Day 105

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Marias Pass to Beaver Lake
27 mi ::
1433 mi ::
Sunny, warm

On the way to the trailhead another camper stops us to ask if I’m hiking the CDT. Jim has hiked the PCT, and is itching to do this trail too. He says he delivers books to Old Faithful on Tuesdays – he says something about pizza and beer if I catch him there.

I follow ATV trails to Two Medicine Creek, then up it. Shortly after crossing I spot a black splotch in the trees 100 yards uphill from me, and wonder if it could be a bear. Just then it moves. I yell and bang my poles together. It runs a ways further uphill, then stops and turns around again. I blow my whistle, and this time it goes until I can’t see it. I sing for a while, just to be sure.

I follow the creek through the woods for many miles. A couple of motorcycles pass.

Out of nowhere I feel a stab of pain in my hand, and instinctively smash a horsefly. That’s the first one of those so far. Luckily they’re big, noisy, and pretty slow, so if I’m alert I can get them before they get me.

Over a pass and through a gate I encounter another first for Montana, cattle. I wonder if bears ever get them, or if the fences keep them out.

A motorcyclist stops to talk to me. He warns me about all the grizzlies around. He says they left people alone until they started catching them and studying them, then they lost their fear of humans. I recall Lewis & Clark writing about being attacked by grizzly bears two hundred years ago, but I keep my mouth shut.

At last I turn off the ATV trail and see no more people. The sun shines on the low, white granite Bruin and Elbow peaks above me. I cross the divide in grassy meadows, and find a place to camp near Beaver Lake. I know from my map and compass that I’m near the lake, but I can’t see it anywhere. I figure it must be behind some trees.

It feels much wilder camping here. I find a good spot in thick, spider-filled woods to hang my food. My tent is pitched by a meadow. It’s a little buggy, so I climb inside before it’s dark.

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