Daily Log: PostHike/Day 74

74 Post-Hike 8/27/2021 rain sprinkles, foggy, cool. Hiked 20 miles from Kootenai campground to Packers Roost and the Jeep. Pushed hard to arrived at Jeep at 2:57 pm – in other words, within the two-o’clock hour.

Descending 3000′ from Flattop mountain to Packers Roost trailhead (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Tartan resting his head and exhausted after pushing hard to get to the Jeep before 3 pm. The CDT hike is now complete (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Katie waved signs celebrating Tartan’s accomplishment to all the cars leaving the park including Justin’s Jeep as it passed by (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Brian “Tartan” Watt, Triple-Crown Hiker

Daily Log: Day 73

73 2975.3 8/26/2021 overcast, sunny, clouds in afternoon. Justin and I woke around 5:15 for our final push to the border. We left Fifty Mountain campsite about 6:10. We had an immediate climb and then a long 2500’ descent. After 8 miles we arrived at Kootenai campsite. We set up our tents, unloaded all non-essentials, messaged Katie and slack packed the next 7 miles to the border. I pushed my legs as fast as I could go. We arrived about 1:05 pm and saw Katie waving her arms. We had made it. I HAD COMPLETED THE CDT! Photos, cards, patches, suckers were part of the celebration. Then we all had lunch together sitting on the Waterton Lake. beach. This included Chili-Mac dinner for me brought by Katie and cooked by Justin. There were other tourists and we explained what we were celebrating. After our lunch we said our goodbyes. Katie left for Waterton and Justin and I hiked 7 miles back to Kootenai campground. Tomorrow Justin and I will climb 2500’ back to Fifty Mountain and then to Packer’s Roost and the Jeep. It’s supposed to rain so we expect it to be a very long slog of a hike. But we are done and we will celebrate with Katie this time in Kalispel MT at the Holiday Inn Express. This means hot showers, clean clothes and a meal together. I am so much looking forward to this. Until then, night, night. At Kootenai campground

Dearest Katie, Thank you for meeting me at the end of the PCT, AT, and now CDT. It means a lot to me that you had the time and energy to come celebrate with me and to be there for these special life accomplishments. Love, Dad

Dearest Justin, I can’t thank you enough for your help shepherding, organizing, aiding and just being there with me on this CDT journey from Wyoming to Cuba New Mexico in 2020 and from Wyoming to the Canadian border in 2021. I could not have done this without you and your support. Love, Dad

See “How We Got to the End” for Justin’s description.

Leaving Fifty Mountain campground Justin and I took a selfie (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Much of the the time the trail was overgrown with Thimbleberries, a large-leafed no-thorned edible-raspberry-like-fruit plant (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Adding to the fun was another suspension bridge to cross (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Just after 1 PM on August 26, 2021 Tartan arrives at the US – Canadian border (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Tartan completes his long-distance hike of the Continental Divide Trail (Photograph Courtesy of K. Watt)
Team Tartan celebrates at the CDT northern border monument (Photograph Courtesy of K. Watt)
Team Tartan congratulates Tartan on his achieving his Triple Crown of Hiking (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
To document his Triple Crown of Hiking Katie presented Tartan with patches for each of the trails: PCT, AT and CDT (Photograph Courtesy of K. Watt)
During a quiet moment Tartan contemplates his accomplishment and silently thanks all the family, friends and other people who helped him achieve his goal. He couldn’t have done it without them (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Nearby the monument we sat on the beach, opened cards and had lunch. Katie had crossed the US – Canadian border by car, driven to Waterton Canada, stayed overnight, and that morning she had hiked south to the monument to meet us. She has been at the end of each of my long distance hikes: PCT, AT and now CDT (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Justin and I at the monument having shared so many adventures in these past two years and 2000 miles (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
The two monuments at the US – Canadian border on the west side of Upper Waterton Lake. Across the lake on the east side notice the clear-cut demarkation of the border running up the mountain (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Soon we had to part. Katie returning to her rental car, driving back to the US and a hotel in Kalispell MT. Us to our Kootenai campgound in GNP where we celebrated the ending of a very memorable day by tapping the filters on our water bottles in celebration (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 72

