My tent was just beside a small-scale boat ramp and a short floating dock. There had been fishermen there until dark. They told funny stories about prison life. I didn't wake up until nine. Then I had that whole little island to myself. There were a number of herons and I saw what I think was an eagle. It was nice out there.
I had thought I might take a bath but I lost courage. I find I enjoy being naked in the great out of doors but the water was just too cold. I did manage to get my hair washed and I sponged myself off fairly well. And I sat and dried in the sunshine and soaked my weary feet. Even that took some courage. That water had been snow mere hours before but was already home to thousands of fish. I remembered the guy who told me he caught a catfish with a cigarette butt and thought how much my toes looked like cigarette butts in the cold water.
Across my broad marsh was a sort of pen where they catch the driftwood coming down the river. There are broken branches and logs and wholly uprooted trees. There are tons of it and they don't want it in the lake. A sign invited you to take as much as you want.
Beyond that was the highway and above it the railroad, right at the base of the mountain. I haven't made a good effort to describe the land around here. On one side there is the lake or the river. On the other are high rocky hills. They are shaped just like mountains and are covered with trees. Just beyond them are similar hills only they have snow on them. Sometimes there is enough space between the road and the mountains for a ranch. Sometimes there is a cliff I can reach out and touch from the narrow shoulder of the road.
These are the Bitterroot Mountains. I have been walking between them for days. Never up and over, just weaving my way through, following the river uphill. The tallest one from where I sat this morning is called, I think, the Scotsman. It has a little extra blip on top and a lot of extra snow. But it was warm where I was sitting and my feet were icy cold.
I watched the trains go by and got dressed and met a woman called Tika who may very well have been an hallucination. She was a pixie, a positive force. She brought with her two handsome dogs. I talked and talked and talked and talked. She talked a little, too. I was back on the road at three.
I had been tempted to stay where I was, to give my feet a chance to heal. But I have got to do some walking. Ours is an awfully big country. Better my rest days be low-mileage days where I do make some small forward progress. I have been rather a bum these last several days. I am deeply ashamed of myself.
Just outside of Clark Fork I met a man who made this journey last year. Only he ran. Thirty miles a day. To honour our fallen soldiers. I walk eight miles a day and eat three desserts. Because it's do this or go get a job. He bought me lunch which was decent of him. It's not his fault he's the better man.
I spent a long time in Mom's Cafe, talking about Viggo Mortenson. He's an actor who owns land up here. I knew he was in the area because yesterday I met a woodcarver who sells the odd piece to him. Turns out he bought all the land around a mountain and cut off all access to a popular trailhead. He has shut down a local road and is providing haven to a 180lb. cougar who is getting fat on the local livestock. Everyone hopes the cougar eats Viggo's $100,000 horse.
I walked on from there, but not far. It's my day off, don't you know. I had intended to stop at the Montana border but I found a delightful campsie two miles short. I am not sure I am supposed to be here, but there are places in America just too beautiful not to pitch a tent.
ATTACKED outside of Clark Fork by more mosquitos than you have ever seen in one place at one time. They followed me for miles and were most cruel. The expensive bug repellant I bought yesterday just makes them horny.
LAST NIGHT I got up to enjoy a long pee and looked up at the stars in the sky. You wouldn't believe me if I told you. I watched them for hours.
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