Road Detour and Returning to Trail
Out of Leadore, I got a hitch to Bannock Pass and began my 156-mile road walk around the two fire closures that were lurking off to the west. Most of this was on paved roads but among the many options, I chose this route due to its similarities with the Continental Divide bike route and part of the walk would coincide with road that was designated as a Montana scenic byway. At this point in my hike a road walk was welcome to avoid the seemingly never-ending routine of walking up hills to walk right back down them on the other side. Although the scenic byway was not nearly as scenic as walking the Divide, it provided a change of scenery, pace, and expectation.
No majestic views or peaceful walking in the woods when walking along the highway. Just miles. Easy miles at that, especially when compared to that last stretch from Lima to Leadore. Taking it in stride, I walked town to town, enjoying a real meal nearly every day. In each town, I refilled my five-liter water supply so as to avoid drinking from the streams right beside the road, which were full of vehicular and cattle runoff.
Mile markers beside the road taunt my pace as the cars flying by do the same. The shoulder alongside the road is minimal and I walk as close to the edge as possible, counting the beer cans that litter the roadside. Most oncoming cars slide over, for which I am grateful, while others barely slow down, ignorant of the empty lane on the other side of the yellow line. Regardless, I always wave a hand out of thanks. Shadows behind windshields gently lift their hand off the top of the wheel in salute as their rubber rolls them quickly out of sight.
After seven and a half days of trudging down the open road, I as last return to the trail. CDT markers welcome me back to the woods and I kiss the first one I see. I seem to have forgotten how quiet it is in the woods with no cars around threatening to run me over and dirt trail to soften my footsteps. No noise besides my backpack bouncing behind me with every step. A rhythm is reestablished on trail, much different than the daily routine of the road walk. Spirits are high as I happily bounce down trail once again.
The last three days have held cloudy skies. Rain has fallen on two of those days and the temperature has failed to get above 60.The goal is within reach and I keep telling myself I can make it to the border because there really is nothing else I can tell myself at the moment. I will be picking up a box before getting back on trail, containing my sleeping bag liner and my passport. In town I will be visiting thrift stores to find another pair of leggings to help keep my legs warm as the daily high gradually decreases. It’s going to be a cold few weeks but this is the final stretch and no injury, knock, or bug will slow me down.
Thanks for reading! Peace and Love
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