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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!

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"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 5 – Bears, Booze, and Blisters

Shortly after leaving camp, we came across a crew of Americorp volunteers doing some routine trail maintenance. They’re part of a large contingent from Missouri woring on various parts of the CDT in this part of Montana.

The few creeks we passed on the trail were marshy, muddy and/or stagnant. The new trail tread soon ended and the route turned back into a road walk. We could see and hear I-15 in the distance. Meanwhile, the walk was hot, dry and dusty. No shade. Cow country, so creeks were dried up, or fenced off and fetid from cattle. As we got closer to the interstate we passed a couple of agricultural drainage ditches and kept walking. We passed under the highway, followed the frontage road, turned and kept walking, longing for water and for shade, but with neither in close sight.

Then, a pickup truck passed us, pulled over and the driver got out, curious about where we were going and whether we need anything.

“Some water would be nice”, I said.

Frowning, the man replied: “I’m afraid I don’t have any water, but I don’t suppose you two would want a beer?”

The left and right brain began bickering. The right brain cautioned that alcohol will actually dehydrate you quicker and end up making you thirstier. The left brain simply said “beer”. The right brain pointed out that alcohol would make you feel lethargic and it would be harder to continue walking. To which the left brain pointed out – BEER! The right brain tried a couple more logical points about the hot sun, long road etc, which I can’t quite remember because the left brain started chanting, “beer, beer, beer!!” Of course, the left brain’s vastly more compelling argument won out. And, as the brain’s neurons work so rapidly, at least when they’re sober, all this took place in a millisecond and I responded to the original question, seemingly without hesitation: “Sure, we’ll take a beer!”

He brought out three and we stood in the road chatting and enjoying this unexpected bit of “trail magic.”

By the time we had finished, our trail angel offered to go get water and return. Tossing us another beer for the road, we continued walking. By the time we got to the trailhead, he had come back with a couple gallons of water and a couple more beers. We found the shade of a large tree, took a late lunch and a long break. And drifted off into a short siesta, with the right brain singing a lullaby of “I told you this would happen.”

The trail at this point starts a long climb on an old jeep road, returning to the forest. We kept a good pace going, enjoying the more shaded trail. We topped out and started rolling along near the divide. The afternoon became evening.

We came across a small black bear cub on the trail. He saw us, turned and ran off into the brush. Not sure of where momma bear was, we started talking loudly, so that she would know we were there. Her head popped up above the tall grass, helping us to be sure we wouldn’t get between her and the cub. Just then, the other cub jumped out of a nearby tree. Soon, all three bears scampered off, perhaps in search of Goldilocks….

The trail crossed a grazing allotment and started to climb again. Passing by an Aspen Grove, we startled a cow Moose, who strutted away.

We kept climbing and eventually, with darkness starting to settle in, we came close to a small saddle and made camp. Right on the divide, with the city lights of Butte twinkling on and off in the distance.

I sat down and peeled of my shoes and socks. I’ve been using duct tape on my left heel. It helps reduce friction from the shoe, alleviating a Hot Spot. Usually duct tape works well. Usually. But that means not always. Today it didn’t work well. When I peeled of my sock, the duct tape peeled off to. And it pulled away a piece of skin about the size of a nickel, exposing the deepest, redish layers of skin. And it hurts. Not sure what I’ll do about it in the morning. For now, I am going off to sleep, dreaming about bears and beers and blisters…..

Miles for the day 23.4

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Flora & Fauna

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