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Leadore to Darby – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Leadore to Darby Hike Overview

leadore to darby hike on the continental divide trail 2018

The hike north out of Leadore continued to offer some good ridgeline views, although not as frequent or quite as impressive as the Lima to Leadore section. However, it was forest fires dominated the theme of this stretch. Small and large plumes of forest fire smoke could be seen in many directions, and I was often quite close. I even walked over some active flames. I later found out the forest service closed the trail I was on again only hours after they gave me the go-ahead. I also encountered a momma bear and her two cubs. There was a lot of climbing in this section, with no day under 4200′.

Tuesday September 4th – CDT Day 137

 

I was going to eat at the silver dollar restaurant again for breakfast but they were closed at 8:30am. I headed to the stage stop instead and picked up some sausage egg and cheese biscuits, cinnamon roll and a monster… A 2200 calorie breakfast for this hungry hiker!

While browsing the CDT hiker registry/log maintained by the Stage Stop, I came across Cookie and Paul’s entry from 2008. This was cool to me because I must have watched Cookie and Paul’s video of their CDT hike a hundred times over the past 6 years. It’s very detailed in showing what a hiker can expect to see and encounter on the Continental Divide Trail, and might be my biggest inspiration for choosing to hike the CDT. This definitely made me pause for a moment as I realized the significance of this. Also, we were both here September 4th which makes me feel better about my pace. Still, I’m basically last the caboose on this CDT train. I’m not aware of any other NOBOs behind me.

After breakfast I went to the ranger station to get some info on the fires. As it turns out, all of the closures for the goldstone fire have been lifted. That means no super long reroute for me! Now I could go back to the stage Stop & buy my groceries knowing how many miles I need to hike over how many days. Then I went to the post office to mail back some things.

I checked out around 11:30am and had Sam drive me back up to Bannock pass. It was closer to 12:30 by the time I started hiking today.

First few miles where nothing special. The trail heads up hill through Forest along the Idaho/Montana border. Occasional cow activity.

Nice views of a rolling Valley below. Then more uphill climbing. Then down, then Uphill, then down again and repeat.

Hiked through this pine forest that was filled with trees where the lower branches had a very bright green moss. It looked like a whole forest of moss, pretty neat.

Later the trail goes up on a ridge with a good open view of the mountains in the distance across the valley below. The valley that leadore and salmon and other cities are in, running parallel to the Divide. Early evening time it was beautiful with the setting Sun.

I saw some smoke from a fire that was not all that far away. At the closest it looked like it was only over one or two more ridges, but my view was obstructed by trees.

I made camp in a gully about 6 miles south of Lemhi pass. It was about 8:45, and pretty close to dark. I Cowboy camped again under some really bright stars.

Miles – 22
Total Miles – 2321
Rain – no
Sleep -Backcountry, cowboy camp
Animals – elk, bald eagle

Wednesday September 5th – CDT Day 138

Last night wasn’t too cold. Started hiking at 7:20.

Not much to see on this mornings hike. Made it to Lemhi pass around 10am. From here, it’s a quarter mile walk to Sacagawea Memorial. There is a spring here that feeds Trail Creek. Trail Creek is essentially the headwaters of the Missouri River. Lewis and Clark passed through here on their expedition. And this is where I will fill my water to last me the rest of the day. So glad I have a 3L water capacity again as well!

Leaving the spring I bumped into a local. I told him about the fire I saw last night and he wasn’t aware of it. He said he was going to call it in.

Leaving Lemhi pass the trail climbs up hill steeply for a while. When it flattened out for a bit, I could cover some ground. It was not scenic either, so I ended up covering 9 miles in 3 hours. A pretty solid pace for me in this terrain.

The trail is on fire…

Later in the afternoon I began to come across burn areas. Some random spotty burns and some widespread areas. Only a week ago this was on fire. Most everything was out, but some areas were smoldering and some were even on fire still. I stepped over a couple of burning logs along the trail, isolated pockets of fire from rogue embers.

There were few good views today. Almost the whole day was spent in the forest with no distant view. The forested open up at one point and there was a large amount of smoke coming off the closest Ridgeline to me, just downhill. Not that far at all. Fortunately the smoke is blowing the other way. Otherwise, I might not have been able to pass through here. It was that thick.

The final climb before Goldstone pass did offer some good mountain views. However, the weather was turning. Dark clouds building to the west and moving my way. Rain could be seen across the valley, in front of a beautiful orange sunset as the backdrop.

Made it down to Goldstone pass. Not even 8pm yet, I set up camp here due to impending rain. Sure enough, sprinkles as I set my tent up. I got it all together just in time, jumped in the tent as heavier rain began to fall. Looks like I’ll get water tomorrow morning instead, not doing that tonight.

Miles – 28
Total Miles – 2349
Rain – yes
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer

Thursday September 6th – CDT Day 139

I walked about a quarter mile down the road to a spring on the map. It was pretty shallow but I made it work. Filled my dirty water bag and headed up hill. Filtered this water while I broke down camp and hit the trail around 8:15.

Trail goes uphill then drops down into a new basin briefly before climbing a pass. Not really super scenic today overall, mostly just walking in the woods with no view of anything. The next several hours will be like the above, as the trail detours around some really steep terrain on the divide.

After first lunch I tried to pick up the pace on the now flat and easy trail. I made a conscious effort to keep up a 4mph pace and really knocked out some miles.

