July 14th, 2019
Mm 606.7 to mm 623 then 30 mile hitch to Darby.
Distance in miles: 17
Town day, again. And only a short hike in…a half day. The trail is pretty gentle on us, nice and loamy, mostly downhill. We hike through small trees but with a very clear, clean understory. The beargrass flowers and lupine are inspiring, a spectacle of white and purple with some yellow flowers I don’t know mixed in. The fragrance after all the rain is sweet and subtle…I want to bottle it and call it some fancy french name. Veargrees.We come across another grouse family. I almost step on one of the chicks in the trail but it is old enough to be able to fly away a short ways. Whew. The mother is not too concerned and we leave them be.
We stop for a break (toilet magic appears out of nowhere) and see Towney blur by on a mission, living up to her name. We make it to the road just as she and Animal are pulling away with a ride.
We get a ride shortly after from an ultra-marathon runner, Theresa. She has just completed her first 50 miler this weekend. We marvel at how we walk marathon distances day after day but I have no desire to ever run that distance, let alone 50 miles.
Town is 30 miles to the north but the time goes by quickly. Theresa drops us off in the middle and I make a quick call to the first hotel. Well, that was easy. There are 300 some bicyclist in town for a tour and everything is booked up, save for one $200 cabin 2 miles outside of town. We had really wanted to just get a room, clean up, and relax since we slept in the park at our last town stop. But just like Lincoln, we have some really bad timing.
There is a Travellers Rest RV park that has tenting, showers, and laundry for $15 but we aren’t even sure that tenting is available. Fortunately the cycling tour has provided a big field nearby for the hundreds of tenting cyclists and there is no one at the RV park, save for all us hikers.
We walk all the way to the Montana Cafe, said to have the biggest portions, and find that it is closed on Sundays and Mondays…both days we are in town. I am already sick of Darby since all we have established is a place to pitch our tents. We walk back to the one restaurant that is open and find Animal, Towney, and Wilder. They have pizza and we sit down to get something.
The place is apparently slammed and they don’t tell us it’s going to be an hour wait for our food. We order wings and burgers, figuring the wings will come out quickly to stave off our hunger. I get preoccupied on my phone while waiting but Relentless gets understandably impatient. He wants to go someplace else but where else is there to go? Finally the food comes out, all at the same time, and the one consolation is that it’s a lot and pretty good.
The RV park turns out to be the best part about town. It is well-managed, clean and efficient. The tenting area is very isolated and away from the road, while the place is close to the dollar and grocery store. I go to get dollar detergent and shampoo, then shower and launder. Then I relax in the lawn area with the rest of the hikers, our crap all strewn out to dry. We of course compare and talk about gear. The winners are Katabatic Gear quilts (3 of 5) and Zpacks tents (4 of 5, the 5th being a replacement of a Zpacks tent while it gets repaired). Then we all go to bed early, like the thru-hikers we are. Exciting day in Darby.