PNT day 5 – Whitefish Divide Trail


Red Meadow Lake Campground (73.5) to Trail Camp Forest Road 114 (94.4)

20.9 miles

I went to bed late last night as we were a bunch of people sitting around the campfire. After lots of good outdoorsy conversations and three beer I made my way to my tent. Surprisingly Caro had walked into the campground past 10 pm. She camped right next to me and I could hear her twisting and turning on her mattress all night.

The night had been very cold. I even had to get into my puffy and had very cold feet!

It was still fresh in the morning when I packed up and hit the trail. After a short roadwalk there seemed to be a turn off to a trail that later hit the road again. I had to use map and the GPS of my phone to find the turn off. It wasn’t obvious but another hiker has drawn an arrow in the sand on the roadside. So I went that direction. What started as an old forest road soon became an overgrown small streambed. I was right in the middle of my first bushwhack!

No trail at all and just a rough sense of direction brought me finally back to the road. I felt like I had successfully passed a first test. But the bushwhack had slowed me down. It was nearly ten when I finally arrived at the trailhead of the Whitefish Divide Trail. The PNT would follow this trail for most of today.

Attending the first ascent I also passed and crossed several snowfields. The trail would be a roller coaster over the next ten, fifteen miles climbing up to 7000 ft then down again, up again and so on until I finally climbed Mt Locke. Apart from the often steep and strenuous climbing sections the trail offered great views. I especially liked that I could see the high mountains of Glacier NP in the distance. They really deserved the name “crown of the continent”.

I proceeded westwards and for the next days I would basically be in the outskirts of the Rocky Mountains. The trail now went through the Flathead National Forest and would change into the Kootenai National Forest short before Eureka – my next townstop.

Mt. Locke was a Mountain in a huge burned area. The steep climb up the mountainside was tough as I had to watch out for the trail as well as climb over countless burned and fallen trees. I have definitely climbed over lots of trees and obstacles today. Not only on Mt. Locke.

Relieved I arrived at the top. The first campsite of today would be down the mountain at a creek. I changed direction and the trail and was now following the Blue Sky Trail. Weird enough the trail took a completely different way down the mountain than my maps showed. Hm. Nevertheless I was in the right spot after a while and arrived at the first campsite after 16 miles. It was already 5:30 and I was undecided if I should hike on. It didn’t take me long to decide that I wanted to press on. Going to the next campsite would give me more options for the next days. With a final high speed I hiked the last remaining five miles to the campsite at the trailhead of Blue Sky Trail.

I pitched my tent on a mossy underground and after dinner I hung my Ursack on the side of the bridge. There is not one single tree around with a branch strong enough. That’s why I picked the bridge. Not the best option but hopefully it will be fine.

Today has been a tough day with lots of climbing – over mountains and over trees as well as quite a bit of route finding. And I did my first bushwhack! Still I was capable of getting more than twenty miles in! I am a little proud of myself right now – and you can be too! 😉

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