Hi everybody, writing today from Anaconda, MT, a lovely (if very linear) town. The walk into civilization was long and hot on Highway 1, but everything a tired hiker needs is arranged along the main drag, so its all good. The people here seem very friendly, as four of them stopped to chat while I repackaged my bounce box in front of the P.O. They were all intent on giving me rides out of town, but I'm not about to ruin the continuity that easily. I was able to retreive my passport and remaining maps, so I'm pretty excited; the end is approaching at a rate that hardly seems real given the leisurely pace of life out here.. though that is probably the wrong word, seeing as I've been putting in 16 hour, 40 mile days to meet my stated ETA of August 15th. I know it doesn't really make a difference, but I already changed the date once, I don't want to again, damn it!
Once again I missed an update from town as I had to jet through Darby on a weekend when the library was closed, so here is some catch up.
The trail from Leadore (pronounce LEAD-ore, like two seperate words. weired) was fairly easy and straightforward, with lots of open ground and grassland up on the Divide. This made for some longish dry stretches, but given the ease of the rolling terrain, it wasn't a concern. The open skies were a constantly changing tableau, with bright mornings morphing to cloudy skies seemingly instantaneously, and numerous thunderstorms rolling through daily. Luckily the lightning stayed away, as the fired danger is always high up here, regardless of the precipitation, as attested to by the number of bucket-trailing helicopter seen on the horizon. I ran into several other southbounders, bringing the total up to 7 so far. Who knows if I'll see any more, or if they will take the longer Butte route and we'll miss each other completely.
From up on Chief Joseph Pass, I hitched down to Darby. It seems to be pretty easy to get rides around here as I wasn't waiting long in either direction, though I hear that changes closer to Glacier NP. The town was pretty quaint and compact, making it perfect for hikers, but alas it lacks an outfitter. My shoes, which I picked up in Silverthorne waaaaay back in CO, are in rough shape and need to be replaced a.s.a.p... which in this case means in Helena, another 70 miles away. A generous application of shoe goo and duct tape should do the trick, though every scrape of trip on a rock is cause for concern. Luckily they survived the Pintlars, a tough but short stretch of rugged peaks that makes the Divide look like it was broken with a titanic hammer. The trail goes up and over several times, dropping and ascending thousands of feet each time. While the views were spectacular, and the preponderance of good water and alpine lakes is nice, it was definitely one of the harder bits of trail in a good while.
With that behind me, however, the rest of the way into Glacier should be a (relative) breeze. There is still an unfortunate amount of road walking to get back to the main path, but I'll consider it pennance for taking the easier route. I'm looking forward to putting in the big miles, regardless of whether by choice or necessity, just to put the ole' body through its paces and see if it can still keep up. For now all seems well, and I can't wait to see what else the trail has in store before heading back east. Talk to you all later!