CDT Day 98: 23.5 miles/37.5 km

CDT SOBO Mile Mack’s Inn alt Mile 17- 0 + Mile 975.5 – 982.0

Tuesday July 23, 2019

It was so nice to stay in a motel, unexpectedly. Hammer had a long sleep in and by 8am we were rested, packed and ready to finish the Montana/Idaho section of the hike.

On the way out of town we had planned to stop at Sabor Cafe for coffee and a burrito after our pre-breakfast of strawberries and bananas with yoghurt.

It was a cool start to what promised to be a warm day. Patches of grey cloud indicated that it may rain, although rain was not predicted. We walked the 2 miles along Highway 20 to our turnoff at Mack’s Inn. It was a surprise to see Paya just before the turnoff, he was trying to hitch a ride to West Yellowstone to pick up his bounce box. We stopped for a chat and said goodbye hoping to see him again down the track.

It was disappointing to find that the cafe did not open untill 11am. So we headed out with no coffee and no burrito. It’s going to be a long day. And especially so, once I had a good look at the map and realised that we had more then 20 miles of road walking to get to the boundary of Yellowstone NP.

Soon after leaving the streets, with mostly summer houses lining the road, we met up with a third tru-through northbound hiker, Peanut. We met him before in the little hiker bubble we were caught up in for a while in New Mexico. Strangely as he approached us he started to go to the other side of the road. We stopped him to congratulate him on finishing all three southern states and entering Montana/Idaho, the last state of the CDT. He was smiley and seemed to be in good spirits.

After we left the bitumen, it was a hot day of mostly silent dirt road walking. Only the sound of bees buzzing and an occasional fly landing a painful bite. The sweet berry smell of the pine forest was making me think of berry pie and that cup of coffee I didn’t have this morning. After lunch we both plugged into our phones and I listened to a Joe Rogan interview with Elon Musk and Hammer listened to a 3 hour lesson on the First World War. We had lots to talk about after finishing our podcasts.

The road was on a gradual rise with the relatively flat landscape of the Targhee State Forest around us. The geology of the surrounding landscape began to look volcanic with glassy black rocks and gravel becoming more prominent.

It was exciting to think that we’ll be done with Montana/Idaho soon. It was pretty relentless hiking in the afternoon sun, without any distant views.

We made it to the boundary of Yellowstone National Park very late in the afternoon. We had decided to proceed to the Wyoming border and hike into Old Faithful Ranger Station tomorrow to get our backcountry camping permit.

The mosquito numbers seem to increase exponentially as we headed into the park. Our insect repellant which contains DEET seems to be ineffective. We stopped for the day just after crossing into Wyoming. It felt pretty good to tick off Montana/Idaho.