Dyer and Riches: CDT Thru-Hikers

Wildfire
Gorp.com

August 25, 2000—Day 115, 2069 Miles—Anaconda, Montana— This week's trail report is more of a"lack of trail" report. We've run out of CDT to hike, apart from a bit left in Glacier National Park.

This section started off promisingly. The smoky skies had cleared somewhat compared to the previous few days, and we could once again enjoy the mountain vistas. It didn't last for long, however: by mid-afternoon a storm had rolled in. A spectacular thunder and lightning show took place while we took shelter in some trees and ate our lunch. It turned out to be a rainless storm, the best kind for starting fires. As a bolt of lightning cracked what seemed like a couple hundred meters from where we were sitting (probably more like a mile), we discussed what we'd do if a lighting strike caused a new fire in our general vicinity. The plan of attack decided on was to try to put it out if we could, if not get outta there. We'd only walked about a mile after lunch before we came across the scene of the previously mentioned lightning strike. Sure enough a new fire was the result. It already covered about 200 square feet and was gaining momentum rapidly as the wind swirled about. Needless to say it was already beyond our fire-fighting means, so we went straight to plan B. We decided to drop down from the divide and report the fire to the nearest ranch.

From then on we've walked the low roads. In the small town of Wisdom we'd arranged to meet with a local ranger to discuss our options from here on. There wasn't a lot to discuss. As of Wednesday all public lands are closed (except Glacier National Park). The only option now is to walk 250 miles on roads to Glacier for a final stretch of CDT.

To do this would bring our arrival in Canada forward a couple of weeks. Having checked to see if I could change my flight back to Australia I found that the only available date was September 1. This leaves me with two options: walk the road to Canada and spend a couple of weeks waiting for my plane, or call it a day now and catch a flight home. Not much of a choice really. Walking roads through the valleys is not my idea of hiking in the Rocky Mountains; as of tomorrow I shall say farewell to my comrades, Simon and Daniel, who have decided to continue their wilderness adventure as they follow the yellow-blazed trail northward. The only thing left to do now is kick their butts in round two of the Pizza Hut All-You-Can-Eat Buffet Olympics. Might even have a couple of brewskies for the road.

Learn about the ecology and politics of wildfires, by Simon Dyer.
Read their reflections on Colorado.


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