Total Miles: 1073.2
It didn’t go as planned, but not in the way you initially might think. Most of us are hard wired to assume that a departure from the plan is, by default, a bad thing. But some of the greatest aspects of thru-hiking are the unexpected twists of fortune that swing the other way, delivering you a surprise that you never could have anticipated when the day began.
The plan today was nothing monumental: mosey along down the trail for another 20 miles or so to a spot perhaps a few miles shy of our next resupply stop in Helena. With a short day tomorrow, we’d wake early, hitch into town for breakfast and have most of the day to do our town chores and relax.
By 2:30pm, however, we found ourselves already only a mile from our planned destination. A mere 6 miles from the road to Helena so early in the afternoon, we decided on the spot to instead finish the entire stretch and head into town early, turning our planned near-o tomorrow into a full zero day.
We’d barely managed to station ourselves by the side of the highway before a lady had already pulled over to pick us up for a ride into town. Some days it feels like everything is working in your favor. Whisked into town, we checked into a motel and were off up the small downtown strip known as Last Chance Gulch towards the Blackfoot Brewery that we’d heard so many rave reviews of. It didn’t hurt that immediately next door was a pizza joint for us to gorge ourselves at.
Sitting ourselves at an outdoor table along the sidewalk, contentment was the only word I could use to describe it. The light of magic hour illuminated the surrounding hillsides that ring the edges of town. Not a word was needed to sum up the satisfaction of being there at that very moment. All that was required was an act of being present.
Zoning out into the distance, I snapped out of it when the phone in front of me flashed to life with a text message. The evening was about to get even better. Passing through on his way back East, our good friend Steel who’d hiked the CDT in 2018 just so happened to be an hour away and was en route to join us.
Whiling away the evening into the wee hours with our friend and a bottle of wine, it was the most satisfying end to a most unexpected day. The kind that reminds you that a change in plans can be the luckiest thing of all.
Latitude/Longitude: 46.56151, -112.30893