72 2960.5 8/25/2021 clear, sunny, cool to warm. Woke at Many Glacier campground in the hiker area. First was bathroom run to a toilet in the middle of forest with no walls. Next was pack up. Finally was breakfast with Mio water. My right shoe was hurting so I loosened it. I left and walked toward the trail but again stopped to adjust my right shoe. And I got on trail at 5:55 am with my white rain jacket, red down vest and gloves. The first four miles I zoomed – the effects of Mio. I got to the climb and sent Justin a message. Then I climbed but immediately lost the trail. I crossed a narrow shelf only a shoe width. I gotta be careful or I might fall. Then I was in thick bushes. Where is the gosh darn trail. I scan and see nothing. Guthooks is having GPS problems and jumping around. So I go back across the narrow ledge. Then I begin to bushwhack up the side of the mountain. My pants are getting soaked. Still no trail. Up farther I go and around some pine trees. Then finally I crawl up to the trail. Sheesh. And upward I climb and climb and climb. It’s about 9:30 when I reach the pass. I get message from Justin along the way. He’s almost to the chalet too. I get there at 9:45 and he’s there about ten minutes later. I finish my ADC back and we’re off to Fifty Mountain. We meet people along the way. Including Snowballs and Caymen. The sun is out. The hiking is good. Justin talks and keeps me entertained. We get to the campsite about 4:00. Another group of three people is here. We get water and put up our tents. Another twosome: Rick and Sam arrive. Finally Lawrence and Matt arrive. At dinner most people congregate at the food prep area and talk. Justin, my social guy, is entertaining with various stories. Especially one about a weird guy who was there when Justin and Lawrence were getting there permits. Oh another thing about this Tentsite the toilet has no building around it. It’s a toilet on a concrete pedestal in the middle of the forest. Great scenery from the “throne”! Tomorrow is the last day of my CDT hike. I reach Canada and the monument tomorrow. Katie meets Justin and I there – how sweet is that. I still can’t believe it. 15 miles and I’m done. Triple crown of hiking trails completed. 7825 miles. Wow!  At Fifty Mountain campground.

Hiking in the very early morning with the moon lighting the way the trail is easy to follow
Near to the first climb’s summit a waterfall cascades down the mountain
Looking back down the valley the Many Glacier campground is miles behind me
After meeting at Granite Park Chalet we hike together towards Fifty Mountain campsite. This included meeting “Snowballs” and “Caymen” just before Fifty Mountain campsite. They however did not plan to stop at this campsite, but rather go on to a further one (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 71

71 2941.4 8/24/2021 clear, sunny, frost at pass, moderate to cool. Woke around 5 and packed up. Did my toilet and ate breakfast. Packed up a very wet tent and ground cloth. Also packed up a damp sleeping bag. Left the campsite about 6:15 and crossed a suspension bridge to the trail at 6:20. Then it was time to climb. Caught up and passed a few day hikers. Some I chatted with about the CDT. Got to the pass above the misty clouds. Spectacular view. Then on the other side of the pass was a beautiful water falls. Near the end the track got muddy due to horses. For miles I had to negotiate hiking on the left or right of the trail. The trail was trashed with countless hoof marks in sticky gooey mud. Finally I got to Many Glacier and Justin. We immediately dried off my tent, sleeping bag and shoes. Then we went to the lodge for a burger and chicken strips. Tasty! Back to the Jeep for wound care and food for the next (and last) three days. There we met two NOBO thru-hikers, “Snowballs” and “Catman”. Nice guys. Finally we had pizza, more chicken strips and a beer for dinner. Tomorrow we meet at 10:30 am at the Granite chalet after my 2000’ climb. Justin is coming from Packer’s Roost with a 3000′ climb and me from here. It’s going to be one of the longest and hardest days of hiking and climbing. Wish me luck! I’ll need it. Talk to you tomorrow. Night night. At Many Glacier campground.

Good weather makes all the difference in the world. Although it’s cold and there is frost on the ground I make good progress towards Justin and my meet up at the Granite Park Chalet
Above the mist and in the bright sunlight I can see for miles
At the pass I look back from where I came. Then I turn around ready to begin my descent
Down I go towards on a series of switchbacks in a valley with shear mountain walls and the sound of water falling nearby
I stop for a morning snack and watch the water spill down towards the valley bottom
Using the Jeep as my clothes line. Drying my tent, sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, ground cloth, etc. from yesterday’s unexpected rain and hail storm. (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Luckily everything got dried out. And I’m in a very large campground in a spot reserved for hikers. My tent is dry and set up. My sleeping bag is dry. The weather tomorrow is supposed to be good. I am again at peace (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
We had a pizza dinner with beers across from the campground at the Swiftcurrent Inn (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 70

