The next section was going to be a long one – 160 miles, including some alternate routes and bushwacks – so that meant lots of food and HEAVY packs. But it was bound to be worth it…. coming up was the Wind River Range!
Joker joined Team 3D and we enjoyed three days of ridge walking, mostly in gentle rolling hills reminiscent of the Yorkshire Dales (complete with cows in the lowlands). But the most remarkable thing about this section was the weather. Montana truly is “Big Sky” country and the sky is always doing something. We had intense cobalt blue skies, stratus clouds, cumulus clouds, cumulonimbus clouds, rain, wind, hail, sunshine and often all of the above at the same time. There were times when the sky became so dark and ominous you thought a tornado was on the way, only to the clouds lift 5 minutes later to unleash weather hot & humid enough to be Virginia. We had apocalyptic thunder and lightning storms that whipped tarps down and snapped stakes (but not the Hubba Hubba), we had plump rain drops fall under bright sunshine as vibrant rainbows shimmered. The sky is always doing something and we learned that usually that something is whatever you least expect.
July 2nd we arrived in Helena, the capital city of Montana. The whole day was soon eaten away by chores… this was supposed to be our first ZERO DAY ( a day when you walk 0 trail miles) but it sure didn’t feel like one when we walked about 5 miles around town. So we decided to stay at our quirky Lamplighter cottage one more night. Plus the other group had arrived in Helena too and their hotel has a hot tub!
Day 92 So upon arriving at Echo Lake Resort on the morning of June 26th the talk was all about Michael Jackson’s recent death. So tragic. He was a troubled and strange man but there’s no denying his musical genius. But re-uniting with Oklahoman Adam eased our mourning. He was there sorting out re-supply along with big foot Lenny, Rogue, Frisbee and Highlander & Gingersnap, two friends from Massachusetts. We enjoyed some good chill-axing before hitching a ride into South Lake Tahoe from a super-nice couple from Quincy who’d hiked the PCT in the 90s.
There we made a bee-line to Baja Fresh where we ate gallons of salsa, then got some food from the supermarket for our Zero Day at a family friend’s condo by Heavenly Ski Resort.
Now all we had to do was get our packs, the ridiculous amount of groceries we’d just purchased and ourselves to the condo a few miles away. Since it was way too much to carry, we decided our best bet was to load it all into a shopping cart and push the trolley up the hill. We were in the middle of loading up the shopping card for our hobo hike when the Quincy couple returned and said they’d give us a lift. The kindness of strangers!
Having a whole condo to ourselves was LUX! After eating & showering we planted our a$$es on the couch to eat dozens of enormous soft-baked cookies, drink Corona and watch Sister Act.
I know why they call this place Heavenly.