Cdt day 68: and then we went to Missoula

July 11
Mileage 7.5
1,276.5 miles hiked

7.5 miles on a jeep track through the gently blowing grass and the sagebrush to the highway, the sun bright and blustery overhead. We wait a long time for a ride, sitting in the gravel leaning on our packs. Spark shows me how to play Magic. There’s a 100k on the CDT today- Sherpa, who I met on the PCT in 2014, came jogging by our campsite when I was barely awake, sitting on my sleeping pad eating granola. He was towards the front of the pack! Now there’s no-one, just the wind and the sun and us, waiting on the side of the gravel highway. I’m fucking hungry!

Leadore is a couple of faded false-front buildings clustered in the valley between the Sawtooths and the Bitterroots. What a place! What light and clouds! Our ride drops us at the restaurant and expensive burgers are consumed. There’s a taxidermied grizzly, frozen forever in a snarl. It reminds me of Alaska in here.

We break up into two teams of 2 to hitch but then a family rearranges the entire inside of their SUV for us, crams all four of us in there with their two children, offers us chips and drinks. They’re driving all the way to Missoula, 3.5 hours! What magic! I’m sitting in the back, knees to my chest, pack on top of my knees, talking with their small freckled boy about fishing and all the antelope he’s seen- “About a million of em!” We stop at the glittering Salmon river and he flies from the car, casts his line in the water. Within minutes he pulls a fish from the water.

“Let me get my phone to take a picture,” says his mother.

“Hurry up!” Says the boy. “It’s gonna die!” He kisses the fish for the photo then pulls the hook from its jaw, flings it back into the river.

At 6 the family drops us at Yvonne’s house, the friend of my friend Margaret. It’s a queer punk house, dim and full of houseplants, with shiny floral couches and a library full of all the right books. It’s begun to rain and we sit on the patio outside, looking at the garden and the big doug-fir. The trainyard is right across the street and engines rumble, building strings of grainers. Yvonne tells us about a barbecue place within walking distance- apparently everything is within walking distance. It’s good to be here.

Photos on instagram