6/28 Hi all, Today is our last true zero-day (a day with no hiking) for the foreseeable future. With this knowledge we left our hotel just a little more slowly than we had the previous days, getting in a good shower and double checking our packing before heading out. After an unceremonious Burger King breakfast, we hit I-90 once again. This time, however, we left our constant road-companion and cut northwest on Rt. 212, cutting across the very corner of Wyoming and making our way in to increasingly open, windy, and arid landscape. Eventually we hit Billings, an industrial city cut by a railroad and punctuated by silos, refining towers, and hoppers. In a double lane of traffic and in seeking out our next meal, we hastily turned into a seedy parking lot and stumbled upon the Fieldhouse. Set in a renovated space adjacent to the railroad, it proved to be the most "Brooklyn" place possible, with the typical metal bar stools and striped white table napkins. Luckily, the food was also the most Brooklyn and proved to be local "as", and totally delicious. The road out of Billings winds up a cliff side and we were once again careening through big sky country, slowing building up a collection of infinite bug splatters on our recently cleaned windshield. We made a quick stop at the predictably present Walmart in Great Falls for an Ace bandage and replacement pack clips and hit the road for the final leg of our Journey into Glacier. As we drove towards the Continental Divide, the distant mountains were veiled by passing rain. The sky above showed about every variety of cloud possible, as is often the case out here; for better or worse, the weather is... capricious. One doesn't have to worry about being drenched for days with storms, but your dryness is never guarantee for more than a few hours either. Eventually the slopes revealed themselves, and our destination finally came into view. Having been this way on foot years ago, it was still altogether spectacular to see them emerge from the plains. My giddy desire to set foot in a spot I didn't expect to ever be again started setting in. As we took our last turn towards our accommodation, we passed through the depressed town of Browning on the Blackfeet reservation. For all the excitement, the experience acted as a humbling reminder of at least one of the reasons why I hike. It's an opportunity to interact with those remote parts of the country I might never see, to try and bridge some illusory gap that we've tricked ourselves into believing exists between people from different parts of the country. In the barest sense, any economic influx from hikers can be a boon to the communities the trail passes near, but really any sort of shared experience can help repair that divide. I'm not as outgoing or connected to social justice issues as my coworker back in Newburyport, Yojin, who made the trip out to the Standing Rock Reservation to protest the Keystone Pipeline, but I feel any attempt to make relations elsewhere is never wasted. While I generally enjoy my job, and think I have at least a little acumen at it, this seems like a more necessary and underserved thing that has to be done... even if it's not something you get paid for.
We went through the trail town of East Glacier and descended past the Divide to Stanton Lodge, our final stop. The tiny accommodations had a little bar and pizza; all we needed for the last night. Regardless of how many times I have left the rest of my life behind to go hiking, there is always a feeling of trepidation upon actually approaching the start of a trail. The glimpses of the peaks we've seen to the south have been streaked with tongues of snow, a reminder of one of the difficulties we might soon face. Having booked our campsites in Glacier and seen that some of the spots were already taken, however, I know we will not be alone for the first few nights at least. Despite not being a fan of hiking with strangers, it is still a comfort to know others will be nearby. Even with the months of talk and planning, we can feel the butterflies in our stomachs as the mountains approach. *aside from Kate* Having picked up a local newspaper in Great Falls and seeing that two Grizzlies had recently been put down after killing some calves at a local farm, those "butterflies" seem to be fluttering a bit more than usual. But, with the comfort found in a can of bear mace and the company of my rugged husband, I am hopeful that we will NOT be making the local papers. Listening to the biography of Lewis and Clarke while we drive, our guided, mapped and marked journey seems like a walk in the National Park compared to what those who've walked before us have surmounted. Here's to a month of spectacular views, testing one's fortitude and some uninterrupted time with my favorite person in the world. Anyway, that was waaaaay too long. Love you all, ttyl,
Jeff and Kate