Today was day eleven of the hike> I can feel that my body is beginning to adapt. Today we returned to hiking on a road as we have detoured off the trail to re-supply. The hike today was 23 miles, and besides a little soreness in my right Achilles, the walk was easy and pain free. Not only am I feeling less pain, but I can tell that I am able to be more observant. Instead of tiring easrly, forcing me to stare down at the trail and just focus on my next step, I am now able to walk upright, constantly scanning the area while kowing that my feet will fall properly on the trail> I am now able to spot much more wildlife or perhaps the animals are letting me appraoch because I'm acting more naturally.
Hospitality has been the big theme of our last few days. Prior to yesterday, we spent a few days in the woods without seeing anyone. Since we left the woods yesterday morning and got out on some rural roads, everyone has been interested in learning about our journey and aiding us along the way.
For example, once we got off the trail and onto a gravel, rural road, two cars stopped and asked to give us a ride. One guy recommended a beautiful shortcut through the woods. Not having learned anything from our prior day's ill-fated shortcut, we took his suggestion. We spent hours stomping through the bush just to find a barrier blocking us from the road: a raging river with a high rock cliff leading to the road. We had to backtrack through the woods, losing hours of time and energy while becoming completely soaked. The guy's intentions were good.
Due to our condition after being trapped in the bush, we decied to stay at the crossroads community of Yaak. We rented out a cabin and went to the one smoke free establishment. When we arrived we were the only patrons (the rest of the area was smoking across the street). However, the owner/server/cook Gloria was too kind, and we agreed to stay for dinner (she was the same woman who rented us the cabin and also volunteered driving into town to buy us some supplies). She was so happy to have us that she gave us some free appetizers and started playing showtunes with us on the piano> Even her dog Sandy was super welcoming. Sandy is conditioned to loving photographs. Whenever someone enters the restaurant, Sandy pouts until Gloria takes a pictuer with Sandy and the new customer.
We proceeded to have a huge meal, desserts, and lots of drinks. A local couple entered (Rick and Bobbi), and we had a fun time shooting the breeze. I then started to play the piano, keeping Gloria open an extra two hours. The following morning, Gloria opened early to give us a big breakfast. When we asked for the bill for the cabin, the three dinners, the three breakfasts, the many drinks, and some long distance phone calls, we were blown away to find practically no charge. Apparently Rick and Bobbi had left bunch of money to cover our food and lodging. They also extended us an invitation to come and go fishing with them.
Today on our hike we stopped for a drink and some road house called the Golden Nugget. Even though we only spent a few dollars, they gave us two plates of fresh fruit. We told them where we were planning on camping that night and said thanks. Later that evening shortly after we set up camp, a guy from the bar stopped by to give us some good firewood.
Montana has been good to us. Tomorrow we will enter Idaho.
Posing for a picture with Sandy the dog. Sandy gets antsy unless she gets her photo taken.