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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 July 10th – It May Be Legal, But That Don’t Make It Right.

After a leasurely breakfast at the Two Medicine Grill, we donned our packs and took position on the Corner of Highway 2 and 49 holding our thumbs out towards Marias Pass. One local, shortly after we started, got out of her car across the street and hollered out that if we were still there after she had breakfast she’d drive us to the pass. Meanwhile, the tourists all avoided eye contact or just shrugged. A guy and his son came out of the cafe and offered that if we had rope to tie down the packs to the roof of their van we could pile in the back with the six of their family; we opted to wait. Another local offered up a ride if we were still there when she finished errands and finally a young couple, servers in the restaurant on their day off, stopped to give us the needed lift.

At Marias Pass, the lowest pass on the Continental Divide, an obelisk commemorates Teddy Roosevelt for his conservation efforts. (Transcontinental Highway 2 is also known as the Theodore Roosevelt Memmorial Highway).

South of Marias Pass, the route “designated” for the CDT follows the crest. That trail has not yet been built and, because of concern from native american tribes, it may never be built. A jeep trail goes up South Fork Two Medicine Creek. It’s closed to jeeps, but open to OHVs. This is the route preferred by the guidebook author and many CDT hikers. Meanwhile, in order to keep the CDT on a non-motorized trail, as much as possible, the Forest Service has contructed an “official” temp CDT route that goes up a dry ridge with no views, contours along and comes back down a dry ridge with no views. Extra miles, extra elevation gain/loss, less water, fewer views – nothing very desirable. BUT, it does avoid a few miles of OHVs.

Loaded down with food for 8 days, and interested in scenery and water, we opted for the river route. So did about 16 OHV riders. Their impact on the landscape, in a word – disgusting.

The trail crosses the stream about 15 times in 8 or 9 miles. Spring run off is diminishing so most fords were only knee deep, but a couple dampened the crotch. The stream was runing swift and clear. Until we got to the 7th crossing. There it was cloudy. The distant noise of yelling and engines became louder as we aproached the next crossing. When we arrived we found brush torn up, winches pulling smaller ATVs along, mud splattered men, machines and beer coolers. About a dozen of them. The stream was running a chocolate brown, making it hard to see our footing. As we forded, we had to feel our way along the bottom. But, this route is designated as open for OHV travel, including all the stream crossings. It may be legal, but that don’t make it right.

It’s not right, in my opinion, to be able to cause that kind of damage to either the stream or the public resource. I’m sure the fish would agree. I imagine the OHV rider who stopped and did not cross the very first stream crossing, but pulled out his fly rod instead, would likely agree.

A few miles later we ran into another 4 riders, the last one stopped to chat. He was a nice enough fellow, very friendly. We chatted with him awhile. Almost apologetically said that he usually rides his horses back here but this year the snow and water levels haven’t allowed him to get the horses out. I liked him, but just because he was nice doesn’t make it right either.

The trail showed signs that the four of them had made it through all 15 stream crossings, clear to the divide. Creating, along with other riders, many mud pits, ruts, tracks of uneven height, and general road widening. This kind of abuse isn’t “multi-use”; it’s about driving out other users. It’s about pushing agencies to re-route other users onto less desirable options. I sympathize with the plight of the amiable rider who stated, again almost apologetically, that this was about the last place they could ride around here. Perhaps there are better places, closed forest service roads, that are potential OHV trails, at least some that don’t involve so many stream crossings.

Aside from the roaring and whinning of engines, the muddied waters, mud bogs and other scars, the river walk was otherwise delightful. Really.

The views nice – this is a transition zone from the extremely rugged terrain of Glacier National Park to the merely rugged terrain of the Divide country through the Bob Marshall Wilderness.

As we approached the low divide where we would camp we passed a beaver pond, whose chief architect was out for an evening swim. I think I failed to mention that yesterday we spooked up a Goshawk from his perch on a log bridge in a mature Lodgepole Pine forest.

Our camp tonight overlooks several peaks which lie ahead, less formidable than those behind us. a relief.

Approx Trail Miles today 11.3

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