CDT MT Section 8

Day 48: Little Eightmile Creek Headwaters

I woke up before sunrise, around 5 or 5:30, and put on slippers to go to the bathhouse to get my fully charged phone. A dark cloud on the horizon told me I should also grab my dry hiking clothes off the fence. I was already freezing by the time I started back to my tent, but warm again as soon as I climbed inside. I drained my phone halfway between then and nearly 8, mostly on uploading blog posts. I was starving, but nothing but the post office opens in Leadore until 8:30. I packed up then, last to leave the park. Even Mark, the caretaker, had left. I walked into town about a quarter after 9.

I popped into the Stagestop Junction to ask about getting cash and was told the Depot had an ATM inside. That was where I was headed next anyway.

The Depot is next to the Silver Dollar (on the other side of Galena Street–I was unreasonably amused that a town called Leadore has a street called Galena) and generally considered to be a more reliable establishment. I left my pack on the front porch (which is built of steel like a train platform or passenger car) and chose one of the two doors at random. It was dim inside and there was a bar and a couple of tables and no sign of life. Then Mark (of City Park Host fame) popped out the door behind the bar shouting a greeting and scaring me half to death. He explained he had many more job offers all over town and directed me to the more brightly lit diner side of the store, got me some coffee and a menu while I made a withdrawal at the ATM.

I ordered a huge breakfast and then went out into the rain that had started to try to pay my tab across the street. But the restaurant was closed despite the assurances I had otherwise from Shonnie (sp?) the night before. I also found some razors in the Depot’s hiker box, so I shaved my scraggly face, kidnapped a loose roll of toilet paper, and returned to find my big breakfast set out with a fresh cup of coffee. There were also more people: two older guys had come into the bar around the time I ordered. One was named Dale and seemed to have some stake in both the restaurant and the city park.

The eggs were spot on. The sausage was some of the best I ever had (it was Dale’s recipe, I learned), the hash browns were perfectly browned, but the biscuits with the biscuits and gravy were a bit too hard. When Mark asked if I needed anything else, I ordered a mint oreo milkshake. Why not?

I finished everything but one of the too-hard biscuits and half of the second helping of hash browns. I had only expected one serving, but when given two, I gave the second my best attempt only to run out of stomach capacity.

I left Mark with 30 bucks cash to deliver to the Silver Dollar if they ever opened when I settled up, then finally turned my attention to the post office.

I boxed up some unneeded equipment and called for the box sent me by Dangerpants full of the food I had bought in Denver, the other food she got me because I was stupid and forgot to buy it, and then some extra stuff she threw in to make the box heavier so she could pay more in postage, I presume. Maybe she just has too much extra money?

I learned all this as I unpacked it on the picnic table at the Stagestop across the street. In direct sunlight (for the brief period of time such a thing was possible), the extra Hershey bar turned directly to liquid without even passing Go and collecting 200 dollars. I hid the sneaky can of beer in the shade of my pack to drink while I repacked the rest of the food.

Having skipped a lunch and dinner in the last section, I had a little too much food, and I was certainly running out of space in my bear can. I ended up carrying some food up to the Depot hiker box and packing some other things in unusual places where I don’t usually keep food. The Stagestop only had four limes for sale, so I bought them all and stuck them in the bottom section of my pack with my coats and clothes until more space became available down the trail.

At this point, I decided to call mom. To do so, I made the mistake of sitting on the same side of the picnic table as my pack. As this was a poorly designed table on which the benches were cantilevered out well past the extent of the footprint, the whole table upended as soon as I sat down spilling everything I had out all over the ground. This included a bag of Starburst I had just opened to add more candy to, and so those scattered all over the ground as well. I suffered nothing worse than a mild scratch across the leg that left a welt without drawing blood, but my mom picked up the phone at that exact moment and was very worried. Needless to say I sat elsewhere to chat.

After a final visit to the community center bathroom, during which the storms made their inevitable return, it was already 1pm, and I was finally ready to leave. I walked out to the place where the road to the pass left town and stood next to a fence for two hours, failing to obtain a ride from any of the five vehicles that passed in that time. It stopped and started raining several times during this period, so I kind of hovered above my pack to keep it dry. The last rain was a bit more intense and came with a cold wind that drove me to don my Packa. Throughout all of this, the sprinklers in the field behind me chugged on unperturbed, adding ever more water to the large puddle they had already filled.

During a brief respite between cloudbursts, I walked back to the store to get a Gatorade to hydrate for another long period of waiting for a ride. The only alternative to waiting was calling the lady who did shuttles up to the pass for 35 bucks. And as I did not even have that much cash on me and am not in much of a hurry out here on the whole, waiting as long as it took seemed the better option.

It started raining again before I could even get back to my pack. But the wait proved worth it. I got a ride right away this time, about 3:30. Her name was Maggie and she had her own pack in the back of her truck. She was headed home to Bozeman. Apparently a writer for a Backpacker and associated with some guides, she had some knowledge and experience of pretty much all the US long trails. (Her trail name is Cat Pack since she had pictures of her cat printed on her pack.) So exactly the sort of person you’d expect to pick up a CDT hiker. Also, if you’ve been reading along this whole blog, you know that middle-aged white women driving alone is one of the more common demographics my volunteer drivers are drawn from. Anyway, she dropped me on the trail about 4pm.

The next section of trail was pretty easy all things considered. It didn’t even have much of an uphill climb, which would not have been easy under the weight of more than a week of food. It was mostly in a thick forest, though the trail route had been cleared of trees and deadfall very recently, and pink flags were clipped or staked all along the route.

There was not nearly as much rain as there had been earlier. There were still plenty of clouds and only rare moments of sun, but I was not really getting wet. I had my Packa on mainly for the cold wind when I first started out, but when I stopped at 6 to sit and eat a few huckleberry licorice sticks, I put it away.

A little after 7, I came upon another older hiker, Matt, hanging his bear bag in camp after a 23 mile day heading south from Lemhi Pass. He gave me the heads up on what the trail was like up to there, and it sounded like it would be pretty easy. I was not ready to stop yet, even though another storm cloud was rolling in. The sun was still up, and I didn’t really want to camp in the forest.

I kept walking, but paused briefly to reinstall my Packa when the rain kicked off again. It didn’t rain very long, but it did rain a few different occasions in the following hours. The mosquitos swarmed any time I paused.

Eventually, after diverting around a long mudfilled section, I came out into the meadow. The mosquitos were just as thick out in the open, but the open is just a better place to camp, especially when expecting rainstorms. Another mile around a few hills and I came to a little flat spot near the trail with only a single tree. I set up there because I doubted I would find anything flatter or clearer nearby–it was 9pm and the sun had just set. I set up with the mosquitos testing my defenses the whole time, then wildly waved and brushed at my head before I dove into the tent and got it buttoned up as quickly as possible. I think only one mosquito slipped in with me, and I nabbed her off the ceiling before she could bite me in my sleep.

Trail miles: 8.5

Distance to Lost Trail Pass and probably Salmon: 114.3 miles

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