CDT Day 49: 27 miles – 43 km
Tuesday June 4, 2019
Our spot by the river was terrific. The sound of the water falling over the dam wall was like white noise. It was a perfect nights sleep. Just before we fell asleep last night a pickup drove past our campsite. The driver stopped to say hello. He saw us earlier in the day when he was driving a grader and doing roadworks on Blue Sky Highway He was on his way home when he saw us walking down his road over the dam in the late afternoon. He went home and picked up his little son the drove out to see if we needed anything and that we were OK. It was nice that he was interested and that he cared.
We we feeling refreshed and renewed when we left camp. The sky was clear, the air was warm and the birds were singing. It was approx 16 miles to a gas station that we could see on our map at a little settlement called Crowheart. So that became the target for the morning.
Before joining Route 287 we were passed by an eastbound touring cyclist moving fairly fast. We had seen a couple of guys yesterday in a similar setup. Hammer thought they were travelling a little light for touring the Great Divide Bike Route.
A few miles along we were stopped by a driver offering us a ride. It was Lesley who with her dog was going a few miles down to the Crowheart Rest Area. We declined gratefully…but it was good to know we can find water and toilets a few miles along. We reached the rest area just after we joined Route 287. It was such a treat to get filtered water. Leslie was singing an aria while cleaning the restrooms.
For the first few hours it was perfect hiking temperature. But after we started to head north from the rest area a cold wind had sprung up. I hoped that it would not last as we had many miles to Dubois along this road.
It was cold and then rainy as we headed away from the rest stop. Hammer and I talked about the brutality to joy quotient on this trail so far. We agreed that on average it was 70:30 and quite a few days have been 100:0. We are looking forward to the time when that is reversed to 100% joy with zero brutality. Not that the conditions were that terrible this morning, neither the cold wind nor the rain lasted that long.
The dominant feature in the landscape to the east for much of the day was Crowheart Butte. Apart from its natural features it is also famous for being the battleground for waring Indian tribes over hunting ground rights in the Wind River basin. The chief of the winning tribe was said to have carried the heart of the losing Crow warrior chief on a lance to celebrate their victory. The Range mountains to our west were losing their soaring peaks and looked a lot more approachable, even though there was still a lot of snow cover.
A few miles after leaving the Rest Area an approaching cyclist stopped when we called out in greeting. She filled us in what the touring cyclists, we’d been seeing, were about. They were all in a bicycle race called Bike Non Stop USA – the race started in Portland, Oregon and finishes in Washington DC. Her name was Ellise and she was racer number 9. By lunchtime we met Dennis (# 6) from Pennsylvania, then Sheri (#10) and just after lunch Chuck (# 5) from North Carolina. It was so nice that they were happy to stop and have a chat. And good to know we aren’t the only ones out here travelling by means other then a car (i.e. crazy people). I hope we get a chance to follow their progress online (http://trackleaders.com).
We reached the Crowheart Gas Station at lunchtime. It was such a relief to arrive. The store had some frozen burgers and burritos which we reheated in a microwave…well it was nice for a change. Just as we started lunch two northbound touring cyclist pulled into the station. What a surprise to hear their accents, an Australian and a Kiwi riding the Trans America route from Virginia. Over lunch we learnt a little bit about Walter and Ian. Walter is from the Inner West of Sydney and Ian is a teacher from Wanaka in NZ. Hammer was very happy to talk cycling for a change. We were very jealous as they rode off knowing they’ll be in Dubois in a couple of hours.
When planning this route to Dubois I was intrigued to see that we were directed to follow the Old Yellowstone Highway to get us off the busier traffic roads. Well that sounded nice I thought maybe a bit like the Old Route 66. In reality when we passed the first crossing of the highway it was a small private dirt road with No Trespassing signs. So we stayed on Route 287.
The afternoon dragged on as it usually does. A thunderstorm in the distance threatened to come closer, but we escaped with about 20 minutes of strong winds and rain and then then sun came out again.
Looking at the surrounding landscape it was not going to be easy to find a spot to camp. Red canyon like walls were getting closer to the road. But as Hammers favourite saying goes ‘the universe will provide’. And so it did today, a perfect flat campspot above a road cut, out of view of all passing traffic and the noise. The universe provided indeed.