Friday, July 29, 2022

Day 125: Goodbye, Idaho! And hello, Montana!

August 23: It was a cold morning, but I got on the trail and hiking a little before 7:00am. After finishing breakfast, I had a mere 1/3 of a liter of water left. And, even worse, I wasn't aware of any reliable water sources between here and West Yellowstone a whopping 19 miles away. That wasn't a good way to start the day! I'd likely be very, very thirsty upon my arrival in town. But I still hoped I might find a water source somewhere before then.

Within 10 minutes of starting, I passed a hiker with their pants pulled all the way down to their ankles in a classic squatting position, butt in the air, and clearly doing a dump.

I didn't know who it was and it seemed like a bad time to introduce myself, so I simply shouted out, "Don't worry! I didn't see anything!" Which, of course, is code for, "Yeah, I saw everything! But let's pretend I didn't." Whoever it was quickly stood up, but I was already out of view behind some trees before they even realized I was there.

I kind of assumed the person was heading southbound on the CDT and that's why I didn't know who he (or she) was, and now I'll never know. It was the last potential southbounder I saw on the trail. (The last confirmed southbounder I met three days earlier.)

After less than a mile, I turned off the main red-line CDT to begin the legendary Super Butte Cutoff that would shorten my hike by hundreds of miles. It would be the biggest, longest alternate I'd do on the CDT, but it was necessary if I had any hope of finishing the trail this year. In any case, the wildfires on and near the trail ahead were another good reason to get off the main route. I'd be on this alternate route for well over a week. A week with no help from Guthook. I hoped I wouldn't get too lost along the way!

And a few miles later, I passed a sign welcoming me to the grand state of Montana! The main CDT stays in Idaho or on the Idaho-Montana border for hundreds of miles, but the alternate route I'd be following had me in Idaho for less than 24 hours.

Hello, Montana!

Fortunately for me, the weather was fairly cool, so I didn't need a lot of water, and the route continued to following relatively flat and easy gravel roads allowing me to hike quickly without breaking a sweat. But I did take sips of the little water I had as I watched the water level in my bottle dwindle lower and lower.

I passed a few puddles of water along the road, but they were completely brown with mud. I couldn't even filter that water if I tried. It would probably clog my filter in about 3 seconds. I supposed if I was desperate enough I might have tried drinking from it anyhow, but I wasn't, so I didn't.

And finally, I reached the edge of town--still with a little water left, believe it or not!

However, I was very thirsty and itching for a drink. I was also scheduled to meet Amanda in town, and now that I got a cell phone signal, I checked my messages and learned that Amanda wouldn't arrive for a few hours. So I needed somewhere to hang out for a few hours and headed to McDonalds.

I found these bear tracks heading into town, but I never saw the bear!

I was disappointed to learn that their dining room was closed due to COVID. I went ahead and ordered a quick meal anyhow--including the super-sized drink!--then took it to a shady area in front of the store where I laid out like a homeless person for the next few hours. While waiting for my meal inside, I did fill up my water bottles with clear, cold water as well so I wasn't entirely dependent on soda to re-hydrate. I would have liked to go to a park and rest quietly under a tree while laying out on some grass or sit at a picnic table, but I wanted to use the wi-fi signal at McDonalds more. So I hung out in front of the McDonalds, spread out like a homeless person camped in front of their store. I wondered if any of the employees would eventually tell me to get a move on, but they never did.

I caught up with emails and messages, watched some YouTube videos and killed the time. Periodically I got an update from Amanda about her progress, and finally when she reached the edge of town, we agreed to meet over at the post office a few blocks away. I needed to pick up my laptop which I had shipped here.

So we did that. After hours of waiting for her arrival, I was already ready for dinner and we headed to a local pizza place for a meal, the name of which I've long since forgotten.

Lodging was a bit more difficult. West Yellowstone is crazy expensive and very touristy, but Amanda had a vehicle which opened some options for us and she reserved a hotel room back in Idaho at Island Park. I didn't much care for all the extra driving, but it was considerably cheaper so I endured it!

And thus ended another day on the trail.....

Not a lot of water left for 19 miles of hiking.... This is the same water I had been carrying since Summit Lake--almost 40 miles between water sources!

Followed gravel roads pretty much the entire day!

This was a lovely old building I passed in West Yellowstone.

1 comment:

Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

That grizzly must have been really spooked when it stepped into that pool of wet green paint and it took off running down the sidewalk while upright!