It is my custom of a morning to stuff my thermal underwear and sleeping bag into my pack sit cross-legged on my thin little air mattress. Naked. While I contemplate the day ahead. Sometimes my mind wanders; sometimes I wonder what in life brought me to this.
These meditations were cut short this morning with the arrival of a carload of librarians with kayaks strapped to their roof. Stripped of their trappings of power, wearing life jackets and spray skirts, the really weren't all that intimidating. Once I got my pants on I was happy to see them.
You see, something had been bothering me all day yesterday. Why, I wondered, is the Missouri flowing northwest when all the laws of decency and good sense suggest it should be moving southwest? And who better than a bevy of kayaking librarians to clear it up.
I had some trouble phrasing my question but they did not disappoint. It seems, I am informed, that until the last ice age, the Missouri flowed north and eventually east and emptied into the St. Lawrence River. But then something happened and it changed its mind and now it flows into the Mississippi. But it takes a convoluted path to get there, taking in all manner of Dakotas and, for all I know, parts of Canada.
I really ought to study a map one of these days. I rarely have more than tbe vaguest idea where I am. And which mountain is which and which river and which town and where the hell I am going. Today I walked eighteen of twenty miles straight uphill, which made me wonder if crossing the continental divide is really all it's cracked up to be.
I had a light breakfast at the Bunkhouse Saloon and loitered while I charged my computer. I had seventeen Cokes and watched Fox News. I was not on the road until noon. The first thing I saw turning right out the door was a row of jaggedy mountains. They were tall and unfriendly and covered with snow and stretched all the way across the horizon.
It was 99 degrees when I crossed the Rockies, that's like sixty-five to our metric friends. Today was a balmy eighty-nine. But I had just seen a TV report about sunstroke and was sure I had all the symptoms. I was sweating, that much is certain. I was sure I was going to die.
Or at the very least be squooshed by a car. The road I was on had no shoulder. And one shady billboard and one clump of trees on the whole long uphill run. There were no towns nor much of anything. I put down my head and walked.
It was pretty in its Central Montana way. I do like those Sharpei hills. And the vast--vast--and very green fields of what I think now are potatoes. They have little white flowers or little purple flowers. Sometimes I'll see one escaped from its pen and growing on the side of the road and I want to yank it up to see if it is a potato but that seems kind of mean so I don't.
It wasn't too hot. My knees were clicking but I enjoyex a pretty good walk. When I at last arrived at the I-90 junction I thought I'd put in a couple more miles but it turned out it was 8:30 so I ate half a Subway sandwich, hiked a quarter mile down a frontage road and pitched my tent. In a high wind on the distant edge of what might be a potato field.
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