Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Day 38 - Lemhi Pass

The countdown continues--we are only 40mi from the gravel road to Leadore! On day 5 in the backcountry, we're all feeling the need for a little R&R in town. The morning was one of the most mellow that we have had in a while, gently rolling ridge run on soft pine duff. Lots of confusing criss-crossing jeep trails, but we stayed the course. The trails today also crossed open meadows filled with blooming wildflowers, in white, yellow and purple, all mixed with seafoam green sagebrush. Pretty and fragrant.

At lunch, we reached Lemhi Pass, which is historic for being the place where Meriwether Lewis crossed the Continental Divide Trail for the first time. Upon summiting the ridge, supposedly he was astonished to see even more huge mountains to the West. Me too, Meriwether, me too. The mountains here feel huge. At the pass, we had a minor history lesson, reading all of the signs, and ran into two different Lewis and Clark expedition enthusiasts. A great yogi-ing then occurred. (FYI, a yogi is when someone gives you something, e.g., food, drink, ride, without direct prompting out of generosity). These kind people gave us several Diet Cokes, a cold root beer, and two bottles of Mike's Hard Lemonade. Which tastes like lemon soda to me, the teetotaler, but I only sipped. I didn't think I could walk if I had more than a taste. This prompted a very amusing revelation from Swiss that her go-to drink was once Zima, which really dated all of us who remembered that drink, and Gangles who is too young to remember it at all.

Lunched close to the pass at the Sacajawea Memorial picnic area, with the bombastically named 'Moste Distante Fountain', where Lewis and Clark were relieved to find water in such a dry area. We were as well. As with most once functional but now outdated things in the modern world, this once necessary spring was converted into a small decoration for tourists. Felt a little funny actually drinking from the spring, a throwback to more desperate days when you couldn't buy a 24-pack of water at Walmart. Like ducking under the velvet rope at a historic house to actually use the loom at Betsy Ross' house.

After Lemhi Pass, we made the major climb back up to the ridge to camp. While we were pitching tents, I saw a goldish bit of fur about 30' away. It was an arthritic fox, who was very curious about us. He slunk away, then came back, and sat, watching us. I'm sure he saw us all whispering and pointing. The wind kicked up, and I'm sure our scent was blown straight at him. He laid down, covering his nose with his ovoid tail, and continued to watch us. We snapped a few photographs, and then I started to worry that he was not running away. Just as I started to worry he had rabies, he rose to a sitting position, gave us one last look, and gamboled down the hill.

Also, had a chance to hike with Chinchilla and Pyrite today--great people. Chinchilla's brother is getting married this winter in MSP in the same venue as Gangles and I. Small world. So nice to see them, should see them in Leadore tomorrow, too.

Also, Gangles wrote a song about Montana. I hope she'll take the time to transcribe the lyrics here later. Keywords: hail, biscuits, Glacier, hail, wildflowers, hail

Mileage: 22mi from Eunice Creek Trail to Spring past the Gucci Polaski Spring (real name of spring!)

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