Location- side of trail
Elevation- 6,394 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 349.6 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 90s
Pain level- none
Wildlife encounters- rodents
Human Beings encountered on trail- 1
Thru hikers encountered on trail- 0
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 0
I didn’t plan to get back on trail until later this afternoon/evening. There were errands to run and things I wanted to do.
I slept in past 8am, then walked down the road to the local Albertsons grocery store. I went in an entirely new direction with most of my resupply. I was able to get fresh new York style bagels instead of the regular Thomas brand bagels I usually buy. I had the hard salami cut fresh and thick at the deli. I bought beef jerky and cream cheese to dip it in (this was a weird impulse I’m looking forward to trying). Then I got two large bags of fritos, a large bag of sea salted pita chips, a can of Pringles, and a pound of sharp cheddar. I’m craving salty and crunchy so this resupply centered greatly around chips (if you couldn’t tell). I have nothing that requires cooking for the first time on this hike.
After breaking everything down into its simplest packaging or transferring them into my own Ziploc bags, I summoned an Uber to take me to the laundromat. My shirt was getting so crusty I thought it might crack off me; not to mention the smell was almost getting to me…almost.
After laundry I summoned another Uber to take me to a gear shop a couple miles across town. I was able to get a new hat here (a Tilly hat) and get a super light white T-shirt. The shirt is to wear around town when I’m doing laundry or to sleep in at night on trail. I’m normally pretty hardcore about sleeping and walking around in my own grime, no matter where I am; but the feeling of putting on a relatively soft and fresh shirt at the end of the day is a small and welcomed grace.
Coincidentally, one of the women working at the gear store hiked the PCT last year and recognized me from the desert section. I guess we stayed at two different hostels at the same time, but I neither recognized her, nor recalled her trail name. Still, she knew mine and remembered I had a cute dog. It’s the cute dog that sticks in people’s minds, not me; and I’m perfectly ok with that!
After the gear shop, it was Uber to the Overland Express for one last taste of their Dragon Wings. Well worth the stop! The Uber driver who gave me the lift also gave me her number to call her when I needed to get back up to the trail. I would never get a hitch down in this city (at least not in any kind of decent time), so I didn’t mind paying for the convenience of getting to places on my own schedule. This is something most all of us take for granted in modern society with our cars and public transportation. When you’re somewhere unfamiliar with no connections, no vehicle, and no major public transportation… running a few errands within several miles of each other can become an all day, exhausting physical affair; when it could be done in half an hour with a vehicle, or a little longer via bus, subway, or taxi. It’s times like those when I’m grateful for certain advances in technology that can make transportation a snap, albeit a little pricey at times.
So I called Patricia up after wings and ended up paying her cash to get me to the trail instead of going through the Uber app. She was still getting paid to do her job while getting to put a little more in her pocket, which was preferable to both of us, I think.
It was 4:30pm when I got back on trail and I was planning to do around 11 miles to the base of a large climb. I took it easy and slow through the moderate terrain, but encountered a decent stretch of blowdowns that killed about 30 mins off my pace.
Early in the evening I ran into a small family trying to pick Huckleberries. I asked them if they were having any luck and they sadly responded, “No.” Feeling bad, I thought I’d bestow some of the traveler’s wisdom I’d gained in the last couple days. I asked them if they knew of a certain location I’d come through the day before that I knew was close to a road. They were familiar. I then gave them very easy and specific instructions on where to drive to, and how far south on the CDT they needed to hike in order to find more Huckleberries than they’d ever seen. They knew the location of the road and where the trail was in relation to it, but had no idea of the huckleberry treasure trove that lay not far from it. After our chat they grabbed up their buckets and headed for the new location. This is one of my favorite aspects of being a wayward traveler; the information you gather, as well as the lessons you learn. The subtle things/locations you become familiar with, then are able to pass on to those behind you, or those who wish to learn or follow in your footsteps. The sharing of knowledge and information is what has made the human race what it is today, for better or worse. Being able to share what I know/learn is what keeps my world in orbit; although I try to not overdue it. An expression my father used to tell me when I was younger went something like this… “Teach them everything they know, but never teach them everything you know.” You have to leave some things to self discovery, or protect your own interests depending on the circumstances of the subject you may be teaching on…
So I was around 8 miles into my evening hike and had hit a gravel road I was now walking on, thick forest on either side of me. I’d been on the road for almost a mile when out of nowhere I heard someone call my name from thick forest on my immediate right. I’m not sure if my outward reaction gave anything away, but I’m fairly certain my heart constricted and stopped beating for several moments. I whirled my head in the direction of the sound to see an erected tent about 20 yards off the road and tucked into the trees. “You’re Kyle aren’t you?” The female voice said. “Yes, do I know you?” I couldn’t see her clearly through the bug mesh of her tarp tent, so I wouldn’t have been able to recognize her if she’d been my own mother. “I’m Vanne,” the voice said. “I follow your blog!”
So after introducing ourselves and learning that Vanne was doing a northbound section hike here in Montana (her adopted home state), I decided to scrub the last 3 miles I had planned and camp in this little out of the way spot. I’d told myself previously that if I ever ran into other hikers towards the end of the day, I’d stop and camp with them, if nothing else but for the companionship of being around another human being. Vanne was happy for the company and hadn’t camped around anyone else for the 180 miles or so that she’d been on trail.
Vanne is a 60 year old woman who hikes, bow hunts elk, farms, and finds the time to pursue whatever other earthly pleasures make her happy. She positively radiated soft spoken kindness, understanding, and positivity. We stayed up past 10 pm talking about life, the trail, happiness, as well as our own personal stories and how we came to be where we are. It’s incredibly refreshing to have someone else to speak to in the evening. She even gave me a homemade braid of sweetgrass which I can burn the ends of and smell/bathe in the smoke for good luck while speaking any blessing or good tidings that I wish. It’s a fun exercise that I believe can do wonders for the power of positive thought.
In the grand scheme of things today was pretty much a zero day. I left town late and only got about 8 miles. I have more than 70 miles to go until I reach the town of Anaconda, including a 26 mile road walk. I want to shoot for my first 30 mile day tomorrow, but it looks like there are a lot of climbs. As usual, I’ll have to just see how it goes…