Friday, September 2, 2011
DAY #8: Beartooth Mountains Backpacking Trip
Friday, August 26, 2011
DAY #8: CIVILIZATION!
It was our last day in the woods. Margie had the idea the night before to give Gary and I the keys to both vehicles, since we can hike pretty fast, then speed out, shuttle the cars and meet the rest of the crew at the ending trailhead. Gary and I agreed it was a great idea and would allow us to get to Red Lodge sooner, which would mean grilled meat cooked and served to us quicker, too. Not to mention an ice cold beer or two! Or three… or maybe even four. Anyway, you can see what was on our minds the last day!
As we were packing up, we were all giddy and feeling kind of silly. The four of us girls got into a line and were rubbing each others’ shoulders when, of course, some comments started to come out about our positions, and giggles to follow. With us all making a few small hip thrusts, it just got even more funny. After our line-up-shoulder-rub, there was a comment of make-up on trail… which none of us used, by the way. BUT… the idea arose of using dirt for eye shadow. And Margie had a shiner on her left eye from her fall a couple days ago, so to match that, and to look “perty” on our last day, my mom, Rachel and I rubbed our fingers into the dirt and applied a nice, natural brown to our lids. Then took the classy “kissy face” picture.
We hit the trail right at 9:00, as we did every day – naturally. It worked out great. Somehow, every single day, we were all getting our packs on at the same time, ready to roll, around 9AM. We never really planned it or felt rushed.
I enjoy writing about the stuff I eat on trail, but my mornings are so boring. Oatmeal and coffee again… It just packs so small, weighs so little, and I never get sick of it! It’s totally my staple backpacking food. I mix up my own concoctions, too, so each day might be a little different, but I always enjoy it!
We stopped around 11:00 or so on a log where we could all sit down in a row. We ate our lunch and decided this was where Gary and would take off like crazy-hikers and try to get to the cars to speed up the shuttle-time-situation.
Once back on the trail, we followed a wide, rushing river for quite a ways, then we’d reach a nice built-up bridge to cross… then we’d meet up with horse-back riders, then another wide bridge, then people with smaller packs. We knew we were close, then! But what really got us is when we could hear vehicular traffic, then we spotted some cars through the trees. We were at the trailhead! So many bittersweet feelings… it’s the same every trip. It’s also the same every trip when you feel the excitement of seeing a trash can to dispose of 5 days’ worth of nasty tuna packets, used Wet-Ones, and whatever-else-stinky-nasties you had to carry out of the woods. And… a pit toilet. It’s not quite a flushy yet, but it’s still nice to sit comfortably on a stool without miscellaneous grasses and weeds poking you in the behind every time you squat down to pee… yet still… I wouldn’t give up those experiences for anything in the world. It’s all part of it, and I strangely miss it shortly after being out of the woods… every single time I go.
We acted quickly, as we were both kind of hoping we’d beat the hikers back to the trailhead with both vehicles before they reached the trailhead. We’d been hiking our booties off for the past hour and a half, and were convinced we were making excellent time. We even hoofed it full-speed up a giant climb!
We ran and got the van from the Lady of the Lake Trailhead, which was now packed!! It was the weekend after all, so I suppose folks were heading out for their extended weekend trips. I felt envious for those that lived near here… it was like their version of our “Porkies.” I think I might have to move out here!!
I drove the Envoy and Gary drove the van. We felt we were making such good time, we decided to drive down to Cooke City for a quick pit-stop. We ran into the gas station, grabbed a bunch of different cans of soda, a bag of ice, and threw it all in the cooler with the extra beer we had from before the hike. We refrained from having anything, as we wanted to enjoy it with the rest of the group.
When we got to the trailhead at Clark’s Fork, my mom and dad were sitting underneath a shade tree. We went out to meet them, and they said they’d been only there about 10 minutes. I asked it the others were far behind, and almost immediately I heard my Aunt Margie squeel with excitement! It was too funny… she must’ve seen the cars through the trees like we did!
Everyone gathered by the cooler and grabbed a beer or soda of their choice. It was soooo refreshing! We snapped a bunch of photos of the group, shed a few tears of pride, happiness and sad ones because it was all done… but overall we were all happy – and very excited to have a warm shower!
We piled in the two vehicles and made our way back over Beartooth Pass. We went almost straight back to Red Lodge and to the motel where we had our reservations. Rachel and I tried out the hot tub, breaking all the rules… we didn’t shower first (I know, it’s pretty nasty, but in our defense, the thing already had a ton of nasty-floaties before we got in!), and we took our bottles of Blue Moon with us after reading a sign that read, “No glass.” We were only in there for about 5 minutes, so we figured it was okay.
When I took my shower, I smiled at all the brown suds coming off of me. I love seeing the brown suds… it reminds me of all the fun dirt and earth I’d been playing in, and what a great hike it was.
We all showered up, then piled back into the van to Belfry, where we hoped to eat at a steakhouse and see some local pig races. Unfortunately the wait was an hour and a half, and we all quickly agreed that was way too long. We all wanted some cooked meat pronto. We made our way back to Red Lodge, passing by an abandoned mine, which was really cool. Once back in Red Lodge, we parked and walked down the street until we came across Carbon County Steakhouse. Without thinking, we filed in. We were seated, and quickly realized we were in a “fancy” restaurant. We also noticed from the price of the meals. Oh well – we knew it would be good – and it was! I really lucked out, too. I ordered the Sirloin, and the waitress brought me a delicious-looking salmon dish. She sat it down in front of me and immediately said, “I’m sorry, I know this isn’t what you ordered, but you can go ahead and eat this up while we make up your sirloin.” So I shared it with everyone, and it was amazingly delicious!! Everyone got quiet as they ate away at their delicious post-hike meal. Shortly later I received my second meal. Yum! Sirloin for dessert! It was freakin’ incredible, too. Melted in my mouth. On top of the 2nd meal for no cost, the waitress paid for a dessert, so I ordered the apple spring rolls with ice cream. Ahhh, full belly!
After dinner we made our way to the end of town to a brewery. It was called Sam’s Taproom. What a super-cool place! There was a blind dog roaming around, a private party in the back, seriously-awesome décor, and the best backpacking group EVER! We all ordered miscellaneous beers and passed them around so we could all try. The bourbon beer was a big hit! You could really taste the bourbon in it! Weird! Rachel’s brother joined us for a little bit towards the end of our visit there, which was cool, too. We were able to tell him all about our trip and the route we took.
The bar closed at about 11:00 (I believe it had something to with liquor license restrictions in MT), so we all left and made our way back to the hotel. Rachel, Randall, my dad and I decided we needed one more drink, so we walked downtown to a little bar. We hung our for a while, joked around, enjoyed our beers, and stuck a buck to the ceiling. The bartender taught us how to do that… so that was kinda’ neat.
As soon as we were back at the motel, we passed out on a soft, comfy bed with a ton of fluffy pillows.
Saying for the day, by Leo (while still on trail, talking about what we’d do when we got off the trail):
1st for thirst
2nd for pleasure
3rd for the buzz
4th for sleep.
Yes, referring to beer.