Friday 30 July 2010

Across the Rockies

Ten days into my Pacific Northwest Trail hike and I've crossed the Rocky Mountains. The first five days were in the glorious rock and ice scenery of Glacier National Park. There the trails are maintained, backcountry camp sites have to be booked inuyb advance, and a permit listing many conditions is required. The mountains are busy and I met many hikers and at least one ranger every day and camped with others every night. I loved the landscape but it did not feel like a wilderness trip, though a tremendous thunderstorm on day four did add a little excitement. Then I left Glacier for the Whitefish Mountains, via the entertaining and friendly hamlet of Polebridge. Suddenly there were no rangers, no permits, no camp sites and no other hikers. I had the wilds to myself. The trails were often overgrown, sometimes hard to find and I had to hunt out camp sites in the dense forest. The hills were lower than in Glacier but felt wilder. The weather went from thundery to heatwave and there was little water on the long ridges followed by the Whitefish Divide and Highline Trails. By the time I dropped down to the Tobacco Plains and the little town of Eureka I felt the walk had really begun. Next comes a week in the even wilder Purcell Mountains.

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