Continental Divide Trail #18: Anaconda Range, MT

The coldest, wettest, most windy and one of the most beautiful sections of the CDT so far was the Anaconda mountain range in central Montana. I could see the mountains were socked in on my long drive to Butte in drenching rain. 
Porter made it, although I had my own challenges meeting him days later at the Storm Lake Trailhead–a long solitary drive through mud and deep puddles on the most winding boulder-strewn road I’ve been on so far.



Here’s Porter’s hiking buddy, Problem Bear, as they head up into the storm.



Sleeting rain continued after the snow stopped. Soaked through and in danger of hypothermia, they found a fire pit and carefully built a fire to warm up. They made sure it was completely out before they hiked on.


They had to climb as many as four passes in one day.


Meanwhile, Amber got the inside poop from Kathleen Meyer, author of the international best-seller (more than 2.5 million copies) How to Shit in the Woods.

41 comments on “Continental Divide Trail #18: Anaconda Range, MT

  1. Glad Porter and Problem Bear were able to warm up! wild weather. Really cool that Amber got to meet the How to Shit in the Woods author. One of the doctors I used to work for gave me that book. (already had a copy) Good book.

    • Mary, yes, it’s a classic, all the backpackers we know value it! Kathleen lives in Montana and we first met at Montana Festival of the Book. She’s wonderful. Her other book, Barefoot Hearted, is also great.

  2. And Jon and I are lounging on beach in California. His Apple Watch dings him every once in awhile and tells him that it’s time to stand. That’s the level of activity. I’m just happy I can talk to you guys!!!! We are in such different worlds.
    Trek on.
    Jerrie

  3. Oh my goodness-you 3 are having quite the wilderness adventure. From wet, wild and windy to mountain boulder strewn roads to pooping in the woods–a book!? I’ll have to look that one up. Frost “lost” his hiking buddy-HazNoHorse 🙁 He blew out his knee 60+ miles from the nearest town (Lake City) and had to activate his SPOT. He was airlifted out the next day and is not returning to the CDT. My husband-Frost, is doing really well–but I’m sad he lost his partner. Hoping he can hook up with someone else soon!

      • Excellent question, Andrea. A SPOT is a type of satellite GPS tracker and messaging device that some backpackers carry to call for search-and-rescue in an emergency. Porter has carried one in the past, but for the CDT he opted for an InReach satellite GPS tracker. Since there’s rarely cell coverage in the wilderness, he Bluetooths his InReach to his phone to let me know where and when to pick him up for resupply, and he could also call search-and-rescue with it. I have one too, but the learning curve is steep and I find it a challenge to message on.

  4. Gail, your stories and the comments they engender are dramatic (and hilarious – Jerrie tops this week, so far!) and something I look forward to reading every week. I’m glad Porter still has his hiking buddy — I wish you had a driving buddy on those muddy roads. Amber’s there for moral support, I know, but I don’t think she can see over the steering wheel 🙂

  5. And so the journey continues. Porter has his adventures, and Gail, you and Amber have yours…..Meeting interesting people, having amazing experiences! Keep on keeping it amazing!

  6. My sister, Teri, turned me on to I Promise Not to Suffer and I loved it. I look forward to every blog post – so awesome what you two are doing

  7. Love the updates, Gail. Happy to know Porter has a companion traveler. Although Amber is loyal company for you, I know she likes to keep to herself, so I imagine it gets pretty quiet . . .

    • Jody, LOL! The only time Amber is quiet is when she’s in her plastic bag eating cupcakes while I drive wilderness roads and the interstates to move us from town to town! But you figured that! Thanks for your comment. Hope you and Doak are having a great summer, and we look forward to seeing you when we get back in September.

  8. I thought it was a typo with the poop, then the punchline -how to shit. LOL. Seriously, so glad Porter had Problem Bear, cuz I can imagine the harsh weather doing its thing, and he’s challenged and you are wondering. Another beautiful vista in the first pic, and wowee, you driving through the rain, puddles -takes nerve too. Good thing you have Amber.

  9. So glad you have made it that far, but the weather and roads sound pretty bad. When you get to Canada, will you come back to Boulder before trying the Colorado mountains? It will make another great book! Take care and stay healthy.

