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Posts Tagged ‘privy’

After noting the location of the fifty cent soda machine as a GPS waypoint, we quickly found pizza and beer, then headed to the house of some trail angels in Eureka, Nikki and Jeremy. They graciously let us shower and sleep in their unfinished basement that evening.

In the morning, we began the usual chores cycle including laundry, resupplying, general laziness, watching The Princess Bride, and another trip to the post office to send some unnecessary snow stuff home.

We topped off Eureka with a visit to the brewery whereby we had some delicious brews and a rousing game of checkers. Jeremy showed us an old rails to trails way to meet up with the PNT instead of walking seven road miles. It also conveniently lead to a bar seven miles in.

Rails to Trails

The next day we meandered along the old railroad trail talking about nothing and everything. One topic was graying hair.

Coyote: I wonder which goes grey first…the top of your head or your pubes.

ED: In my observations, the pubes are the last part to go gray.

Everyone stares.

ED: I take care of old people for a living…

We camped near the lake that night, waking up to rain at 3:30am, and upon seeing crappy weather, hitched back into town for another zero. Our hitch laughed at our story.

Wendy: Well, no good story starts with “I ate a salad…”

In the morning, we got a ride back to where we hitched from and walked the road over to Webb mountain. We still had quite a few rounds of thunderstorms to contend with that day. Right before we hit the trail, we had to cross Lake Koocanusa on a bridge. Naturally, we hopped underneath it to eat lunch.

Right as we were finishing, we looked across the lake to the rumbling thunder of a storm coming quickly straight toward us.

Crosby: Ohhh…

ED: That’s moving right at us…

Me: We could wait this one out…

Karma: It’s not wet in the middle, let’s clear it out.

Crosby: We could read some Lisa Jackson and find out about the illegitimate children.

Under the bridge chilling.

We sat under the bridge while Crosby read us two more chapters. He even had separate voices for each character, including a raspy one for Gina, the protagonist.

When the storm ceased, we started climbing up Webb Mountain finding a few Juneberries and tons of huckleberries. Half way up, another storm started and Crosby found a neat little overhang to hide under.

With many huckleberry stops, we eventually reached the top to a locked lookout tower. We could see a huge amount of the lake, including the bridge we hunkered under. We also saw the next storm coming in.

Since the lookout tower was locked, all five of us moved into the privy to wait that one out.

Me: This will smell great…

Crosby: All I smell are the Fritos you’re eating.

That storm passed quickly and we kept hiking. We were heading to Boulder Lake to camp, but stopped at a stream to cook to prevent the food smell from being near our campsite. On the way, we passed a white pick up truck with several piles of used toilet paper underneath.

While we were eating, a group of five gun toting, cowboy hat wearing Montanans walked up.

Cowboy 1: Where y’all camping tonight?

Coyote: A bit further down the trail. How far did you all go?

Cowboy 2: All the way to the lake.

(Only 0.9 miles further…)

Karma: Nice, we were thinking of heading there.

Cowboy 1: We were fishing there, all you will have to do is throw some wood on our fire and it’ll blaze right up.

Our not fish gutted campsite.

All of us exchanged uncomfortable glances. None of us liked the idea of them having fished, cooked, and left a fire smoldering. Moreover, given their used toilet paper under the truck, we suspected that they probably left fish guts everywhere too, a major bear attractant.

We ended up going another quarter mile to put distance between our cook site and their fish guts, finding a flatish spot and camped in time for another chapter of the trashy romance novel.

In the morning, we woke up, packed up, and continued onward. None of us were really feeling it and decided to attempt a short cut down an unmaintained trail to some old logging roads to get to Yaak, Montana.

We should have taken the fact that we had trouble identifying which unmaintained trail to take as a sign, but once we found it, we went for it. Of course, it was slightly off from two sets of maps and Gaia.

The first half mile of this three mile short cut was fine. Slightly overgrown, a few blowdowns, but fine. Then it got less and less traily and we saw some really old stumps leftover from logging. Eventually, we popped out on a really old “road” that no one could drive on anymore. At this point, we could not find the unmaintained trail at all, so we opted for the “roads.” This track supposedly dropped into a bigger road which would connect to the trail later on, slightly longer than the original three miles.

After bushwhacking down the “road” for about twenty minutes through thick Adler stands that were at the prefect height to smack all of us perpetually in the face, we paused.

Crosby: Veggie, when are we going to hit that first service road?

