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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

Trip Report – Darby MT – Picture Perfect Pintlers

From Pipestone Pass, just outside of Butte MT, to Chief Joseph Pass, just outside of nowhere but only a 45 minute drive to Darby, we walked a miniature version of the entire CDT experience. We saw trail so new that only this year’s hikers have set foot on it (and which does not yet appear inthe guidebook or on J Ley’s maps), we walked old “trail” which still follows faint jeep tracks, we walked the roads across agricultural/ranching lands, we walked across a 54,000 acre ranch now managed for wildife by MT Fish Wildlife and Parks, and, most memorably, we walked across the Picture Perfect Pintlers. Then we followed “mixed use” trails – where bad bureaucratic decisions were made that allowed motorcycle use of newly constructed trail, directly contradicting the National Scenic Trail Act of 1968, the legislation specifically authorizing the establishment of the CDT in the 1970′s, and a 1997 memorandum by the Forest Service’s deputy director confirming that the CDT’s purpose is for quiet recreation, and ALL logical sense. (If it sounds like I’m incensed, I am.)

We also saw 6 black bears, numerous Elk and deer and other wildlife. A definite highlight was finding, and photographing, the uncommon Yellow variation of Monkshood.

In all, the entire CDT range of emotions was covered in the last ten days. From some moments of stress over lack of potable water, to blistering road walks, to admiration for the miracles of mother nature’s bountiful flora and fauna, summer heat and “September like” temps in early August, we had all the highs and lows we might expect to encounter along this trail.

BUT, what we will remember in the weeks, months and years ahead are the Pintlers – the Anaconda Pintler Wilderness must be one of the absolute unknown gems of our wonderful wilderness system. I would tell you more, but then you might go there and destroy the solitude. And I am not sure I could adequately describe it in a few words. So, on second thought, forget this, never visit the place, leave it alone for the Carrot and I to go back in peace and quiet some day. (But IF you do go, add an extra day for the ruggedness and a second one for the beauty.)

On the downside, my shoes “blew out.” We usually take our shoes off at lunch (who let the dogs out, who, who?) let them breathe, dry out etc….at lunch on Tuesday, ten miles before Chief Joseph pass, I noticed a big chunk of sole on the left heel was missing and the sole on the right heel had a 4 inch slit that was creating two “flaps” as the vibram delaminated. OK, we have walked a lot on them, about 550 miles so far, but I was really surprised that they failed so completely, dramatically and quickly. I truly expected to get 560 miles out of them….well, I expected 700 to 800 miles, really. The good news is that we were only ten miles from our next town stop. (Our friends Carol and Irv were meeting us at Lost Trail pass.) And the other good news is that I had planned for the worst and included a new pair of shoes in this resupply box, just in case.

The bad news is that my feet have swollen (pretty common among long distance hikers) and the shoes in the supply box did not fit. Bummer. But we had Carol and Irv, so we had “wheels”, so we had access to the Bob Wards sporting goods store in Hamilton MT, so we could get BRAND new shoes……happy dogs are here again..!

We stayed in Darby and met Matt Long, a northbound thru-hiker who has blown out his knee and is ending his hike here. You may remember the parable about a man who mourned the loss of his shoes until he met a man who had no feet? Yep, I had THAT one driven home today – at least we can get shoes and get back on the trail…

So, back on the trail…we also passed through a bit of history – Gibbons Pass and Chief Joseph Pass. You can read more about these places and Lemhi Pass south of here on my daily Journals – and the stories are about both Lewis and Clark’s expedition as well as the Nez Perce’s futile attempt to escape persecution. So much for the “teaser”, read the journals both before and after this post for the “rest of the story.”

One Response to “Trip Report – Darby MT – Picture Perfect Pintlers”

  1. lanie & ken Says:

    Hi WC & NM!
    I’ve been enjoying your website so much. Your journals, full of feeling-like-being-there-details, along with the amazing photos of you in the Pintlers, are WONDERFUL! We think of you and imagine what fun you are (mostly) having and have to admit, feel a bit envious!
    We’ll be going to NYC to visit grandson Roy and Ken wonders if Phil would know of a cheap (clean) hotel there.
    when do you plan to be back?
    love from both of us to both of you,
    Lanie

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