July 27th, 2019
Mm 17 to mm 6.5 of Mac’s Inn alternate
Distance in miles: 10.5
I wake up with a pretty bad migraine and am thinking that pushing hard and doing big miles is healthier for me than taking it easy around towns. But we have to slow down these next 2 days because Relentless has a few packages at the PO in Old Faithful Village, Yellowstone, and it doesn’t open until Monday. This is the problem with having to mail stuff to a PO…inevitability your unpredictable schedule will land you there on the 1 or 2 days it’s closed.
I try to sleep in but can’t. So I get up to hang out in the fancy hotel lounge. So many people are coming and going that no one notices me. Relentless brings me some coffee from the nearby grocery and we try to figure out what to do. It’s about 38 miles to the Village and we can’t just show up to camp. Being in a National Park, there are limited options. We need a permit to camp in designated places and undoubtedly, any other accommodation has been booked a few years out and is exceedingly expensive. It’s tough when our freedom to camp just about anywhere in the past month is again restricted.
We know we don’t want to spend another night in the noisy and crowded RV park so we pack our things. My friends left a bunch of half-used fuel canisters to give away to other hikers but there is no hiker box around. We met a nice guy in an RV yesterday so we take them over to him. David is visiting with his family from Utah and is involved with scouts, so the fuel is useful to him. Furthermore, he knows about thru-hiking and offers to help in any way.
To make use of some extra time and food, I decide to send a resupply box ahead to South Pass City. This will save me from having to hitch to Lander while I’m hiking the Great Basin in Wyoming. David offers to drive me 2 miles to the nearby PO and back and I’m most grateful because it has begun to rain. Another trail angel to the rescue.
Back at the RV park, we find Samson, who arrived in the morning. We formulate a plan that involves eating more and walking just enough miles to get out of town. I consume another Subway footlong, visit the grocery again, and walk 2 miles to the Mexican restaurant. Spaghetti & Meatballs and Windman join us for a lazy afternoon hikertrash lunch and lounge by the Snake River. It’s sunny again, a beautiful summer day. We eat outside on the deck, watching all the kayakers, SUPs, swimmers and fishermen. Once again, I feel like I’m on vacation. I am on vacation…from my job of hiking marathon plus distances every day.We lounge some more on the riverside, where conveniently there’s an ice cream stand. I had entertained the idea of renting a kayak to go for a float on this day, but I’m more content eating ice cream while sitting in a chair. In fact, I have 2 ice cream cones. Ah, the life.
By 4 pm, we get antsy. I wish that we could camp in the grass right by the river but the restaurant people probably don’t want a hikertrash camp springing up in their backyard. They get plenty of business from the hordes of tourists. We (Relentless, Samson, and I) mosey along the road out of town, shying away from the endless stream of weekend traffic. There is no shoulder on the road. It’s just a small side road but a major thoroughfare today because it leads to the put-in on the river.
There’s also the major phenomenon of rental ATVs in this area. On this day, many are being driven recklessly by people that appear to be quite young. I wonder how many accidents occur on a regular basis. Little dirt roads lead everywhere and they are streaming around like ants. I just don’t get the appeal of such dusty, noisy things. But then, as a mainly self-powered hobbyist, I have an inherent bias against such sport vehicles. When kayaking, I also abhor jetskies.
We turn off onto a much quieter dirt road and the sky begins to darken behind us. Another line of thunderstorms have moved into the area and it looks like we are going to get pelted. We find a campsite near a stream but worry that it’s too easy of access to the road…we don’t want to get run over by an ATV overnight. We move on, accepting that we are going to get rained on while we walk. Idaho gives us even more of a farewell with hail and close flashes of lightning. But it’s pretty easy walking down a road in a thunderstorm at this point. We are Montanaho Strong.
The rain lets up just as we find an awesome old logging road that has been blocked by a road dig. A huge hole looks to have been dug by an excavator, with the tailings piled high to create a dirt wall. Many roads have been blocked in this manner. We think we will be safe overnight and it’s dead quiet. I’m so looking forward to a peaceful night.