CDT Day 24: Helena to a little bit south of MacDonald Pass – Budget Inn Express to Too Fresh to Hike Camp
Miles hiked: 4
Total miles: 356.7
Leaving town can be really difficult sometimes. Always more stuff to do on the internet, more food to eat, more snoozing. But we made it back to the trail in the end. That’s the important thing.
I was awake early again, no chance of returning to sleep despite the late night. The mind was tired, but the mind was awake. I tapped on my screen quietly, not ready to leave the comfort of the bed at least. With the morning came a new clarity regarding which route I would take to finish up Montana. I didn’t feel prepared, and didn’t feel like spending the time and energy to become prepared enough, to hike the Big Sky Cutoff. I was excited to hike the actual CDT too, which looks like it does some awesome things along the Montana/Idaho border. I’ll save the alternate for a different trip. SpiceRack was in the same boat, and I was grateful for that. Our day was going to be a lot more chill without planning a 300+ mile detour.
We finished off the pizza for breakfast as we slowly packed up our things and gathered the alarming amount of garbage we had generated during such a short stay. We made it out of the room just before the 11am checkout, leaving our backpacks at reception so we could wander town unburdened.
The mile walk each way to Safeway through wide, shady streets was pleasant. It reminded me of home. The store had almost everything I wanted, but it looks like I’ll be eating couscous for dinner every night this section.
We were happy to find Canyon waiting to check in when we made it back to the motel and traded stories from the last section. Crunchberry and Rooster were just loading into a trail angel’s car for a ride back to the CDT. Spice wasn’t feeling well so we decided to wait a few hours before doing the same. Back to the library!
More interneting, coffee, tea, and relaxing without shoes. Around 6pm, Spice was feeling a lot better, hungry even, so we moved to the burrito place for a final town meal. Taco del Sol did a good job, best burrito of the CDT so far. After that, we linked up with Joe, who had offered us a ride earlier to finally make it back to trail. We felt fortunate to have a ride ready to go rather than trying to hitchhike. It made all the difference especially because Helena is such a large town. I didn’t know where to try catching a hitch. Back at MacDonald Pass at 7:30pm, full, rested, and ready to hike a little.
It was windy up there. Cool and clear too. Perfect for hiking and the evening light was gorgeous. It felt good to be back after 50 or so hours away. The world made sense again. My life regained its simple purpose. I followed Spice over a meadow and through a forest of lodgepole pine 4 miles before she found a good spot to camp on a grassy hump. Exhausted from my lack of sleep in town and still full of burrito, all I needed to do was set up and lay down.
Easy sleep tonight. The body feels good.