70 2926.1 8/23/2021 clear, cool, sunny, rain, hail. I slept well and got up at 5:15. I got on trail about 6:15. However I felt tired. The trail was relatively flat as it went around the lake. The next campsite, Red Eagle Lake Tail, had several bear bags hung. I crossed another suspension bridge which was about a mile down River. I came to a very large lake and began to go down to it. The trail went along it for miles and miles. The trail was very overgrown and slowed me down. Then I got to a water falls and suddenly there were a number of people (tourists!) there. Later I learn that there was a parking lot where they had come from. As I descended I passed more and more people. I was only a mile or so to my campsite when I got to the bottom and the river. Many people were enjoying the natural beauty. Instead of going to the car parking lot the trail turn towards the Reynolds campground. In a few minute I see Justin hiking towards me. Wonderful! He escorted me back to the campsite. He brought me two sodas. I showed him my raw skin and got bandages for it. While we were talking it started to rain a little. This was unexpected. So we put our stuff under a tree. We went to prepare a hot lunch but the rain continued. It wasn’t supposed to rain. So I told him I needed my tent up. As the rain increased I got my once dry tent up but now very damp. He had made me chili-mac. When I returned we ate and he gave me my resupplies. The rain got worse. So I told him I just wanted to crawl in my tent. We said our goodbyes. I was a terrible host but the increasing rain just shocked me. IT WAS NOT SUPPOSED TO RAIN TODAY! Well after he left it rained and hailed. I’m laying in my tent in my sleeping bag just trying to stay warm. I’m fearing tomorrow and its climb. In time the rain stopped. I got back on my soaked rain gear so I could get water and dinner. I’m was not looking forward to all this work. In the meanwhile another hiker arrived named “All you can eat”. He was friendly and we chatted. He had just come over from Many Glacier and got rained and hailed on. He says tomorrow the InReach forecast is for no rain and also no rain for the next day. I made two dinners to get more calories and keep warm. As I was eating my dessert, a Tootsie Roll Pop, I popped one of my crowns off my back left molar. GREAT! So I put it in my wallet until I return to Austin and my dentist. The rain seems to have stopped. The sun is out but low in the sky. My tent is drying and I’m sitting waiting for it to dry more. It was quite a day.  At Reynolds campground.

After leaving Red Eagle Lake Head campsite I crossed a Suspension bridge across the Red Eagle Creek. Only one hiker can cross at a time. The bridge bounces and sways as you cross requiring you to carefully hold the cable railings. My poles got caught in those same cables too
After walking for miles on an overgrown trail along the side of a lake all by myself I suddenly pop out at a falls and there are tourists everywhere. Somehow I’m back in civilization.
Far below the falls is a bridge, more falls and a stream with more tourists enjoying the natural beauty
Crossing the bridge I hike toward the parking lot, but before reaching it I turn off towards Reynolds campground and meet Justin walking toward me on the trail
Together we walk to Reynolds campsite. To do this we leave the CDT, cross a suspension bridge, turn left and there is the campsite (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Although it’s only been a few days it’s so good to see him. I can relax (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Now back at Reynolds I show Justin my raw skin caused by hiking in the rain and the harsh Oboz shoes. We patch me up with gobs of ointment and numerous bandages as replacement skin.
Unexpectedly it begins to rain. I rush around trying to get my tent set up. I get on my rain gear. All the while it is getting wetter and wetter. I ask Justin to leave so I can focus on getting things done. This was not the day I had planned. WTF! Argh! (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
After Justin quickly leaves I burrow into my sleeping bag into my tent to stay warm. I am shocked that during the rain it begins to hail causing inside condensation to rain down on my bag and me. A wet down sleeping bag is not good. I’m not a happy camper

