Now that we’ve made it through Colorado to NM, it’s time to figure out our next step. We’ve been giving it a lot of thought…how do we want the rest of our summer to look?
One aspect to hiking a really long trail in one season that we have never really liked is the pressure one feels to hike fast enough to basically try to beat Old Man Winter. The hiking we’ve done so far this summer, luckily hasn’t felt that way…if our daily miles for a section seems too high, we’ve just added a day; or if the weather looks bad – and we happen to be in town, we just take a zero day. That has really helped to make the hike more enjoyable, instead of forcing a certain pace regardless of energy level or discomfort. When we thought about what we wanted the rest of the hiking season to look like, that was something we wanted to be able to continue doing.
Also, since SweetPea didn’t get to leave the trail and take a break during the Colorado Trail miles as originally planned, we wanted to be able to have a schedule that allowed for a slower pace and more zero days. That would give us some flexibility to handle situations if her hip felt strained or stressed as we hiked.
One more factor that we considered was the current status Glacier National Park. The Blackfoot Reservation, which borders the park to the east, has made the decision to close its boundaries for the rest of the year. This in essence, closes down the east part of the park (where the CDT trail goes). Knowing that Glacier is considered a jewel of the CDT, we didn’t want to miss it and just road walk along the west side of the park to the Canadian border.
Since we would be leaving the Glacier NP section of the trail until another year when the park is fully open, we decided that it didn’t make sense to go back to finish the northern Montana miles until we can finish all of the trail we have left.
So, we made the decision to leave the remainder of the Montana miles we have left to hike (somewhere in the ballpark of 640 miles) to another year. Instead, we will head back to the point where we started our hike (just outside of Yellowstone National Park) and hike south to Steamboat Springs, CO. Completing that, we will head to New Mexico to finish the miles to Mexico. By removing 640 miles from the schedule, that gives us the ability to have a more relaxed pace for the rest of the season.
At this point, this feels like Plan J, and perhaps there will end up being a Plan K, but with this strange year, we are just going with our gut instincts. The biggest consequence of Plan J, is that it is different than MountainMan and Ace’s plan.
MountainMan and Ace decided that they wanted to still do the MT miles (minus the Glacier miles – they don’t want to road walk around Glacier either). That means that we will be parting ways for the remainder of the hiking season.
This feels like a strange decision to make. There are a lot of positive aspects to hiking together. But, we are good enough friends to let each other follow the plan which feels right to each of us and know that it won’t affect our friendship. We are excited to hear about each other’s experiences, and for sure we’ll be seeing each other again soon…hopefully in just a few months.
For now, we are on another road trip as a foursome…driving north to Yellowstone and then for MountainMan and Ace, onto Jackson, MT.