Sunday, July 14, 2013

Day 25 - teacup time!

On this side of Macdonald Pass, the terrain has subtly shifted from rollercoasters, to the teacup ride. As Grinder describes it, we're on 'microterrain', with regular ups and downs of 30'-100'. The rollercoaster had ups and downs an order of magnitude higher (300'-1,000'), and so today's hiking has simply been more humane.

We had a slow start today, a nearo out of Helena. Barrel Roll's friend, Dave, is out here to hike for a few days, and he was kindly shuttling us to and from the trail. Since Gangles and I were in the second shift, we had some time to run a few extra errands.

First, we finally got her a hat for sun protection from the local craft store (i.e., an independently owned Michael's). We asked the clerk if she had hats, and she asked if we wanted adult hats. Intrigued by her response, we followed her to the kid's hat section, where the hats were really foam visors for elementary school arts and crafts projects. The ultimate choice was between a giraffe print, or a blue sparkly visor. I thought the giraffe would be more LNT (leave no trace), since I was imagining a trail of sparkles from here to Anaconda. But, hard to argue with fashion, and she went with the blue sparkles, and I must say, it really ties her hiking outfit together.

Second, had a terrific breakfast at the No Sweat Cafe--always so good to eat fresh cooked vegetables. The cabbage and green onions on the scrambled eggs sustained us during the great day of hiking.

Always rejuvenated after a town day, we all felt plenty energetic as we set out around 3pm this afternoon. The weather was Montana-fickle, transitioning from blue skies to that strange colorless shade that accompanies the drizzle. We got to camp just as the rain started to fall. We pitched hurriedly, and dove in. Both Gangles and I famously hate the rain, probably still having flashbacks from the Oregon and Washington sections of the PCT. Swiss Miss, Grinder and Bear Bait all soothingly talked us out of the tents to cook dinner, telling us the rain was light. The rain was intermittent, and clear enough for us to venture out. As the rain let up, we did see a brilliantly orange sunset, which did make it seem all worthwhile.

Now, regarding the rain, I do remember loving the rain as a child. I grew up in Virginia, and the hours before it would rain in the summer, the air would be palpably thick, something you could cut with your hands straightened into blades. Rain would come as a relief to all of that tension, thickness. And it was usually a warm rain in the summers, a benign thunderstorm. I loved summer rain so much that I kept an extra large set of clothes in my school locker. Whenever it started to rain, I would excuse myself as though I were going to the restroom, but actually beeline to my locker. I would suit up in my extra large clothes, run around in the rain, and then slip back into class after shedding my damp rain clothes.

Montana is almost making me love the rain again--while some of the precipitation is terrifying (marble-sized hail, damaging winds), I am enjoying the temperate afternoon drizzle, which disappears so quickly. I certainly hope the weather holds.

Oh, and forgot to mention--Dave is in sore need of a trail name. As a group, we're working on something, so will keep you posted on the progress. He's in great shape, and usually leading the pack while hiking--we thruhikers need to hustle to keep up. Glad he's with us to Anaconda.

Mileage: 11mi from Macdonald Pass to Jericho Creek

p.s., Macdonald Pass has a tragic history. Constant Guyot, a frenchman from the 1800s, ran a toll road here. His wife was renowned for her hospitality and hearty meals. She was found brutally murdered one day, and rumor has it that she haunts the area. Constant Guyot was suspected, as he fled the territory shortly thereafter. Also, famed aviator Cromwell Dixon crashed nearby the pass, two days after being the first man to fly across the Continental Divide. Fingers crossed that those tragic events are in the past, and we are due a returns to the mean. Should be a good stretch.

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