A short day today took us out of Butte and towards Helena, our next trail town.
I woke up a bit after seven, and finished packing my pack. Around 9, Recon, Sprouts, Velveeta and I made the five minute walk to City Brew Coffee for breakfast. There, we were met by Rockhound. We took our time, having good conversation, mostly about the trail, but also a bit about the AT as well. (Rockhound and Fuck-It are planning a northbound AT thru-hike next year.)
Rockhound then very generously drove us to the trail, which he had to do in two trips. First was me, Recon, Sprouts, and Wild Man. He then went back to get Bass, Stumblebee, and Velveeta; the second group was delayed several hours since Stumblebee was waiting for a package at the post office.
The four of us continued west along Lowland Rd, the paved road we got off of yesterday crossing under I-15. Now after 11 am, the sun was already high in the sky, and it was fairly warm out. Some thin wisps of clouds lightly moderated the sun once they blew into place, which made it slightly more tolerable than it would have been otherwise. In any case, it was a little bit cooler than it had been the last few days, which also helped out.
The road took us through more farmland, and a few ruins of buildings dotted the landscape, before entering forest.
Because Stumblebee needed to wait for a package (new shoes) before leaving town, and also because the water situation for a 20ish mile day was not good, we opted to only hike about seven miles to the Lowland Campground, which would allow the second group to leave town late and still get to camp. The campground also has a water pump, which solves our water problem for today. My legs weren’t particularly happy with the pavement, but at least I knew it was going to be a short day. And the road did eventually transition to being gravel, rather than asphalt, which helped.
Since the campground is a bit off-trail, we took a detour, staying on Lowland Rd, rather then turning off onto a different road the CDT follows. This will wind up saving us about half a mile of trail, plus half a mile out-and-back between the CDT and the campground.
After winding along the road uphill and through the mountains, I passed by a few cows just off the side of the road, and I turned onto the road leading to the campground, set up for car camping. Not seeing anyone else, I picked a campsite, and sat down at its picnic table for a break. Recon arrived shortly after, having already been there and taken the time to explore the campground, finding the water pump.
Today’s “hike” took all of two and a half hours. After a busy day of running around town yesterday, having an actually relaxing afternoon today was really nice.
It was sunny out for a while, but by 2, clouds had covered the sun, providing some shade to our campsite with limited tree cover. A light breeze kept it aired out.
Over the next couple of hours, Sprouts, Wild Man, and Velveeta arrived. Velveeta reported that the package Stumblebee was waiting for had arrived, but hadn’t been processed, so (when he left for the trail) she hadn’t been able to pick it up yet. She and Bass will be staying in town till they can get it, possibly tonight, but “definitely” by tomorrow morning.
Late in the afternoon, the wind picked up, and the sky in the southwest took on a red hue from fires. Wild Man discovered he’d forgotten to throw out his garbage while in Butte, asking the question, “What did I even do in town?”.
The only other people we saw once we got to the campground was at the campsite next to ours, a couple and a dog with a large tent. The woman seemed to spend of the afternoon collecting firewood and tending to a small fire; the man showed up in early evening in an SUV. We thought them a bit odd, but didn’t interact with them so as not to invade their privacy.
As evening progressed, the winds picked up, giving us a few strong gusts during dinner. I was initially considering cowboy camping, but the weather (and forecast for tomorrow) suggested that I put up my tent. The rest of the group did as well, except for Wild Man.
Tired, I turned in earlier than usual. The short day today means that I’m going to have to do three 21-mile days in a row to get to Helena, so I’m not especially looking forward to that.