Day 118

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Delmoe Lake to Pipestone Pass
17 mi ::
1725 mi ::
Sunny, warm

I feel better today, despite having nine miles of dusty road to walk in the morning. Ann meets me at Homestake Pass, where we have lunch at a nice spot by the lake.

From Homestake I try to find my way along the proposed route of a section of trail that hasn�t been built yet. I wander into the woods, find some pink ribbons, and follow them. They take me up a steep hill on the divide to a beacon light, then they stop. It�s complicated, bouldery country. I bushwhack my way slowly along the divide, doubling back a couple of times when I start down the wrong ridge. “Find the Divide” is a challenging, fun game that refreshes my spirit. Eventually I come across orange markers and paint that seem to delineate the route I’m looking for. I’m surprised how bright and easy to follow they are. After an hour the reason becomes clear: I approach a man with a paint can marking the trail and nearly scare him up a tree when I say, “Howdy!” Ray is the trail surveyor for this area. We continue along the route together while he works. I learn about how trails are made and many other things. The most disturbing is that nearly all of the trees around us have sap leaks that indicate bark beetles. All these trees will soon be dead. Bark beetle infestations can be stopped by logging the infected trees, but it’s too late already for millions of them. It’s sad to think that all this green country may be doomed to turn brown, then grey.

We find Ann at Pipestone Pass. Ray is late meeting his girlfriend but gives us his number and offers us a ride if we want when we reach his favorite section of trail, should we want to hike it together.

Ann takes me into Butte to run some errands. We pick up two packages at the post office, one each from my mom and dad. Mom sent cookis, smoked turkey, books and a hat for Ann that she loves. We weren’t expecting the resupply from Dad. The car is now so packed that I ride with a package on my lap.

We find the library closed, give up on internet access and head for the Mexican restaurant Ray recommended. We feel good enough afterward that neither of us notice when we take the wrong road out of town until several miles go by. A U-Turn or two before bed never hurt anyone.

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