Date- June 26, 2019
Location- East Glacier
Elevation- 4,813 ft
Distance Traveled Today- zero
Distance Traveled Total- 93.1 miles
Weather/Temp- cloudy, rainy, thunderstorms, 60s
Pain level- zero
Spirits/Morale- ready to rock
Wildlife encounters- reservation dogs
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 0
I didn’t take any pictures today, except of my Taco Johns meal. Sorry.
So Dale, myself, and Jet Pack all zeroed today and split a room. Brian, Smiles, and Nom decided to hike out and begin tackling the Bob. They’ll only be about half a day ahead of us, so I hope we catch them before the town of Lincoln on the south end of the Bob.
While I’m throwing out names, I’ll go ahead and introduce Jet Pack. Jet Pack is a 39 year old woman from Minnesota who lives in Portland, Oregon working as a Physician’s Assistant in the Emergency Room. I met her early on during my 2016 PCT thru-hike and we stayed in several different hostels and towns during the same time, as well as hiking around/seeing her on trail from the southern deserts of California – up until my last day in the northern Cascades of Washington. She was always a beacon of positivity and good will, and seems to still be now.
I didn’t like the food options in East Glacier, so I hitchhiked 12 miles up the road to Browning, the capital of the Blackfeet Nation – the home of the Real People, and the keepers of the head waters.
Most people would be wary hitchhiking onto an Indian Reservation by themselves as a non-native. Many locals outside of Browning would warn against it – especially at night. However, I spent weeks in this area last fall while living out of my 4-Runner, driving and walking around town in the daylight and at night. I even walked clear across the town in a snowstorm and hitchhiked into East Glacier to rent another vehicle when my rear wheel bearing went out on the 4-Runner. I absolutely love this area, and I love the people even more.
I got picked up in about 2 minutes hitching out of East Glacier. A Native named “Dallas” picked me up. He was on his way to get a new muffler welded onto his truck in Browning and was more than happy to drop me off at the supermarket on his way through town. As it turned out he would fix and flip vehicles for extra cash. Sometimes he used the same repair shop I used last fall for little jobs he couldn’t do himself on the vehicles. As it also turned out, we both knew the same stray pitbull named “Pig,” who liked to frequent the repair shop. Gosh, that dog grew on me while I was here last fall.
All in all, it was a nice drive and we mostly talked about flipping cars and other ways to make quick cash doing odd jobs. As our ride was coming to an end I told him, “Making money is easy if you’re not too lazy to go out and get it.” He replied, “You know what the easiest way to turn $40 into $400 is?” “What?” I asked. “You put $40 in your gas tank and drive your ass to work!” he replied. “Exactly!” I responded as we shook hands and parted ways.
I got my groceries squared away and walked a quarter mile to the intersection that lead back to East Glacier. Getting back was a little slower. After 20 minutes of watching countless tourists drive by on their way to Glacier, another Native pulled over and scooped me up. His name was “Will,” he was in his mid 30s, and had long jet black hair tied into a braid that went down his back. He was smoking a Marlboro when I climbed into the front passenger seat. “Where you headed?” “East Glacier Post Office,” I said. “Cool, do you smoke?” “No, not cigarettes,” I replied in an effort to politely decline while preserving an air of “coolness” about me. “Good…” he said as he stubbed it out on the dash. He then reached into the center console and pulled out a tin Altoids can full of rolled joints. There was no way I could have predicted this, and I almost told him, “No thank you,” before he pulled one out. But… I then realized this would be very rude, and that this was also going to be the modern day equivalent of smoking a “Peace Pipe” with a Native American on Native American Tribal Land. How could I refuse!? So I partook.
He prefaced the lighting of the joint with, “This is the good shit.” Everyone always says that about their weed, but I’ll admit, I’m not a smoker, so I don’t know the good shit from the bad shit. Anyway, we passed the “Peace Pipe” back and forth until it was gone, while he bent my now stoned and mesmerized ears with creation stories of his people. How they were the keepers of the headwaters of the Triple Divide. How they call themselves “The Real People.” Then, there was the story of a tribal ancestor who walked from here to Mexico and returned with over 200 Castilian horses he’d stolen from the Spanish. As the drive wrapped up, he wished me luck on my journey and also shared that he would begin his own journey soon. In 4 days he would participate in the “Sun Dance.” He would stick hooks through his chest and hang suspended by them from a tree until they ripped out. After that he would have more hooks stuck through the skin of his back. These hooks would be attached by rope to a buffalo skull which he would drag through the dust while running for 4 revolutions around what I think he said was a drum circle. His journey isn’t quite as long as mine, but it sounds infinitely more intense and meaningful. I can’t imagine the pride he must feel to be able to carry on a tradition like that. It makes me wish I was close enough to my own roots to be able to have that sort of connection to my past. As Will drove away, he pumped a fist out the window and shouted, “Piikani!” at me through smiling teeth. “The Real People,” in Blackfeet speech.
Today was a really cool zero day. I don’t know how I get so lucky on these hikes to have the experiences I have, but I do. It all stems from just saying “yes” to experience. Always say yes. Keep opening and going through doors and more will appear before you. Keep going down the rabbit hole and you’ll be continually amazed by what you find and who you meet. Step out of that comfort zone… it’s where the magic happens.
Tomorrow… the Bob.