Horse Whispering

160 miles since Glacier National Park and I am sorry to say, dear readers, that most of those miles were in the trees! Through the Bob Marshall Wilderness and most of the Scapegoat Wilderness, the CDT has been routed up and down river valleys in the forrest – our theory is that it’s all the horses’ fault: this is horse country, Rohan in the trees so to speak. The thing to do here is to pay an “outfitter” to take you into the back country on a horse for a weekend or longer. That also involves big tents, a cooking tent, mules to carry the gear and mules to carry horse and mule feed! So you end up with a pack train of 5 to 25 horses. Wonderful to see with the big western saddles and the fine shiny animals. Slightly less fun if you are a hiker in trainers following one of those horse trains. So the horse trails were here first and horses seem not to like the ridges and seem to prefer to be close to lots of water, so the CDT maybe just takes the existing horse-designed trailes rather than forging new, interesting and walker friendly trails higher up? That’s our theory.

Talking of excrement: we also saw lots of bear poo but had no direct contact with the big predators. Still, we had lots of fun trying to throw our bear cord over branches and hoisting our food bags onto a safe branch for night-time storage (10 feet up and 4 feet from the tree trunk) every evening before going to bed.

We had a few interesting things to see: a long limestone escarpment called the Chinese Wall and a hill that took us briefly above the trees. And the last day and a-half of the trail were on the divide itself and above tree line. What a relief!!! The flowers are starting to look a little tired now but in exchange, there are lots of berries to be picked in the forrest: huckle berries, strawberries and whortleberries we’ve eaten already – thimble berries are just about to come out!

We also had a day rest in a small town called Augusta which lies in the Prairies East of the Rockies. Augusta was great! We stayed in a tiny historic hotel from 1917. The town had a grocery store with the motto “if we don’t have it, you don’t need it” painted on the outside. It also had 3 bars where men in check shirts wearing stetsons sat drinking. We even got an excellent vegetarian pizza (though only after some deep soul searching from the lady who runs the diner – vetetarianism is not a common affliction in Montana). I can proudly say that we’ve managed so far not to crack any jokes about “Brokeback Mountain” to any of the locals.

Now we are in a place called Lincoln and are resting up. Our next stop will be the state capital Helena.

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