Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 95 – 40 on-trail miles? Say it ain’t so! The CDT just got GOOD!

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I think today had the highest fun to BS factor of any single day on the CDT so far. Minimal slogging, miles and miles of mindblowing reclaimed ATV trail and singletrack. I don’t think we’re alone among CDT thru-travelers who are incredibly impressed with the trail in MT.

It was a wet night. A few drizzles to make us happy that we had the tarp up and then an insane amount of dew. Bags were damp, tarp was soaked, I was determined not to get out of my cocoon until it warmed up at least 20 degrees. But I also knew that once Scott announced that breakfast was served, I’d better motivate or he’d eat it all. He really would, and probably not feel bad about it.


We packed away wet gear, planning on drying it out during lunch.

The day started with a climb. On a well graded dirt road. I joked that if the climb continued like that, I could climb all day. We were both waiting for it to kick up. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. Pedaling. Pedaling. Pedaling. Talking. Talking. Talking. Could this be true?

The road turned closed to motorized, but still, great gradient, slow but steady pedaling.


We had a scare for a little bit as the “trail” went up a dry creek bed and we were reduced to hiking. Steep hiking. Eventually, we found an ATV trail and followed it straight up the side of the hill. Here’s the CDT we know and love(?)!

But it skipped the high point. An ATV trail took us down, and then gently up, steep down, steep up, gentle down, gentle up. Switchbacks! Are those allowed on ATV trails?


I’ll trade you a kiss if you pump up my tire for me.

A kiss and two Swedish Fish.

The boy drives a hard bargain and we’re both playing the “We’re out of Stans but we really don’t want to tube it” game.

We ended up on Fleecer Ridge trail, a known quantity (farther south) from the GDMBR. It was beautiful, beautiful, riding. Easy. Straightforward. Fast (ish).


We stopped for lunch and gear drying on the ridge before starting one of the most fun descents on the trip. A wide sometimes singletrack, sometimes ATV-track, blasted down through the trees. Well benched, lush forests, giant dragon-egg boulders everywhere. We couldn’t believe our luck.

It took 7 miles for us to eventually run out of trail and dump out on the GDMBR just west of I-15. We chatted with two GDMBR riders headed south for a bit before turning north, out to the frontage road, under the freeway, and then up.


The sun out, we sweat. And it felt SO good. To finally be hot instead of cold…oooooo-eeeeee! I guess there’s a reason we call Tucson home…


We followed the GDMBR for a few miles before diving off onto singletrack. We’d been promised good trail around Butte. Good is an understatement! Narrow, twisty, wooded, duffy. Small climbs, fun descents, perfectly built switchbacks. Forests inhabited by unicorns. We giggled, and giggled, and then giggled some more.


After getting beatdown pretty non-stop from West Yellowstone to there, it was such a treat. Such a treat. We’re camped just shy of crossing the GDMBR again. We have 10 more miles of trail, then a 10 mile drop into Butte. A semi-nero, we hope. Then probably a zero day to get bikes worked on (mine doesn’t really appreciate shifting or stopping any more), rest a bit, and then off to Lincoln…our last section of actual CDT.


If the trail tomorrow is anything like today, I can’t wait to go ride it.


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