Great Western Loop: Day 100 - 104: Lincoln to East Glacier
Day 100: Up'n down (25miles)
Leaving Lincoln was harder than expected. I had waited for more than 1.5 hours to get picked up, when finally a Forest Service worker showed up. He was on his way to Roger's Pass to resupply a group of firefighters, fighting a small fire near Green Mountain.
Roger's Pass was not exactly where I wanted to go, as it was 14miles further north on the CDT, from where I had left the trail, but I wasn't willing to wait any longer.
From Roger's Pass the trail immediately climbed higher up into the mountains and would turn out to be one of the days with the most elevation on trail. Over just 25miles I covered about 14,000ft (4,200m) of elevation on various ascents and descents. Luckily, each climb for itself wasn't too bad and staying high up on a ridgeline provided some great views.
Again, I felt great and energetic and enjoyed the overall challenge. Just before finishing the day, I met a girl from Oklahoma again, which I had met in the Great Basin a month earlier. She had flip-flopped and was now hiking with her dog.
Day 101: Easy going (41miles)
I felt those 14,000ft of the previous day, when I woke up, but after such a rough day, I was now looking at much easier terrain. For today the trail would mostly be downhill or just flat and I was hoping to do some serious mileage. The morning was hazy and I even thought to smell a fire, but couldn't see anything.
Maybe the wind had turned and I was now smelling, what those firefighters from the previous day were fighting against.
The day was uneventful and dominated by easy hiking on a well maintained trail, that even had a few bridges.
The only noteworthy moment happened on a small creek, where I had just sat down to rest. While I was looking at my maps, I noticed some movement on the trail just 30ft ahead of me. I expected another hiker and looked, but instead saw a big black bear strolling towards me and the creek between us. I instantly jumped on my feet, that's when the bear looked up and saw me. He abruptly stopped, jumped in the air and made a 180° turn, before jumping into the closest bush. Guess I must have scared him off :-)
(The bear stood right next to the fallen tree a few yards ahead)
(Amazing trail for a few miles...
...even with a bridge)
Day 102: The Chinese Wall (35miles)
After another rather easy day I now had to climb some 2,000ft again to the "Chinese Wall", an impressive rock formation in the "Bob" (Marshall Wilderness). That wall was definitely one of the highlights of the trail so far.
Unfortunately, I had a rather unpleasant moment right next to it. While I was hiking along the wall, I suddenly heard something growling and rushing towards me. I turned around and saw three animals with grey and black fur and instinctively thought of a wolf pack. I was already reaching for my bear spray, when I realized that I was facing a group of dogs who's owner was just trying to call them back.
(Abundance of wildlife: Deer, Elk, Moose, Squirrels, Chipmunks and a Marmot posing for my picture)
Just after that I chose the Spotted Bear Alternate, which promised a better scenery than the official trail and cut off 15miles towards East Glacier. Within the days before, I had changed my opinion many times, whether to hike this alternate or not. Southbound hikers mentioned serious blowdowns on that stretch and some recommended not hiking that way. As always, most of the comments had been exaggerated and were full of fearmongering. About 80% of the alternate were perfectly fine and those sections with blowdowns slowed me down by maybe an hour in total.
Day 103: Bob is boring (40miles)
I had camped just before the switchbacks going up to Switchback Pass. Comments on my navigation app warned about serious blowdowns again. To my suprise, it was heavily raining when I got up and so I decided to spent a little more time in my tent, to wait out the rain, which now had made all the blowdowns much more treacherous and slippery. I really had to move carefully to not fall, or get stabbed by some fallen and splintered trees.
Luckily the weather quickly improved and the blowdowns passed. For the remainder of the day I mostly walked through either a completely burned valley, or a thick and bushwacky forest. It really bored and annoyed me and so I shot myself into another dimension by listening to music, while hiking as fast as possible. At the end of the day I briefly met Darwin (Darwin on the trail). He's a well known Hiking YouTube, whom I had met on the PCT at Hiker Heaven. I also met his wife a few months later, when she gave me a ride from Sister's back to the PCT.
Day 104: East Glacier (29miles)
Pushing so hard over the last few days had spiked my food consumption. I had planned for 5.5 days from Lincoln to East Glacier, but after a short breakfast I was literally out of food and still hungry. I had to make it to town that day and so I started hiking at 5:30am. The trail was pretty mellow and easy and I made good progress. Due to some reported blowdowns I chose the Two Medicine River Trail towards the East Glacier Highway. On that section I briefly met Robert and Karen whom I would meet again in town.
I crossed the river probably 10 times, before the trail turned west towards Mariah Pass. I instead turned northeast, hiked cross country for a few minutes and jumped a fence. over what I believed to be private land. There I found a road which lead straight to the highway, which I followed for another 9-10miles into town.
I got into town at 1pm and had a cheeseburger with fries, a chicken ceasar salad and chocolate cake at 3pm, tacos, chips and salsa at 5pm and at 7pm coffee and a cheesecake. I also met Robert and Karen again at the Looking Glass Basecamp, where I camped that night.