CDT 21: Still lovin’ the Montana Idaho Border

‘I-15 to Idaho-Hwy 28’

The Montana Idaho border just keeps getting better: high ridge walks, stunning views, and beautiful sunsets. The ups and downs seem never ending, but the grandeur of it all did not disappoint. A couple of days into the section we took the most amazing alternate, staying closer to the divide, through Deadman Creek Canyon and Nicholia Creek Canyon. The cliff walls were extraordinary, wrinkled, wavy, rock arched along one cliff wall after another.

The next day took us deep into cattle country, filled with more cows than we had seen anywhere thus far. Water was plentiful, but with so many cows, all of whom seemed to have runny-butt (that’s what I call runny cow poop), I was reluctant to get water for most of the morning. We gradually climbed to higher elevations with better water, fewer cows, and more grand views.

We took an alternate along the side of Cottonwood Peak, not so much for aesthetic reasons, but to keep from losing a thousand feet of elevation just to climb a thousand feet again. It was a game trail, but kept me saying, “Wow, this is such a great trail.” I said it so many times it made me realize just how hard this “trail,” the CDT, has been, and how often there really is no trail at all.

We climbed high to a big plateau filled with one CDT marker after another and then they just stopped. A quick check of the maps and GPS and we headed across the plateau, found more markers, and then they just stopped again. A few more map checks, a few more markers, and eventually there was a real trail again.

The next day led us up, up, and away onto what was sort of a roller-coaster jeep road high on the Divide. I love jagged mountain peaks, but I have to say, this was one of my favorite parts of the whole hike. I could see way off into Montana and Idaho, the sun was warm, but the wind was cool. The miles went by quickly and the weather was in our favor.

When we finally made it out to the road to Leadore, folks we had met up previously on the divide offered us a ride into town on their quad. A perfect ending to a perfect section.

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