July 18, 2019
Took the day off to blog, rest, and enjoy the last town with this many amenities for several hundred miles.
My favorite restaurant on this trail resides in Darby and is called the “Montana Cafe.” Nothing I have ever come across anywhere can compare to the portion, price, and quality combination of this place. If they were based out of a larger area, they’d have more business than they would know what to do with. If you’re ever in that neck of the woods… I recommend it.
It was a low-key day spent with many other hikers that I was able to gather a lot of information from. As I suspected early on, a lot of people have already gotten off trail. I met five in Darby alone who were getting off trail and heard of several others who already had, or were planning to. There’s no telling how many have gotten off trail that I haven’t heard of.
The biggest reason cited for getting off trail… burnt out. Tired. Many were trying to keep up with others they couldn’t keep up with. Some just couldn’t handle the pace needed to complete this trail. The CDT is such a funny mix between the AT and the PCT, but one thing it doesn’t share with either of them is… a feeling of being carefree or easygoing. I mean, if you can manage to capture those feelings day to day while putting in the miles, then it does exist. You can only capture them in town while taking time off if you’re already putting in the miles to earn that time. Out here, the carefree time has to be earned every step of the way from beginning to end. On the AT and the PCT, you start out with an automatic reserve of carefree, guilt free days off – and slowly add or take away from them as you go.
When the urgency, brutality, and unforgiving nature of this trail sets in… and you still have thousands of miles to go – mental burnout can occur quite fast. Just thinking about everything you have to go through/do can mentally deplete you. That’s why you have to take this journey one day and one step at a time. Focus on what’s in front of you, not on EVERYTHING that’s ahead of you.
I’ve talked about it before, but I would be lying if I said I didn’t take a certain dark pleasure in watching people get off trail. Many hikers do. I don’t believe I’ve ever met one who didn’t. Of course it’s always genuinely sad when it’s someone you know, but when it’s a random face, a faceless name, or an acquaintance in passing – it doesn’t really affect you. If anything, it serves to boost morale as you realize… “Perhaps I have more perseverance than I thought.” You know people are going to drop off for one reason or another. Every time it’s not you, you can’t help but feel that you have buttressed yourself somehow by your own inexplicable ability to remain in the challenge.
There would be no prestige or weight to anything in this world if everyone could do what everyone else could do. We are all born with different capacities for different things. We simply have to discover them. Every time the attrition rate goes up out here and you don’t become a statistic – you discover that you have a little more within you than what you might have thought… even if it be only luck.
On a lighter note, both literally and metaphorically… I shaved my beard.
The plan is to hike 120 miles tomorrow into Leadore, Idaho through the Bitterroot Mountain Range. I’m greatly looking forward to this section because I missed it due to fire closure in 2017, and instead did a 90+ mile road walk through hellfire valleys on burning hot highways. Not this year!
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