Me: Ummm, we’ve been on it for the last ten minutes…

We looked at the maps and decided to continue bushwhacking on the “roads” because at least our feet were clear and we could plow through the Alders with our arms up. Eventually, we reached an option for another “road” that would take us directly back to the trail and we took it. It was slightly easier bushwhacking than the last one, and not long after, we reached the trail, plopped down, and all took large swigs of whiskey.

Hiking down to water, we all examined our options as we munched. We planned to take the Vinal Creek Trail over to a forest service road after that and at that point, our previous short cut might have taken more time than if we’d have stayed on the primary route.

The Vinal Creek Trail was beautiful in contrast. It had old growth cedars, a few thimble berries, a few raspberries, and a few huckleberries. The road was actually a dirt road and Crosby read to us while walking.

We found a stream to cook near and a dirty pull off to camp in that evening. We used the reflective umbrellas near any potential traffic to prevent getting run over.

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As we piled into the Travel Lodge, we dropped our packs, had a beer and went to stuff ourselves full of AYCE Asian medley food. We topped it off with a continuation of a TLC binge.

We hid from the rain in the motel room which was conveniently next to a Wal-Mart. At one point, we gave up on relying on our shells and bought $5 umbrellas. Life instantly became better.

While we looked at the bleak forecast of rain and thunderstorms on and off for days, we browsed the CDT facebook page for information . Patch had just posted very snowy pictures of Cumbres Pass. The rain suddenly looked better and better.

The Mumms came to the motel with our packages and wonderfully gave us a full water report for the upcoming windmills.

Easily Distracted picking up a tarantula.

In the morning, after breakfast and lunch and a slow meander, we left Grants headed toward the Bonita-Zuni Canyon to cross El Maipais. We found some more tarantulas, used the umbrellas on and off, and we had some entertaining conversations relating to absolutely nothing.

One conversation had gotten pretty in depth between The Darkness, E.D., and Crosby. So in depth, in fact, that they missed the left turn into the next canyon and kept walking.

Wonderer and I were about 200 feet behind them. We yelled. They kept walking. We “cooed.” They kept walking. Wonderer made high pitched noises. They kept walking. I pulled out my phone and called The Darkness.

The Darkness: Are you kidding me? You’re calling me?

Me: You’re going the wrong way.

They all stop.

The Darkness: Really?

Me: Turn around. Wonderer and I are at the turn.

The Darkness: Oh shit. Ok.

They walked toward us. When they got to us, we took the turn and found a good stealth spot for the evening.

The privy. Photo credit: Crosby

In the morning, we wandered toward El Maipais watching the increasing threats of thunderstorms from multiple directions. We got to the edge of the park at lunch, so we began eating lunch at the picnic table while we assessed the possibility of crossing the 7.5 miles of lava in increasingly inevitable thunderstorms. It began to rain. We moved into the privy. All five of us fit in the well-maintained privy. As the storm lightened, two park rangers opened the door and looked extremely confused.

E.D.: Oh sorry, we can hop out. We were hiding from the thunderstorm.

Ranger #1: We just need to clean it quickly.

We all bunched into the overhang outside of the privy and talked to the rangers about how to cross.

Ranger #2: Well that storm will hit you, probably half way across. That storm over the ridge may hit you, it may not. That storm way over there probably won’t hit you. But that main one there looks the biggest, will definitely hit you, and there could be another wave right behind it.

Ranger #1: Six park employees have been struck by lightening here. Two of which were in this parking lot actually.

Ranger #2: There is iron in the lava that attracts the lightening.

Great. Thunder cracked. The rangers left. We moved back into the privy. The rain got heavier than the first storm. Then the hail started. Marble sized hail pelted the ground and filled the increasingly large puddles everywhere. As Wonderer sat on the closed toilet seat eating a jar of jiffy spreadable cheesecake, we watched large lightening bolts hit the lava on the trail.

Wonderer: Why do Americans eat this?

Crosby: No one I know does…

Me: I’ve never seen it before…

The Darkness: Have you seen fluff yet?

E.D.: That looks interesting…

After multiple hours with all five of us in the privy and the weather not improving, we decided to hitch back to Grants. At a break in the storms with more pending, we managed to snag two rides into town and we all piled back into the Travel Lodge.

The Darkness turned on TLC to continue our marathon abilities. Being Sunday, the TLC marathon was sister wives, a worse show than normal. After five hours of sister wives, Wonderer finally spoke up.

Wonderer: What is the plot to this show?

The Darkness: There is no plot…it’s just their lives.

Wonderer: Hmmmm.

E.D.: Yeah…

In the morning, we plotted to wander out again to the other side of the lava to avoid the still present thunderstorms.

