Sunday, July 15, 2007

Continental Divide Trail--SAVE IT FOR HIKING

Bikers Plan to Claim the CDT for themselves.

Latest Directive from The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA)!

(When it comes to the longest trails in the country, mountain bikes haven't been welcome.
Congress banned bicycles from the Appalachian Trail before our sport evolved, and access to the Pacific Crest Trail was eliminated in 1988, before mountain bike advocacy had fully developed. With nearly 5,000 miles of iconic trail off-limits on either coast, mountain bikers have had to look to the Rocky Mountains for their taste of epic, backcountry riding.
The 3,100-mile Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) is truly a unique resource for the mountain biking community. Running the spine of the Rockies from Canada to Mexico, the CDNST is largely open to bikes in non-Wilderness areas. But now that appears to be in danger as well. )

There is a reason they are not allowed on the AT and the PCT--mountain bikes tear up trail. Their claim that it has the same impact as hiking boots is BS, propaganda, myth. If they can convince enough people they are low impact they will rule the trail and ruin the trail. It is up to us to support the idea the forest service is pushing. The biking community has huge numbers and seem much better organized. If you do not voice your opinion now you will be sorry later.

You can easily send a comment by visiting and making your voice heard.

CDT, Continental Divide Trail--Canada's White Goat Wilderness

I include GDT posts along with CDT post because I consider these trails one long trail. They are connected and much of the GDT if not all of it could be included in one season if conditions (and conditioning) are right. Once you reach Waterton/Glacier as a north-bounder you will be bulletproof. I reached Waterton in 1999 on Sept. 16th. I experienced glorious fall days all the way through Glacier. I did not want to stop hiking. I told my wife I wanted to turn around and start back to Antelope Wells. A couple years later I went back and hiked the GDT in 30 days. Now that the trail is much more route friendly I know I could knock a couple weeks off the trek which would give me the 30 days to make it to Jasper in one season. That’s the plan. Although the whole trail is spectacular I am including here the White Goat Wilderness which turned out to be my favorite area. --Keep Smilin’

White Goat Wilderness
An excerpt from Crossing the Divide
A Family Adventure Along the Continental Divide

