Monday, September 12, 2022

Day 144: The Augusta Hitch

September 11: Just as a quick note about dates.... if you noticed, I marked this day's post as having happened September 11th, while today is September 12th. But! It did not happen yesterday. It happened one year ago! My CDT hike was so long, and the three-posts-per-week schedule I keep, means my posts are now a full year out of date! So just remember, when you see dates listed for the rest of the this blog, we're talking about last year. However, the time of year when I did the hike is basically the same time of year it is now when I'm posting it.


Despite the rain all night long, I stayed pleasantly dry under my tarp. =)

So... back to your regular scheduled programming. It sprinkled for much of the night, and the morning clouds were so thick, it didn't get light enough to hike until fairly late in the morning. Which allowed me to sleep in a bit, but it also meant I didn't get started hiking until about 7:40am.

Nor did the sprinkles did stop. It continued to sprinkle lightly on and off throughout the morning. Only for about one 10-minute period did the rain get heavy enough for me to pull out my umbrella, but I still found it all quite annoying.

I did, however, make great time hiking down the trail. The trail was super flat and easy, and I pushed through nearly 20 miles before reading the trailhead at about 3:00 in the afternoon.

There's a small airfield there, and I waited near it for about an hour on a gravel road hoping to hitch a ride into town. During that hour, only one vehicle went by... and it didn't stop to pick me up. Curse you, driver!

If only there were a plane nearby to whisk me into town! Now that would have been an awesome resupply!

Unfortunately, hitching a ride was pretty much a requirement. The town I needed to resupply at, Augusta, was located about 30 miles down this gravel road--way too far for me to walk into today. I had gotten the impression that hitching a ride wasn't terribly difficult, but maybe my being there after Labor Day caused a lot fewer people to be traveling to this remote trailhead?

I decided to start walking down the gravel road into town. I had no intention of walking all the way into town, but I figured the network of small roads combined like tributaries to create a large river. I hoped if I walked far enough down the road, the network of smaller roads would combine into a bigger road and improve my chances of getting more traffic and therefore a better chance of getting a ride.

A half hour later of walking, traffic never really picked up, but one truck finally drove by in my direction and I stuck out my thumb and this time, the vehicle stopped. Yes! Praise the Lord!

The man introduced himself as Tall Paul, and I was immensely grateful that I didn't have to walk anymore off trail. It only took an hour and a half to get a ride, but at least I got one.

He drove me all the way into Augusta, and I tried checking into the Wagon Wheel Motel. But, alas, they reported that their rooms were full. No space available. A quick Google search of the area found no other reasonably-priced lodging available. Crap. *sigh* Some on, man! It's after Labor Day! Why haven't all the tourists gone home?

So I went with Plan B, which was to pay $20 for a campsite adjacent to the hotel. I hate paying for campsites. For the last 5 months, I'd basically been camping for free pretty much anywhere I wanted. The idea of paying to be in a crowded campsite with lots of other people didn't appeal to me at all. I could have tried looking for a place to stealth camp at the edge of town, but figured this would be easier. I didn't have to be sneaky about it, and I could get a wi-fi connection at the motel, take a shower and hang out inside the restaurant/bar if I got tired of hanging out outside.

Once that was taken care of, I started doing my usual town chores: laundry and showers. Inside the bar, I chatted with a few locals including one who worked as a park ranger in Glacier NP who warned me not to try sneaking through the park without a permit. They catch those kind of people all the time. I had no intention of hiking through without a permit, but I was a little curious about what they do to such law-breakers. I didn't ask, though. I figured he'd probably assume that I was assessing my chances of whether or not it was worth sneaking through the park.

The next day, him and a couple of buddies were planning to hunt some grouse. I assured him that he could practically just stick out his hand and catch one and wring its neck. The grouse seemed to be everywhere, and they didn't seem to have any fear of people often letting me hike by them quite close. It seemed a little unfair to hunt grouse, really. They seemed too stupid for it to be a real sport.

He asked me what kind of grouse I had seen, but that... I had no idea. Apparently, you can tell them apart based on their eyes or the patterns around their eyes. I hadn't seen enough of them close enough to identify them based on their eyes, though, so I had no idea. But the grouse were definitely out there in large numbers.

Back outside, in the evening, I chatted with Jazz Hands until late into the night. He was also camped at the campground, and this is when I learned that the headlamp I found in the yurt a couple of days back was his. If only I had carried to here, I could have returned it.... Oh, well.

There were a few other thru-hikers around that I saw glimpses of such as IB Tat and Just Awesome, but they had gotten into town early enough to score an actual motel room and weren't stuck outside camping with Jazz Hands and myself.

By around 11:00pm, I finally laid out my groundsheet and cowboy camped near a picnic table for the night. My day was done!

Pretty much every day I'd see grouse on the trail. I didn't always get photos of them, but they were everywhere! And did not seem to have a healthy fear of people.

Look at those fall colors! Awesome!

If anything goes wrong in this wilderness area, just blame the goats!

I didn't see this warning until after leaving the wilderness area. It was posted at the trailhead. Why do I never learn of these things until they're already behind me?!


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised there wasn't a logbook at the yurt a couple of days back. That would have been handy to figure out who may have left the headlamp. -- Jabber

Ryan said...

There was a register in the yurt, and I could easily see everyone who had signed it. But Jazz Hands couldn't really have left a note saying, "Hey, I forgot my headlamp!" before he actually forgot it....

I had no way of knowing if the headlamp had been there for an hour or a year, but because it seemed unlikely that I'd catch up to whoever left it and I didn't recognize it, I didn't worry about it. *shrug*