A swift kick in the butte

DELMOE LAKE, Deerlodge NF, MT

From high up, the city of Butte, MT looks as if someone grew tired of some huge mining operation and decided to plant a city. Ringed by mountains, some of which have been sliced to a 90 degree angle by mining, Butte sprawls across a flat, shadeless basin. I arrived in Butte on the morning of the 12th via overnight bus from Billings. I dozed most of the way in the half-sleep which is the best I can do on moving-things. The landscape changed in moonlit increments from pancake flat plains to evergreen-studded hills. Finally, at 5:30AM the bus driver announced “Welcome to Butte, the unpolished gem of Montana!” Unpolished indeed.
I’m not too superstitious, but when it comes to hitch hiking, I’m keen to the mood around me. Getting out of Butte to the trailhead was perhaps the longest hitch of my life. Several hours of hot shadeless roadwalk. I was passed up by every sort of car, even a US Forest Service truck. (wtf, guys?)

I was not, however, very surprised. In Butte I realized I had left my credit card at the Denver airport. As I was calling to cancel, a woman maybe in her 70s grabbed a ziploc bag out of my grocery cart while my back was turned and started pulling out the cash inside. (ummm, can I help you? Wtf, lady?) While putting down pancakes and coffe at the restaurant-slash-slot parlor (Butte has a ton of these) later that morning the same lady walked in and started playing the nickel slots. So is it a surprise I had a hard hitch? Nope. Actually, the man who eventually gave me a ride said that there was a folk festival in Butte recently. Read-lots of interesting people wandering the streets. The cityfolk had had enough I guess.

Hiking has been, well, hiking. Trail through here so far has been half forest service road and dry with a nice view or two. Hips are sore, but otherwise I feel pretty good.

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