CDT: Days 1, 2, and 3
My journey started early in the morning as the family was getting ready for work and school. I made sure my list of things to do before I left was complete and I headed out! And then sat in OKC morning traffic for an hour. But after that… I WAS ON MY WAY!
The beginning of the trip was all grassland and REALLY boring. Hours and hours of grassland. That’s it. Seriously, it was terrible. The last hour or two was really interesting and made up for the whole trip.
After hitting Colorado Springs, I headed into the Pike National Forest where I quickly realized I was going to be dealing with a lot of snow on this trip. Being from Alabama and having limited experiences on Jeep trail in the snow, this was exciting. A light dusting of snow covered most everything other than the road and made for some great pictures. I also found an overlook of a foggy valley that allowed me to work on my photography skills because I need all the practice I can get.
While I know that tomorrow will be one of the longest and by far the most distance in a day, I’m excited to see what is in store. Well, it is in the mid 20’s and I think I am going to stop here and let all of the outbound air traffic from Denver ease me to sleep.
Today started with me waking up at 3am and not being able to go back to sleep. When I realized more sleep just wasn’t gonna happen, I packed up and headed out. I passed through Denver around 5am and dealt with minimal idiots weaving in and out of traffic.
After Denver, I passed through Fort Collins, Cheyenne, and Casper. Out of Casper, WY, I headed North and attempted to enter Big Horn National Forest. I made it a little ways down the trail before it got completely covered in snow and was foggy. I exercised some caution and turned around to get back to the highway. Exercising caution is new to me so, yea, progress.
The trail I planned was a forest road that was relatively unimproved but there is a touristy way through Big Horn National Forest and I took that path. It was still snowy but the roads were paved, taken care of, and had stopping points to take pictures. It was still foggy so the picture opportunities were hit and miss but I managed a few. Check the Gallery, which will be posted in the upcoming weeks, for some of those pictures. Here’s a teaser:
After having to turn around, I knew my longest day was only getting longer and I wanted to get to camp during the day so I could see for once. Even though I kept seeing great photo opportunities and taking them, I hurried into the Gallatin National Forest, just outside of Bozeman, MT, where I am settling down for the night. There is about an inch of snow on the ground but the campground is fairly well maintained and I’m ready to hit the bed. Here is a view entering Gallatin:
Well, tomorrow will be a shorter day and I will be going through Glacier National Park and actually getting to the Canadian border to start the CDT. I’m so excited to get this underway and while I am worried about snow in the mountains, I’ll just do the best I can and make it work. So excited.
Today started with a trip out of the forest near Bozeman, MT and towards the Lewis and Clark National Forest Near Great Falls. Great Falls is where everything started going south… ish. Between Great Falls and Glacier National Park is NOTHING. I have been dealing with nothing for days so that wasn’t a problem but the wind was the worst wind I have ever driven in. I was getting weather reports reporting 45-55mph sustained winds and gusts up to 80mph.
It was blowing so hard that I was tempted to stop because it was really starting to frustrate me. At one point I had the wheel turned almost a quarter turn to stay straight on the road and semis were coming at me sideways. The worst part was that steering was only half the battle because speed was also an issue. I spent a long time in 4th gear with my foot all the way down just to maintain 50mph. Anyway, it was crazy but getting into the mountains offered way better views and a little less wind until I got over to the West side.
Getting into the park area, the first thing I noticed was that East Glacier “town” looked abandoned and getting to West Glacier revealed the same thing. So much for stopping to get souvenirs. After making it through the ghost town and fighting the wind to get to the middle of the pass, I crossed the Continental Divide for the first time on this trip.
Making it to the West side offered a lot of amazing views and continuing to the Canadian border didn’t disappoint either.
Getting to the border was harder than I thought because the road was in a really bad state. Nevertheless, I made it and the Continental Divide trip is officially underway.
After leaving the border I decided to not go very far and call it an early day so I could do some writing and photo editing. I wound up at Red Meadow Lake Campground which is tucked in between two mountains with a lake and a nicely maintained campground. This is the first time I am not setting up at night and my first night not sleeping in snow.
Well, that is how the first three days went. I saw a lot of great views, checked off numerous National Forests, and endured endless hours of grasslands. Such is life. Check back for updates as I get time and interwebs to upload them.