The Dago Diaries

One Italian American's Journey Along America's Great Divide
Day 146, Fin

Day 146, Fin

CDT mile 2632.6, miles hiked 8.5 

a calm morning on the lake

I layed awake looking at the roof above us and the pitch black outside. My mind was racing about the big finish today, and the excitement made it hard to sleep like, I was like a child on Christmas morning. I finally fell back asleep and then woke at 7am, now that’s sleeping in. I put on my sopping wet cold socks, shoved them in my wet shoes and told myself that was the last time I had to do that for awhile. I went and got our food bags from the pole, came back to the shelter and made some coffee, and pitched from my pack what I could, packed up and hit the trail for our last day.

fresh snow on the mountains, finishing just in time

The sky was blue for the first time in days, and we could see the mountain tops all covered in fresh snow. It was a glorious day and we smiled knowing that the past few days of suffering in bad weather were over and we were being rewarded for our final miles. We stopped by the lake for a few pictures and then hit the CDT and the final 4.5 miles to the border.
The trail took us along the lake a massive beast of deep blue water surrounded by steep peaks. We pushed through wet brush, slogged through mud and talked for a few minutes about the next chapters of our lives. The conversation soon waned and we walked in silence each of us processing the end, wow it’s really ending and we walked as if the trail was carrying us. We saw the peninsula which is the border took a deep breath and approached the end.

the moment i finished, all i could do was hug the border

One last CDT marker was there on a trail sign and across from it the monument stood, an obilsque stating the US/Canada border. I walked over to the monument touched it with my hand and wrapped my body around it and gave it a big hug. At last my end was here, no tears, no screams of joy, just peace, happiness and the feeling of a job well done and hard earned. 

tatu jo showing off his new double triple crown

I walked back to Tatu Jo, put his double triple crown upon his head and he walked over and ended his hike. Between the Appalachian Trail and the CDT he had just completed 5,000 miles in 6 months. He also is one of only 6 or 7 double triple crown hikers and the first person ever to walk the AT and CDT northbound in one season, a major accomplishment.  

the end of the line

IPA’s I had packed down from Many Glaicer were cracked in celebration. We took photos galore, then sat down to reflect on our journey. As we were getting ready to walk the 4 miles to the Canadian trailhead to meet our ride, Tatu Jo thanked me for hiking with him and told me it was a pleasure to be together the past 800 miles. We made a good team and had some great times along the way and I hope we share a piece of trail together sometime in the future.

We took off along the lake shore and quickly got some distance between us. It was nice for the last 4 miles to walk in silence each of us deep in our own thoughts. I contemplated all I had done, laughed aloud at the fun times with the boys in New Mexico and smiled about the times with Cheesy walking endless miles in the high country. I reflected on my solo stretch and how much I grew in such a short amount of time. I thought of going home, hugging Suzy, playing ball with Karluk and eating seafood on the beach. I dreamed of my future adventures, the trails I want to hike, somehow earning my triple crown and how I would make a living in this new chapter in life.

deep blue water on the lake gave reflection to mountains and my time out here

I hit the Bertha Falls trail head and there stood Steve Jones our ride back to East Glaicer. We loaded up, called customs to declare ourselves in Canada and then started back to the border. I saw Smelly Jesus standing on the side of the road with his thumb out. I rolled down the window and yelled “smelly” we loaded him up and we all drove to Chief Mountain and the US crossing. A quick trip through customs and an hour later we were back at Brownie’s. Wow in just a few days from here I had covered 105 miles, finished the CDT and made my dreams a reality.

get a job hippies, me and smelly jesus

The CDT is now a part of me for life. I will forever carry the scars of her on my butt cheek from my fall into Creede. I’ll be ravaged by dreams of waking up to the Milky Way, walking endless ridges and smiling at the gift of walking at human speed from one end of this country to the other. The CDT has made me stronger in both physical and mental strength and I plan to use it’s lessons going forward in life to make the world a better place.

Thank you CDT! I love you and always will….

