After an early morning start from Bozeman we find ourselves transitioned into something … different … than what we left.
Today we are at Benchmark, one of the major points of entry into the Bob Marshall Wilderness and a common respply point for CDT (Continental Divide Trail) thru-hikers. We are staying with Darwin Heckman and his family at the Benchmark Wilderness Ranch where one will not find electricity, running water, or cell phone reception.
The cold front lingers and more rain came today. My body is not yet acclimated to the backcountry and I found myself shivering in the cold winds up here. I’m looking forward to this interminable cold front being replaced by next week’a high pressure system by the time we have to float the cold waters of the South Fork Flathead drainage in a few days.
Today we are staging. A comprehensive final gear check combined with the creativity that goes into packing two weeks worth of food and gear into our packs has comprised the bulk of our afternoon. That was supplemented by a lively discussion of expedition leadership principles and styles, going over our route and itinerary, and discussing some of the hazards and challenges we will face on this expedition – high water, a resilient snowpack, and travel through recent burn areas.
Nevertheless our energy levels are high and we are ready to walk and paddle! We hit the trail first thing in the morning.