CDT 2021: Day 142, above Canyon Creek to Rogers Pass/Lincoln

I can't make up my mind

A view from the Continental Divide Trail in Montana

Top O', Polecat, and I never discussed last night a time we would wake up this morning. Nevertheless, we somehow understood there was no need to get up at our usual time, and we all woke up at about the same time. Today would be a short mileage day, and everyone seemed to know we could sleep a little longer than usual.

DateWednesday, September 1, 2021
WeatherMostly sunny and smokey; temperatures from the low-40s to low-70s with wind gusts of up to 50 mph
Trail ConditionsUps and downs on an exposed ridge
Today's Miles8.0
Trip Miles2106.0

We discovered this morning that Freebird and Raven had camped nearby us last night, apparently where Polecat and I stopped before finding Top O'. They arrived at our campsite as we were preparing to leave.

We chatted only briefly before they continued up the trail, and we finished packing. The temperature was chilly, and the wind was blowing too hard to stand around for long.

Raven and Freebird eat breakfast

We didn't need far to walk before we saw Freebird and Raven again. They had found a spot out of the wind and stopped for breakfast.

I noticed they were eating instant oatmeal the way many thru-hikers do. They poured cold water into the paper pouch and then slurped the gooey mixture from the package.

I never do that because I prefer oatmeal warm, and it doesn't work to pour boiling water into a paper pouch.

Then again, I rarely eat anything hot in the morning while on the trail. I learned on my first morning of my first thru-hike that boiling water takes too much time when I'm trying to get started on the day.

Some hikers say they can't give up their morning coffee, and though I thought I would miss it, I don't.

A view from an exposed ridge

Soon after I left Raven and Freebird, the trail made a turn and was no longer in the protection of trees. Gusty winds battered me as I began to cross a ridgetop.

The next six miles were exposed. This stretch wasn't as windy as walking across the Great Basin in Wyoming, where it was difficult to walk a straight line. Still, this was the windiest section of the trail since then.

The trail makes a wide curve along the ridge top

The trail remained exposed until it began a descent to Rogers Pass. The path followed the Continental Divide, crossing the top of Rittel Mountain (6898 feet) along the way.

The trail crosses red slate

Just before dropping to Rogers Pass, the trail became littered with small shards of red slate. The color wasn't all that I noticed about the rocks. My footsteps made a different sound, almost like walking on broken glass.

The sound was slightly different from what I heard when I climbed loose talus in Goat Rocks on the PCT, but I was reminded of then. That also sounded like walking on glass, though more like broken beer bottles.

Rogers Pass was where Polecat had left his truck before hiking in to meet us yesterday. State Highway 200 crossed there, and we won't cross another highway until we reach Marias Pass.

By trail, the next highway will be about 175 miles to the north. That little statistic puts in perspective how deep into the wilderness we will be hiking for the next couple of weeks.

Polecat, Top O', Freebird, and Raven were already at the pass when I reached it. Mud and his dog Sprout were also there, and as before when we'd seen them, they were waiting for Mud's wife Bug.

We also met two hikers for the first time, Riddle and Pantry, and a hiker who travels with a van. His name was Golden.

Golden offered some helpful information about hiking through Glacier National Park and tips about the best campsites. He also encouraged us to take a route through Ptarmigan Tunnel, if possible.

A cabin at Leeper's Ponderosa Motel

Raven and Freebird rode with us into the town of Lincoln. We dropped them off at Leeper's Ponderosa Motel, a collection of cabins standing in a grove of ponderosa pines at the end of town.

I use the word "town" here loosely. Lincoln is an unincorporated strip of businesses and homes along State Highway 200. It's a former mining camp that somehow survived after the mines closed. Today the hotels, restaurants, and bars along the highway attract tourists on their way to lakes and mountains.

You might say Lincoln's only claim to fame is its post office, which is where Ted "Unabomber" Kaczynski mailed his bombs.

When we dropped off Freebird and Raven, we learned that Thirteen, El Dorado, and Guy Number Five were also staying at Leeper's after they attempted to find the site of Kaczynski's cabin. Fraggles was there too, though he didn't participate in the Unabomber sightseeing tour.

Despite knowing several hiker friends were at Leeper's, we were unsure where we wanted to stay. This indecision became a pattern Polecat, Top O', and I would follow for the rest of the day.

We must have been just grumpy and tired. We rarely had trouble coming to a quick consensus about what to do next. But each time we needed to make a group decision today, it became a drawn-out discussion. Funny enough, we eventually agreed to stay at Leeper's, where we found a room with three beds for $80. It was an ideal choice that took far too long to agree upon.

Later, deciding where to eat dinner became another drawn-out ordeal. I'm unsure why it took so long for us to choose a dive bar called Bootleggers Inn. It's not like we had many dining options in Lincoln.

While Top O' and I were shopping today for our resupply, we went to a liquor store and bought tiny bottles of Crown Royal, the size served on airplanes. They seemed perfect for us to toast our completion of the Triple Crown when we reach Canada.

If all goes well, we will do that in a little more than two weeks. I'm not sure that thought has completely sunk in yet.

I can't make up my mind
Someone has to help me
I never seem to know what to do
I just can't decide for myself
She has told me in so many words
That she's still in love with me
And she wants me back
She wants me back with her again


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.