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Idaho and the Sawtooths – Part 2

After a morning falling over myself a lot on a long downhill stretch of trail, I met a couple of hikers at a trail junction. They’d come from the trail I was contemplating taking up to Sawtooth Lake, and I asked them about it. They’d said it had been overgrown and slow, mostly bushwhacking through undergrowth occasionally popping up to take stock of the surroundings and ensure that they were still on track. After kicking so many rocks and taking so many tumbles, I decided it wasn’t for me and instead took a long winding route around the mountain to the same lake. Once I reached the trailhead on the far side, though, I came across a ranger nailing a new sign to the noticeboard. The trails were closed due to a new fire, and the lake area was being evacuated. If I’d taken the first trail, I might have been in significant danger.

Instead, I started on a 40 mile road-walk back to Stanley. Anyone familiar with my PCT journey knows how much I adore walking long distances on roads, especially ones busy with traffic. After just a few miles, before I’d even reached the highway, I saw some people bathing in the river and decided to go and do the same. The river was a mix of hot spring water and cold river water, and people had constructed little rock pools in various places to control the temperature for sitting. I got talking to a couple of retired music professors, up for a weekend of fishing. They asked me about my journey, and I told them about the fire. They offered to drive me back to Stanley, 40 miles of highway and at least 20 miles beyond where they needed to be.

In Stanley, at least, they let me buy them a drink to say thank you, and they sat with me in the bar whilst I looked at maps and decided what to do next, since I had a couple of days to kill before I needed to be back for my ride to Boise. They then made their second incredible offer, one of dinner in their cabin and the workshop to sleep in. Incredible generosity and hospitality. I hung out with them for a day and a half, watching hummingbirds on the porch.

The third incredible offer came during the day off, when they told me they’d called a friend who was driving into Boise and would happily take me along. It turned out they’d also called another friend who lived in Boise who would pick me up from the Post Office where I had to pick up a box, and take me back to his house where I could stay for the afternoon. He was fascinating too, a psychologist who’d worked with all sorts of people with all sorts of issues. Liberal and hippy, we spent a fabulous afternoon talking. He’d been contemplating offering me the spare room, but wife was somewhat wary of the slightly eccentric stranger and wasn’t comfortable with it, but he did drop me off at a BnB I’d booked. I could hardly believe the generosity of this community of strangers.

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