Daily Log: Day 69

69 2911.7 8/22/2021 rainy, very windy, cold, moderate, over passes rainy, cold and windy. Woke up at my regular time but it was very windy, cold and raining. I thought the weather report said rain was to stop. Well not at Old Man Lake. Finally I got up. Packing up was a difficult exercise especially with cold stiff hands. I ate breakfast at the food prep area – following the National park rules. I was on trail at 7 – yup, real late. Immediately had to climb and climb and climb. As I ascended the weather got worse. It was as if the mountain itself was generating the weather as a microclimate. I was on a narrow trail on the side of a very big mountain. I worried about being blown off. It got colder and colder. And there was rain. It took forever to reach the peak. I knew then that today was going to be a very very long day – probably ending between 4-5 pm. As I descended the weather improved. But I had a second peak to summit. Oh my gawd – it was a ramp trail on the side of a bowl of mountains for over 3 miles. Up and up and up. And with it, as before, the wind gusted, the temperature dropped and it rained. It took over two hours to summit. Then again as before the weather slowly abated as I descended. I crossed the Red Eagle Creek in a mini-suspension bridge – twice! At about 4:30 after going through a forest fire area I arrived at Red Eagle Lake Head and setup my tent. No one else is here. The temperature was cool but it feels warm after the past few cold nights. I’m on the edge of the lake. Tomorrow is a shorter hike – only 14 miles – and I need it. My poor feet are getting beat up. Justin is also stopping by with resupplies. At Red Eagle Lake Head campground.

After climbing for a while I stopped for a snack and to take a picture. Old Man Lake Campsite (not visible) was somewhere on the left side of the lake. What you don’t feel is the cold gusty wind and the stinging rain. What you do see is the sheer beauty of these steep forested mountains
A panoramic image of the same view showing the trail constantly rising from the left and continuing to the right towards the pass

Daily Log: Day 68

68 2893.9 8/21/2021 rain rain go away. Left the Lodge about 5:30. I tried to be quiet, but my red light moving around woke Justin. My dry shoes were so tight they hurt my toes. I stopped by the Golf building, took them off and tried to flex them to stop them from crushing my toes. It helped a little, but what really helped was getting on trail and have them again be wet from yesterday’s rain. Oh well, maybe dry shoes was something I didn’t need. The climb was ok. Still no rain, which was good. I climbed into the fog. No views were visible. It got colder and windy as I got higher. Every so often out of the mist you’d see a craggy peak or wall. I got so cold that I hurried on. On the descent the swirling fog and the spectacular views were stunning. The majestic massiveness of the mountains was awesome. Then the rain started. I put on my pack cover and continued down. I passed a few hikers ascending. I also passed a group of four girls, who were ascending and who decided they had enough and turned around. They lacked gloves and they didn’t look prepared for the rain, cold, and wind. Almost to the trailhead I met and chatted with Jim and Jerry, who are two of the “Old Gray Mares’” husbands. Finally in the parking lot was Justin and the Jeep. I could finally get out of the rain and try to warm up. It was around 11 am. He drove me down the road to the Glacier Store where I got two hot chocolate and three egg McMuffin like sandwiches. My shirt was soaked with sweat so I stood in front of the fireplace and tried to dry off. The we drove back to the trailhead. After discussing my options I decided to leave in the rain around 12:30. Although I got turned around by missing a pedestrian bridge, I finally got on trail and started to gently climb. A cold rain was falling and I had my umbrella up. It took me to 4 pm to do the 7 miles to the campsite. I immediately made dinner to get warmer and so I could hang my bear bag and get into my tent. A group of three other hikers arrived and we chatted. As they went off getting water I hung my bear bag, got my tent up and crawled in. My right ankle is pretty beat up. The Oboz shoes are rubbing my skin raw. I put Bacitracin, gauze and adhesive tape on the three raw spots, because I’m saving my bandages for my wound. My shoes are soaked as are my socks. My leather gloves are soaked. I didn’t use the spare shirt because the shirt I am wearing is dry enough to sleep in. I’m sleeping with my puffy on. Tomorrow should be no rain. I got a lot to carry. And more climbs. At Old Man Lake campground.

