July 19th, 2019
Mm 732 to Bannock Pass/HWY 29 mm 747, then ride to Leadore
Distance in miles: 15
I mosey on down the trail in the morning, excited to end this long segment and eat a ton of food in town. But I worry about where Relentless is, coordinating a ride from the pass, and all the other logistics. My plan is just to get to the pass and see what happens. Is that even a plan?
I run into a NOBO, Bearbait, early on. We have the usual chat about water sources, who is ahead and behind, etc. He has not seen Relentless ahead, so I conclude he must be behind. The trail winds through a bunch of sagebrush all morning and the wind is blowing pretty fierce. I struggle to stay warm once I have shed some layers.
There is an old log fence that I travel alongside for miles. I guess it separates Idaho and Montana…don’t want cows from 2 different states intermingling. It’s nice company while I listen to some podcasts. It is so peaceful out here. Just me and the fence. There are also tons of wildflowers…it looks like fruity pebbles (the cereal) were sprinkled everywhere.
I arrive at historic Bannock Pass, a place where the Nez Perce native Americans retreated while being pursued hundreds of years ago. There is nothing but wind and rolling hills of sagebrush. I try to take shelter behind a sign but it offers almost no shade and little protection from the wind. I would hate to be stuck here for long. I am torn. Should I try to get a ride if a vehicle comes by? Or wait to see who else shows?
Shortly a guy in a pickup arrives and it’s Sam, shuttle driver and owner of the Leadore Inn. Then I see Animal and Towney coming down the hill. Perfect timing. But they haven’t seen Relentless. If he was behind, they should have passed him. But I can’t do anything more but take the ride into town. Sam is a great tour guide and points out the relevant features along the way.
We arrive in town and there is Relentless sitting on Sam’s porch. As I suspected, he did pass me while I was collecting water at the spring and never saw my pack on the side of the trail. He walked 34 miles the day before and got into town by 10 am this morning. He thought I was ahead the whole time, at least until he didn’t find me in town. This is a common scenario among hiking partners: one thinking that the other is ahead, walking farther than planned, only to realize later that the other person was behind all along. We decipher a lot of clues from each others footprints but this isn’t always a foolproof method.
There are no hurt feelings between us though, as we’re both independent and competent hikers capable of surviving on our own. That’s the nice thing about hiking buddies that you meet on the trail. You find that your hiking styles match well but we still maintain very carefree, non-reliant relationships. This is in contrast to those that start a trail together, being dependent on one another but finding that their paces are not synced.
In other news, the name Leadore is simply a combination of lead and ore, from the town’s mining roots. If you find that simplistic, it is in following with the town’s makeup. There is one restaurant, the Silver Dollar, one general/convenience store, a library, post office, fire department, and Sam’s inn (4 rooms) and RV park. A lonely highway runs through the center. Trucks and RVs pass through occasionally. Along with some houses, that’s about the size of it. Population around 90 to 100, depending on which sign you read on the highway at either end of the city limits.
I first check to see that all my packages have arrived at Sam’s and they have! I can’t wait to put on my new shoes and socks. We then have lunch at the restaurant. The food is a bit pricey and just ok. The place is…interesting. You just have to experience it yourself. We also check out the store, having a light dinner there. I get the hot dog special for $4, which includes chips and a drink. I feel really full after this but we still go back to the restaurant in the late evening. I was hoping for pie but they only have one kind so we get an appetizer. Everything appears as if it’s come out of a package. We’d be just as well off getting stuff at the store, I think.
Afterwards, I sit on Sam’s porch, talking to his friends until it gets dark. He even has a porch swing and I can’t resist chillin’ on it. Sam waves at every passing vehicle. It’s just what you do in Leadore. If one were inclined, you could also go ground-squirrel-blasting with his brother. He says he kills hundreds to thousands at a time.
I try to go to sleep but I don’t feel well. I feel anxious and then nauseated, wondering if I might have eaten something bad. I opted to tent on Sam’s lawn rather than get a room, so there is also some outside noise. A couple arrive around 11 pm, go towards their room, and the lady remarks several times “someone’s trying to sleep in a tent right here!” Trying is the operative word. It sounds as though my tent is the most amazing and/or offensive thing she’s ever seen. Hey lady, this is my house! Ha ha. Finally I drift off and get a little bit of sleep.