I wake up at five in the hotel room. Arghhh. Ok, I have to stop being frustrated by this. It happens. Sometimes several days in a row. So I’m tired. Whatever!
We’re taking a zero today, in order to wait for post office hours on Monday. All the other southbounders we’ve met are behind us, having taken time off for this or that. We miss seeing other hikers- we haven’t been hiking fast, what with all our zeros, but somehow everyone else seems even slower than us. How is this possible? Is anyone on the CDT even hiking this year? Does the CDT even exist? And when will we finish? What does it even mean to finish?
Breakfast at Deb’s cafe, a glorious greasy spoon with a quaint wooden cutout of a gun on the wall and the words We don’t call 911. Rural Montana reminds me of Alaska in a lot of ways. At the table next to us, some older folks talk loudly about how much they want to kill gay people. I mean mug them, but they don’t get it or they don’t care. Oh well. They say that you can’t change people’s minds, but you can raise up a new generation around different ideas. Thank goodness for that.
After breakfast we do laundry at the campground and it is there, while changing the band-aid on the puncture wound on my leg, that I notice something yellow sticking out. It’s a stick! There’s a fucking stick in my leg! I hand a pair of tweezers to Spark and he pulls out a half-inch piece of wood, leaving behind a rather large hole. The extraction is deeply satisfying. That piece of wood has been in there for eight days! Now the wound can finally heal.
We decide to hitch to Hamilton, Track Meat, Spark and I. It’s a larger town and Track Meat and Spark want to buy Magic the Gathering decks. Hamilton turns out to be kind of a sad, sprawling place and I feel bummed as I walk its main drag, traffic blowing by, fast food joints repeating like the background in a video game. There’s a brewery and I buy a mildly satisfying cheeseless gluten-free pizza and wolf it down while Spark and Track Meat drink beer and sort their new Magic decks, saying hilarious things like-
“We both like mountains and swamp. How about you take swamp, I take mountains, and we split plains?”
I love that my friends are such nerds.
The day pics up considerably once we hitch back to Darby- we meet a couple of nice hipsters on a bicycle adventure at the RV park where we’re posting up in the bunk room- the five of us go to the logger bar and talk about maps and trail food and what a good town would be to live in and whatnot, and the chatting and comraderie with strangers bouys my spirits and then the night cools and I wonder, is the heatwave over.
Sometime tomorrow we hike out. What’s the rush though? Whatever are we even doing?
Look, Darby is the perfect trail town. It’s a few blocks long, sleepy, warm and has a grocery store (with fried chicken, to Track Meat’s delight), and a few places to get good breakfast and burgers. It’s the first town on the CDT that feels to me the way so many places on the PCT did- Sierra City, Stehekin, Etna- as though it was made for hikers taking a day off. Cheap hostel-like places to stay, no traffic, no clocks. Weird thrift stores. Plus, we’re actually relaxed today. I slept amazing in the bunkhouse at the Travellers Rest RV park and now I feel really, really relaxed. We eat a huge breakfast and get as far as packing our bags before deciding to stay another night.
Here’s what we do- smoke weed (we are poor drug smokers and are still trying desperately to use up the tiny quantities we bought in Colorado), look at antiques, take naps, grill hotdogs and steaks. Eat ice-cream and listen to Sade. The boys play Magic the Gathering on the carpeted floor of the bunkhouse. I am so high at one point that all I can do is lay in bed and look at pictures of Nicki Minaj is Cosmo. (There’s like fifteen times what we just smoked today still left, says Spark, peering into his small tin of weed. Fuuuuuck, we say.) There is Miller High Life and capn’ crunch. This feels like our fourth of July. Merica!
Photos on instagram