    • Gwen, yes, we plan to finish at the Canadian border in September, and since the snow will probably by flying on the Colorado part of the Continental Divide Trail by then, we plan to save that for next summer. Thanks for staying in touch, love to you all in swim group!

      • Kaiser Palliative Care is TEN years old!

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        • Rae Ann, thanks a bazillion for letting us know! I’ll pass your email on to Porter and if by some chance we finish the CDT in time to get home for this, we’d love to be there!

  10. Gail, hey, you’re showing me parts of Montana I’ve never seen—beautiful Storm Lake, on a quiet skies day. The name must derive from weather we all could, at this stage, pass up.

    Sooo great seeing you! And I’m sure I heard Amber whispering to Brown Bear, “So, does a bear, ya know, do it in the woods?”

    Hang in on those rocky, mud-holed roads. The backcountry wonder will grow on you after a while, and all you’ll want to do is head out for more people-less, bumpy miles.

    Love, love to the synchronicity team . . .

  11. Hi Gail!
    What a terrific photo of you and Porter at Storm Lake in Montana! You are an amazing couple and it’s delightful seeing you together in the mountains with the sun shining down upon you both. Thank heavens you have a solid 4 wheel drive to conquer all of those back roads and challenging switch backs. Porter is a lucky man to have such a determined and persistent partner backing him up during his adventures. I love the photo of your fellow accomplished writer as well. What a funny title for her successful book! All is well at the pool, I’m overwhelmed with large numbers now (22-24+ recently), but Im arriving early and starting the lazy river from 7:30-8, so that the ambitious ones can get a little work out in prior to class 🙂 Miss you an hope you are enjoying yourself, you lucky dog! Take care, Andrea (P,S. Tessa is not completely out of the woods, but she seems to be improving daily thank goodness)

    • Thanks, Andrea, and what a tribute to your teaching at the pool that our class is so full! I can hardly wait to get back to it in September. It’s wonderful of you to start the lazy river between 7:30 and 8 a.m., that’s such a great feature and one I’ve missed out here. Glad to hear Tessa is improving.

  12. Met quite a few northbound CDT hikers while hiking the Colorado Trail southbound in July; great people. After my CT experience, which was just fantastic, I decided – rather obviously, I suppose – that weather is the thing, THE determinant of any given day’s challenges. Glad to hear Porter is almost finished, Porter … when did he start?

  13. Just finished the CT a week and a half ago, but I can see that the CDT is a whole different league. Weather can be a killer!

    • Clay, congratulations on finishing the CT! The CDT is by far the biggest thru-hiking challenge Porter has encountered, and the weather changes drastically. After coming so close to hypothermia in the Anaconda-Pintlers, the next section in Helena National Forest was blisteringly hot.

  14. Thinking about you all “all” the time, hoping you’re not frying or freezing or running from fires. Just heard a break-in announcement on NPR that Going to the Sun Road is open to the east now but only during the day. And they’re saying watch for boulders and smoke. Sounds hairy. Safe journey . . . (there’s always next year!)

    LOVE

    • Thanks so much for this update, Kathleen, very helpful as we progress toward Glacier. Porter is now in the Scapegoat and Bob Marshall sections. And today I summited Mount Helena myself, great fun with gorgeous views from the top!

      • Hey, good for you! I have many fond memories of the Helena area from our wagon travels. We were camped up Grizzly Gulch for about a month in a friend’s meadow while the horses toughened up with daily jaunts around the hills, getting in shape for the stretch to Bozeman. Patrick and I had a huge melt down there one morning, and I began walking down the road into another life—”good bye!”—but he started walking faster, threatening to pass me up, so I broke into a run, then so did he, until we finally fell down laughing. After that we learned from some tapes by a woman named Melody-something how not to drop bombs, not to issue ultimatums. That was 26 years ago. Must have worked!

        • WOW, Kathleen, that’s a fabulous story about you and Patrick! And I highly recommend your book BAREFOOT HEARTED to anyone who’d appreciate your extraordinary account of traveling by wagon pulled by your two horses!

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