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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

Triple Crown Now Complete

After picking up our car in Dubois we headed up to Glacier National Park to clean up some “unfinished business”, the last part of the trail from “Many Glacier” north to the Canadian border. We were looking forward to finishing in the trail on a high note, hiking through such incredible country.  We were also hoping to be able to do the Highline Trail; and finish at Waterton Lake.  We had heard that the Swiftcurrent Trail, which connects Many Glacier and the Highline Trail was closed due to Grizzly Bear activity.  When we stopped at the back-country office to get our permit we found out that the Swiftcurrent Trail was reopened – good news!  Unfortunately, neither of the designated campsites we would need to use were available for another 3 days, and the weather forecast was for rain (not chance of rain, but simple rain for each of the next four days (with snow quite possible in the higher elevations.)

Once again, the CDT was throwing us an unexpected curve and, as we had learned before, it’s best to roll with the punches.  So, we choose the official early/late season alternative route via the Belly River to Chief Mountain Customs Station.  The Ptarmigan Tunnel was still open, so we were able to access the Belly River via that particular climb.

We started out Thursday morning, in a light but steady drizzle, with dramatic dark clouds surrounding the peaks that normally tower over Many Glacier.  Rain tapered off and the sun even made a few brief teasing appearances as we climbed the valley towards Ptarmigan Lake and Tunnel, a steady climb of 2,400 feet in just under 5 miles.  In the upper reaches of the climb, across the valley, we watched a large grizzly intent on feeding, tossing huge rocks aside to roll and crash down the canyon, searching for delectable treats hidden underneath.  Above the lake we saw a heard of Bighorn Sheep, ewes and lambs munching on the still green grasses, paying only slight attention to the hikers.

Once over the pass we dropped down to Elizabeth Lake, were we had to make a mile and half detour to the head end to get to our campsite.  But the extra miles paid off as we watched mountain goats frolicking in the mist of waterfalls cascading over cliffs and a large black bear foraging in the forbs.  Not a bad day of hiking – bears of both kinds, mountain goats and big horn sheep.  Were were happy to back in Glacier, finishing with such wonderful wildlife shows! It even made us forget the off and on afternoon rain and increasing cold.

As we went to bed, a steady rain began to fall.  In the middle of the night it turned to a mixture of heavy snow and rain.  Water seeped in under the tent and heavy condensation dampened everything inside.  When we started to pack up in the morning, it actually started to get colder and snow, not rain, began to fall in earnest.  By the time we left camp we had a couple of inches on the ground and enough falling that visibility was limited.  We kept a brisk pace  up, mainly to stay warm.  And now we were intent on simply getting the last 12 miles done.  By the Pelly River Ranger station the falling snow had let up, but we had about 6 inches of snow on the ground, turning the trail to a muddy, slushy mess.  It often felt more like we were skating or sliding than walking.

As with most of our long hikes, the end of the trail is bittersweet:  there’s satisfaction in completing a goal, but sadness at leaving the journey behind.  But now, we were glad that our route only included the one night of camping.  It is doubtful that we would have been able to dry out tent or sleeping bag and the thought of another night out sleeping in wet stuff with temps falling below freezing was enough to make the end of the trail appealing.

With one final push we marched up the 700 foot climb out of the valley to the border – somehow fitting to finish the CDT on an uphill laden with slush and mud.  The trail challenges to the end.

We are now back home and trying to get used to the idea that the hike is over, we’ve completed the Triple Crown (Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail and Continental Divide Trail.) And getting adjusted to the idea that returning to work lies.  BUT getting very nicely aquainted with warm toes again!

7 Responses to “Triple Crown Now Complete”

  1. Ralph Alcorn Says:

    Congratulations on a great achievement. We just finished section hiking the PCT on the 7th and are experiencing some of the same sense of what next. At our ages 69 and 74, don’t think we can get the triple crown done.

    Also appreciate the warm toes remark. Had snow and rain finishing pct – never got sun to dry tent or clothes for five days. Sealskinz socks helped, though.

    As to what next, you might look at the pilgrimage trails in Europe. There you get a bed, shower and usually good food every night.

  2. Freefall Says:

    Walking Carrot,

    Congrats on your Triple Crown. I am sure you are on cloud nine!

    Peace,

    Freefall

  3. Marge Prothman Says:

    Congrats on the completion of the Triple Crown. Even tho
    I no longer am able to hike I do live vicariously in hikes like
    yours.

    Cheers,

    Marge (the old gal)

  4. Nowhere Man Says:

    Thanks to all who wished us well …… for now our next adventure will simply be to spend a summer (next year) at home enjoying all that north Idaho has to offer, while we cook up ideas for 2012 or 2013!

  5. sharon AKA river Says:

    i am loving reading about your hikes…look forward to possibly another slide show? i got to see the last one at native plant society & really enjoyed it. see you on 10/2.
    thanks for doing what you do…very inspiring! peace, river

  6. Nowhere Man Says:

    We’ll be doing a slide show sometime this winter, and/or next spring. There’ll be plenty of local publicity about when and where. At least one show will focus on the native plants of the .

  7. Dave Odell Says:

    Congratulations on finishing the Triple Crown. A friend in Idaho sent the article that was in Ruralite magazine.

    David Odell Kodiak, Alaska
    AT 71
    PCT 72
    CDT 77

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