Continental Divide Trail: Bannock Pass to Lemhi Pass in 3 Days

Jenny Gonyer, a Whitman College Environmental Studies student, has worked as an intern for SVS and our partners at the Lemhi Regional Land Trust this summer. Jenny’s dad, Les, traveled from South Dakota to hike a fabulous Lemhi County section of the Continental Divide Trail. Here is Jenny’s description of that trip:

“Before even starting on the Continental Divide Trail, I saw a huge moose. Minutes afterwards, I found a white quartz arrowhead on the trail! I couldn’t believe that, in just the first minutes, I had already been blown away by the beauty of the CDT.

Jenny Gonyer and her dad Les ready to hike the CDT from Bannock to Lemhi Pass.

Jenny Gonyer and her dad Les ready to hike the CDT from Bannock to Lemhi Pass.

The scenery certainly made me excited I would be backpacking for three days from Bannock Pass to Lemhi Pass with my dad. After the first mile, the trail led to a hidden meadow surrounded by sagebrush and colossal Douglas Firs. Of course I had to hug one of these 200+ year old giants.

Near the end of hiking 10 miles on the first day we ran into some fellow backpackers! They were hiking the whole trail and had started in Glacier National Park. I was ecstatic when they mentioned that the South-bounders and North-bounders of the CDT were now just crossing paths. We parted ways and then camped underneath a whitebark pine.


The sunset over the Lemhis, tinged with smoke from the Lodgepole Fire near Challis.

The second day our feet became very sore as we switch-backed through whitebark pine graveyards, shaded forests, and meadows with blooming Indian Paintbrush and Lupine. That night we saw the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. The clouds were orange and pink from the smoke in the air and the sun cast shadows across Lemhi Valley.

The final day of hiking was much easier as we traded out our heavy packs for lighter ones that our suppliers brought us along with a delicious dinner and breakfast. Again within minutes of starting to hike, I saw another amazing CDT surprise: a pine marten! At the end of our trek I was sad for my trek to be over, even though my knees and feet were quite happy I was done. Backpacking only 28 miles on the CDT now has made me want to see even more, and maybe hike the entire trail one day.

Pine marten on the CDT.

Pine marten on the CDT.

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