CDT Day 22 — July 17
Blossburg Meadow to Helena
21 is the New 31 Miles Meadow Camp to Budget Inn Express
Miles hiked: 8.5
Total miles: 352.7
The meadow on the side of the road treated us well and I slept wonderfully. I think that I twitched once, maybe twice, all night. With town less than ten miles away, it was hard to motivate to get up with the alarm, and it was 6:30am before I started making any moves. But once we were going it didn’t take long for all the promise of pizza and fries in town to infuse our actions with some urgency. Rooster and Crunchberry passed us by on the road. SpiceRack left to follow them, me a few minutes later.
My legs felt a bajillion times better this morning than they did at the end of yesterday. I was amazed by my body’s ability to recoup in just one short night. No more pings up my calf, just lingering fatigue. I caught up with Spice, and we finished the road walk back to the trail in no time.
The trail ducked back into the trees for one final climb before town, up and over a forested lump. The first huckleberries of the season somehow found their way into my mouth, tart and chalky, but filled with promise of future glory. I lost Spice, then caught her again at a trail junction where she did some blister maintenance. I poured the last of my dry granola from my jar into my mouth, completing the ‘breakfast’ portion of the day.
Some steep trail, soggy ground, and a patch of blowdowns slowed us down a little, but we made it up the two miles to the top of the hill in good time and good spirits. I was a little disappointed that the trail actually made us cross over the tippy top of the summit, which seemed a little extravagant to me, but the view was alright. A couple of radio towers stood proud, the dirt service road took us down the other side.
It was overcast and windy now, so we hiked fast to stay warm. The miles to the highway went quicker than expected, so before long we were hiking along the paved shoulder to MacDonald Pass as cars and semis blew by with terrifying noise and haste. This definitely feels like thru-hiking now. We arrived just in time to see Rooster and Crunchberry successfully flag a ride. I stretched while we waited for another, and we didn’t need to wait long before a guy in a pickup offered to take us to town.
Our driver worked at Lowe’s, so that’s where we were deposited. It was a couple miles from our hotel, but we weren’t ready to deal with that issue yet. First we needed to find some food. Burger King was the closest place so we stopped in for all the vegan things on the menu, which isn’t much, as it turns out. I felt self conscious, smelly and dirty as I was, and I was grateful to have Spice there to be dirty with me in a cloud of clean people.
There were some chores that needed doing on this side of town anyway, so we took care of them, though all I wanted to do was sleep, or at least stop moving. After walking through the biggest parking lot in the world to Target, then a mile to the post office to pick up a box, we’d had enough. We made a sign, “1 MILE :)” and quickly got a hitch to the Budget Inn Express, home for the next two nights.
Once in the room, we exploded out packs, immediately making it look like we’d been collecting trash in there for a week. Showers and food and laundry and food. I patched my sleeping pad and caressed my new sunglasses (aren’t you glad that I won’t complain about not having a pair every day now?). Some internet chores got done too.
A movie and more food (thanks for the cookies, Mom!). There was live music in the park behind the motel, but I was too content to consider checking it out. Helena could have been only one block long with only one motel room and only one grocery store for all I cared. That was all I needed, all I wanted.
Pad Thai tacos for third dinner. Microwave cinnamon rolls for dessert. Yes you can. Yes we did. I curled up next to Spice, surrounded by our filth, but feeling cleaner and richer than I had in a while. The number of town chores I need to take care of is already stressing me out a little, but those can wait for tomorrow. Right now, all I need to do is sleep. I can handle that.