I can imagine that going back through a time machine feels a little like going from town to the trail. One night we’re eating Montana beef burgers and homemade pizza with red wine at the Kowalski’s, the very next night we’re tumbling out of someone’s minivan at the top of a pass, hurrying to set up a tent in a scratchy patch of pine needles and cones before it’s too dark to see. This sort of dramatic change on our first night back on the CDT made it seem to me like April and I visited Helena months ago even though it was only a day before.
I’ll explain the subject line of this entry. There is a certain degree of balance that the CDT seems to try and maintain. I lost some sunglasses in Glacier and found a new pair on a road just a day or so later. We’ve often run into big patches of strawberries and huckleberries after particularly difficult sections. Thanks, CDT… April and I have joked along the way that we also need to be very careful with our words when we’re hiking. The CDT does not like to be taunted. Nor does it like us to get too full of ourselves. I might blurt out “Hey, we’ve had some nice weather for the past few days,” and PRESTO: The CDT gives us hail or 40 degree rain. Late last weekend, after camping in a cow field in sub-freezing temps (I’m not joking, there was ice in the water filter), we started the morning walking through a short patch of tall dewy grass, just enough to dump a bit of cold water on our shoes. April, who HATES cold, wet feet, couldn’t help herself and blurted out “F**# You, CDT!” and POW we were shortly presented with an ankle deep, stepping stone-less, bridge-less, merciless water crossing. Grit your teeth and go. Cold wet feet all morning. Thanks, CDT.
The biggest faux pas by far, though, was in the middle of last week. April and I had a day of pretty non-scenic dusty and level trail that had been well signed. April, wanting to zoom a bit, decided that she would walk ahead of me for a ways. I mumbled something about tricky turns on the trail and she agreed to wait up at any sort of ambiguous intersection. Then, almost as an afterthought, she mentioned “The CDT seems easy to navigate anyway. It’s not rocket science, it’s just a straight line!” Well, the CDT didn’t like this so much and sure enough, April missed a turn, leading her 1 1/2 miles down the wrong trail to a road and me 45 minutes or so straight uphill on the right trail. It took us a few hours to reunite, me wondering whether she was ahead or behind me and her realizing her mistake and nearly running to catch up. This was a scary moment for us and I think we both agreed to be a little more careful with our words and with getting too far ahead of one another.
April has become a very fit hiker and no longer struggles very much with the long climbs. Unfortunately, her muscles are ahead of her joints and tendons. As you might be able to tell from the map, we are in Darby and have seemingly skipped a chunk of trail. This is because we have, in fact, temporarily skipped some trail. April had been rubbing her calf muscles for the last few days, complaining of cramps.
Finally, the day before yesterday, her right calf gave up. She began limping and this became progressively worse as the day went on. I made her arch supports and a small heel lift and she took Aleve, but to no avail. That evening, deep in the Anaconda range (gorgeous, by the way, one our favorite places! Pics to come) we decided to bail out and get to town. We ID’d a seldom-used trail that led to a seldom used forest service road that led to highway 43 which led to Wisdom, MT. April was upset and as I’ve mentioned before when your brain is ready to go and your body is not it’s incredibly frustrating. Injuries are frequently a part of such a trip as this and April’s had the misfortune of having one after the other. So we needed to bail.
On our way to camp that night, limping and sad, we stumbled upon a small plastic cup with a
chocolate chip cookie inside, napkin on top. Lying right on the trail. Thanks, CDT. On our way out the next day, we had about 8 miles of trail and 10 miles of forest service road until hitting highway. We walked the whole way. No cars except a guy in a truck going the other way. April’s calf felt OK, though, and we made the miles in enough time to get a ride to Wisdom in the back of a pickup driven by some rodeo folks. After notably sub-par hamburgers in Wisdom, we hitched a 50 mile ride over Chief Joseph Pass to Darby, landing at the Mountain Spirit Inn for the night for much needed showers and a bed. Tonight, we’re in our tent at the less-comfy, but more practical Bitteroot Hide-Away RV Park.
So, yeah, we’re in Darby. Thanks everyone again for the care packages: Karen H, Dan’s mom, Auntie E, Sarah, and April’s mom (we’ll get it soon I’m sure!) for the packages. By the way, we love packages. Especially those with tasty food. I will put our next mailing location on the next post so follow close! By the way, don’t send Fed Ex or UPS, the postal service won’t accept those packages.
From here, we’re figuring out what to do still. We have a flight to a NJ wedding on the 30th from Idaho Falls, but April needs time to rest so we can’t blast off back to the trail. Perhaps she’ll go early to NJ and I’ll hike through a bit….TBD I guess. For now, Darby is grand and we’re about to go get some pie. So long for now!