Mile 2208 to 2226
I wake in the middle of the night wondering why someone has built a smoldering fire in my tent. At least that is what it smells like. I can hear Kevin in his tent opening a bottle and taking a drink. In the other direction I can hear Ixnay opening a bottle for the opposite reason. I have never seen a risk-reward analysis that would convince me to attempt that in my tent.
Kevin and I wake for good a little before 4:30am. We pack up and hit the trail under headlamps before 5:00am. We hike by what should be the beautiful Sawtooth Mountain, but frankly it is pitch black. We turn a corner and hear complete chaos and breaking branches as very large animals scramble off in all directions. We tell ourselves they are deer or elk, rather than a mother bear now separated from her three cubs or a pride of mountain lions.
As the sky lightens to a smoky haze we come to our first couple of flat spots by a road crossing. We are now passing the thru-hikers that passed us yesterday. As we pass Mosquito Creek I am reminded that they have not been bothering us. Perhaps there is an upside to all this smoke. At Forest Service Road 88 we find trail magic – that is if a cooler full of warm beers before breakfast is magic.
We eventually reach Forest Service Road 23. We were told by a southbounder to walk down the road until we get to the falling rocks barricades for cell service. I call the Trout Lake store and am provided phone numbers of trail angels. Before we can even call, a truck pulls up and a man says, “You’re headed to Trout Lake.” It was not so much a question as a demand to get in. While we are loading another car pulls up and a man says, “I was gonna get them, but I see you’ve already got them.” I am starting to think there is a bounty out for us.
On the way to town I ask what kind of trout are in Trout Lake. He just shakes his head. There are no trout in Trout Lake. In fact there is no lake in Trout Lake. We are heading to Trout Lake for hamburgers and I am starting to doubt there will be ham in the hamburgers. I also ask about the lack of huckleberries. Apparently this was a short early season and we missed it. They couldn’t even pick enough for the firefighters charity huckleberry pancake breakfast. They had to buy them and it destroyed their profits.
At the Cafe we do get hamburgers, sweet potato fries and huckleberry shakes. On the menu the huckleberry shakes are $4.75, but on the board there is an advertised special: huckleberry shakes $5.00. We are clearly very special, as reflected on our bill.
The grocery store is the only other action in town. We resupply with reasonable selection and very decent prices. Everyone is extremely hiker friendly. We sort our pile on the porch with what seems like the whole town watching. Looking at our candy bar selection some even ask us if it is Halloween.
Our hitch back to the trail is as easy as the one to town. One phone call and a wife sends her husband to come get us. He is here in about 2 minutes and drives us the 13 miles back to the trail. At the trailhead there are two horseman and four horses. They are looking for a camp but are disappointed that a hiker is already there. It is Ixnay holding spots for us. We are very glad to see him.
When I go to get water one of the horsemen is bathing naked in the creek, with a big bar of soap, determined to get to every nook and cranny. All the while he is talking to me like we are standing outside of church having coffee and waiting for our wives. Needless to say, I get my water upstream.
We settle in, have dinner and try to sleep, as cars continue to buzz down the forest service road.