Getting to the GDT

Getting to the start of the Great Divide Trail is an adventure in itself.

Fortunately for us the Amtrak runs through Wisconsin only a 20 minute drive from my parents house. We can take this to Glacier National Park and then taxi the rest of the way to the trailhead.

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Before we leave Madison for my parents house we stop by K’s favorite restaurant for lunch, La Taguara. They comment on our car loaded with stuff and we mention we’re moving out of town after lunch. As we’re finishing lunch the owner drops by the table and gives us a couple desserts to go! Awww… I’m missing Madison already!

After unloading our car we get a ride to the Amtrak station. We arrive early and my parents insist that we get another lunch (I’m still stuffed from lunch #1), so when the train pulls in I roll onto the train. To add a bit of comedy to our departure  we each have a giant bag (literally a sack for lawn waste) with our food resupply for the trip. Mailing internationally to Canada is expensive and with K’s gluten allergy we can’t risk the food getting stuck in customs. Roughly 50lbs of food each will be accompanying us on the train.

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The train winds up the Mississippi towards the Twin Cities and we’re treated to a sunset over the river. The next evening we arrive in East Glacier more or less on time (rare for Amtrak I’m told) and head to Brownies Hostel. Normally I’d walk the ½ mile but with our packs and 50lbs of food each we catch a cab with Rhonda of Mountain Chief Cab Company (who’s also giving us a ride to Waterton in the morning).

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It’s around this time I realize that when I synced music to my phone the day before we left I also somehow wiped the digital copy of our printed maps. We still have the printed maps. We still have the Guthook app. But this doesn’t stop me from losing a decent amount of sleep over this mishap. Ehhh, anxiety my old friend.

In the morning Rhonda picks us up, right on time. Mountain Chief Cab Company is a great service to hikers, they offer to pick up and drop most anywhere, even across the border, which no one else seems to do.

Border crossing goes pretty easy, we don’t even have to get out of the car and they don’t seem to mind the ridiculous amount of food we are bringing over. Fairly anti-climatic. We get dropped off at the post office and mail our boxes. I’m happy to be rid of that food. Then we grab our permits at the ranger office for the first few nights in Waterton Lakes National Park. We see our first bear wandering through the middle of town, great…

It’s only 11am and today’s hike is only about 8km so we get in one last breakfast for good measure before hitting the trail!