July 29th marked the beginning of a streak of unreal trail magic by Lost’s mom Laurie. She met us as we walked down Sawtelle Peak Road and let us slack pack the last few miles (she took our packs in her car and we skipped down the road feeling light and airy) to Sawtelle, Idaho. Poor Found was feeling sick (he had been for a while now) so we decided to stop at Sawtelle rather than hike another 2 miles further to Mack’s Inn. We dined at a restaurant my dad would have loved: I sat behind a huge poster of Regan and the menu featured “freedom fries” and “W Ketchup.” Kombucha, Hawkeye, Rock Steady & Joker were at Mack’s Inn too and the 11 of us soon demolished the clean and orderly hotel rooms that Trail Angel Laurie had reserved for us. The next day we left in staggered starts… Heaps and DnA still had 20 miles to do by the time we left the post office at Mack’s Inn at 1:30pm. Still, we found time for a dip in Lucky Dog creek, a chat with NoBo Sage and a vista of the most fiery sunset of the trail yet. A bunch of us were doing the “one food challenge” where we only subsisted on one food item for the 38 mile section between Mack’s Inn & Old Faithful. Hawkeye had picked peanut m&ms, Heaps poptarts, Joker Pringles and I had chosen Chex Mix. Everyone fared fine except for Kombucha who was rather traumatized after 24 hours on only Carnation Instant Breakfast.
7/20 – Sunset + Wildflower + Yoga = spectacular that not even mosquitos can kill
Kombucha & Hawkeye
7/21 – We just had 7 easy miles until Bannak Pass where we would hitch into Leadore to resupply. Unfortunately the so-called “highway” we had to hitchhike on was a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. We had heard of hikers waiting hours for a single car to come down the dusty road so we set off with extra food and water, preparing for a long wait. The good thing about a dirt road, though, is that you can see cars coming from a long way off because they create a massive cloud of dust in their wake. As we approached the pass we spied at least 2 duststorms, but they were headed in the wrong direction. When we finally arrived at the dusty turn-around amidst miles of sagebrush a huge white truck was approaching – but once again headed the opposite way. Nevertheless, Found stuck out his thumb and I was surprised the see the truck pull into the pass and hear a familiar voice yell out the window, “Hey hiker trash!”
Classic small town America
It was Wing It & Don’t Panic! They’d just been in Leadore and had gotten a ride back to the pass from the town sheriff and hotel owner. He was just dropping them off and then heading back to Leadore – unbelievable! Giddy with our good fortune we piled in and soon arrived at Leadore which consists of a handful of houses and trailers, 2 conveniance stores, 1 restaurant, a post office and a rodeo stadium/park/campground.I love these little towns! They make it so much easier to relax! We camped at the rodeo combo area and despite some crazy western weather (simultaneous rain, sun, clouds) we enjoyed a lovely campfire with s’mores and a cozy nights rest in our hubba hubba tent.
The Continental Divide recently (which is also the southern Montana/Idaho border) has often been rolling hills and gorgeous wildflowers. For a while we enjoyed the glistening snowy Lemhi Mountain Range to our west….. Idaho and Montana have so many undiscovered mountain ranges….. exploring them has definitely been added to our to-do list.
7/16 – 7/20 We journeyed through the Beaverhead Mountains which were a delightful alpine surprise. Unfortunately our time up high among the rock and ice was limited and some of the trail took us to viewless woodland where we were voraciously attacked by bloodthirsty mosquitos. Thankfully Deet saved the day!
We also saw 5 bears! One afternoon we spied a cinnamon Black Bear and her 2 cubs swimming in a river we were crossing a few hundred yards down. We starled them and they scampered across the meadow but we got a good look at them (and some in our group got photos!) Another time Candyman (Dan) & Hawkeye heard a strange scratching noise and then saw it was coming from a tiny black bear cub as it scampered high up a pine tree. We immediately looked for mama bear, who thankfully was further away, but quite worried about her baby. She kept standing up on two legs to look for him until we backed away and baby scampered back to mama. These sightings were spectacular because we were far away enough to be safe but close enough to get a good look and most importantly, we never came between mama & baby – which can be a dangerous situation!
7/13 – Joker gets attacked by a mountain. Perhaps the Anaconda mountains aren’t too different from their namesake town after all….
Not enough time to tell the whole story but check out the damage:
Nevertheless Joker survived and thrived and looked more hard-core than ever.
7/14 – We entered Idaho for the first time! But we couldn’t say good-bye to Montana yet. The Continential Divide forms both our trail and the southern Idaho/Montana border so until we arrive in Wyoming we’ll be constantly going back and forth between the two states.
DnA, Rock Steady, Joker, Kombucha & Hawkeye
After a stealth-camp at Lost Trail Pass we hitched south into Salmon, Idaho for a ZERO day on July 15th. There we discovered a true gem – the Odd Fellows Bakery where they bake artisan bread and amazing baked goodies (cibatta, three cheese bread with arugula, muffins, scones and cookies galore) in a brick oven + have dreamy fair trade coffee + location in awesome old rowhouse. They even have challenges where you can win free bread……. this week’s was climb a mountain a build a snowman. So here we are:
Can we have more of that heavenly bread now???