Halfway Park to Pipestone Pass (Butte, MT)
Knowing that I wanted to get through the 16 mile morning road walk before it got hot, as well as to the Hwy 2 before it was too late and hard to get a hitch, I set an alarm to wake up at 5:15 and was on trail at 6.
It took a while to get the feet and legs warmed up after a couple big mileage days in a row, but once things were loosened up the road walk hiking went smoothly. Since it was a pretty bland view from the road I put on some tunes and cruised along to CCR and other random songs on my iPod, which helped the miles pass quickly
After a nice long break near where the trail crosses I-90, during which a nice guy in his 30's on his way to Butte stopped and gave Sparrow and me cold soda, the best part of the hiking day was finally at hand. It began as a nice gradual climb among nicely spaces pine trees and minimal ground cover that slowly morphed into fewer trees and more granite boulders as the trail stretched higher. The sun was hot when exposed directly which only made the shade of the pines that much more appreciated. A gentle breeze blew through now and again, and from the top there were beautiful vistas of Butte (I think) and a range of mountains further south, which I can only hope will be part of the upcoming section of trail (Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness?).
Once at the road it didn't take long for Sparrow and I to get a hitch into town to a wonderful Mexican restaurant. I had a giant vegetarian burrito and margarita, as well as many helpings of the complimentary chips and salsa.
Unfortunately by the time we were done eating it was too late to realize that we were still a few miles south of downtown Butte and the bus had already stopped running (6pm). I decided to walk to downtown to get a room, while Sparrow wanted to try to yogi a place to stay with someone at a coffee shop and check out a couch-surfing website. I just wanted a shower and laundry done as soon as possible. After checking out the options on my phone while walking, I chose a lovely historic place called the Hotel Finlen. It was comparable in price to the others, has Wifi, and had laundry available on-site. It's also pretty cool on the inside with chandeliers in the lobby and even has a lounge/bar. The top four floors are for residents, while the lower floors and the attached motor inn (where I am staying) are for guests.
Tomorrow my agenda is to buy 6 days worth of trail food for the 154 miles from Pipestone Pass to Chief Joseph Pass where I will hopefully be meeting up with a friend from the PCT in 2011. It's really starting to fly by! Almost half way through the state of Montana (971 miles total for Montana).