To all of you who have followed along my journey thank you for taking the time to read about my daily grind. I appreciate you dealing with spelling errors and typos from blogging on my phone after long days of walking. Your encouragement and comments were a constant source of help to keep me going. I encourage all of you to help protect Americas wilderness and wild places. Please write to your congress and senate reps pushing them to support wilderness areas, the national scenic trail systems, the USFS and the National Parks. If you want to help future hikers please support CDTC with a donation and membership, their hard work makes the lives of us hikers easier with new tread and signage.

In the coming weeks I’ll be writing about my re-entry to society, gear reviews of the items I used, and musings about my thoughts on hiking culture, new dangled ways to navigate and life in general.

Until next time, may the wind be at your back and for gods sake try to keep the feet dry.

back in brownie’s i saw old friends on their way to finiah like Themometer from south korea

all these cdt hikers helped us celebrate

Day 145, She Never Gives Up Her Miles Easily

CDT mile 2624.4, miles hike 33.8 

the begining of the last hard day

It poured all night, I woke up at 2:30 to the sound of rain but laid in my bag contemplating the end of this hike. I thought back to all the fun in New Mexico, the snow and challenging conditions of Colorado, Wyoming and its pleasent ways and Montana…wow Montana is one big bad ass state. I thought of the people I have met, the times I have woken to look at the Milky Way and how I’ll miss sleeping outside each night, well if I don’t play nice Suzy might make me sleep outside when I get home.

what an awesome beast

We had our morning coffee and went to the front porch to reasses ourselves, our heads and our gear to make sure we were ready to walk out in the dark in a driving rain to go the 33.8 miles to goat haunt. We gave eachother the once over and then set off. The rain was cold and we trudged along knowing that today was our last hard day. We had to go over two high passes and then we were done with big climbs on the CDT.

looking back at many glaicer

The climb up to swift current pass was a long one and we had everything from pouring cold rain at the bottom to hail, and eventually good old fashion snow. The clouds were low and obscuring the mountain peaks. We turned one switchback and there in front of us was a giant big horn sheep and 5 of his buddies. We stopped and took pictures before they moved what an incredible moment in time for me.

stopping to take it all in

We traveresed the long walk up to swift current pass and there we met the high line trail our route for the day which follows as close to the physical continental divide as possible. The trail traveres high on the mountain and all day we walked through some wonderful mountains but crap weather. It snowed on and off most of the day, when not snowing it rained and now and again the sun would come out for 30 minutes before going away from a squall. Throughly soaked through all of our clothes we had to keep moving to stay warm. Thank the god we bought those fleece jackets because it was the only thing keeping me warm. 

early season on the highline

The trail was good test, challenging us all along. Finally at about 2pm we stood atop the final high climb of the CDT. The pass really has no name but it comes over 50 mountain. We took a photo and then walked down across the low saddle up its other side and descend into the lush rainforest like downslope. We soon found the trail that was thick wet brush, and we got even more soaked as we pushed through. Luckily as we got lower it got slightly warmer and no longer as exposed to the wind.

all smiles because this pass on 50 mountain was the last big climb in the cdt

We passed a guard station, a trail crew was inside eating dinner and we waved as we hiked by. We soon found the trail to be a sloppy, muddy mess from a pack train and then numerous people who had walked afterwards. We slipped and slided and got covered in mud. As we slipped we reminded ourselves that the CDT does not give up her miles easily. Today was one last goodbye slap in the face to remind us to be humble as walk through life after we leave her. We listend to some thunder and had a small flash or two of lightning as we got close the lake.  

Tatu Jo was less than thrilled with the muddy conditions

We found the side trail and soon passed some buildings, a ranger station and then saw the lake a long wonderful body of water that tomorrow we walk along to reach Canada. It’s there just 4.5 miles more and I’ll have completed the CDT as a North Bound Thru-Hike. One long series of continuous steps from Mexico to Canada. It’s a journey that has changed me in so many ways for the better. It also challenged me to push harder than I ever have, but now I have learned new things about my endurance and I what I can actually put my body through.

waterton lake

I love you CDT and I’m going to miss you very much, thanks for the laughs, the smiles, the cold days, the post holing hell, and making me a desert rat. I’ll be back for you again someday after I have walked a few other trails and then need you to remind me how wonderful the long spine of the USA can be.

so close i can smell the maple syrup and molson beer

Day 144, The Poncho

CDT mile 2590.6, miles hiked 29.6

look I’m a tourist

It’s our next to last full day of hiking, and we needed to make 29.6 miles to make it to Many Glaicer and the swift current hotel, campground and resturant for a well needed hot meal, dry inside conditions and a dryer for our bags if possible.  

