July 23rd, 2019
Mm 834.2 to I-15 mm 850 then ride to Lima, MT
Distance in miles: 15.8
I sleep very good until around 4 am, when the wind starts blasting my tent. I hear Relentless moving around, as one of his stakes has pulled out. Since we’re both up, I propose just packing and getting an early start. But there are flashes all about and I worry that a thunderstorm is approaching. It starts to sprinkle. We pack in the dark anyways and are atop the ridge by 0530 am.
A red glow to the east greets us, followed by more ups and downs. At least the weather is cooperating. It’s overcast but the storms have moved away. We could have had it so much worse for this stretch of exposed ridge. In fact, the weather has been near perfect.
I hear some rocks clanking ahead and spy 3 elk making a run for it. So this is how to spot big mammals…get up early! Later we see a whole herd outlined on the ridge ahead. The sun blazes red at us until it retreats above the cloud line. It reminds me of some of the sunrises at sea.
I love the views up here but curse the profile. There are a few ephemeral trails that traverse the tops of some of the hills, saving us a couple hundred feet. For the most part, we just follow the fenceline that separates the 2 states. It’s not intact in most places, with barbed wire strewn across the route. Never mind trying to find the trail, just be careful you don’t rip a leg off due to entanglement.
We eventually start down one of the many fingers from the ridge. There is no CDT marker at the junction and none all the way down. We are just going by our GPS. Very little effort has been put into this section, it seems. I wonder that there isn’t some great alternate that everyone else hikes instead. Oh well. I appreciate the remoteness and quiet.
In the last half mile, we give up on the undulating ridge entirely and bushwhack down to the creek. There are jeep tracks cutting through the grass, making for an easy escape. I laugh at the trailhead signpost, wondering if anyone other than thru-hikers actually come up here to hike this trail… that basically doesn’t exist.
We see a funny looking cow standing in the willows near the creek and then I realize it’s a moose. Two species of large game animal in one day! Then we’re on a gravel road for about 5 miles. It’s deserted save for lots of bovines. We walk past a few bold cows and some lackadaisical bulls, and thankfully not the other way around. I see the interstate a few miles out and I revert to town thoughts…how will we get there, what can I eat first?
We have to jump a fence and hitch on the interstate. I wonder if it’s legal but am more concerned with getting to town to eat food. We decide to walk along the interstate towards town, just to have something to do. There’s an exit in a few miles, so maybe there will be something there. We get a lot of strange looks and then a guy in a Subaru pulls over. He gets out and kind of wants to interview us first. He asks if we are lost or had a breakdown. I understand, no one knows that a trail crosses in this forsaken area. We explain our predicament and we all get in to head down the road about 16 miles. Matt is from Idaho but lives in Burlington, WA. I could get a ride all the way back to the PCT if I wanted to. But no, Lima, MT will do.
We’re dropped of at the Mt View Motel and RV park. It’s the only gig in town. There are also 2 restaurants, but one is closed Monday-Tuesday and only open for dinner otherwise. There’s a gas station and convenience store for me to resupply, a rest area, a park and swimming pool, a K-12 school, a PO, and a collection of old and interesting buildings. Up to 2000 people once lived here. It was once a prospering railroad town, now it’s just a rest stop along I-15.
The motel holds packages and is very hiker friendly. We splurge on splitting a room, the first since going SOBO. I take a shower straight away and it’s nice to have a little private space that’s bigger than my tent. Jan’s Cafe serves us a great lunch, complete with apple caramel pie. We walk around the town a bit, visiting the park. I love visiting town playgrounds and this one has an awesome old fashioned teeter-totter.
We have so much time in town this day that I’m able to take a nap. Then it’s back to the restaurant for dinner with Animal, Towny, and Samson. I have chili, a salad, and more pie. I have lost a lot of weight already so I am trying to cram as many calories as I can while in town. I return to my room so stuffed that it hurts even when I lay down. It doesn’t take long for sleep to find me.