Gallatin Crest Trail Day 0: Monday, July 12

Hyalite Creek Trailhead – 8:01 PM

Well, here I am at the trailhead! It’s a beautiful evening, my tent is all set up, and I cannot believe how incredible the mountains are in this canyon. Right behind my tent, behind the pines, a massive mountain rises and catches the sun. The sky is still a slightly off color from the wildfires, but for the most part, it’s a gentle blue.

The view from my camp at the trailhead

Today was a nice day. I slept well, despite the snoring in the hostel. By the time I was fully awake, I was very ready to not be in that claustrophobic little room, so I got up, had the free breakfast, and enjoyed a leisurely morning writing, reading The Magician’s Nephew, and sipping my coffee.

After that, I caught the Streamline Bus to REI, where I bought a couple of last things: fuel and bug spray. Afterwards, I charged up my devices a bit more, started and finished a book called The Long Walk to Water, which I found on the hostel shelf, and treated myself to a divine burger and fries at Backcountry Burger Bar. I chatted for a bit with a guy who was in Montana to fish for the summer, and then I read my book while consuming one of the most delicious burgers I’ve ever eaten.

I wanted to go get ice cream after that, but it was closed. So I settled for an Italian ice back at the co-op. Soon afterwards, Anna (and her adorable dog Piper) picked me up at the hostel to go down to the trail. We had a little mishap where we got part of the way down the canyon and then had to turn around to go back for gas, but we eventually got to the reservoir.

We took a little hike around the path by the water, Piper delighting in the large variety of sticks, and then we drove to the Hyalite Creek trailhead, where I will begin my little trek tomorrow morning.

Piper retrieving a very good stick from Hyalite Reservoir

So that’s where I am right now: sitting on my bear canister next to my tent. I debated on where to camp. There were a few more established looking sites a way back on the road, but there were a lot of people at them already and I wasn’t sure if it was better to stay down there or here, closer to the start of the trail.

Part of me is sort of thinking that it might have been better to go back where there were more campers. I also just noticed a “day use only” sign, even though there are some very obviously established campsites and fire rings right by me. But it also looks like some folks might be camping here too.

Oh wait, now that I’m watching, it looks like they’re filming something. Yep. That’s definitely what’s going on. There’s a guy who keeps getting into and out of a truck, and another guy filming him. I wonder what kind of movie they’re making? An Into the Wild style tale about a lone man in the wilderness? Oh! Now they’re filming the guy chopping wood down by the creek. This is delightful.

It smells so strongly of pine down in this canyon, and I can hear the creek a ways to my left. I am trying very hard not to think about bears. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Hyalite Creek and Elephant Mountain

A small part of me wishes I was still in Bozeman, where it was safe and populated and there were no grizzlies and where there is a very nice bus system and where I can stuff my face with the most delicious burgers.

But a larger part of me, the majority of me, is so happy to be out here. It feels so clean and right, and I am amazed at the smell of pine and the majesty of these mountains. I’m trying to relax: everything is fine. I am handling everything right. Tonight, and for the next three nights, I will be out in nature where I belong.

It was a bit sunny at Hyalite this evening… Thanks for everything, Anna!

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