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We are currently on another long distance hike, and the third leg of our "triple crown", the Continental Divide Trail (the "CDT"). Come along with us if you can - if not in person then by following our grand adventure via our "posts from the trail".  Check out our Flickr Photos, which we'll update periodically, and see it through our eyes!

Our Credo...

"Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

Journal Aug 19 – Storm Watch

We followed the jeep road and occassional cattle trail to the side up Darkhorse Canyon. The trail follows this jeep road as it makes a wide detour up to an abandoned mine at the head of the canyon, with needless extra miles and elevation gain and loss, before dropping back to Cowbone Lake. A suggested alternate route involves an obscure, faded trail and a bushwhack straight up to Cowbone Lake. We opted for the alternate.

It began nice enough, with a pair of diamond blazes marking on old road, which sort of led to some bits of trail tread. They ended pretty quickly, but the direction was clear enough and snippets of game trail led us to a creek crossing and a couple more blazes. All of this funnelled us to a wide chute offering the one opening in a band of cliffs. The chute was steep, but faint game trails criss-crossed it and ice cold spring water laced with abundant wildflowers made it pleasant. More Yellow Monkshood was an added bonus.

We caught back up with the CDT at Cowpone Lake, nestled right below the divide. Gaining elevation quickly we followed more obscure trail as it ascended and traversed several small basins befor breaking into steep talus slopes. We crossed the trail-less talus and followed trail tread so narrow and steep that the forest service must have contracted mountain goats to build it, or at the very least consult on it. On the way to the top of this no name pass we came across the CDT day/section hiker John King on his days walk. We saw him several times as he was coming and going and retrieving a camera. At the top we waived goodbye as he returnd the way he’d come and we went on.

From the top of the pass we continued up, with one eye on the building clouds. A front seemed to be moving in bringing thunderheads along with it. As we started to drop into Goldstone pass we took a break to watch the storm clouds and see what might be happening. It didn’t take long before the clouds burst forth with wind, rain, hail and lightening. It didn’t take us long to hightail it down as low into the pass as we could go. We found a very old, large downed tree and huddled under it to stay out of the rain and hail.

Shortly after we dove under the log, a hawk came gliding low through the trees to seek shelter in the same general clump of trees where we were. We waited for the storm to pass. Just as it seemed to die down, the hawk, with a silent flap or two, took off through the trees and over the edge of the pass diving down. We decided that this was as good a sign that the “coast is clear” as any, and emerged ourselves. Plenty of storm clouds in the distance, but we were given a window in which we could climb the next peak after the pass.

After 3/4 a mile and 700 feet the CDT reaches the highest point so far (southbound) – 9,731 on a spur peak of Goldstone Mountain. We both really felt the elevation as we climbed the peak. The panorama is stunning, but we didn’t linger. We watched the movement of several storm cells and knew our window was closing. We dropped into the next low saddle.

We found a small cluster of stunted Whitebark Pine in the saddle and had a quick lunch, finishing just as the next round of rain began. We huddled under the tree and pulled our Tyvek ground sheet over us as more rain and hail came. This time we had a front row seat to the receding storm cells as they continued down the valleys and over distant Montana mountains.

This wave broke and we continued on, crossing over the next open spot and into the woods. The trail then follows the divide as it drops into forest, offering some shelter from the occasional spritz of rain. Despite an ever present ominous sky, we had some good fortune and were able to get some miles down and camp set up without getting wet.

Miles 16.5

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