Posts Tagged ‘Chaps’

Lima Montana has a motel, a restaurant, a bar, and a gas station. That’s it. And it was such a great zero.
It started when The Darkness, Easily Distracted, and I were walking along the trail, which happened to be a Frontage Road next to I-15, and a truck pulls over on the interstate, honks, and a guy shouts:
“Wanna ride to Lima? Hop that fence and jump in!”

None of us had cell service, but Scallywag apparently did when he decided to take some sort of farm road that could potentially be a short cut if it didn’t disappear before it intersected the road again.

As we jumped over the fence, two hikers jump out of the truck and offered to help throw our packs in the back. They were two crazy nobos, Karma and Maniac.

We all pulled in, drove down the interstate, found Scallywag, threw him in the back, and drove to Lima.
When we got into town, we were informed that there was a town wide power outage. Hungry, we went to the restaurant, Jan’s, and they still fed us despite the power outage.

The power did come back on and we went to camp by the motel. It had a neat fire pit with some swing benches. The owner said to feel free to make a fire later.

A massive amount of hikers were in town. Some had been in town and we’re heading back out like Hiker Box, Heartbreaker, Lint, Patches, and Grapenut. Others had come in around the same time we did like the Swiss Couple, Memphis, Shortstack, Action, Leah, and Andy.

We did the usual laundry and shower routine, then found some beer.

That progressed over to the one bar in town which also let you grill your own 16oz. steak. Conveniently, and maybe not so conveniently for the locals, it also had a jukebox which we found very entertaining.

Planning to leave mid morning, we slowly got our stuff together, but kept finding stuff to do. Then the shuttle came back bringing in Tails, Chaps, Jeff, and Blue Jay.

Since we hadn’t seen Tails and Chaps for a long time, we sat and talked to them and then magically an 18 rack of beer appeared. After one beer, we still thought we were leaving. After the second beer, we began wavering. Then around the time beer number three got cracked, we found out that the elementary school had a pool open to the community for free between one and four pm.

Once in the pool, after several very entertaining chicken matches, we decided we weren’t going anywhere till the next day. We also found great old metal playground equipment.

The pool did indeed tire us out and we needed more food, so we went back to the bar, grilled steaks, I picked the cheese off of the side salads and we terrorized the jukebox some more. We even met the mayor who was quite intoxicated.

In the morning, we needed some water and breakfast at Jan’s before heading back to the trail.

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After we found a room for six people and a dog, the route debate began. Do we want to take the newly rebuilt trail Butte route or do we take the Anaconda cutoff? The Darkness and I threw our cards saying we wanted to take the cutoff which would give us four days of wiggle room for bad weather later in the trail. Scallywag held tough on Butte because it was newly built trail and therefore avoided a bit of road walking. He, however, had to go against me, The Darkness, and Easily Distracted.
Scallywag: “Is this what marriage feels like?! All of you are giving me puppy dog eyes!”

Me: ” No, this is what polygamy feels like…”

Scallywag: “I’ve been practicing the wrong religion the whole time!”

Tails: “If it makes you feel better, we can flip to a random page in the bible and see what it says…where is it? These motels always have one…”

Scallywag: “The atheists used it to prop open the window…”

Tails: * grabs bible and puts in something else to hold the window * ” Ommmmmmmmmm”

Scallywag: “Wrong religion Tails….”

Tails: “Oops!” * Throws bible so it flips to a random page upside down and reads * “…feet will be beaten…”

E.D: “So…the Anaconda route…”
The debate lasted that night and into the next morning when the Anaconda route won, in part because of the Sir Mix-a-lot song. 
After the debate came to a conclusion, we went to resupply. I had called the Helena post office and despite the 3 day delivery on priority mail, the package had not come. Therefore, I went to resupply at the grocery store. This took me awhile because I’m more accustomed to the amazing, awesome, wonderful, complete packages my resupply logistician mother sends, including home baked vegan cookies.
The Darkness and I managed to leave town early-ish by getting a ride with Alejandro in a BMW…first time I’ve been picked up in one of those!

At the trailhead, The Darkness and I stayed for a moment putting on sunscreen, braiding hair, and wondering how we got a ride within five minutes.
We headed down the trail and about a mile in, we meet Tom. This conversation was so intriguing that The Darkness and I threw down our packs, sat on them, and listened.
Tom had a thick Brooklyn accent.
Tom: “I just brought Hatchet and Hot Lips to the trail and hiked a few miles out with them; they were heading to Butte next.”

