Tuesday, August 18, 2015

June 28 Day 63 - June 30 Day 65 - Missoula Warren Alum

The Montana wilderness continued as it does and we found ourselves on some dirt roads booking it to McDonald Pass. Machine Gun, Handstand, Grim, Guy, and me were all going to be getting into Helena together. Grim was ahead, he is fast, and I was behind him, with Guy just behind me. Machine Gun and Handstand were not too far behind all of us. I was worried that Papi would leave to Missoula without me, so I was keen to get to Helena as soon as I could. As we neared McDonald Pass, where we would hitch into Helena, I got a text from Grim exuberantly letting me know that Frodo was there with her RV waiting to pick us all up! Wow! She's amazing!

I was all excited about the near future in so many ways! As I was walking on the main road toward Frodo and Grim, a car pulls up to me and its Papi! He tells me to get in, so I do, and he drives me immediately to Helena where Beads and Kramers are packing up the hotel room they had stayed in the night before. They order me to shower and pack up ASAP so we can all head to Missoula. I let Frodo and Grim know so they wouldn't wait for me and I got myself ready.

By the time I was all set, everyone else was in Helena and we got to say goodbye. It was definitely bittersweet saying goodbye to Guy as we really weren't sure what the next week would bring for us as hiking partners. Would this separation mark the end or would it reaffirm things? Welp! We would find out. I was excited to take some time off trail and stay with family, regardless.

An hour or so later we were in Missoula. Papi dropped me off at Pete and Valerie's house and they quickly invited my hiking friends to stay at the house that night if they wanted to.  The hospitality of these people really blew me away. Everyone said yes and then headed out to an arts and crafts market going on down town. I stayed with Pete and Val and we connected immediately. I could see why my dad got on so well with Pete all these years. Truly down to earth, good people.

They pulled out pictures of family from decades past, as well as old photo albums of my great-great-grandfather who kept records of everything. Just wow! Pete, I discovered, also went to Camp Warren as a kid! WHAT?!?  How cool is that? I even got to see some pictures! Talk about amazing connections!

We spent the evening strolling around the art market, wading in the river and watching the rafting people float, watch Jurassic World, and go out for dinner with their son Paige. I spent the next day updating the blog and watching Orange is the New Black. It's my summer show and I was very excited to see that Pete and Val had Netflix!

The day passed too quickly and ended with Papi picking me up to see Spy with everyone at the movies. Hikers love theaters! We stayed up late that night chatting with Val and Pete, not knowing if we'd have the opportunity to say goodbye in the morning. We were going to be heading out early to return the car in Helena.

On the drive back the next morning my eyes were very wet with tears as we left Missoula. I had loved my time with Pete and Val and it was very difficult for me to leave. I had felt like their daughter, so welcomed and so comfortable. The idea of staying in Missoula crossed my mind more than once, but I found myself sitting in the rental car with the other hikers. My heart broke a little that day and I vowed to keep in touch and visit again.

It turned out that Grim and Guy had ended up zeroing in Helena and had just gotten on trail as we arrived. Actually it was quite the coincidence. Guy got on trail in the late morning and Wonderer was there at McDonald Pass trying to hitch into town. Guy called us to see if we were potentially nearby and we happened to be 5 minutes from McDonald Pass, so we grabbed Wonderer and had the opportunity to say another goodbye to Guy. Grim was planning to leave Helena soon, so we dropped Wonderer off in Grim's hotel room where he took it over for the next night.

After resupplying and getting new shoes, I was SO done with my Merrills (I got Altra Lone Peak 2.0), we met a nice man at the post office who gave us all a ride to the pass. Grim said he'd meet us at the water source, 8 miles down the trail, and so we camped there with Kathleen, who had gotten lost in the Bob for 3 days without maps or her phone, and Ben.

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