Along the Idaho and Montana Border

Mack’s Inn, ID, to Leadore, ID

I was fairly successful in not getting stuck in town. I enjoyed a breakfast and then a veggie sub. A thru-hiker party gathered at Subway as we all apparently had the same idea. Two friends walked into town this morning and we all discussed our plans for the following section. I eventually hit the trail, rather the road, at 10 a.m. The road slowly climbed back up into the mountains. With the easy gradient the elevation slowly passed under my feet. Every time I looked back I was surprised to see the valley in the distance behind and below me. Soon after we left the gravel road and merged onto a trail then quickly onto a cross country section.

A few miles later I came across a cairn in the sage. I thought it was odd of this random cairn to have a register tucked in the rocks as well. I opened up the register cache to discover this cairn marked an interesting hydrological feature. I was standing next to Brower’s Spring. This spring is the most remote spring in the Missouri River watershed, making the Missouri the fourth-longest river in the world.

Brower’s Spring marked by the cairn.

That night I camped among a gaggle of hikers. Eight of us set up camp in a wide open saddle between the sagebrush.

I have been having a hard time getting up early to get the day started. I was one of the last to leave the camp. Much of the day was spent up on an open ridgeline. I had to dig out my beanie and gloves to wear as the wind blew throughout the day.

I joined one of my friends for lunch at a creek, and a little later two more hikers joined us. We were all excited to see a real creek flowing with water abundantly. This has been a dry section for a little while.

These posts marked the border for days.

The latter part of the day was spent hiking through a burn area. The burnt trees stand as gray silhouettes. The ground cover is thick, mostly fireweed. The trail was difficult to follow through the thick brush. Because of the thick brush we were concerned about finding a campsite. We came to a campsite at 5:30 and decided to claim it after a 27-mile day. This is the earliest I have stopped in a while, but it was nice to relax and enjoy the evening. A few more hikers showed up later in the evening and we all were soon sleeping.

The next morning we are all awake early with town just 23 miles down the trail. Four of us gathered together and wandered toward town. Early in the evening we arrived to the interstate and luckily one of my hiking partners had a friend waiting there and willing to give us a ride into town. Lima, MT, is not a large town. It just has the basic amenities located right off Interstate 15. Luckily for us hikers it has a cheap motel. A couple of us booked two nights with the idea of taking a zero tomorrow.

Zero in Lima, MT.

Although I was not planning on taking a zero, I ended up taking a zero to relax and enjoy some social scenes. I enjoyed taking a zero in the tiny town. This minimizes the decisions I have to make. There were only two different restaurants, one gas station, one motel. and one post office. Life is easy when I don’t have to make too many decisions. Many thru-hikers showed up during my zero day. At one point we counted and thought there were about 15 hikers in town, probably doubling its population. We arranged to catch the early shuttle back to the trailhead to provide a deadline for our chores.

I always feel a little lack of motivation after a zero day. This day was no different. Even though we made it back to the trail around 10 a.m. I only managed 21 miles. Although this was some tough terrain. The trail was up on the divide and followed all of the ups and downs along the way. It was hard. To make it harder our packs were full with four days of food to make it into the next town.

I spent the majority of the next day hiking with three friends. Hiking with people is nice when I am not in a hurry. The conversations distract me from the miles and the trail passes under my feet. We took a little off-trail adventure to find a bone pit. This area had some limestone cliffs and this pit was a natural occurrence in the rock ledge. Apparently in the winter the pit can be covered and hidden with snow. Throughout the years unsuspecting animals have fallen in and died; in the pit there were many bones from theses creatures.

Smoke along the Divide.

A group of us cowboy camped that night. I greatly enjoy waking us and gazing at the night sky full of stars. The Milky Way clearly stretched across the sky; each time waking up it is in a new spot. This provides a gauge for how long I had been asleep.
We were up early, like most town days. The morning was a ramble of 33 miles mostly along dirt roads and some trail in spots. I did listen to some music to let the miles pass and distract my mind. This was another tough section with many ups and downs.

The sky has recently become choked out with smoke from the nearby fires. Thankfully it is only affecting the aesthetics and not my health. It quickly became warm walking on the open ridgelines. I still am carrying my umbrella, and that came in handy to provide shade along the way.

Earlier in the day we called to arrange for a ride into town. We arrived a little ahead of time. It was hot, and we quickly huddled under the minimal shade of a trailhead sign. Roughly 20 minutes later the local trail angel and motel owner arrived to give us a ride into town. This pass was a gravel road and although we probably could have hitched this was a nice alternative.

Once in town we split a motel room between four of us, and then our main objective was to do laundry and relax. I washed all my clothes so I was forced to wear a towel for a couple hours.

It was hot out and we were thankful for the shelter the room provided. The next section would be an adventure as we got word of a fire closure to our north. The miles never come easy on this trial it seems.

Bannock Pass, gateway to Leadore.


Top Nach

8/2 – Day 95 – 20 miles
8/3 – Day 96 – 27 miles
8/4 – Day 97 – 23.5 miles
8/5 – Day 98 – Zero day Lima, MT
8/6 – Day 99 – 21.5 miles
8/7 – Day 100 – 27.5 miles
8/8 – Day 101 – 33.5 miles
8/9 – Day 102 – 15.5 miles Leadore, ID

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 2

  • pikachu chu : Oct 29th

    The article is very easy to understand, detailed and meticulous! I had a lot of harvest after watching this article from you! I find it interesting, your article gave me a new perspective! I have read many other articles on the same topic, but your article convinced me! shell shockers

  • Stephany Burleson : Sep 14th

    The article is quite useful for me


What Do You Think?