Saint Mary’s falls

 We left camp a bit later than we planned mostly because it rained all night and in the morning we woke up to our tents that were wet and sleeping bags damp with condensation. We had coffee and slowly packed up, nothing is more miserable than having to pack up a wet tent and gear, and go walk through the rain for the better part of 12-14 hours.
Tatu lead the way, his pace was quick and I could tell he wanted to make miles as fast as possible. We soon were at St Mary’s lake a long glacial lake that is stunning in beauty and size. The deep blue water was amazing but the stiff wind coming across made things cool. The rain had stopped and it felt nice so we layered down for a bit only an hour later to put back on more clothes.
We reached the end of the lake which seemed endless and soon we were in tourist central as we approached St Mary’s falls. We stopped for photos and a lady asked us if we were father and son, Tatu Jo is concerned his 5,000 miles has made him look old. I laughed and we carried on, soon it started to rain right as we headed to Piegan Pass a large 2500’ish climb. We opted for our ponchos….

bears rule glaicer

Now seeing how we are at the end of the hike, running low on funds and in BFE we opted for the $3.99 jobs at the two medicine store. As we put them on and soon discovered they would cover our packs and us quite well. We walked slowly up hill in the rain and kept seeing snow on the steep faces in front of us. We trudged along and met some hikers on the way down who went to Virginia Tech, go Hokies. We chatted for a bit and they told us to look for two Grizzlies on our way up a sow and cub down below the trail. I never saw them but Tatu Jo’s pretty sure he caught a glimpse.  

get ua down low its cold

We soon stood atop the pass it was cloudy and windy. The rain and dampness cut like a knife and we hurried our way down the other side as fast as possible. Soon back in the forest we looked at out GPS and discovered we were two hours away.  

hanging glacial waterfalls

The trail was great and the rain stopped. The last two miles were a mess a large horse group had ridden the trail during the downpour and it was a soupy muddy mess. Each step slid or squished and soon our shoes were a pound or two heavier with mud. We soon reached the road and many Glaicer lodge. The lodge is really cool but expensive we considered eating dinner there but after seeing that a bowl of chili was $18.95 decided to go to the other hotel by the campground to eat.

just stunning

We so arrived at swift current and walked into the hotel, who shall be sitting there but Paul and Chantal. We said hello and got added to their name for a table. I ran and grabbed a snack and drink and then got the story to why they were there. The two of them missed a turn and went 5 miles off trail after that and the rain they said screw it and hitched to the hotel. they have their tent set up I the backcountry site in the campground where we will be tonight.

an awesome descent to Many Glaicer

We got wifi and I received a message from Naomi “The Punisher” that her husband “AYCE” was with their car and could give us a ride back to Portland. I texted AYCE and arranged to ride back with them and snorkel on the 11th. Snorkel and The Punisher have been hiking the GDT and due to weather are finishing early this week. So all 5 of us will drive back home together what and amazing way the universe works to bring so many friends together in remote montana.  

You see AYCE just finished hiking the Pacific Northwest Trail or PNT, which starts in La Push, WA and ends at Glaicer National Park at Watertown or Chief Mountain like the CDT. The Great Divide Trail is the Canadian extension of the GDT and runs all way north or Jasper. Since AYCE was done he went to Jasper to help his wife The Punisher and my friend Snorkle, who if you recall hiked in the San Juans with me, they two have had some bad weather so are getting off trial this week.

Anyway we enjoyed a great dinner and then hit the laundry for some dryer time for sleeping bags and shoes. We rolled up to the site at dark and set up shop. The folks already there had a fire going and despite the rain we hung out and had a beer before bed.  

Tomorrow is a big bay our last full day on trail. We have 33.8 miles to goat haunt shelter, and only two high passes left to cross. Canada here I come and man are we going to party whe it’s over.