Me: “So, she’s embracing her name finally…”

Tom: “Well…she was in the post office and I asked Sarah what their trail names were and Sarah told me she was going by Hatchet now, then she giggled and said Jo was going by Hot Lips. But when she came out of the post office, I said, ‘Get everything sent off, Hot Lips?’ And she turned to Sarah and yelled a lot saying she was trying to go by Yukon, but that didn’t make any sense. Then I tried to delicately explain the MASH reference because she’s…well…sensitive…that there were doctors and nurses in the Korean War and they, uhh, got together. She didn’t like it any better, but I kept calling her it anyway.”
The conversation continued in several directions. Don’t forget the Brooklyn accent. One was:
Tom: “Let me tell you girls a short bio. I grew up in Brooklyn, went to college at Carot College in Helena and never left.”

The Darkness: “Wow, that was short.”
The conversation proceeded and as we sat there, the stories got more entertaining. We had to slow ourselves down to allow the others to get out of town and catch up anyway, so we kept listening and prompting more stories. The Brooklyn accent is important for this one…
The Darkness: “Have you ever been to Loggers Days in Darby? We think we’ll be there then by a fluke.”

Tom: “Loggers Days! Let me tell you about Loggers Days! I had this girlfriend at the time, Claudia. We were at a bar and she was playing this machine that she really liked. Then the bartender tells me one of the loggers was looking at my girlfriend. He was a big, mean guy. Claudia was a gymnast and had these little short shorts. I said, ‘Claudia, we gotta get outta here!’ But she didn’t wanna leave! I had to practically drag her out by her hair! That’s Loggers Days!”
After half an hour and hearing about Monica, too, we went our separate ways and The Darkness and I reenacted bits and pieces of the conservation with our attempts at the Brooklyn accent. We went about nine miles to the second water source, and the first one with a flat spot and set up camp.
We knew the others would have to be in town for chores longer, but the spread out town had taken them awhile to traverse. This allowed us to sleep in, which was pleasant.
The Darkness: “I heard you get up and I was worried you weren’t sleeping in, then I realized that you weren’t taking down your tent. That meant that you were pooping and I had ten more minutes to doze.”
Tails, Chaps, and Skeeter caught us right as we were finishing packing up. The four of us headed down the trail wondering how far out E.D and Scallywag got.
When we were lagging at a water source around 11am, up they came! Within the first few minutes, we had updated each other on all the bowel movements we’d missed being separated for 24 hours. They had gotten up at 5am and powered through to try and catch us.
Most of the day went through the woods of Montana, small ups and downs, lots of lodgepole pines, meadows and small streams. Then the sky got darker and darker. Wait…it’s only five pm…it’s supposed to get dark in four hours…
All six of us sat by a water source which was marked as a spring, but it looked gross. Seeing a stream in two miles, most us just planned to keep going with a half liter or so and fill up at a better source, but Chaos and Tails were out. Chaps scooped up four liters of it into the dirty bag for the gravity filter and hung it in a tree.
Scallywag: “Now that’s done discolored water!”

Chaps: “It looks like something you’d take out of the toilet at Oktoberfest…”

The Darkness: “You could not have said anything more German…”
Right as the sprinkles were getting to the point that rain gear needed to get thrown on, we ran into Momma Bear and Monkey going nobo for a big section: all of Montana. We chatted while we waterproofed everything. Luckily, I only had to waterproof myself because my pack consists of just a dry bag. Worked fantastically and all my stuff was dry.
This storm was not just a passing shower, it was rain that was settling in for the long haul. My rain skirt trash bag worked great. I cut the bottom open and used the draw strings around the waist.
We hiked for several hours in the rain. It wasn’t quite as drenching as east coast rain, but it was enough that everything was wet.
Then, we looked at the map. We could go toward the Little Blackfoot Creek or go almost to the top of Thunderbolt Mountain. While hiking in the rain with the occasional thunder rumble, going to the top of something called Thunderbolt just did not seem smart.
We hiked toward the Little Blackfoot and ended up finding a flat-ish spot to camp near a side stream. We had to clear a few blowdowns and place our tents right next to each other, but we found enough space. Tails and Chaps ended up putting their tent in the middle of the trail.
It rained most of the night. I woke up around five…still raining. Rolled over. I woke up a little after six…still raining. Rolled over. I woke up just before seven…still raining. Damn…I have to pee! Reluctantly, I got up and went, then dove straight back into my sleeping bag. The whole world was wet. My sleeping bag was nice and dry and warm. We all began reluctantly getting ready, eating breakfast and trying to find excuses to stay in our tents.
Finally, the time came when we had nothing else to do in our tents and we had to get out, pack them up, then hike on brushing up against all the wet grasses bending over into the trail. Luckily, it was mostly just dripping off the trees and not actually raining. That helped.

