Daily Miles: 17
2021 CDT Total Miles: 17
Overall CDT Total Miles: 2087
Yeah! We’re finally back out on the trail! After several days in Butte and one day in Jackson, we are finally walking. The time spent in town buying and boxing up food was strangely exhausting. SweetPea was also sick for part of that time, which didn’t help. But we managed to have one relaxing day before heading out this morning.
The Trail Creek Fire is still very active and blanketing the skies with gray haze. In fact, more miles of the CDT have now been closed due to the fire. The closure has impacted all of the miles we had originally planned for our first stretch and includes many miles south to Lemhi Pass, which we hiked last year. For CDT thru-hikers this year, they are left with doing a 100 mile road walk around the closure. Yuck. It seems that many CDT hikers this year are opting for a little used alternate, called the Butte Super Cutoff, which cuts off a lot of miles in MT and completely skirts the current fires.
This morning we were brought out to the Mussigbrod Lake Trailhead, where we took a 5+ mile trail to hook up with the CDT. This is the point recommended by the USFS to start hiking north on the trail. The air was looking pretty smokey as we started the drive to the trail.
As we got close to the trailhead, we saw a momma moose and her baby just off the road. It seemed that Mussigbrod Lake is a paradise for moose, because we saw three more moose within the first twenty minutes of hiking. Definitely a cool start to the hike.
The approach trail was quite nice as we climbed up to the ridge. As we got closer to the CDT, we started to see some downed trees in the trail. We would come to see that those were only the beginning of lots of downed trees to hop over today.
We walked through multiple stretches of forest that were damaged from various eras of fires. There were stretches which seemed to have burned in just the last few years, and then stretches which had some saplings growing amongst the burned trees. While there was little protection from the sun during these stretches, we were delighted to see all the wildflowers coming up there.
We climbed to almost 9,000 feet during the day, and luckily none of us were affected by the altitude. What a major change from our first few days on the CDT last year, where SweetPea was popping Tums to alleviate her problems with the altitude. Definitely a bonus for us to be coming to the trail straight from Mexico, where we can regularly hike up to 8,000 feet.
We took lots of breaks during the day, as we all felt rather tired. We made it to camp by 6:30pm and we are camped near a really nice stream. We all did our laundry, washed up, stretched, and hung up our bear bags. We’re in bed a little after 8pm and it is still completely light outside.
Even though it might be hard to fall asleep in the light, it feels good to just be lying down for the night. Between the three of us, we have all the classic aches and pains covered…knees, feet, hips, back, shoulders, etc. Hopefully a good night of sleep will be restorative.
Our first day with our new ULA Ohm backpacks was generally good. They carried the weight well, but our bodies have to get used to new pressure points of the packs. Our hips feel fairly tender from the hipbelts, and SweetPea’s spine (which is rather knobby), is very red and irritated from the seam on the back panel for the hipbelt. We’ll have to try to rig up some extra padding on her back tomorrow…there a good chance a sock will be involved.
All in all, it was a good start to the hike. The sky was not as smokey as we had feared, the mosquitoes stayed hidden until we got to camp, we saw 5 moose(!), we got some nice views of the Anaconda Pintler range, and we got to walk through the mountains with one of our favorite people.