Day 143, Tripe Divide Pass

CDT mile 2561, miles hiked 26.2

now thats some cat scat!

We woke up and Immediately they had to run to the rest room, ever since our night in East Glaicer my gut hasn’t been right but this morning it was all hell breaking loose. I came back from a very unpleasant experience at the rest room and told Tatu Jo I was not feeling so great. We both hoped it was just a case of town poops and not the terrible sickness he had in the bob.
We walked on the old man lake trail to start out, and according the the signs and recent information in the news this is the spot where a park service employee was picking berries and got but by a grizzly. There was fresh bear scat all over and we made sure to make a lot of noise as we pushed through the berries. 

a momma and ew on the pass

 The first challenge we faced today was pitamakan pass a good butt kicker to get the heart going. We walked up at a steady pace and 3/4 of the way up saw a momma big horn sheep and a ew, so awesome. We reached the top of the pass and it was cold, gray and windy. I threw on my extra layers and we bombed down to the woods for a break. The trail meandered through a valley and up ahead I saw our destiny triple divide mountain.

making the most of our time in the park

Now seeing how it’s super cold and the clouds are low and dark gray, many of the highlights for views were obscured, however what I could see had a autumnal feel as it made me day dream to Halloween. Anyway I finally got my head back in the game and I sized up the climb. We started up and after about 3/4 of the way up Tatu Jo needed a snack. We stopped but not feeling well I forced some food down and some water and told Tatu Jo I needed to get going.  
As we climbed we got separated I was in front and just wanted to get this climb over. I was however slowed down by amazing waterfalls, deep red cliff walls and shear mountain beauty, man this place Is the crown jewel of the CDT. Soon I stood atop triple divide pass I threw on my sweet new tourist fleece jacket and waited for Tatu Jo to get there. We snapped a few photos and bailed low to where it was warm and out of the wind.  

red rocks and steep mountains

We dropped down to red eagle creek and when I went to pass gas I nearly pooped my pants. I dropped my pack and ran to the woods. When I saw Tatu Jo I asked if had any Imodium and he said he was out. We arrived at the first red eagle lake camps and saw Paul and Chantal. We chatted briefly and Paul had the pills I needed. We said our farewells as that is most likely the last time I’ll see them.  

bridges make our lives better on wet days when we avoid gordong rivers

We arrived at the far end of the lake and set up our tents. I was drained and feeling ill, but I made my camp and then walked over to the cooking area to get things going for dinner. 4 others were there a nice father and son from Roanoke Virgina and a couple from Minnesota. They had a campfire going and we sat around enjoying dinner and conversation.

As I crawled into my tent the first drops started to fall. As the rain hit the tent I layed down to sleep and hoped in the morning my stomach issues would be resolved.

a small cascade along the trail

Day 142, It’s the Final Countdown

CDT mile 2534.8, miles hiked 10.5

we made it to glaicer just 100 miles to go

Ah nothing like waking up in a bunk room with 11 other guys who snored and farted all night long. Actually the excitement of finishing has kept me up the past few evenings and I woke before others and headed to the bathroom to get a hot shower before the water ran out. I snuck back in the room got my stuff and dragged it I to the common area to sort and pack.

dark skys and rain

I made a call to my mom and dad, tomorrow my dad turns 75 and given my remote location it’s doubtful I can call him. We chatted for a long time he filled me in on his birthday plans and travels and I filled him in on my plans to finish. He is very proud of all I have done and that makes me happy to hear, I think he thought I was nuts when I left my job.
I finished packing and then we went for a nice breakfast next door. I had an omlete and then an order of French toast, guess I was hungry. As we sipped coffee we watched it rain outside, we talked about the weather and figured what the hell we were still going for it. We rolled back to the hostel for an hour and Cheesy, Johnny, and Emma came by to bid farewell and wish us luck. With packs on me and Tatu Jo set off for the CDT and Canada.
We had short day planned only 10.5 miles to two medicine lake to get our permits and relax some. We walked up out of town in a light drizzle that soon stopped and the sky even looked like it would clear some. We started going up up and up and finally hit the park boundary, I reached into my hip pocket to take a photo with tiny, my little plastic hand that has been with me from Mexico and discovered he was gone. I was devastated to say the least, we had gone a long way together I tried to remember the last time I saw him and where he was. I sent cheesy a text and she went and looked at the hoste but it wasn’t there. I thought to myslef maybe he wound up in my bucket today when I was packing up and is back at the hostel or maybe he fell out in the rain on our way to town. Either way nothing I could do so I dealt with the loss and moved forward.