That day, we went past some dilapidated cabins in a place called “Leadville” on the map. Disappointed that there was no porch to sit on, we sat on some ruins and took advantage of the sun break to dry our tents.
The sun break was unfortunately short lived and succumbed to a rain shower, forcing us to hike on. We passed some interesting trail signs pointing to “trails” that didn’t exist.
Easily Distracted: “It’s like they just put up a sign and said, oh we’ll build the trail later.”
That evening, we camped at the four corners where the Anaconda and Butte routes split. We made a nice little campfire.


At the four corners.

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E.D (Easily Distracted): “Can you just walk around Lincoln with open containers? Like Montana had open carry?”Local lady with a tall boy in her hand: “On the fourth of July you can in Lincoln!”

Me: “Maybe it’s the same as sticking a lawn chair in the back of your pick up and calling it extra seating…”
Spending the fourth of July in Lincoln, Montana was an experience indeed. We found other hikers at the breakfast spot: S.O.L, Andrew, Wagon Wheel, Raven, Grits, and Bird Dog. Every room in Lincoln was booked and people from all over seemed to converge on this tiny thousand person town.
We found a singular shower at an RV park and camping there for about $8. Deal. Then we found a laundromat at the trailer park which had a broken coin machine that said “not working yet.”
After having some beer, we hung out in our little tent city in the RV park. We found Tails, Chaps, and their dog Skeeter. Hot Springs hitched up from Helena to join the festivities and take advantage of cheap camping.
Our big crew did go to enjoy the fireworks show that seemed to be the talk of the town. They started around 9:15 or so and we found a comfortable spot on some grass. When it seemed to end, we mentioned how good it was and a local said, “That was just the amateur show, the real one’s going to start in a few minutes at 11pm!”
Then bam! Way larger and grander fireworks burst into the sky. Holy shit, she was right!!
When we migrated back to the RV park well after hiker midnight, we realized the owners had turned on their sprinklers to water their lawn…and some of our tents…and Patch’s sleeping bag which he had set up to cowboy camp. Luckily, the bag didn’t soak completely through and he had time to dry it out fully the next day. Damn lawns.
After lounging all morning and repacking food bags, The Darkness and her boyfriend Mikhail showed up and gave us a ride back up to Rogers Pass. Of course, on the way up, it began to rain and visibility decreased consistently.
We popped out of the car and threw on rain gear, debating our decision to leave town in the rain.
With a two thousand foot climb out of the pass, we entered the rain and migrated up. We all went our separate ways with our heads down. I had to take off my rain gear because it was too hot to climb in it and it was only misting. Right before I left the trees, I threw the rain gear back on and suddenly realized I was on a ridge. That was it? The climb’s over? I checked Guthook. I was indeed on top of the ridge. Cool.
I proceeded at the pace in which I could keep the rain gear on and not sweat. Sometimes this meant pausing more, sometimes it meant speeding up. The visibility ranged from about 20-50 feet and the trail bounced up and down along what looked like a cool ridge. Once or twice I realized I was close to a cliff to the east, but couldn’t see how far down it went. The wind was gusty, but I could still walk straight, so it couldn’t have been over 30mph gusts.
I caught up to The Darkness and she made multiple references to The Exorcism in relation to the current weather. We ran into a nobo section hiker named Rambler who told us that an Israeli guy named Ronnie was ahead of us. Then The Darkness got ahead of me when I had to pee.
Later on, I ran into a dude with a large pack and poncho facing north, mumbling to himself, and examining an iPad. Hmmmm.
Me: “Are you Ronnie?”

Ronnie: “Yes, how do I know you?”

