Pacific Northwest Trail; mile 204.1

Sunday August, 4, 2019; Day 15

I woke to a knock on the apartment door. It was followed by a call: “breakfast is ready!”

“Okay. Thank you! I will be right down.”

I sat with George at their round wooden table as we ate a breakfast of oatmeal and dried berries. Then George was off to tend to a neighbors dog. The couple offered to give me a ride back to the trail on their way to church, at 0930.

Back in the apartment I reviewed the maps. There is an extensive amount of road walking ahead. My guidebook reads “due to the lightning-caused wildfire in July 2018, the PNT was closed between French-Carver Road –FR5827 and the Rock Candy Mountain Trail 461. At publication, there are no reports of trail conditions.”

The upcoming section was dry as well. I cannot wait until water is prevalent again!

Caroline came up as I was bandaging my feet. We chatted. She warned me to be cautious. She said that I would mostly run in to huckleberry pickers out their, but sometimes their could be unsavory who use the backwoods as a place for drug deals. “You can tell by their eyes”, she said. She told me that she would pray for me. That warmed my heart.

I washed my almond butter container, and filled up on water. I was ready!

Oh how nice they looked, all dressed up for church!

Then, I was on the road, again.

After a few miles I stopped for a coffee break. A car stopped and the man inside asked if I was okay. Later, another car stopped and offered me water. The people in Montana are tremendously kind.

I reflected on all of the wonderful people who have showed me kindness on this journey thus far.

The afternoon sun and hard concrete made for an unforgiving pair..

So much road.

I listened to music and danced with my shadow.

At around 1521 an elderly couple in a van offered me a ride to the top of the hill. Again, I declined. This time I wondered what sort of relationships I could be missing out on by denying rides in favor of a continuous footpath.

I came to a roadside stream and took a break. This time I removed my shoes and socks and elevated my feet.

I put some of the dehydrated soup mix to soak. I had not been able to see the product before purchase, as I had bought it online. It was a little heavier than the previous dehydrated soups I had carried. I was a tad concerned that it would not soak as efficiently. Only time will tell.

The van containing the elderly couple was making its return trip down the hill.  Gary and Judy introduced themselves. They were huckleberry pickers. They held out a plastic milk jug filled with berries. They let me try one so that I might recognize the berry as I journeyed forward. I thanked them.

I looked to the east after reaching the top of the hill. I gazed down to where I had journeyed from. I let out a howl.

Oh, how glorious to be on trail again!

I passed through many spider webs. Their magnificent designs were beautifully highlighted as the setting sun cast slivers of illumination about the forest.

I walk around them when I can. Especially those that have rather large residents. When I don’t catch sight of one in time, the sticky threads attach themselves to my body by little points and dance in the wind of my cadence.

I passed a very pretty “200” mile marker, adorned with little pine cones.

I stop to eat my soup. It is a tad crunchy, but still edible, enjoyable even.

Then again, the trail joins a forest road.

At the Forest Road 5902 junction, I chose to stick to the original PNT, bypassing the Northwest Peak Scenic Area alternate. Though the views are said to be fantastic, it was also supposed to be quite challenging, with cross-country scrambling and route-finding. At this point, I was not entirely comfortable attempting it solo.

I continued my roadside trek.

Finally, about a mile or so shy of Midge Creek Trail 177, I found a pull-out area that was large and flat enough to set up a tent and not fear being ran over. Tomorrow is Monday, I am hoping this will help eliminate the chance of vehicles.

My tent smelled like mold. I used a wet wipe to clear the white dust (mold?) that lingered on the tent ceiling.

I unfurled my sleeping bag, slipped inside, and fell to asleep.

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