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Anaconda to Lincoln

Leaving Uncle Buck’s, Kipper and I were rested and in high spirits. It was tough not to be. The weather was beautiful and the forest was dense. The trail was smooth and wound through younger growth pine forests. We were crushing miles. The day before we made it into Helena, Kipper and I got separated. Neither of us had any idea where the other was. Solitude is a wonderful thing in the woods. Luckily, Kipper and I don’t consider each other real people so we managed to get our solitude and stick together at the same time. After about 24 hours and a little worrying that the other was dead along side of the trail, we reconnected at the highway that led into Helena. Before the highway, the trail took me through a 5 mile stretch with downed trees littering the trail and the surrounding area. It was slow going. Most of the stretch I took no more than 30 steps between trees that I had to climb over and work through a thick maze. There is nothing you can do besides get through it and try to keep your sanity.

We managed to get a hitch in a 68 Charger. The best ride to town of the entire trail. We had the number of a guy that we had met down in Colorado who lived in Helena. We called Greg and he came to pick us up. He set us up with laundry, showers, a place to sleep, and some great company. Thank you so much Greg for the hospitality and kindness.

After a night indoors we were back on the trail and headed for Lincoln, MT. The clouds were ominous but the weather held for the rest of the day. This stretch was 67 miles with one water source. About 20 miles in we came to Dana Spring which had a tank with a sign from another hiker on it. It read “I fished a dead squirrel out of the tank. Make sure you treat.” Yummy! We filled all of our water bottles up with squirrel water and left with heavy packs. We thought there was no way we really had 47 miles until water… Wrong again. Quickly the temperature dropped and the clouds gathered. All of a sudden huge snow flakes started dropping. It was beautiful! I thought that it would ease up and not really accumulate. By the time we got to camp the ground was completely covered and it was coming down thick. The next morning we had a half-inch of snow on our tents and it was under 30 degrees. Still thinking that it wouldn’t keep snowing we headed up the trail. The snow kept up and was as deep as a foot and a half in parts. Eventually the sun came out. There are few things as pretty as sun shining on fresh snow-covered trees.
That night we camped on the side of the trail which had the least amount of snow. The next morning some hikers came by and told us that there were grizzly prints over our foot prints south of us. We got hiking and about a hundred yards in front of us the prints became clear. This griz must have decided he didn’t want any part of Kipper and I. Smart move bear. You would have gotten a face full of bear mace. We had 9 miles to town. The snow was deepest from where we camped to the road into Lincoln. Oh yeah, no water yet. The water was 1 mile before the road. We got up on the ridge and the wind kicked in. The snow was a good foot deep and the wind gusted up to 70 miles an hour. We were being blasted by loose snow and actually had to drop to the ground a couple of times to keep from being slammed or blown off the ridge. It kept up for 2 hours. It was exhausting. Eventually we found ourselves at the water, dehydrated and beat. After an hour or so we got ourselves a hitch into town. We hadn’t had a motel in a long time and decided that we had earned a night inside watching tv. The next stretch was 179 miles before the next resupply. It was a necessary break going into a stretch where our packs were going to be incredibly heavy with 7 days worth of food. At the end of it we would reach Glacier National Park. It was the first time on the whole trail that I really started thinking about the finish. We had some rugged and wild country to cross first so I managed to keep my excitement at bay. Next was The Bob Marshall Wilderness. Into real grizzly country!image

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