One section of trail south of miners Lake trailhead had some new switch backs that weren’t on the map. The old route pretty much goes straight down. This one zigzags wildly across the mountainside adding one to two more miles that I wasn’t planning on doing today.

Next up is a 2000′ climb. I was hoping to get it all done today but realistically, setting up at one of the top lakes just below the divide is a good way to go as well. I still have to filter water, been running all day on only three liters and almost out.

Just before reaching the highest Lake in the chain, I drew some water from the outlet. Carried this with me as I searched the area for a campsite. Filtered water as I set up camp along a small Lake. I got a few sprinkles after setting up my tent but nothing major.

Miles – 31
Total Miles – 2380
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer, Ptarmigan?

Friday September 7th – CDT Day 140

The reflection this morning on the Lake was incredible. Very reminiscent of Colorado. 

Finished the 2000′ climb I was unable to complete last night. I crested the pass and laid eyes on another new valley. This one was filled with lots of green pine trees, which would later obscure my view. Some big boulders and nice scenery in the upper basin. 

Went over another pass with a nice view. Wow, this is a pretty big valley.

The trail manages to stay slightly higher than treeline offering better views. The trail then follows a scenic ridgeline with some of the best views of the day.

I took a break to filter water and eat food near a stream around 4:30pm. When I was packing up and getting ready to leave, I heard a weird noise behind me. I turned around and saw two black bear Cubs climbing a tree only 50 feet away. I grabbed my bear spray and started looking for the mother bear. I yelled “yo bear” and the mama bears head popped up from behind a fallen tree. I yelled again causing the mama bear to turn around and run up the hill. The Cubs were still in the tree, mama bear abandoned them. After short while the Cubs climbed down the tree and ran uphill to their mama. That was really cool to see so close.

After the bear encounter it was a 3000′ descent into a valley. I mostly zoned out and zombied along the trail. At one point a squirrel fell out of a tree a couple feet in front of me. He landed in the dirt, but bounced up and ran away quickly. I got a little chuckle out of this, as I nearly had a squirrel fall on my head. Later I saw a couple of big Elk off in the forest. 

Male Spruce Grouse putting on a show

When I reached the area I had planned on camping at, I didn’t see any good campsites so I kept moving along the trail. Problem is, next two miles are a 1500′ climb through a narrow Gulch. There’s not going to be anywhere to camp here. It was also dark now, so I was hiking by headlamp. I made great time going uphill but was really pushing myself now.

Made it to the top of the climb around 9pm and found some good camp spots. Cowboy camped under the stars. Really tired, and really looking forward to town tomorrow! 

Miles – 29
Total Miles – 2409
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, cowboy camp
Animals – deer, spruce grouse, elk, 3 black bear

Saturday September 8th – CDT Day 141

Intermittent clouds and stars last night had me a little worried about the possibility of rain, but there was none. Warm night, warm morning. Nice for once.

Hiked a few miles to big hole pass. I saw some elk hunters on the way. At the pass, I walked a hundred yards downhill to a piped to spring to get my days water.

More of the same terrain… Hiking up and down Ridgelines with little or no view. When there was a view, the smoke and haze prevented distant views with any clarity. However, the haze created a pleasant scene with layers and layers of mountains on the horizon. 

The last several miles of hiking follows a dirt road. There were many people cutting firewood here.

At Chief Joseph pass, I stuck out my thumb and began the process of hitching into town. There wasn’t a whole lot of traffic going the direction I needed, but after about 30 minutes the 5th or so vehicle that passed by stopped. It was a small RV driven buy a nice guy named Pete. He was kinda enough to take me to the Travellers Rest RV park where I had planned on staying.

All of the motel rooms in Darby where booked this weekend, including the cabins at Travellers Rest. This is due to the filming of the Kevin Costner series Yellowstone here in Darby. The only available option for me was a tent site. Not ideal, but at least it’s cheap.

I had five boxes waiting for me in the office at Travellers Rest… Bounce box, box of Resupply items from dad, new Salomon shoes sent from the rep I met in Yellowstone, new Brooks insoles for my Cascadia shoes, and new Patagonia boxers.

Like most days I get into town knowing I will zero the next day, I didn’t do much. I setup my tent and headed up to the little blue joint restaurant for dinner. I got chicken strips, fries and a small pizza. Both were amazing, really really good food that seemed out of place for a town like this.

With a full belly it was time to get some sleep. It certainly wasn’t a comfy bed, but rest is rest. At the Travellers Rest.

Miles – 21
Total Miles – 2430
Rain – no
Sleep – rv park, tent
Animals – none

Sunday September 9th – CDT Day 142 (zero day)

Breakfast this morning was the other half of last night’s dinner. Portions were huge at the little blue joint.

I got started on all my town chores by late morning. I had a little table set up in the shade with an extension cord running out to it to power my laptop and portable hard drive, and began backing up all my photos and video. Opened all my packages, Resupplied my bounce box, Resupplied things in my backpack from my bounce box, etc.

Mary, one of the owners of Travellers Rest, said that the bunkhouse was now open tonight if I wanted to get a bed. Yes, absolutely! I broke down my tent and moved all my gear indoors. Once I got inside, I realized how tired I was. I laid down and took a half a half-assed nap for about an hour.

I headed up to the little blue joint again for dinner. Got a burger and it was delicious! Headed back to Travellers Rest to knockout a few more chores before bed. Mostly, dealing with my bounce box and figuring out where to send it next and plans for the rest of the trail.

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