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Posts Tagged ‘Wagon Wheel’

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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