Location- side of highway 28
Distance Traveled Today- 30 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 600.7 miles
Weather/Temp- Smokey, 90s
Injuries- left knee pulling still, sore feet
Pain level- moderate
Spirits/Morale- tired of road
Wildlife encounters- Deer, skunk
Human Beings encountered on trail- many
Thru hikers encountered on trail- zero
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 1
It was almost 10 am before I was all the way on my way and walking across town. I felt much better than when I first walked in there, and had no other plan than to hike 30 miles or more today.
I branched of highway 93 and onto state route 28, where I would spend the last 46 miles of this road walk. If the highway had been rough, then this state route was worse. In 46 miles this road had less than 5 total bends/turns in it. It was like a cartoon; the road just stretched on as far as the eye could see in a perfectly straight path. The hamster wheel sensation was very strong.
Ten miles into the walk I came across an Amish farmers market. This was the highlight of the entire road walk so far. I took an hour to relax and have an excellent roast beef sandwich before heading back into the heat.
The road is getting to me big time. I get to see some pretty cool stuff I wouldn’t see on trail, but the lack of shade, constant cars, and hard surface is wearing on me. There was smoke everywhere, so thick it dimmed the sun and created the effect of an overcast day. This was the only positive side to the smoke.
After the Amish market I didn’t stop for another 11 miles until the town of Tendoy. All I did was get a couple drinks at the only small store that doubled as a post office, then kept moving.
I felt like a zombie for pretty much the entire day; I feel like one now. However there was a little bit of fun. While walking past a couple of the cow pastures, dozens and dozens of the cows migrated towards me like some kind of messiah, following me along the fence line until the opposite end of the pasture. It was a pretty funny experience, but I know it wasn’t anything special. I’m sure nobody walks on the road, so the only human they see is their farmer who feeds them. They probably thought I was going to feed them, then hated me when I didn’t.
Walking along rivers and muddy wet areas all day made for a large mosquito presence. My 100% deet kept them from biting, but not from bouncing off my face. They got orders of magnitude worse as the sun went down and everything cooled off.
At around 27 miles into the day it was almost 9pm and I was just about ready to call it a day, 30 miles or not. I don’t like being on these rural roads in the dark, especially on a Saturday when the local fauna is most likely to be drinking. Not to mention my feet were very sore. My shoes are just about done for, but I need to get them another 100 miles before I can pick up my new ones.
So at around this 27 mile mark a small Toyota goes past me with two young women in the front seat waving at me. I waved back. Two minutes later they had turned around and were pulling up next to me. It was a blonde and brunette in their early twenties. They started talking to me, asking me what I was doing, my name, where I was from, etc. I explained the hike to them and answered their questions. They gave me a bottle of water which I downed on the spot and handed back to them with a “thank you!” They kept making awkward conversation for several minutes, and I began to wonder where all of this was going. Were they going to offer me a ride somewhere? Invite me to a party? Invite me out on the town in Salmon (the direction they were headed)? What? So after a couple more minutes of casual conversing, they all of a sudden become very formal and introduce themselves as “sister so and so” and “sister such and such” (I don’t remember their names), and that they were Mormon missionaries. I’ll admit, a part of me was disappointed that they hadn’t stopped just to talk to me and hear my story, but instead were on a “mission” to get the good word to me.
I wasn’t THAT disappointed however… I hadn’t really spoken to anyone in days, so this was my chance to have a real conversation, regardless of the subject. I am not a very religious person myself, however I treat all religions and trains of thought with respect, and I am always eager to listen and learn more, but to also be heard in turn. So I stood there and listened to their message on the side of the road and looked for some commonalities and parallels within my own life to relate to their message and perhaps offer my own input and interpretation. I tied in the experience of long distance hiking and prolonged periods of time inmersed in nature with getting closer to God and his creations. The introspective aspects of being isolated without distractions and being able to turn the inner eye on yourself and better connect and understand everything around you/within your life. Sadly, they were more interested in what they had to say than what I had to say and ended the interaction when they realized Joseph Smith wasn’t one of the entities I was connecting with up there in the mountains. Such is life.
I again found myself in a conundrum as darkness fell on eastern Idaho. There was nowhere for me to even get off the road. I would either have rivers on each side, open pastures, fences, muddy marsh, or a combination of all or some of those. It just kept going on and on and on. Once you’ve decided you want to stop for the day, each mile after that feels like an eternity; that’s what this felt like. Also, there were skunks scurrying all over the place in the pastures and off the side of the road.
It was after 10 pm, and I still hadn’t found an opening to make camp in. Finally I got fed up and walked off the side of the road towards a thicket growing against a mesh fence. It was basically a ditch about 6 feet below and 15 feet off the road. There were two big scrub bushes growing out of tall grass against the fence, providing a bit of screen between me and route 28. I snuggled in and set up my hammock as a bivy. When all was said and done, I had a very, very cozy spot tucked off the road, and probably one of the most unique campsites I’ve ever had.
When I checked Google maps, I found I’d gone almost 31 miles from where I began the day; a pleasant surprise. I’ve got 16 miles until I hit Leadore, as well as the end of this road walk. It can’t come soon enough. It’s been unique, but my feet feel pulverized