Island Park to Lima

Just 70 miles since our last write-up, but we covered it in good time (two and a half days) and it was really enjoyable hiking!

Coming back from West Yellowstone on Tuesday lunchtime, the positive effects of a massage on my leg saw me all the way up a 3000 foot ascent on road, but as soon as we hit a pathless section of cross-country bushwhacking, the pain returned and there was nothing for it but ibuprofen.

No worries, the next two days of hiking were hard work, but good fun. And we were just so excited when Neil spotted a bear making its way down a hillside towards us! Not wanting to spring any surprises on it, I grabbed my camera while Neil shouted “Hey bear!”. It paused, stared at us for minute or two, then turned around and ambled back up the hill. So we didn’t see it up close, but better that than a bad encounter!

We had some stupidly steep ascents to do over the next two days, and some long carries between water sources – up to 20 miles, so at times our packs were pretty heavy with up to 4 kg of water. But our route took us along the actual continental divide: it’s been a long time since our route followed the watershed, and it felt great to be back, even if water was a bit scarce!

Then this morning it was just a quick six mile walk down to the road, for a lift into Lima, Montana. We’ve picked up the food parcel from the post office that we sent from Pinedale, and also our new tent! Sadly our Terra Nova Voyager tent which we have used for nearly 2000 miles was suffering from a dodgy zip on the inner tent, so we will post it forward along the trail (hoping to get it repaired back in the UK), and we’ve replaced it with a much lighter tarp tent. We’ve got a hard section coming up, with lots of ascents and descents, so it will certainly be good to lighten our loads!

We are also facing the prospect of diversions further along the trail due to wildfires – we’ve been surrounded by a smoky haze for days, and seen distant fires from the trail, so we’re not sure how much we’ll be able to stay on the official trail over the next few weeks. Southbound hikers have been telling us about long diversions off the trail coming up, so we’ll just have to see how things develop!

Pathless section – time for some bushwhacking
Sunset through smoky haze at the end of the first day
View along the Divide
Distant wildfire
Moose enjoying the pond weed at Aldous Lake
Typical scenery
The walk down to the road – Mithrandir and Neil

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    Presuming you will be dropping to Bannock Pass and hitching a ride into one horse town of Leadore. Bannock is a windy gravel pass, keep your eyes looking down the canyon for dust rising, a vehicle will arrive in 10 mins. I stopped in town bar for food and a beer, a guy with ponytail called Steve befriended me and took me to his home and I put tent up in his yard. Next day was 4 July, after plenty of beers to took me up to the pass. Happy memories of that town.

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