SUNDAY, JUNE 5 — EUREKA, MT
Andrew has hiked 6,785 miles, 88% of his 7,700-mile hike across the continent.
Andrew left Augusta, MT on May 21st and passed by a ranch that was hosting a “branding party”. He was invited to join and had his first experience with this real Montana tradition. Everyone, including family, remotely related family, friends, and friends of friends, come to a branding party. Everyone has a job- from ropers to wrestlers. The steers are brought in and receive their injections, ear tags and other medical procedures. This was quite an experience for a New England suburbanite. Andrew experienced it all, right down to seeing the bucket filled with “Rocky Mountain Oysters,” and, for those who know what they are, no, Andrew did not eat any of them. It was quite an experience.
From the branding party ranch, Andrew hiked to the Bob Marshall Wilderness Area. On Andrew’s first night in this wilderness area, he met some bear hunters. They gave him more tips about dealing with bears. He was really wishing the hunters had “bagged their bear- one less bear” for Andrew to deal with. The first night in the Wilderness, the bears had really “gotten into Andrew’s head.” Andrew couldn’t find a tree to hang his gear and ended up stashing the gear in an abandoned horse trailer. He hardly slept, as every noise woke him up. The following days and nights were better, as Andrew realized that the bears seemingly avoided contact with him- just as Andrew avoided contact with the bears. May 25th was Andrew’s older sister’s birthday, so he sang “Happy Birthday”…very loudly…all day long, as he hiked along the path, letting the bears know he was there.
Andrew arrived at East Glacier, MT on Thursday, May 26th and Glacier National Park on Friday May 27th. The Rangers in the park informed Andrew that the snow pack was still very deep with high avalanche danger conditions. They informed Andrew that he would be placing himself in a great deal of danger if he tried to travel the Continental Divide Trail over the mountains. Andrew was extremely disappointed at this news. Timing the hike to allow safe passage over the mountains had been one of Andrew’s goals from the very beginning of his hike. Andrew was able to get over the mountains by taking some trails, frequently using his snowshoes and using an ice pick borrowed from a ranger. Then, Andrew hiked along the “Going to the Sun Road” over Logan Pass. This “Auto Road” had been open for less than a week. Andrew said that he: couldn’t believe engineers even thought of building the road, never mind completing it. The road is extremely narrow and just climbs straight up the mountains. New Englanders compare mountain roads to the Mt. Washington (NH) auto road, which winds its way up to the top of the highest of all New England peaks. Andrew said the Mt. Washington auto road was seemingly nothing compared to the Going to the Sun Road.
One of Andrew’s biggest disappointments was that he could not hike the high country in Glacier and in the Bob Wilderness Area. He is determined to return and hike this area in the future.
From Glacier National Park, Andrew hiked into Polebridge, MT. This is a very remote town that receives US Mail only twice weekly. The weather was “off and on rain and snow, depending on the altitude of the trail. The trail was difficult to follow because of the snow pack and the fog” when he was hiking in and above the clouds. From Polebridge, it was a couple days of hiking to Eureka, MT. Many people in the town of Eureka turned out to welcome Andrew. The Pacific Northwest Trail Association arranged an informal gathering at the Arena Grill. Andrew really enjoyed this special gathering and he sends a “hearty thank you to Catherine Hogan and Melanie for all of their efforts.”
The past two weeks have been good times for Andrew. He is really beginning to feel a special excitement and amazement as he approaches the end of his 7,700-mile trek. Andrew planned his C2C trip for 12 months. He expects to complete the hike in about 1 month (around July 10, 2005). Andrew has almost achieved his goal.