I woke up at 5, but forced myself to try to catch a few more winks, then got up a little after 6. I put my shoes on, grabbed my phone, and walked back to the Running Bear Pancake House.
Again, I got a table immediately, this time because it was much less busy than usual. The waitress indicated it was more like an October level of busyness. Anyway, it took me a long time to when my way through that huge Spanish omelet and a cinnamon roll and I drank a lot of coffee along the way, then took some to go.
Back in the room, I had to solve an issue with the blog to get the last few posts uploaded, then I plugged my phone in and took a shower.
I got ready to hike and then wasted a little time leaving. I drank one of the three remaining ciders and packed up the other two. At ten after ten, I decided I couldn’t waste any more time letting my phone charge up completely, so I got the road.
I took the highway west to the edge of town, about a twenty minute walk. Then I stuck my thumb out towards Targhee Pass. It was about a 15 or 20 minute hitch. Not bad! Almost as easy to get into and out of West Yellowstone as Augusta. The driver was a kid, Caleb, on break from college, visiting his girlfriend and out camping near the pass, doing a little bit of day hiking. Seemed pretty cool. Dropped me right at the trailhead. It was about 11:30.
I switched to hike mode and went as fast as I could. The first two miles passed in a heartbeat. Then I crossed a number of creeks, but I had some water and wasn’t worried. I passed up a side trail to an overlook. No time for sightseeing. A group of horse tourists passed me by. A couple of miles later, they passed me again in the other direction, having turned around at the overlook. They asked if I had seen the mama grizzly and cub they had stopped a quarter mile after passing me the first time. I guess they must have scared her off.
At the overlook, a couple of trail bikers wanted to chat. They asked me about water on the next section since they weren’t aware of any water on trail until Reas Pass in 11 miles. I checked and saw that there was a nice source just off trail in a mile and then nothing until Reas Pass like they said. I thanked them for bringing it to my attention, as I surely would have gotten low on water if I had passed up that next source.
In a mile, I turned out into a grassy meadow with water flowing through it and a good view of an energetic bulldozer doing who knows what on the other side of the road that passed through it. I took a break for a half-hour or so while filtering water.
I stopped again around 2:30 for lunch. I had a nice spot with a decent view just beside the trail at the top of a hill. I also had packed out some tinned lemon pepper trout with the lemons and peppercorns in the tin. A nice variation on the usual wrap.
Then, wanting to get as many miles as possible before dark, I buckled down and did the next 6+ miles without stopping. After 4 miles, I turned onto a dirt road that soon crossed the border into Idaho, taking me out of Montana for the last time. I was not alone on this road. I was passed by a speedy dirt-bike and saw an abandoned pickup parked just off the road too. I arrived at the Reas Pass turn-off around 6:45, and there were already a lot of people there, all nobos. The ones already cooking dinner were Caveman, Taco, Junk Cart, and Roadrunner, but more arrived after I had joined them. Unfortunately, I neglected to take any pictures of them. I was too focused on cooking dinner and drinking a can of cider while maintaining conversation with them.
They informed me that it was 0.4 miles to the water source here and it was the last for 27 miles to Summit Lake. I checked, and it looked like there was water in a small pond right next to the trail in only ten miles, so I skipped the 0.8 mile diversion, not wanting to carry that extra weight up the hill anyway.
A few of the new arrivals headed toward the water source and never returned, having found suitable camping somewhere along the road. I followed Goddess and a few other up the road they had just come down, and they peeled off down a side track to camp immediately. I kept going up the hill until 9pm, stopping beside the road just as the sun was setting. Late to bed is the price I pay for taking too long getting out of town.
It was a struggle to set up my tent in the very soft and crumbly dirt beside the road, and eventually, after replanting pulled-up stakes and standing everything up three times, three of out four stakes had one or more rocks weighing them down. The struggles of a non-freestanding tent again.
Anyway, I gave up catching up on blogging and knocked off to sleep around 10:30.
Trail miles: 18.5
Distance to Yellowstone boundary: 14.9 miles
Distance to Dubois: 131 miles