the town of east glaicer below

When we reached the top of the pass it was fogged in so thick we couldn’t see a thing, 5 minutes later though and the clouds lifted up and we had our first glimpse of Glaicer, two medicine lake and the beauty we were about to walk thorough. I was blown away for weeks I was wondering if it was more hype than reality about the beauty of this place but I can tell you Glaicer is unbelievable.

glaicer the crown jewel of the cdt

We enjoyed the views and the new warmer temps as we descended down to two medicine. We passed some tourist and then arrived at the backcountry permit office. The ranger and I have the same name , Whitney and she quickly found our permit and gave us the run down of the park. About 30 minutes later and we were enjoying buffalo chili and an ipa at the store. Since we were only camping right there we took our time, shopping for resupply food, and talking with folks.

Finally we started back to the campground to set up while the weather was nice. As we came to the office we saw steve jones a CDT hiker who got off trail earlier this year and is helping hikers out with rides etc…I finally met cloud buster and then out walked stone who I had not seen since pie town.

three guys in skirts, left to right- Stone, Allgood and Cloudbuster

Now stone is a nice guy so don’t take what I’m about to say the wrong way, but he gave me a bit of put down and probably didn’t mean anything by it. You see stone went to college on a full ride for swimming and is a collegiate swim coach and very fit he looks at me and say, “Allgood your the only one besides Bambi and buttercup I didn’t catch from pie town, and Tatu Jo I’ve been trying to catch you too. I figured once he was with Allgood I had them.” Basically he said I was fat and slow so I smiled and said,”well mate looks like you stil are only going to catch me because of the car ride here to get a permit before you head back to Maria’s pass.”

I talked with Tatu Jo about this over hotdogs on an open fire and he said to me, “welcome to the fat kid club of hiking, what did you forget who you are?” He then went on an told me to screw folks like that because we might not look like much but we both know we can hike and out endurance most people. It’s nice to have someone here who understands the struggles us husky hikers face, I know I have lost a lot of weight but even before hand I have held my own on miles and pace.

We rolled to camp and I’m sure the park service figures since we are thru hikers we don’t mind some walking because they put us at the farthest possible site there was. As a bonus we are located next to the dumpsters and privy, what could go wrong? We made a fire to cook our hotdogs from the store and all was well until the sky got dark, the clouds got low and the rain started to fall.  

Tatu Jo crawled into his tarp which was leaking terribly and I popped into my tent. We are ridding out the storm and hoping tomorrow brings better weather. Afterall it’s the final countdown to Canada and we only have 95 miles to go so come on CDT, how about some nice weather for us?

Day 141, Reunion in East Glaicer

CDT mile 2524.3, miles hiked 23

old friends from left to right Allgood, Wildernessie, Cheesy and Johnny

We layed in the dark listening to our alarms ring, it was so cold and damp neither of us wanted to move. I went and grabbed our food, fired up the stove and woke up Tatu Jo with a hot cup of coffee. We both packed as fast as we could and then high tailed it out the trail since we wanted to beat the impending storm.

tatu jo marvels at the first pavement we have seen in 265 miles

We walked to the Two Medicine River and decided to take the purple ley route along its shore and then walk the highway to town. Not only as this route 5 miles shorter it also avoided a lot of up and down which was killing Tatu Jo while he was sick.
The walk was really uneventful, we saw lots of bear scat and prints but no bears. We had to cross the river a lot and the cold water froze our feet, luckily we soon hit the highway and changed to dry socks and then started down the pavement. About 3 miles from town we spotted a resturant and walked up for a warm up and treat, they were closed until 4pm.