Between storms.

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Once we got off of the paved roads and the dirt roads, the CDT became its usual self of being a trail then disappearing, then reappearing, then disappearing. It liked to disappear right around dark and Guthook would just have a note that said, “follow cairns.” Easy enough, usually, in daylight. Tougher with headlamps, but do-able for a bit.

 

Sunset

The CDT hit some amazing ridgelines that offered stunning views and even more stunning sunsets and sunrises. The ridges all soared above treeline, except when we needed to get over to another ridge.

On one such ridgeline, we lost the trail in the dark. After having already lost it and found it several times, we decided to just camp and find it in the morning. According to Guthook and Gaia, we were on trail, but there was no tread. Classic. We were supposed to contour down to a saddle, which would be easier if we could see some tread in the daylight.

Conveniently, the top of that ridge had just enough internet to check the weather. Of course, the prediction: severe thunderstorms starting around noon the next day throughout the afternoon.

I checked the elevation profile on Guthook to see how exposed we’d be. Guthook showed a startlingly steep climb up and over Parkview mountain with about five miles totally exposed. Thrilling.

I switched to Ley’s maps to see the bigger area. He noted a forest service road as a “thunderstorm avoidance route” which was nine miles compared to five, but the dirt road would keep us between 10,000 and 10,600 and still below treeline. If the storm became bad, at least we would have somewhere to hunker down.

We had a solid eight miles or so to the junction which would place us there right before the thunderstorms would probably hit.

Ducking down for the road, we stopped and ate an early lunch while it wasn’t raining. Eating lunch in the rain is the worst. While we sat there and moved multiple bars into easy access places for the storm, an ATV roared up. Atop it sat a hunter completely in camo with a gun on his hip belt and a very large bow strapped to the back. He stopped to chat. The same general hunter/hiker conversation began.

Hunter: “See any elk recently?”

Me: “Not since Wyoming.”

Hunter: “You all have hiked here from Wyoming?!”

Me: “We started in Canada, actually.”

E.D.: “We’re thru-hiking the continental divide.”

Hunter: “So…where’d ya’ll park?”

Memphis: “We don’t have a car…we walked.”

Hunter: “From Canada…”

Memphis: “Yeah…”

Hunter: “So you parked in Canada?”

Memphis: “No…”

Hunter: “hmmph. Where ya going?”

Me: “Mexico.”

Hunter: Blank stare. “Huh.”

After lunch, we walked up the rough dirt road and within fifteen minutes, we had to scramble to throw on rain gear. The rain, which came quick and fast, shifted into hail almost as quickly. Thinking it would only last a few minutes then return to rain, we ducked under a conifer tree. A few minutes went by. The hail continued with equal voracity. Damn. We gave up cover and just walked in it, leaning forward and guarding our hands. The hail stings when it hits exposed skin.

 

Some of the hail.

The hail continued for upwards of half an hour while thunder boomed nearby and we caught occasional flashes of lightening when we weren’t staring at our feet to avoid hail to the face. The storm did let up on the hail, but the rain kept up for about five more hours. We had to keep moving to keep warm; if we stopped, we would become too cold. I kept reminding myself that it could be worse…we could be higher and more exposed through the lightening.

We got back to the trail and crossed a road. Memphis decided that we were camping early because it was his birthday. I came to the conclusion that trail birthdays on the CDT were cursed because of the storm that day and the thundersnow on Scallywag’s birthday.

 

The fog after the rain.

I didn’t particularly want to stop early because I wanted to get over Bowen Pass the next day before any more storms invariably came in to drench us, but it’s hard to argue with the birthday line and it did feel good to lay down.

The next morning, we did have to haul ass to get over to and up the pass with storms forming in the distance. It was a long climb, but not horrendously steep, so with some loud electronic music, it went quickly.

E.D. surged ahead and Memphis took awhile on the downhill. I accidentally scared the shit out of some day hikers who didn’t hear me approach until I said, “Hi” behind them in an attempt to pass.

I found E.D. chilling under a privy porch cooking ramen while it misted. The main storm had passed, but a bit continued now and then. After we called the hostel in Grand Lake, to let them know we’d be coming in a bit late, we trudged through the last few miles where we saw about 25 elk in two groups.

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The border demarcation

Hitting the Wyoming/Colorado border just before sunset, E.D., Memphis, and I ate dinner and celebrated with some Fireball.  We had completed Wyoming in just over three weeks with only one zero in our attempt to speed up and hopefully beat the snow through the San Juans.

