Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Day 24 - Helena (the Capital!) and Elliston, MT

I suppose many of you may wonder, if we've gone off to live in the woods, why do we spend so much time talking about civilization? Being in the backcountry makes me fully appreciative of the pleasures and comforts of town: indoor heating / cooling, running potable water, electricity, access to loved ones. So, today was a real treat, picking up mail in Elliston, and a trip to the capital.

We had initially planned to stay in Elliston, but the local motel has 4 rooms. Travelling in a trail family of 9, we were unable to get in, since it was booked solid through mid-July. We decided to pick up mail, and then hitch out to Helena. Since Gangles and I look harmless (and I emphasize, are harmless), we've had generally good luck with hitching. We volunteered to take everyone's driver's licenses down to Elliston to get the mail.

After 15m or so, we got a fortuitous hitch from Mike Reider, who was on his way to Missoula. His family has been in MT since the mid-1800s, first coming out to mine, then making their name and fortune by supplying miners. Better to supply the dreamers, than chase the wisps of a mining dream? His family has a gulch named after him, and looking forward to seeing it when we get there tomorrow.

By picking up mail for 7 people, we did significantly declutter the PO. The postmaster mentioned that he was wondering when we would come through--our boxes filled a corner of the small PO. Just as Gangles and I were despairing of how we could get all the mail back, a part-time PO employee offered us a ride to Helena. We texted the rest of the Sobohobos and told them that we were fine transporting the boxes, and to meet us in Helena.

By the time we were crossing back to Macdonald Pass, we still saw the Sobohobos out there hitching. Of course, they had elected to use Swiss as the frontwoman, and hide the boys in the bushes. Swiss is a former D-1 basketball player, with long blonde hair, and hence, an excellent hitcher. Since it is often easier for a woman to hitch, we stash the boys in the bushes, and if someone pulls over, we ask if we can take a few more with us. This may sound deceiving--it is. But it is merely practical. Would you pick up 5 large bearded men with ice axes on the side of the road?

We were able to squeeze nearly everyone into the truck, and we were off on our merry way to Helena, MT. We stopped off at the Lamplighter Inn, which gets great reviews in Yogi's. Joe, the owner, like Barrel Roll, is a UNH grad, and treated us kindly. Turns out, Joe and I share a previous employer, both spent time in the DC-area. He's also a Columbia MBA--nice to meet another MBA on the trail. He's since given up the rat race to be a musician and entrepreneur in Helena. Pretty enviable life. And funny how little things work out.

At the laundromat, getting clean, and then maybe hitting a Chinese buffet and movie later? I almost feel like a citizen of the real world, and not a forest creature burrowing in a pile of dirt.

And, Barrel Roll's friend Dave will be joining us tonight. Looking forward!

Oh, and a shout out to Maron and Sandy for sending such a great care package of Cheez-its, Rice Krispy Treats, and socks! Thank you! You are both rock stars, and your wonderful food will warm our hearts. And power us up some mountain next week.

Mileage: Big, fat zero walking. Some hitchhiking from Macdonald Pass to Elliston to Helena.

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