Days 1–3. Chief Mt. to Many Glacier

Bears. Bears. Bears. There’s “danger bear” signs. Rangers giving bear presentations. Bear sighting notifications at the camp ground. And you have to have bear spray. I freaked out on bears before I even started down the trail yelling, “Hey, bear!” every time a bend in the trail came in sight. 

I survived. It does put a bit of an edge on the old walk though. My new line is: “This is a public service announcement…with BEARS! Thank you to The Clash for that one. 

Just stumbled through the first afternoon trying to stop looking up at the mountains. Camped at Gable Creek. Glacier is on a strict permit system, so I didn’t get what I wanted which made day two a little bit longer. 

Day 2 was a climb to Red Gap Pass (7200). Took most of the morning in a fierce wind. I was pushed around repeatedly. As I neared the pass, the wind gusts became intense slams that staggered me. I could hear the bursts coming up the mountain, getting louder, building and building, and then each one would rock me forward or backward depending on where I was on the switchback. 

I was happy to finally make the pass. A cairn marked the top. It was past time for lunch, so I was looking for shelter, but there was nothing at the top. So down it was. But I couldn’t find the trail. It just petered out on me. Sat down and had something to eat even with the wind. After that I went back to the top where I last had the trail and came back down again. I found the turn I’d missed. It’s easy to miss when everything is broken rock. 

Poia Lake was the next camp. Big mountain lake. Buggy and windy. Spattering of rain throughout the night. Quick 7 miles or so downhill into Many Glacier. I saw theses old bear scratches. 

Many Glacier is where a lodge was constructed in the early 1900s for worldly travelers. This is a shot from the back. Pretty nice looking place. 

Michelle picked me up and hauled me back to where she and Maggie are camped. I’m now standing in line to pull a permit for the next leg through Glacier National Park. 

Ask the Tree-Volume #1

“Do you take a cell phone? Phone charger? How does all that work?”

A friend recently proposed I answer questions people have regarding my upcoming 3000 mile thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail. What a great idea! My trail name is Tree, so we’re going to roll with Ask the Tree for the time being.

Two questions for today:

  • Do you take a cell phone? Phone charger? How does all that work?
  • Are you taking a gun? Or a knife?

Electronic Devices

I’m going to tackle question number one by addressing all my electronic devices and how I plan to keep them powered during my walk. I’ll be carrying an iPhone 6s, a Garmin inReach Explorer with Satellite Communicator, an Anker PowerCore 10000, and an Anker 3 Port USB Charger.

The iPhone is my key device. It does my normal phone stuff. I protect it by having it in a Lifeproof case supplemented by a ziplock bag in wet weather. Lots of times up high in a mountain pass with a clear view, you can get cell reception. Otherwise, I’ll have it when I land in town to resupply. I also use my phone as a camera and recording device. I pay for an iCloud subscription to get those photos off the device when I get into town. I also have an app by Guthook’s Guides that has trail maps and satellite tracking capability. From what I’ve read from other hikers, the app is priceless in keeping yourself found. By placing the phone in airplane mode during the day and by powering it down at night, I should be able to make a full charge last three days or more.

The Explorer is a pricey little device, but it is a concession to my advancing age and new found wisdom. I wouldn’t have carried one in my early days of hiking, but it’s a requirement for me now. The device is programmable to send an email notification out every four hours with my current location. You can click on a link in the email and zoom right on in to where the device was when it sent out the notification. Michelle, my wife, will know right where I am without me doing anything other than carrying the unit. Pretty cool. It also has the capability to send out unlimited pre-set messages. Additionally, I can send or receive 20 text messages in a month with the subscription I’ve paid for. It’s a pain to send them because there isn’t a keyboard, but I could if I needed to. More importantly, Michelle could send me a text about any critical thing that might happen back home. Last but certainly not least, there’s an SOS button on the Garmin that is monitored 24/7. In an emergency, I could communicate my location and current conditions and help could find me. Obviously, it does all the other standard GPS things a GPS unit does. 

The PowerCore 10000 is a battery unit about the size of a deck of cards. It will give me about four charges for the iPhone, and is the size of a deck of cards. Quite a bit heavier than a deck of cards, but exceedingly compact for the punch it delivers.

I bought an Anker three-port charger, so that anytime I find a single outlet, I can charge all three devices at the same time. Restaurants, stores, any place I can find to juice my devices up to speed.

“Are you taking a gun? Or a knife?”

Gun or Knife

Simply put, no. I don’t own a pistol and wouldn’t want to carry the weight even if somebody wanted to loan me one. Yes, there are grizzly and black bears around the Continental Divide, but my brains are my best weapon. I’ll be smart about not sleeping where I cook, so there’s not lingering scents. My food will be in a scent-lock bag to minimize smells. I’ll try to sleep off the trail by 200 feet or more because animals use it just as much if not more than humans. I will carry a can of bear spray to use if I get myself into an unfortunate situation where a bear decides to charge at me. The spray is a high powered pepper spray designed to put out blast 30 feet in front of the sprayer. I’m much more concerned about any negative confrontation occurring with a two-legged animal than one with four legs. But once again, even with humans, my best defense is using my head.

I do carry a knife, but it’s a Leatherman Squirt. It gives me a pair of pliers, a small blade, screwdrivers, a file, and a pair of scissors. It’s tiny, but it will do what I need.

Thanks for the questions! I’m looking forward to having a few more asked before I take off for Montana.

Truckin’ on.