The last leg of the Great Divide Trail took me into the unique and remote area known as the White Goat Wilderness. My entrance would be a long slow day walking along and through Owen Creek. It took nine hours of my day to climb six miles. The trail was nonexistent. The boulder strewn creek bed was nature’s idea of a compound angle, the steep drop creating steep sides. Several times, becoming frustrated with my progress, I would climb the creek bank and have another try at hiking the forest edge. Each time I would be turned back by thick forest tangle. I was now entering the land of unnamed passes. I reached the first one by early evening and my route opened up as I began to hike above timberline. To my right was Michele Lake, a glacial fed beauty framed by an immense background of blue sky and dirt-brown mountain terrain. I lingered to capture the lake in perfect evening light on film then continued to climb to the highest pass on the Great Divide Trail.
At the top, darkness was beginning to get serious about shutting the day down. According to my guidebook I should study the valley below and locate my route to the next unnamed pass before dropping in. It looked simple enough. It was beginning to rain and as I hiked into this verdant valley I thought to myself, "I can’t believe this all belongs to only me. It seemed as though I could see for a hundred miles in every direction and every eyeful was filled with beautiful mountains. Waterfall Creek cut the valley in two and ample moisture gave it a lush look of green, splashed with a rainbow array of wildflowers. The evening light added shadow. Sun rays bursting through broken cloud cover, lighting the field below me, gave the setting a spiritual glow.
I often think about space in time. It takes a leap of faith and much effort to place yourself into special moments during your life. This valley between two unnamed passes would be one of my moments.
I was completely wrong about my enormous real estate holdings. I spent a very peaceful night in the valley before I met the actual owner. Morning broke in a drizzle. As usual I was warm and dry in my down bag and didn’t want to get up and deal with the cold and wet. I can never just lay there and relax. Partly because I know I have miles to cover and partly because I am excited about discovering what is over the next pass. Making plenty of noise I broke camp, retrieved my food hanging in a nearby tree, packed my damp gear into my pack and, covered in my poncho, headed across Waterfall Creek.
Studying the valley from my eagle’s perch the night before, I could see that the bench I needed to reach began to climb directly across the creek from where I had spent the night. Midstream, up to my knees in "wake-me-up" water, I noticed a movement just ahead. Looking up I was a little shocked to see a very large, wet and muddy grizzly working the field on the opposite shore. He had a huge patch of thick grass completely rototilled and he didn’t look like he was anywhere near done.
They say not to make eye contact and I like to follow good advice when it comes to grizzly encounters. I immediately started backing water and slowly making my way back to shore. At that point I continued to walk backwards in the direction of a ridge behind my campsite. I kept looking at the bear to see if he was going to look at me. He never did. He never even acknowledged my presence. He was as intent on his excavating as I was on my evacuating.
After slipping quietly over the ridge and out of sight, I hiked quickly downstream about a half mile before making another attempt at crossing Waterfall Creek. I was confident that my friend was still upstream digging but now I had a new problem. To reach the bench that would take me out of the valley would mean a very steep climb through dew damp vegetation and rock outcropping. It would mean an hour or so of exhaustive climbing but I wouldn’t have to negotiate land issues with an 800 pound earth mover.
By noon I had entered the White Goat Wilderness. Immediately I was confused. I was standing in the middle of the Cline River when two Indians on horseback pulled up along the shore. I could tell by the look on their faces that they thought I was nuts. I scampered out of the river and asked them the best route to reach Cataract Creek. They explained it in two broken sentences, kicked their mounts and splashed across the river. I kind of wanted a second opinion but decided instead to follow the trail they were taking. Had I continued on that trail I most likely would have joined the trail I was looking for but I am too impatient for that. I pulled out my GPS, crossed over and up a new tributary and headed straight north. Within an hour I connected with the trail that would follow Cataract Creek for the rest of the day. I still had the fresh vision of the morning’s encounter in my mind. All along Cataract Creek there were fresh diggings to remind me.
I spent the night at the base of Cataract Pass on a small rock bench overlooking the creek. It rained hard all night and the wind blew cold. My Akto tent had its first good workout. The nylon sang all night but everything held together. Not one leak and it stood the wind like a portable bomb shelter.
The climb in the morning showed no sign of trail. I would not see trail again for several hours. From atop the pass I could see several hours of hiking into the valley below along the Brazeau River. It would be a steep descent across shale slopes. I was so cold I took shelter in a rock crevice and decided to boil water for coffee. Knowing I would be above timberline, I carried a small plastic baggie filled with wood chips I had collected the day before along the creek. I had just enough to fire up my Zip Ztove. Just as I was about to add the boiling water to my cup of instant coffee, I poured it into my wet boots instead. It was wonderful. I started hiking soon after and my feet stayed warm the rest of the morning. --Dick Mallery

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Continent Divide Trail--Lynx Revised GDT Book

If you plan to continue your CDT hike into the Canadian Rockies you need this book. I used it during my 2001 thru-hike and it saved me many mis-steps.

Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail (Revised and Updated), by Dustin Lynx
At 1,200 kilometres, the Great Divide Trail is among the longest of North America's continuous hiking trails, not to mention one of the most spectacular. Following the Continental Divide, the GDT passes through six national parks, seven provincial parks and several wilderness areas, stretching from the U.S./Canada border to Kakwa Lake north of McBride, B.C. As such, planning to hike the entire distance presents a formidable challenge in terms of logistics.
In this revised and updated version of Hiking Canada's Great Divide Trail, Canmore resident Dustin Lynx, who hiked the entire trail in 1996 and continues to hike sections, has broken up the daunting adventure into manageable portions.
Divided into six distinct trail sections, beginning at the Canada/U.S. border at Waterton Lakes National Park with breaks at Coleman, Kananaskis Country, Field, the North Saskatchewan River, Jasper and ending at Kakwa Lake, Lynx provides backpacks full of information as indispensable as a good sleeping bag and comfortable boots.
With each section further broken down into one-day distances between campsites, Lynx provides detailed information on alternative routes, crucial junctions and GPS waypoints. As well, each section's introduction explains the unique nature of that portion of the trail, including cautionary advice on various land use regulations and historical anecdotes.
As the definitive volume for anyone planning to hike the GDT, this thoroughly researched and meticulously laid out guidebook offers hikers everything they need to know about access, navigation and where to re-supply, whether they plan to tackle the mega trail in one full-summer push, or weekend sized distances over a lifetime.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Continental Divide Trail--Bike Issue

