July 29: 16.8 miles (2113.5 – 2130.3)
When we awoke, it was still raining. The thought of putting on sopping wet clothes was less than encouraging, but today was to be a town day. We had to get going…eventually. First, it needed to stop raining. By the time we had finished breakfast and had packed everything up inside the tent, the rain had stopped.
Once fully packed up, we filled our water bottles from the spring and turned toward the trail.
Walking across the trail was a lone doe. She was not bothered by our presence in the least. As we continued on the trail, the sound of braying sheep could be heard.
Soon an entire herd was before us, mowing its way across a wide meadow urged on by a lone cowboy and his dogs.
We wound up, over, down and across soft wooded tread. It was obvious that whoever maintained this section of trail took great pride in its upkeep. Fallen trees had been cleared, and anti erosion measures had been taken for runoff in the steeper areas of the trail.
Boundary markers led us like iron bread sticks along the trail. In and out of Idaho and Montana like a distinctive melody.
We walked mostly in half our rain gear, just in case, as the skies still held some moisture. We couldn’t afford to get cold and wet, as we really had nothing dry to change into.
Naked posts, once holding wire to define a border and property lines, stood to our left as the sky above us cleared and became blue.
Once we made it atop a vast hilltop, we stopped to lunch and spread out all our gear to dry.
In the midst of our “yard sale”, who should appear heading SOBO, but Bo. The last time we saw him, we were by the Green River, doing the same thing…drying our gear. Bo has been section hiking the portions of the CDT near his home. This was one of them.
Once our gear was dried, and we had eaten nearly all of the remaining food we had, we set off for the remainder of our days miles. The last portion of the day, we were told, involved a “dreaded” , mostly “downhill”, 8 mile Jeep road walk. No one really elaborated as to what the condition of the Jeep road was. We imagined the worst, just in case.
As it turned out, it was not that bad, with the exception of two, parts. The first being the fact that in order to get to the “mostly downhill” portion of the Jeep road, you had to climb a grand loose rock littered “up”, that we would not have wanted to take our 4WD up or even down. The second being, walking on hard packed dirt feels like pavement, after a while. It makes for unhappy feet.
At the top of the unmentioned uphill, we discovered a trail register, of which we signed. We looked to see who had signed the register. As we were doing this, we noticed that window of blue sky was beginning to narrow.
Menacing dark and treacherous skies flanked us on both sides. We reattached our pack covers and moved our rain gear to the ready. Thunder boomed all around us. Ribbons of rain could be seen in the near distance falling in patches, before moving on briskly. Scratches of lightning scarred the sky to our right. We continued down the road with blue sky narrowing ever more above us. Soon the two storm’s dark clouds, heavy with moisture, would be upon us. All of the sudden a bolt of lightning and a clash of thunder, near simultaneous hit the hill crest to our right. That was enough. Time to duck out and wait for this storm to pass.
Under a short trio of trees we sat out a torrential downpour, and watched as lightning streaked across the sky, mindful of the following thunder’s time delay. An hour passed and so did the storm, for the most part. If we were going to make it into Lima, we needed to beat feet.
We walked as it rained lightly. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Soon the trail left tree line and entered open pasture where we and the cows were the tallest living things. At the point of “no return”, and with nowhere to hide the skies opened upon us again. Sheets of heavy rain, followed by stinging hail, followed by heavy rain, with a near horizontal trajectory pelted us relentlessly for over 20 minutes, as we took cover next to an errant CDT interpretive panel. Any attempt at trying to stay dry, and warm was futile.
Then as quickly as it was upon us, it stopped, and the blue sky began to reclaim the horizon.
With the combination of yesterday and today’s deluge, the once hard packed Jeep road “loosened”, and we found ourselves having to “skate” through slick patches, in a fight to stay upright. I failed, at least once.
Just shy of the I-15, we signed another CDT register and then made our way to what we understood to be the “pick up” location for the Mountain View Motel and RV Park shuttle, that we had called for when we had signal 5 miles away. While at the “pick up” location, below the I-15 there was no cell service, even for the vehicles we flagged down in attempt to check for service…and confirm a ride was coming. 30 minutes had passed the time we had said we’d be at the “pick up” location. The skies were darkening AGAIN, and looked worse than before. We had finally fished out our Lima pages from Yogi’s CDT guidebook, and discovered that there were two pick up times for our location. We had missed both. The phone call was waisted. Not wanting to ride out another storm, up the I-15 embankment we clamored, and stuck our thumbs out with traffic roaring past us at 85mph. The chances of us getting a ride were slim to nun.
10 minutes or so had passed, and so had many vehicles, when a tricked out Ford Mustang roared past us and then came to an abrupt stop nearly 50 yds away. Next thing we know, it is driving in reverse and comes to a stop 25 yds away. Excited, Paul starts running toward the vehicle. “Looks like we have a ride”, he exclaims, “Hurry Up!”. Now, I think we are about to be “punked”, and expect the vehicle to drive off just as we reach it, so I take my time. Nope. It’s a ride for sure. Deke from Libby Montana rescued us. He was on his way home from a work road trip, and decided he would help us out. We talked about family, cars, and traveling. This guy truly had a heart of gold.
We arrived at the Mountain View Motel and checked in. No sooner did we check in, but the skies opened up and it began to rain in sheets, immediately flooding the blacktop outside. Forever grateful for the timely ride, we unpack and prepare to run over to Jan’s across the street for some fresh food. It is then that we realize that we had left our trekking poles in Deke’s car. Luckily he had given us his cell phone number, to call him, if we needed a ride when we got to the Canadian border or Glacier National Park. Turns out we left more than trekking poles in his car. Even though he was quite a ways up the road, he turned around and delivered not only our trekking poles, but a Z-pad, our Tyvek ground cloth, and water bottle or two. Once again we were overwhelmed by Providence and the kindness of “strangers”.
The rain relented just in time for us to head over to Jan’s for a plate of perfectly cooked pork chops. Turns out, Jan’s also has cabins for rent, which would have been good to know in the event the Mountain View Motel had been full. And before we hit the hay for the evening, the once angry sky erupted into a rainbow of colors.