FORT BENTON — Setting off on the ultra-long Montana Trail 406 is not to be taken lightly but it's something Carly Swisher and Fey Reynolds believe they are prepared for - and they are excited to be the first ones to do it.
"We want to do this new trail, this is part of this community, and it's easiest to start here,” Swisher said.
'Here' is Fort Benton where Swisher and Reynolds set off on a 149-mile canoe trip on the Missouri River.
"My adventure history is more in bike packing and Carly's is more in through-hiking and this is kind of a way to combine both of those worlds and add an extra, new element which is the canoeing section,” Reynolds said.
"We were excited to get to try all of them and also to get to explore Montana,” said Swisher.
The canoeing section is just one part of the 1,600-mile trail that starts in Glacier National Park and ends in Fort Union.
Swisher and Reynolds spent months preparing, including a trip on a trail across Oregon to test their gear from which they returned just one day before setting off in Fort Benton.
"Planning all our little resupply boxes that we've had shipped throughout the state in different locations so our food and our sunscreen, and all of the things we need are going to be at different places,” Reynolds explained.
They also have gear like bikes and backpacks for other parts of the trail prepositioned throughout the state.
“It’s seeing the best of Montana,” said Marty Bannon.
Bannon created the nonprofit Montana Trail 406 Association to help make the trail a reality and is looking forward to the exposure Carly and Fey are going to provide.
“We've been working with them since last winter to make sure they understand what we're talking about,” Bannon said. "We’ll be talking to them throughout the trail getting real-time feedback. Our partnership with OnX Hunt has been great."
He said partnering with OnX Backcountry to make the trail available through an app has also been helpful.
"If you really want to see Montana, you'll see it all if you hike or bike or ride or float the Montana Trail 406,” Bannon said.
"I think there is some kind of responsibility that comes with being the first and that's working out these little kinks. We'll feel prepared to do that,” said Reynolds.
"We were kind of joking that in the trail world there's fastest known time and all that. We're going for the only known time, or the slowest known time. we're just wanting to have a good time and meet people,” said Swisher.