Bike Access to Continental Divide Trail Threatened
The International Mountain Bicycling Association is upset that The Forest Service is trying to scale back their access to the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. I’m all for it. You will not convince anyone who shares trail on heavily used mountain bike routes that they have the same impact as hiking. That is a grand exaggeration of the facts. Mountain Bike tires powered by human muscle tear up trail in much the same way as Off Road motorized vehicles. The million hours spent on volunteer trail maintenance consist mostly of working on eroded areas that have taken a beating from an over use of mountain bikes. The following IMBA information must be taken with a large grain of salt:
The Forest Service suggests prohibiting mountain biking where use is currently allowed on the CDNST. The proposed policy also singles out bicycling as an undesirable use that should be subject to additional scrutiny and restrictions. These include a burden of proof that bicycling "would not substantially interfere with the nature and purposes of the CDNST," which the Forest Service deems to be hiking and horse travel.The International Mountain Bicycling Association (IMBA) believes that the Forest Service directive should not discriminate against bicycling on the CDNST.
The CDNST is a public trail and potential uses should be considered equally. It is unfair to discriminate against bicycling when scientific research has shown its impacts to be similar to hiking and less than equestrian use.With 40 million participants, mountain biking is the second most popular trail activity in the country (Outdoor Industry Foundation, 2007). This large constituency helps lobby for public lands funding and donates nearly one million volunteer hours each year to trail construction and maintenance. Mountain bikers can be valuable partner for the CDNST by helping build and maintain trail, and by lobbying for its completion.IMBA is not asking for access to the entire CDNST and respects the ban on bicycling in existing Wilderness areas. Some non-Wilderness sections may be suitable as hiking and/or horse-only, but along the 3,100 miles there is room enough for multiple uses in most areas.
Unfortunately, the newly proposed Forest Service directives specifically target only motorized and bicycle travel, even though bicycling is a quiet, low-impact, human-powered activity and science has shown the impacts of mountain bicycling to be similar to hiking and far less than horse or OHV use.The IMBA / Forest Service Memorandum of Understanding states mountain bicycling should be managed distinctly from motorized travel. It also says mountain bicycling is appropriate in areas listed as "primitive" on the Recreation Opportunity Spectrum. These areas comprise a significant percentage of the CDNST.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Continent Divide Trail--Fool Creek Fire, "The Bob"

Bob Marshall Wilderness Fire at 2,000 Acres and Growing
By Jessica Mayrer
A 2,000-acre lightening fire in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, near Choteau, is prompting the Forest Service to reroute hikers and campers on the well-traveled Continental Divide National Scenic Trail.
A red flag warning has been issued for the area surrounding the fire, named the Fool Creek fire, in the northern part of the Bob Marshall Wilderness. Near the North Fork Sun River Drainage, it’s expected to grow with high temperatures and gusty winds in the forecast.
Thursday, the fire jumped from 50 acres to about 2,000 in the matter of less than nine hours.
“We are expecting it to probably burn quite a bit today,” Wendy Maples, Forest Service information officer, said Friday
As of now, no structures are threatened and because of difficult terrain, no crews have been called in to fight the fire, Maples said.
“It’s simply not an option to put firefighters on the ground,” Maples said.
Arial drops too at this point are not an option, but the Forest Service is working on plans to manage the fire, should it become necessary, Maples said.
In addition to the Continental Divide Trail, portions of 12 other trails in the northern part of the Lewis and Clark National Forest and also the southern part of the Flathead National Forest are closed, Maples said.

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail--Targee

Continental Divide National Scenic Trail
When you leave Yellowstone northbound on the CDT you enter the Targee National Forest just west of Old Faithful. Approximately 36.4 miles of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail runs through the Island Park District. This can be unfriendly sheep country. The trail is in moderate to difficult terrain, often in the higher elevations. Some of the trail is located in Situation I Grizzly Bear Habitat, so visitors are urged to use proper food storage and camping practices when camping in the area. Panoramic views and challenging terrain make this trail a memorable experience. Portions of the trail are closed to motorized vehicles. Portions of the trail have yet to be constructed or marked.
West of Henry’s Lake you will start running into a lot of sheep grazing. I found many of the CDT signs through this section knocked down and thrown into the woods. It was a difficult route finding section because trail signage vandalism. Once past Monida things get better. Only about 60 miles of trail confusion.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

CDT, Continental Divide Trail--Glacier

If you start or finish the CDT in Glacier there is no better place to explore! This is another piece of information you may enjoy.