The border itself only had a “Wyoming State Line” sign, but other hikers had delineated the border with rocks spelling out “WY” and “CO.”  This also roughly marked our halfway point, which was a scary thought.  We had begun to notice a distinct and steady decrease in daylight already as we headed further south and knew that it would continue the rest of the trip.

We may have hit the Fireball a little hard which decreased our desire to go too much further from the border.  Lucky for us, a great campsite appeared only about 100 ft into Colorado and we dry camped.

In the morning, we happily walked  further into Colorado on the lookout for Frost heading north. We found him not too far into the day and the four of us did the typical stand around and talk number with our packs on. Swapping beta for the next two hundred miles in either direction, we set off toward the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness.

 

Before reaching the wilderness though, we had to walk on some ATV trails on the first day of elk hunting season. I thanked myself for having a blaze orange hiker trash hat and bright orange backpack.

 

Most of the hunters were pretty friendly despite their loud, smelly ATVs.

 

Hunter: “Have you seen any elk lately?”

Me: “In Wyoming…”

Hunter: “My permit doesn’t go that far…and neither does this ATV trail…”

 

I wondered if he’d considered that the elk could probably hear his ATV.

 

Finally, we hit the wilderness boundary and magically, the number of hunters decreased drastically to almost none. Apparently, walking and packing out the rack and meat is too hard for most hunters.

 

As we looked at the wilderness boundary sign, we noticed that there was a mountain named “Big Agnes” and another spot called “Seedhouse.” Thus, we discovered the inspiration for the names of our tents!

 

The Mt. Zirkel Wilderness threw us up quickly toward 12,000 ft near Lost Ranger Peak, then had us stay high above 11,000 ft for quite a few miles. We had gotten a glimpse of the weather forecast part way up and the afternoon showed thunderstorms scheduled to roll in.

 

View from atop Lost Ranger Peak

Making it over Lost Ranger Peak with no storms, we had lunch and kept trucking trying to get over all the 11,000+ ft bumps, but alas, the first storm hit as we were popping over an 11,600 ft bump where there was no cover. Quickly throwing on poor rain gear, we kept going hoping for the best because going back wasn’t any better than going forward.

 

Memphis had gotten ahead of E.D. and I, and we had no idea where he was.

 

The first storm cleared relatively quickly, but others loomed on the horizon as threatening dark blobs of impending discomfort. We began to aim for Buffalo Pass, where we would exit the wilderness and we suspected a privy might exist.

 

About three miles from Buffalo Pass, storms began to merge together blocking out the sun. We found Memphis throwing on rain gear and we all looked warily at the sky. The thunder progressively got louder and the lightening flashes began to get brighter.

 

We were pretty accustomed to getting shit on by the sky, but this storm system seemed to be worse than usual. Needing to get lower, we sped up as we plunged down toward Buffalo Pass, fingers crossed for a privy.

 

About a mile away and the gap between the thunder and the lightening had shortened to about five seconds. E.D. had shot ahead and I began jogging, using my trekking poles to both propel myself forward and also prevent myself from face planting on the rocks.

 

Three second gap from flash to boom.

 

Two second gap.

 

PRIVY! E.D. peered out from the side of it, watching for us. I bee-lined for it and jumped under the covered, overhanging area. Some shelter is better than no shelter. Lightening kept lighting up the sky and the rain began to pour sideways. Memphis popped in and the three of us watched the storm from the privy while cooking dinner.

 

Eventually, the thunder and lightening eased up, but the rain continued in varying amounts and angles.

 

Near the end of our dinner, a large SUV pulled up into the parking lot and four Texans got out. They looked confused and began setting up their tent right next to their massive vehicle on the gravel. But…they didn’t know how to set it up. And…they did not seem too friendly. After an amusing twenty minutes of watching them fail to set up their tent, one walked over to us and scowled.

 

Texan: “What’re y’all doin’?”

Memphis: “Getting out of the storm…”

Texan: “Well, I drove 1,500 miles to get here”

We all exchanged glances.

Memphis: “I walked 2,000 miles…we’re just in the overhang eating dinner.”

Texan: “Well, ya can’t camp in a public shitter!”

 

Riiiight. The Texan subsequently went and took a very loud, twenty minute shit. We stood in the overhang and cleaned out our dinner pots and discussed options for dealing with the rest of the storm that seemed to be subsiding a bit. I took every opportunity to burp while the Texan occupied the privy. Memphis just fumed about.

 

We could all agree that we didn’t want to camp close to those idiots, so we waited for the rain to stop, then went toward the lake and found a spot to camp in the trees.

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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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