CDT 1 Day 1-6; The other side of fear

What an wild first week! After an amazing road trip up to Waterton with my parents, there was nothing left to do but start hiking. I'd be lying if I said I was extremely nervous about this one. The CDT has always held this kind of mysterious power over me, equal parts intrigue and shear terror (well maybe like 2 parts to 1, but I'll let you decide which part is which. 

All summer I payed close attention to the snow reports so I knew coming in I'd be dealing with snow travel out of my comfort zone. It wasn't until I went to the ranger station at Many Glacier when everything became very real. Only one hiker, to their knowledge, had made it through the four major passes to East Glacier. Here I'm used to starting trails with tons of hikers in front, with and behind me, but for the first time in at the front of the pack - very unnerving.

But with crampons, ice age and compass in hand and waving goodbye to my parents at the Chief Mountian trail head, I headed south.  

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At the Canadian, USA border.

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Chief Mountain Traihead and also the staring location for the Pacific Northwest Trail.

 Where rangers Tracy and Bruce live... yes, please!  met some super nice backpackers at Elizabeth Lake camp that first night. Hope you all enjoyed camping there as much as I did.

Where rangers Tracy and Bruce live... yes, please!  met some super nice backpackers at Elizabeth Lake camp that first night. Hope you all enjoyed camping there as much as I did.

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I feel as though I'm heading into the belly of the beast. 

 Going up Ted Gap pass. The rangers said this was the easiest of all the passes, as far as snow travel. Spoilers: they were right, but it still had more snow than nearly anything I'd seen on the PCT. 

Going up Ted Gap pass. The rangers said this was the easiest of all the passes, as far as snow travel. Spoilers: they were right, but it still had more snow than nearly anything I'd seen on the PCT. 

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FRIENDS!!! Starved for conversation, I definitely stopped and talked to these pals for a bit. 

 And way more snow traversing than I'm used to. Fortunately I have for for these situations. In areas like this I use my GPS to locate about where the trail was, pick out a feature about 40 feet ahead in the direction I was supposed to be going, hike to that spot and then repeat the process for sometimes miles (and hours) at a time.

And way more snow traversing than I'm used to. Fortunately I have for for these situations. In areas like this I use my GPS to locate about where the trail was, pick out a feature about 40 feet ahead in the direction I was supposed to be going, hike to that spot and then repeat the process for sometimes miles (and hours) at a time.

 More friends (I hope) out here too! 

More friends (I hope) out here too! 

 The top of Pegan Pass. I don't think I've ever felt more accomplished than getting to the top of this one. Took everything I had and then some. The route up stated with some major blow-down areas. Then on to orienteering through a conifer forest completely blanketed in snow. Next onto an ice bridge and finally across multiple steep snowy ice chutes. Luckily I had no idea what what at the bottom of them because I never looked down.

The top of Pegan Pass. I don't think I've ever felt more accomplished than getting to the top of this one. Took everything I had and then some. The route up stated with some major blow-down areas. Then on to orienteering through a conifer forest completely blanketed in snow. Next onto an ice bridge and finally across multiple steep snowy ice chutes. Luckily I had no idea what what at the bottom of them because I never looked down.

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So much snow. 

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Sometimes the trail is covered in snow and sometimes it's indistinguishable due to overgrown vegetation. Always keeping me on my toes.

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Route planning for tomorrow. According to the reports of the first CDT'er to go through, Triple Divide Pass was the sketchyest...

Luckily, my new pal Captain Stubing and I will be taking this one on together. 

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About 3/4 of the way up Triple Divide Pass.  and yes we did just hike straight up that snowy ice chute. If you can't beat em, join em.

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Finally at the top of Triple Divide Pass. 

 It might not look like much, but slopes like this cause problems for me. I'mstill not super comfortable traversing these especially when a scree field below is waiting patientally for it's victims.

It might not look like much, but slopes like this cause problems for me. I'mstill not super comfortable traversing these especially when a scree field below is waiting patientally for it's victims.

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After getting down from Triple Divide we reached Cap. Stubings campsite. Mine was still a few miles so once again headed down the trail but after realizing it was still early when getting there I decided to press on and get up and over the next pass. I figured I'd have to hike up it one way or another so now was as good a time as any.

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Not going to say much about this one other than it once again tested everything and more than I thought I had. A view from about halfway up and seeing clear trail after miles of it under snow. Don't think I'll ever take the sight of dirt trail for granted again.  

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The next morning I hiked the 6 or so miles into Two Medicine Ranger station and turned in my National Park issued Ursak (given because some of the campsites were still under winter conditons). I was also glad to enjoy a hot meal with two hiking legends, Freebird  and Raven, both incredibly spirited individuals. 

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Staying in East Glacier for the night and then back onto the trail. And a huge THANK YOU to the couple at Two Medicine Grill in town. I stopped by the restaurant after picking up my resupply package and happened to strike up a conversation with 1a couple of folks who were in town running a half-marathon the next day. After an hour or so of great conversation and sharing stories we said our good lucks and happy trails. Then asking for my bill the waitress let me know the couple had taken care of my tab. Such a kindhearted act, it will not go forgotten. I hope the race went well for both of you and thank you again for lifting my spirits! 

until the next town,

Outro