Glacier National Park and its Canadian twin signify 2-nation cooperation
by Steve Yozwiak

GLACIER NATIONAL PARK, Mont. — In a time of war, I went in search of peace.With the conflict in Iraq the nation’s top political issue, I sought the 75th anniversary of a landmark event between Canada and the United States intended to show the world how neighboring countries can work in partnership to protect the environment and benefit citizens.In 1932, Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park and Montana’s Glacier National Park were proclaimed the world’s first International Peace Park. It’s a World Heritage Site. It’s an internationally recognized Biosphere Reserve. But in and around this place of peace, I could find no one who knew that the peace park was turning 75, let alone how this milestone might be celebrated.The man behind the bar in nearby Columbia Falls, Mont., didn’t know. The saleswoman at a local time-share development didn’t know. The clerk behind the convenience-store counter just outside the park’s west entrance didn’t know. The woman at the local camera shop didn’t know.Joyce Clarke Turvey, who for 30 years has tended her late father’s art gallery in East Glacier Park, didn’t know.Surrounded by animal still lifes of legendary wood carver John Louis Clarke, Turvey said she did know why the park should be celebrated.This place eclipses more popular, and crowded, mountain regions, such as Yellowstone National Park and even Europe’s Alps, she said."To me, the (northern) Rockies are more individual, more special," where each peak has its own character, Turvey said. "They change with the season, and they’re beautiful all times of the year."You can hike on a trail and be by yourself." (Turvey’s favorite hikes are near Logan Pass, at the Continental Divide, in the middle of the park.)Glacier is a many days’ drive from just about anywhere. You can fly into the small airport in nearby Kalispell, Mont., but it will cost you. If you have the time and the money, you can take Amtrak’s American Orient Express to the park. About a century ago, Great Northern Railway’s president, Louis Hill, built a series of lodges and backcountry outposts that today represent one of the nation’s largest collections of Swiss chalet-style architecture. In addition to stations in the park, trains stop at the historic Isaak Walton Inn in Essex, Mont., at the southern end of the park. The inn’s basement is a museum depicting train wrecks caused by floods, landslides and avalanches. Nearby tracks are sheltered for miles by wooden sheds.
Taking the scenic route
We opted to fly from Phoenix to Spokane, Wash., where we picked up a rental car and took a scenic five-hour drive through the panhandle of Idaho into northwestern Montana. Along the way, we stopped at the Mission Mountain Winery, Montana’s oldest winery, in Dayton.Pinot Noir grapes grow surprisingly well here, said Cheryl Tassemeyer, who has poured samples in the tasting room since the winery opened 23 years ago. "I love it. I just live right up here," Tassemeyer said, thumbing over her shoulder at a collection of homes on the western shore of Flathead Lake. In springtime Montana, huckleberries rule. You can buy huckleberry jams and jellies, huckleberry syrup, huckleberry honey. Roadside stands sell huckleberry smoothies. So it was no surprise when Tassemeyer whipped out a huckleberry wine. We took that one home.At Glacier, the experience is all about the water - frozen, snowing, raining, spraying, misting, flowing.Trapped in ice on jagged mountain peaks or seething through the surrounding forest, it is the water that you see, smell, hear, feel.A highlight is driving the Going-to-the-Sun Road, which bisects the park. A November blizzard wiped out the precarious roadway in two spots, but crews were expected to finish repairs and reopen the road as early as this week. Along the steep, undulating curves of this road you find access routes to the park’s remaining, and shrinking, glaciers.
Global-warming witness
The park has 26 named glaciers, down from 150 in 1850. In 1997, the U.S. Geological Survey predicted that by 2030, the park would have no glaciers. That likelihood has prompted one environmental group, the National Environmental Trust, to suggest renaming the park. Glacier is home to one of the USGS’s research projects on global climate change. Environmentalists point to the shrinking glaciers as evidence of global warming.So perhaps it is fitting that some of the world’s leading thinkers will convene Sept. 9-12 across the border in Waterton, Alberta, to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the world’s first peace park.