Dyer and Riches: CDT Thru-Hikers

Glacier National Park
Gorp.com

September 2, 2000—Day 124, 2305 Miles—East Glacier Park, Montana— With virtually all of Montana's public lands closed due to fire danger, and with the Commonwealth team severely depleted by Darryl's departure, Daniel and I began the long road walk to East Glacier. Glacier National Park's backcountry was still open, so we would be able to finish our hike in the true spirit on official trail (or perhaps in even truer spirit on an unofficial alternate route).

Our journey from Anaconda (no relation to the large South American constrictor) found us mostly on gravel roads to the town of Deerlodge. There we came across a state prison and farm, which had some silly policy about non-residents not allowed to partake in the all-you-can-eat dinner. Too bad, as we had a good bet lined up with a few of the inmates.

Descending into Lincoln and thirsty after a long, hot day on dusty roads, we stopped at the first house we came to. A man was working in the yard, and we asked if we could have some water. As we followed him inside the water somehow miraculously transformed into a soda, showers, dinner, laundry, and finally a bed for the night. That was how we met Jerry and Jane, Lincoln's finest hosts. The pavement was forgotten for a night as we swapped stories, ate, and drank (perhaps too) heartily, and passed the evening listening to Lionel Richie's Greatest Hits continuously with our new friends!

So with pavement beneath our feet, and Lionel crooning in our heads, we strolled the asphalt trail (mercifully interspersed with gravel roads) from Lincoln through the small towns that almost make northern Montana famous. The towns fell with astonishing regularity, and we were able to supplement our meager food rations with a wide range of less than nutritious treats.

Another glorious aspect of road walking is the increased number of folks met along the way. People are unique; and unique people make for fun stories. There were the ancient ranchers who stopped to tell us that we were sure to be eaten by grizzlies within miles. Then there were the dreadlocked, bloodshot Forest Service employees with offerings of trail advice and illicit drugs to help us on our way. And of course the two elderly men tooling around the gravel roads in a dilapidated 1981 Buick Skylark. These guys crawled to a stop along side of us, immediately causing the car to stall in fits of seizure. It took only two or three seconds for the smoke and steam to come billowing from underneath the hood. That's when the driver, wearing laboratory goggles for lack of a windshield, exited the car, and entertained us with tales of auto mechanics and beer runs.

Next came two days crossing the Blackfeet Indian Reservation—undoubtedly filled with the friendliest people on our route so far. Every passing driver waved, and it was hard to make progress with the amount of vehicles that stopped and offered us rides, or who just wanted to hear about our trip.

And onto East Glacier, where we celebrated the near conclusion of the hike as it began, in a Mexican restaurant. Less than 100 miles of trail between us and Canada now, and with the worsening autumn weather it looks like we are going to at last get a good soaking!

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


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