Trip Report: Exploratory Day Hikes along Continental Divide Trail

Exploratory Day Hikes along Continental Divide Trail
By Ray Daurelle
HIKE 08/31/2018 MSD

Leader - Julie Kilgore
Trip report by Ray Daurelle

A 4 1/2 hour drive got us to the Kilgore cabin in Island Park, Idaho, just outside of West Yellowstone. The weekend was billed as a set of exploratory hikes - not a high camp. And it was a home away from home.

Julie had collected a number of curiosities about hiking in the area, and a group of us were lucky enough to be well positioned to help her check out a few. The trailheads are each about 20 miles from the cabin, so the morning starts were casual.

Our Saturday hike started on the Continental Divide at Targhee Pass. The goal was to take the Continental Divide Trail 8 miles north to Bald Peak. When we got close, we saw that the peak itself had steep, loose terrain that was not safe looking from that side. So we continued along the trail north down into a basin and around Bald Peak to the west side. We saw bear tracks at a pond at our high point. Coming down the canyon on the west side, we came within a hundred feet or so of a group of half a dozen big mountain goats. They were beautiful to see. With the bear, though, seeing the tracks was good enough.

The first day's 18.5 miles and 4000 feet vertical included Julie, Alex, Yvette, Josh, Steve and Ray. Steve found he'd used the wrong inserts in his boots. I was there to see bloody toes when he took his boots off.

Our Sunday hike started a few miles north of Raynolds Pass at Mile Creek trailhead. We hiked 6 miles to a pass, and decided we weren't in dire need of bagging a peak after yesterday's long trek. But when we came around the corner and saw Targhee Peak just RIGHT THERE, the wonderful trail and landscape beckoned us just a little further at every turn. So two more miles of "just one more curiosity" later, we were rewarded with a great view from Targhee Peak.

Back at the pass, Alex and I explored a ridge toward Black Mountain while Julie and Will continued back down. It was tougher to catch them before the car than we'd expected - even at a flat out run. Julie's constant pace can have surprises. Our second day's hike was 16 miles, 4000 feet vertical, and included Julie, Alex, Will and Ray.

We had 2 cloudless days with temps in the low 60s up high. The evenings were a delight of good company at the cabin. The Continental Divide Trail is built very smooth and at a constant, gentle grade. A beginning hiker would have every chance of learning to love hiking on it.