to Salmon, ID
When I wake up my indecision is gone. My attempt at a through hike of the CDT is over, but our honeymoon on the continental divide is not.
While many CDT hikes end suddenly with injuries, impassable snow, bankruptcy, or other knockout punches, this decision was difficult because our circumstances are good. We seem to have the formula for this endeavor down cold. My body feels as fit as it ever has, able to chug along a marathon of mountainous trail from dawn to dusk, day after day, without fail. Ann has become expert at living out of the car, keeping ice in the cooler, and finding free places to camp. We arrange meeting after meeting in places we�ve never seen, and have yet to miss each other. We only miss each other in between meetings. But we both feel like if we were to stick with it, we could complete the through hike the way we�ve been going.
Maybe the fact that our routine works so well is part of the problem. The trip has become routine. We still enjoy it when we�re together, but we spend most of our time alone. I grind out the miles to our next meeting, and Ann waits for my arrival. Our desire to be together prevents us from appreciating our surroundings.
I�ve now hiked to the Montana-Idaho border, at the north end of the Bitterroot Mountains. These are the mountains that Ray, the trail surveyor I met near Butte, called �the best of the best in Montana.� I want to appreciate them when I�m there. I would rather let go of the goal of a through hike, leaving places like this as a temptation for the future, than grind my way through them now.
If my through hike were the sole purpose this trip, I�d probably stick with it and hope things would improve. But this is a honeymoon first, and a through hike second. I proposed at the beginning that Ann and I start it together, and stop together. Our continuation when Ann stopped hiking in Colorado was an improvisation that we have both enjoyed until recently. The time has now come, not to quit, but to improvise some more.
From here on we�ll stick together. I�ve missed out on checking out small towns and attractions near the divide lately, so we�ll do some of that together. We�ll scope out bits of trail and points of interest if we choose to finish hiking the trail together someday. We�ll go to Yellowstone. We�ll stay flexible if other opportunities arise. I think our journey will probably be more interesting from here on!
Today we drive over the divide to Salmon, Idaho. The Salmon River runs right through town. We make lunch there and watch locals float by on tubes. There is a Sacajawea street festival going on downtown. There�s a comfortable library with internet access for us. At the grocery store I get a Strawberry Jubilee. It takes twenty minutes to make. It consists of strawberry ice cream, milk, and fresh strawberries blended with whipped cream and more fresh strawberries on top. The thing is monstrous in a 32 oz. cup, and rings up at $1.69. I tip the deli clerk who made it, as it is by far the best ice cream yummy I�ve been served on this trip.
We camp at a BLM campground on the river. It�s great except for annoying bees, which we try to distract with my empty Strawberry Jubilee cup.