Saturday, June 25, 2011

Day Twenty-Nine, Long Lazy Summer Afternoons

I managed all of sixteen miles today. I could have done better, I know. I got a good start, though; you'd have been proud of me. I woke up at seven o'clock. I packed up my gear in record time and was on the road by eight-fifteen. I'll tell you one thing about mornings in Idaho. They are gawdawful cold. My fingers complained bitterly over every zipper and strap.

My feet hurt until I put on my shoes. Then everything was peachy. I charged into Dover and then on to Sandpoint where I had heard there was a laundromat. I use my dirty laundry as a pillow and it was getting a little ripe. It had started to colour my dreams.

Sandpoint, Idaho is a prosperous town of six or seven thousand people. It has a sort of rich-people vibe like I have always imagined Aspen, Colorado might have. It's not exactly boutiquey, but it is neat and well-groomed and is surrounded by snow-covered hills. There is a suggestion of snow, at any rate. I'm told it has usually melted by now. There too is the lake, just off to the side and ringed with some very expensive looking cabins.

All up the road as I was on my way here people were saying, 'Wait'll you get to Sandpoint. You're gonna love it there!" I guess I imagined a kind of hippie paradise. That was Elk. Sandpoint is just a nice little town.

But it's big enough to make me wary. I get used to the wild outdoors. I guess most of my focus was on walking in and on walking out again. Maybe I didn't give Sandpoint a chance. I did meet some very nice ladies at the laundromat. One even came and visited later, some miles up the road. It is always nice to catch up with old friends.

I guess I had walked some ten miles at that point. It had been effortless. But my stomach was a little sloshy from drinking nineteen glasses of water and three Pepsis and a large huckleberry shake.

I'm not altogether sure what huckleberries are, but there are a lot of them on offer up here. Young men, at great personal risk, venture into the wilderness and gather them up, winning both fortune and esteem. It is dangerous because bears also like to eat huckleberries. Next time you eat a huckleberry, remember it was paid for with human lives.

After that my blisters popped and my bag got heavy and I lost all motivation. Those last few miles were a struggle. And I kept finding rocks and big friendly trees and places to take a rest. It is beautiful country up here. I like lakes and rivers and big fluffy clouds. It all made resting too easy. I spent too many hours sitting in the sun, thinking of nothing much. I really ought have been walking.

But then my feet get a say and despite these new blisters, they have been remarkably cooperative. My bones don't ache anymore and my toes have all but stopped seeping. I think these new deep blisters are the last ones for a while. I can hardly wait.

One place I stopped was at one of those drive-thru espresso huts you see popping up in parking lots a over America. But this one was different. It was beautifully painted and had a lawn and a picnic table where I could rest my feet. I thought too a coffee might help but the little shop was closed. I sipped discount Gatorade and waited for a train to pass by.

Eventually the owners did turn up. They were Bob and Colleen. They are bikers. They live in the forest. The bears are their only friends. Collen gave me muffins and fancy water and energy drinks for the road. She is nice, she says, because she is Canadian. I remembered Polly who gave me banana bread in the earliest days of my adventure. She is Canadian, too, I think, at least by marriage. Sometimes I wonder if I'm walking across the wrong country.

I didn't make it too many miles from there. I was surrounded by steep hills and it was starting to get dark. I saw a dirt road up into the woods and I found a patch for my tent. From here I overlook the lake and my next ten miles of highway as it winds its way past three hills. The first hill was still in the midday sun when I began typing this, then the next, then the next. Now it is all quite dark. I am chasing the sun to the east.

Google tells me I am camped in the Pend Oreille Wildlife Management Area. That rather makes me uneasy. If I am eaten, know that I died as I lived, sobbing like a little girl.

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  1. `JAMES' ' WEIRD TRIP IS JUST PEACHY.(What's Happening)(Review)

    Publication:Seattle Post-Intelligencer Publish date:April 12, 1996 Author:Arnold, William Copyright


  2. I am enjoying your posts so very much great writing like we can actually see it like were traveling right along with you such detail, each day I read the pain you are dealing concerns me. I hope your feet heal sometime soon and yes I am Canadian I have dual citizenship. You must go across Canada someday or at least south to North such hospitality Canadians are very nice :)Be safe just don't take food in your tent.

    Happy trails

    Miss Polly