The Trail So Far
Despite injuries, trail closings, and extreme weather, our friend Mary Badass is making good time as she hikes the northern half of the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail. On August 21, she left Old Faithful in the middle of a hailstorm, bound for Dubois, Wyoming. She has fewer than 300 miles to go before reaching South Pass City, Wyoming, her final destination.
Mary started her 1,500-mile hike in South Pass on May 27, bound for Encampment, Wyoming, direction south. All went well until June 7, when she was forced to leave the trail for ten days to recuperate from a knee injury. She finally reached Encampment on June 19 and caught a ride to the Montana/Canada border, a maneuver designed to avoid temperature extremes in both desert and glacier country.
On June 21, she began hiking south through Glacier National Park, where she was treated to some of the most spectacular scenery of the trail.
On July 2, she left the park at East Glacier Village and spent the next fifteen days hiking through the Bob Marshall and Scapegoat wilderness areas, arriving in Helena on July 17. In the Bob and Scapegoat she encountered hundreds of blowdowns and temps above 100 degrees F.
By mid July, hikers were being warned about trail closings due to wildfires, and upon reaching Butte, on July 23, Mary took a day off to map a way around them.
From Butte, she headed cross-country, alone, on an unmapped alternate route that took her through Big Sky, Montana, and managed to arrive at Old Faithful in Yellowstone on the very day she had forecast back in April when she was preparing her food drops.
And that's why they call her Mary Badass.
For a video tour with Mary of Yellowstone geysers and mudpots, click here. The link takes you to our YouTube channel.
Every little while, Mary sends us a list that reads like a poem, detailing her impressions of the trail. This one was written back in July, when the summer's many wildfires had begun forcing thru-hikers to switch to alternate routes.
From Helena to Whitehall
By Mary Anderson
What I remember:
The smoky views. Feeling like I am walking in an eclipse due to the smoke. Having to keep changing my route because of fires. Setting out for maybe 200 miles cross-county by myself. Feeling strong and satisfied with my walking pace. Feeling accomplished and okay going over a mile of really bad blowdowns. Focusing on the small stuff. Noticing how many types of grass seeds there are. Noticing the elegant beauty in the grass seeds. Seeing tons of grasshoppers and butterflies. Long water carries. Drinking out of cow troughs and being thankful. Talking to cowboys. Seeing the one place where water from one side of the Divide flows to the other. Bear. Hiking long miles—a number of more than 20-mile days. Meeting up with old trail friends. Saying goodbye again. Meeting more great trail friends. Being showered with immense kindnesses by people in towns, including free housing, meals and rides. The sun and moon made an intense orange color from the smoke. Intense heat. Scanning the horizon after a lightning storm to see if fires started near me.