We sat on the porch and had a snack then a nice lady opens the door and said are you hiking the CDT? Next thing we knew we were sitting in Ramsey’s Firebrand bar enjoying hot tea and BLT sandwiches, the first town food in weeks. The folks were friendly and after warming up we hit the road for the final stretch.

hot tea and a blt

I sent cheesy a note her and Johnny were in east glacier and so was Wildernessy and the French couple. We arranged to meet at two medicine grill and when I walked into the place there sat my old dear hiking partner and Wildernessy who I hadn’t seen since NM. We enjoyed lunch and catching up. Cheesy told me all about the butte super cut off and Wildernessy talked about here solo hike after we last saw her. It was so great to see both of them.

I decide to go get cleaned up so Tatu Jo and I walked outside and there was Paul and Chantal the French couple who I last saw in creede. Now their english has improved, my French is nonexistent but we all greated eachother and caught up. Thy told me of their travels, showed me the rental car they hit a tree in and then walked us to the hostel.

It was so great to see old friends that I knew in the beginning. It was full circle and fitting for the last leg to see old faces before setting off. We all enjoyed each others company Paul and I chatted for hours in the afternoon and then they left for dinner and we got a ride from Annie at the hostel to go find fleece tops.

a monument welcoming us to east glaicer and the blackfeet reservation

The weather is forecasted to be cold so we didn’t want to be miserable and figured a cheap fleece would be better than wet down. Annie brought us to the t shirt shop, we found out is was end of season clearance so we each walked away with a fleece jacket and hoody sweatshirt to go home in.

Dinner was spent at serranos a wonderful Mexican place in town. We all talked about the past miles, our final leg of the trip and our futures afterwards. Apparently for the first time in life I’m the lost soul without a clue to my future or what I want to do…..and frankly I love it. This journey has taught me to go with the flow and open myself to the universe. I know things will happen when I get home and soon enough my path in life will present itself. Now I need to concentrate on Canada and my transport home and then I’ll figure things out.

It’s really ending soon but it’s a good feeling to know I am succeeding at a dream and doing things the way I always planned with continuos footsteps and smile in my face the whole way.

Day 140, Outbreak

CDT mile 2501.3, miles hiked 20.5

a very sick tatu jo sleeps by the trail

For the third time on the CDT my hiking partner has the flu. I heard Tatu Jo wake up and get sick in the middle of the night. I feel back asleep but when I got up he was passed out hard. I checked on him and told him to sleep in. I made us coffee, ate a bar and then we packed up. We said goodbye to Fritz and Amy, Tatu Jo was way out of it when we left camp.

The two of us walked through the thick brush and high grasses. Perfect terrain and enviornent for bears, we saw scat but never any bears. I was out in front and when I looked back Tatu Jo was swerving and stumbling, he was like a drunk. Whatever was ailing him had his equilibrium way off. He had fever and was hurting all over. Some meds seemed to help and we just went slow and took lots of breaks.

aspen trees have turned golden as fall is upon us

Around noon we had only done 10 miles. We stopped at badger creek and I made us mashed potatoes and we dried out our tents and bags. After eating Tatu jo laid down for a 2 minute nap, after a good half hour he woke, we packed up and carried on. He was feeling better so we made better time the next ten miles.

We climbed a big hill funny enough we later learned the road we crossed was a trail around the mountain. Oh well the climb was fun but not for Tatu Jo, when we reached the top we had a cell signal and we soon learned of the snow advisory in effect for our area. Looks like the CDT has some fun in store for the end of our trip. 

it pays to look at alternates, we missed this one

We descended down the forest the aspen trees are all yellow and glowed in the evening light. The sky above us held dark fluffy clouds above and we could feel the cold bite to the air, Canada is only 130 trail miles away and probably 65 as the crow flys.  
We met some backpackers by the Rangers cabin and after a long chat we hiked on. As we came up the old road I saw two horse it’s was snickers bar dan and massy the mare. What do you know it was Amy and Fritz. We stopped and chatted and decided to cook dinner. One thing led to another and we decided to just camp with them again.  

i love this horse

It was so fun to camp with them again, just awesome people. I got to spend time with them this evening as Tatu Jo got his well earned and well deserved rest. Tomorrow we hit the highway our first paved road since we crossed highway 12 that went to Lincoln and just kept walking north.

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