CDT Day 63: Mile 2722.2 – 2730.5 (8.3 miles – 13 km)

Tuesday June 18, 2019

The trail is about so much more than the landscape or the physicality of the hike, it is as much about the people you meet on and off the trail. This morning we had the pleasure of meeting two incredibly kind and generous folks, Joan and her husband Vic and their dog Poko. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

We were late to check out. We stayed at the Blue Sky Motel which had reasonably large rooms and all the modern conveniences. Our packs were stuffed with 9 days of food and we procrastinated about picking them up and leaving knowing what was ahead. We said goodbye to the motel manager who was nice about our tardiness. And after getting one last double shot of caffeine from the Coyote Coffee cart we walked a bit out of town to hitch back to the trailhead.

Timing is everythin it seems when it comes to hitching, especially in Lincoln. There wasn’t much traffic going out of town. We waited for an hour when we saw a man walking towards us from the nearby Pitstop Cafe. He had driven past us and walked back after parking his car. He offered us a ride after he and his wife had lunch. We joined them for a milkshake while they had lunch and so we met Vic, Joan and Poko (who stayed back in the car).

They were from Helena and were touring locally for a couple of days in their camper van. Having recently retired Vic told us the van was on a bit of a shake down trip before they go on a longer journey. It was a very pleasant hour of conversation while the cafe got busier and busier. Hammer was very pleased to find a milkshake in town…just in time before we left.

After lunch they drove us out to the trailhead. We shared the van cabin with Poko, who was very well behaved and had excellent balancing skills We were sad to say goodbye. It was such a pleasant and genuine encounter.

Then it was time to sling on the super heavy packs and begin the long climb out. I knew that eventually I would get used to the weight. It’s just the first few hours that are uncomfortable. Later in the afternoon I was pleased we had the extra weight in our packs as it kept us from being blown off the mountain ridgetops.

On the way up we met a group of hikers who were returning from a day hike with their their dogs. We stopped for a chat, and they mentioned how extraordinary the spring bloom has been this year. They were also from Helena and offered us a place to stay if we are returning through there. How generous!

The ridgetops were every bit as stunning as they mentioned. Dense fields of Forget Me Nots in every shade of blue. It was so beautiful to see but the wind was something else. It scoured up the valley and it was the weight of the packs that kept us grounded. Hammer said he felt like the Flying Nun with his broad brimmed hat ready to take off.

When we were protected from the wind, the spring blooms had the most incredibly delicious smell – like honey mead. By the time we descended off Green Mountain we’d been hiking through an extensive burn area. The lack of vegetation, the strong wind and the terrain ahead made us realise that we should look for a campsite sooner rather then later. And just at the Lewis and Clark Pass we found a flat area with some trees still standing. We had seen fresh bear scats on the mountain so it’s nice to have someplace to tie off the food bags. We stopped earlier then planned, some days are just like that.