a hot
drink. Since it was almost 8pm, called it a day and took them up on
their kindess. Even had some coffee made for me the following morning.

I may walk the trail to immerse myself in the natural world. But
overall I walk these trails for the journey itself. And part of the journey I
will not forget is the kindness of people who help me along in my


Now that I am a month into my journey, also slowly catching up to other
CDT southbounders. On the trail, saw Friendly Bear and Wild Child. It
was great to see them as I knew them both from the PCT in 2002. Small
trail world! We split a room in Lima and told "tall trail tales" over
some beers as well. Was good to see and spend some time with them. They
had some additional town chores this morning, so I contiuned my solo

Also saw my first CDT northbounders. No Trace and Salamander. As usual
in this community, we knew many hikers in common. Salamander is also
going to be a grad student in Boulder this Fall! The small trail world
became smaller.

Go to part 2...
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