A more upbeat report from 'Wild' West as he bids farewell to Montana...
I’ve got to be quick as I’ve got 1/2 hour max in this library.
One thing about the CDT is to expect the unexpected.
I woke up at 5am yesterday for an early start to get up high. Reached near the divide at 8.30 and while viewing the route and scenery I thought,
'That haze looks thick. Hmm, very thick, hmm, actually looks more like smoke! Hmm, so I stood there for 10 minutes or so trying to work out if it was smoke or haze as it was about 15 miles away, by then some of the 'haze’ had drifted into a nearer valley.
The saying is no smoke without fire and my thought was, ‘There’s no English man getting fried like a marshmallow in a forest fire.’
So I pulled out the maps and worked out best plan of action for a bail out; checking the wind direction, water options, and road options. And made like Forest Gump. After an hour I had covered 6 miles pretty easily and ran into a rancher. Sure enough there was a fire about 12 miles away but no panic as it was contained.
Despite this I continued with my 30 mile detour route sometimes jogging then walking. On the road (gravel unmade) I tried to hide visions of 'Fargo' and 'The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.'
The route I planned took me through big open fields, the odd way out farm ranch type scenery; cows, pine forests, etc. A car pulled up in it a guy younger than me said, ‘Can I help you sir?' His name was TJ Clark and he seemed a friendly guy (I couldn't see any guns through the window.)
'Do you have anything to keep the wolves off, sir?' he asked. Err no,’ I replied. ‘Do you have anything to keep the grizzlies off, sir?' he asked. ‘Spray,’ I replied, thinking ok, forest fire, wolves and grizzlies, now that’s a days work.
I then chatted to him on the subject and showed him my pepper spray. Turns out some local guys working on the ranch nearby saw wolves every day. He said someone was attacked last winter. I don’t know though it may have been a wind up. He then gave me a bottle of water to help me on my way. So, anyhow, I decided to pack the running in and walk – running from bears and wolves is the worst thing you can do.
I spoke to a ranger down the road who confirmed the fire was just a little one. And he said, ‘You’re in grizzly territory now boy!’
So here I am in West Yellowstone about to embark on the final miles before Wyoming. I'm really excited at the prospect of completing my first state. I have my permits for Yellowstone, washed all clothing and pack, sorted food supplies, and had some big hearty meals. In the ranger station I had to watch the 'bear video' where they say things like, if a grizzly attacks be calm, lay on the ground and cover your head and neck – what! As he chews your arms!
This is all exciting stuff, but don’t worry I will be fine.
It may be a long way down the road before I’ll get a chance to send in an update.