Pioneering a 1,200-mile Hike

It Wasn't Always Easy
By Stephen Stuebner

In the last third of the hike, Tate and Williams ran into rainy weatherfor five days in a row. Tate recounts that keeping their sleeping bags and clothes dry after that many consecutive days of rain was difficult, but finding dry wood was the real challenge.

Fortunately, Williams had arranged to stay in a Fish and Game hatchery building on the fifth night, near the town of Clark Fork. Both of the men were greatly relieved to get out of the rain and dry out their things. However, Tate remembers that they looked so ragged the hatchery manager's wife made them stay in an outbuilding, as if they were kooks.

"I think it's how we looked more than anything else," Tate says."We were skin and bones. I had a beard sticking way out, and Roger was looking pretty scruffy, too. They were pretty wary of these odd-balls who showed up at their door."

Tate remembers the segment of the trail from the Lochsa to the Stateline trail as being among his most favorite moments.

"Up on top of the border trail, I never felt further away from the rest of the world," he says. "We saw an Idaho-Montana marker, and I felt, boy, we are by ourselves up here. It's quite rocky and there's a lot of exposed granite. From the Montana side, the terrain fell away kind of gently, but on the Idaho side, there were sheer drops into a number of lakes basins. There was a new lakes basin around almost every bend."

At times, they had to drop from ridgetops and bushwack for water. Some nights they would go dry and hope to run into water on the next days hike. "There were times when we got thirsty at night," Tate says. "A gallon of water a day could get pretty thin."

One day they ran into dense fog in northern Idaho. It was the closest they ever came to getting lost. But along with the guidance of a compass, they followed an old wilderness phone line that kept them on track.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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