When we arrived in Lima, MT, after our Yellowstone adventure, our group of six was exhausted. We awoke in our hotel and immediately began tossing around the idea of a zero. It didn’t take much convincing for all six of us to be on board – let the zero begin!! There wasn’t much in the tiny town, but internet, food, and a public swimming pool were enough to keep us hikers fully satisfied.
The next morning Hyrobics brought me coffee in bed and BigFoot got me a perfect gift – headphones!! We hit the trail on my 29th birthday aiming to hike 29 miles.
We took off first walking a dirt road for a few miles next to I-15, then we began riding the ridge that separates ID and MT for miles and miles. This wasn’t really the easy birthday hike I had envisioned, yet we pushed on until it was just getting too dark to see. Despite getting my butt kicked, I couldn’t have been happier to have shared my birthday with friends surrounded by beautiful scenery.
We woke early the next morning, as per usual, and began another challenging day. The sun exposure and never ending mountain climbing didn’t stop us from logging 31.8 miles.
With the tiny town of Leadore, cold pop, and a bag of chips on our minds, the group, which was now seven deep, continued slogging up and down the ridge. We pushed hard that day to get as close to town as we could completing 33.5 miles just after the sun had set.
Sean and I woke up early to hike the 4.5 miles to the road where we would hitch to town. Our guide noted the severe lack of traffic on this road in the middle of nowhere, so we were ecstatic when we saw a car approaching on the road when we arrived at the pass. We got a ride right away and got to town before the shops had even opened. Luckily, we ran into other hikers who let us shower in their hotel room and loiter until we could resupply. Our friends who we camped with the previous night still hadn’t made it to town. We didn’t see them until 10:00 am after they had waited over two hours for their ride to town. Apparently we picked the right day to get up early.
By noon it was time to get back to it. The group – that was now ten deep!! – hopped in a truck bed and went back to the pass. Soon, we were walking single file under trees ecstatic for the cool shade. We managed to walk 20 miles before calling it quits still getting in 25 miles for the day – not bad with a 5 hour town stop.
We got an excellent start the following morning beginning at 5:40. For whatever reason, we felt really good all day even with a 18 mile water carry. We pushed on, and with 32 miles done by 6:00 pm, we aimed to complete our first ever 40 mile day. What I once considered out of my capacity came into fruition by 9:45. In disbelief, we setup camp 40 miles away from where we had started our morning.
We celebrated by sleeping in a bit and got to walking around 7. Gradually, the scenery had been changing, and we were happy to feel like we were back in mountains and forest once more. We logged 33.8 miles leaving 27.5 more to town.
We were all feeling pretty beat up from the grueling week we had just put ourselves through. Of course, this last day included three unfairly steep climbs that took every ounce of my will to conquer. We prevailed, but with every bit of energy drained.
Luck struck again as a car approached a at the same time I emerged from the woods. We were then on our way to Darby with our food dreams in reach. We split a room with Gusha thrilled with our accomplishments over the past week – 221 miles in seven days, a 31.5 mile average seven days in a row.
We’ve definitely got Canada on our minds with about 550 miles to the border. We’ve exceeded our expectations and pushed our abilities further than we even knew possible partly due to our growing strength but also partly because of the incredible group of hikers that keep us encouraged and motivated. I couldn’t be happier to be hiking in a group – a first for us – as they continue to push my abilities and keep me laughing despite the pain.