On the descent the swirling fog and the spectacular views were stunning. The majestic massiveness of the mountains was awesome.
I’m hiking from East Glacier to Two Medicine Lake that is in the valley far far below
I meet Justin and he takes me to the Park Store. At the Store I gobbled down two hot chocolates and three egg and bacon muffins. I desperately try to dry off and warm up but it’s not happening (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
So back to the trailhead we go. I’m trying to keep myself dry and warm by using my rain jacket, rain pants, and umbrella, but it’s not working either. I’m wet and cold (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Finally I get my wet cold leather gloves on. I’ve got to get moving to get warmer. I have to leave (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Off I go. I only have one big climb and 7 more miles to my “permitted” campsite. As the cold rain pours down on me I keep saying to myself “I gotta do this” (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
I turn left, walk down the road, turn right at the ranger station and leave the warmth and safety of the Jeep and Justin far behind. It takes me to 4 pm to get to Old Man Lake Campsite (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)

Daily Log: Day 67

67 2876.5 8/20/2021 overcast, light rain, cool. Today is a slack pack day. I had only 15 miles, but the trail was heavily overgrown with dense vegetation such that I couldn’t see the trail underneath and it was loaded with water. At the end I was chilled to the bone. Also I talked to Katie by phone while sitting in the Jeep with the heater in full blast sauna-mode. Sadly she won’t be hiking with us, because the border is now open nevertheless she’ll be hiking in from Waterton Alberta Canada to meet us at the monument. After the call we drove to the Glacier Park Lodge, went to our room, and I immediately took a hot shower to warm my core. Finally I was coming out if it. The rest of the day was spent planning with Justin and preparing for tomorrow’s hike. So much gear was wet. The room heater was on full helping us dry things. And it worked! We even dried the tent on the room’s porch. We had burgers in town for lunch. We ate in the lodge dining room and had an excellent dinner – one of the best on the trip. I had two desserts as a means of carb overload. Since we got up so early it’s now time for bed. I have less than 100 miles to go. I couldn’t do this without Justin. He’s such a great help. Night night. 

The trail was so very overgrown that I had to take a picture of it. So much so that I couldn’t see the actual trail itself through the growth. I had to assume it was there. Each step I feared that I would stumble on hidden rocks and roots. Each step I had to push ahead against the plant stalks. Each step the dew and rain soaked my pants and shoes. I was chilled to the bone. It was a “Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day”. This picture is blurry because my phone was in a plastic Zip Lock bag to protect it
Our view from our porch in the Glacier Park Lodge (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
At the lodge Justin presented me with my Glacier National Park permits. He had spent countless hours preparing and getting them. It was everything that he had hoped for. It allowed me (and at times him) to cross the park to the CDT northern border monument and afterwards exit the park
We had a great dinner at the lodge. Cheers! (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
This included two desserts. Yum! Gotta get those calories in me with all the hiking I’ll be doing.

Daily Log: Day 66

66 2861.5 8/19/2021 foggy, misty, cool, sunny, warm, rainy, cold. Got up and put on all my wet stuff. My potty was pressured because I hadn’t gone the day before and my bladder was bursting. Then my tent rain fly was wet inside while surprisingly the rain fly was dry outside. Everything was either damp or wet. So I started hiking while thinking about my day’s goal. Do I stop at the Tentsite in 12 miles or continue on to Justin at 24 miles. In a mile I started my big climb of 1500’. It wasn’t easy. Near the end it went straight up the mountain. I had to do my “count to 25 steps”. But I finally made it. After that I felt that 12 miles was probably all that I could do. The sky was overcast. There was fog coming over the mountains and NO sun. However it was going to rain again tonight. Also I’d rather be done with “The Bob”. Just before the 12 mile mark I met a SOBO hiker named “Felix”. He said he had met Justin earlier. I ask about the trail ahead. He said he had encountered many blowdowns on the regular trail. He mentioned a comment for “Trail 137 Junction” that had mentioned a clearer alternative. The sun came out which improved my mood. We parted but I kept on thinking and investigating those comments. Especially the ones saying “10 water crossing and 2 blowdowns”. Another comment said that it had “less blowdowns and less elevation”. That last thing caught my attention. Less elevation was great. So I messaged Justin and told him I was taking the alternate. The alternate was smooth sailing. After about 5 miles I turned back toward the CDT. As I cross the river the last time there were “The Old Gray Mares” and Justin! They had been talking. These ladies are awesome. We took pictures and walked about 2.5 more miles to the Jeep. Justin made his Carnitas tacos. Tomorrow is a 15 mile slack pack to East Glacier. Although it’s going to be rainy and very early only 15 miles sound quite doable. We shall see. Night night.

Tartan talking to the awesome “The Old Grey Mares” (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
These ladies are LASHers [Long-Ass Section Hikers] too (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)
Justin kept in touch with them and they finished at Chief Mountain border crossing a day or two after Justin and I met Katie at the CDT northern border monument (Photograph Courtesy of J. Watt)