Me: “The section hiker said you were ahead.”

Ronnie: “Ah yes, well this is supposed to be all downhill to Fletcher’s Pass and yet we are going up.”

Me: “It’s never all downhill.”
I passed Ronnie who seemed like he was in a bad mood from the weather and the terrain, but he kept trying to talk as I got further and further away.
Eventually, I got down to the pass and was evaluating where I had to go off trail for water when Ronnie started yelling from the other side of the pass. I decline to answer until he reaches a point where he doesn’t have to scream and he said he’d go get both of us water if I’d  watch the packs. Deal.
Then Patch came down and Ronnie started mumbling again about how getting water for three people was too hard and we should get Patch to get us all water because he was tall. I didn’t quite see the logic in that, and Ronnie bolted down the road with his water containers and mine, leaving Patch.
A beat up old car pulls up and a guy named Rick leans out the window.
Rick: “Y’all want some water?”

Patch: “Yes, please!”
We began chatting with Rick and he had a mouthful to say about Ronnie.
Rick: “If he woulda just talked to me, I woulda gave him water, but he don’t wanna talk.”
When Ronnie got back, he saw Patch getting water from him, passed me my water and mumbled a lot. The Darkness came up for water and made a nice exit from the strangeness. Tails, Chaps, and Skeeter came down to join the road party as well.
Finally, we migrated to a trailhead with a privy and hastily set up tents, ate dinner, and promptly feel asleep. 13 miles of cold and wet tired us all out. It didn’t help that we hit the trail at 2:30pm either.
The next morning was overcast with glimpses of sun. Our tents, jackets, and pants were all soaked, so we took a lazy morning to mostly dry them out.
While we used the sun as a dryer, out popped S.O.L and Andrew who wanted to dry out while they waited for Wagon Wheel to hitch back.

We knew there was a privy with a trash can we could hit around lunch, so we aimed for that.

Tails: “People are going to work right now and excited about TV and things…and we’re excited about a privy…”

Me: “And a trash can!”

The day went slowly as we proceeded through the low water area switching between trail and dirt forest service roads. We did find a good spring about 15 miles in and we knew we’d dry camp later that night, so we packed out more water than usual after cameling up.
We made it another few miles before finding a sweet little meadow before a big climb to camp in which would hold all of our tents. We had a small tent city going already, then Wagon Wheel joined us, which meant we had dinner music as he played his backpacking guitar.


The meadow campsite

Deciding that we couldn’t be lazy three days in a row, we got up at 5am and were on trail by 6am. The first climb went quickly and I ran into Andrew up on the ridge trying to order new shoes from Zappos and attempting to explain wool toe socks to the customer service lady.

The vertebrae Christmas tree

The first 11 or so miles were up and down along a beautiful ridge. I did find a dead tree full of vertebrate in one of the meadows that swallowed the trail. Often the trail disappears into meadows and reappears on the other side somewhere.
The climbs on the ridge after we were already on top were to get around really neat cliff bands. On the last downhill, descending off the ridge, we found Dana Spring aka dead squirrel water. We had to drink some though. We treated it. It had a slightly funky smell.
We had two options: follow dirt forest service roads for 14 miles or for 10 miles. We opted for 10 miles. It did have one funky intersection which Ley identified and had a helpful note about. The water there was all contaminated with cow shit. Dead squirrel water or cow shit water.
Scallywag and I waited at Priest’s Pass for The Darkness, E.D, Tails, and Chaps. When they didn’t come after we cooked and ate for an hour, we pushed on another few miles and camped with S.O.L, Andrew, and Wagon Wheel five-ish miles from town.
We got up at 5am again to get to town early. At 6am we were off. At 6:30, we were bushwhacking. It was a little too early to be bushwhacking, but it was only about 20 miles of getting scraped and poked.
When we emerged back to the trail, we saw Sarah doing yoga and she excitedly bounced toward us. She got the trail name Hatchet somewhere.
Hot Lips was still rustling in her tent, so as we passed I said loudly, “Morning Hot Lips!!!”
She stopped rustling and didn’t say a word.
By 7:45 we were at McDonald Pass to find a very frustrated Patch who had been unsuccessfully trying to hitch for an hour. With everyone converging on the road, it was difficult with eight of us trying to get rides. Scallywag and I took a two person ride into Helena and began finding a room for all us.

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