By the time the sun rose over Morrison Lake, we started back down trail. We passed by the glass like surface of the lake. No fish were raising quite yet and the two campers that sat at the water’s edge remained lifeless from the night before. We began to climb up a steep two track road before reaching a sandy green saddle. A pack of a dozen bull elk moved in unison away from us as we approached, stopping only once to look back at us before continuing on into the trees. We continued on down the trail into Leadore, but not without hiking through cow herd after cow herd after cow herd. We would pass by the cows that would startle at first sight of us, then we would pass by the ones that stood their ground causing us to pick up the pace and not turn our backs. Back and forth we danced with the cows, between superior and inferior, intimidating and passive. We followed the gravel road through a canyon with large rock walls extending on either side and the smell of manure warming up in the morning sun. We passed by a campground with people setting up for the upcoming eclipse. We even passed by a dead badger laying on the road lifeless yet still intimidating at the sight of his razor sharp claws.
Finally, the small town of Leadore, Idaho came into view nestled in the valley. Here began the never ending road walk into town. We will save you the mind numbing details and jump ahead to when we arrived outside of the Stage Stop market and wondered inside. Cool drinks and an extended version of your typical convenience mart. We were in heaven.
After grabbing a much desired Sprite and Gatorade, we started walking down the street towards The Leadore Inn, known to hikers as Sam’s house. Positioned on the highway facing porch looking out into the world from the familiarity and comfort of an office chair, a grey haired gentleman sat. Although he was seated, his height did not diminish. He was a big man but spoke gently. Tyke sat in a wooden chair joining Sam on the porch. We found out that there were no more rooms available but we were welcome to camp on his lawn. We also were pleasantly surprised to see our boxes sitting among towers of other resupply boxes. Camping sounded perfect and cheap. So we paid Sam five dollars for the night, five for showers, and five for laundry.
Before showers and laundry, we decided to find some food before the grumpiness creeped in (it may have been too late for Critter). We looked at our options. In a town of one restaurant, it was certainly a tough decision. We only took but a second or two to process our next move before we began to walk down to the Silver Dollar Cafe.
When we arrived at the front door, we left the bright, washed out tones of the cradle of the valley and entered into a dark, musk. As the door shut behind us, whilst our eyes adjusted, a small women stomped past us and out the door, yelling over her shoulder, “I have to run an errand. Grab a menu and sit down!”
The door slammed shut once again. With no luck of finding a menu, we just took a seat at a table. A healthy amount of time passed as we took in the family-owned decor and grew hungrier and hungrier. Signs that were scattered around the room taught us that we probably should not make any modifications to whatever we did decide to order. Finally, a younger woman came up to us dropping menus down in front of us and two glasses of water.
“Becky, will be right with you,” she said as she whipped around and disappeared back into the kitchen. The woman named Becky did end up showing back up, maybe an hour later. She took our order; a grilled cheese with fries and a burger with fries. Ten minutes later she came back out and asked, “Hun, what cheese do you want? Bread?” Critter answered, “Swiss on sourdough?” In response to Critter’s hesitation, Becky spat out, “got it,” and marched back into the kitchen. Another hour or so passed before we finally were able to eat, pay, and leave the Silver Dollar Cafe. Lunchtime had long passed, and as we emerged from the dark restaurant, the unforgiving intensity of the afternoon sun took us by surprised. We made our way back down to Sam’s.
The occupants of the Inn took their place on the porches of their rooms. We began our laundry, showered, and started to organize all of our food in our resupply box. Critter, in effort to finish her own laundry, folded another hiker’s laundry and returned them to him. Quickly she was mocked by a handful of surrounding hikers... apparently that’s not a common thing that happens in the hiking community.
As Critter began to set up the tent, Garbelly went back out in search of dinner. See, we had been in the Cafe for so long that we were hungry again. This would prove to be a common theme over the next day and the hours spent at the Silver Dollar. Garbelly arrived at the bar that shared the same building as the Cafe. Walking in he immediately was out-of-place. The room became quiet and all eyes were on him. A knife couldn’t cut the tension in the room. However, simply ordering a beer at the bar retuned the room to normal.
The next day we headed back down to the Silver Dollar for breakfast before heading back to trail. Just as we were paying... two hours later... who walked through the door but Liam and Kate! At this point our day was toast and immediately turned into a zero day. They joined us for then lunch at the Cafe and afterwards we all headed back to Sam’s to sit on the porch for a couple of hours.
Sam took to his daily routine of sitting on the porch waving at every car to pass by on the small highway that bisected town. Beyond the buildings of town and the fields of sage brush rose the mountains. Hadie Mae and Yogi, Sam’s friend, joined us on the porch, and the late sun started to lower behind us. John Prine played from their small CD player and they sang along under their breaths.
Dinner time rolled around and Liam, Kate, and the two of us headed back down to the Silver Dollar for some food. After our meal, Becky brought out Pictionary and the four of us dove into a hilarious game. The game finished, and we made it back to our tents way past hikers midnight. Having Liam and Kate’s tent awkwardly close to our tent had become comfort by this point, familiar, and we all fell asleep as our laughing faded out with the passing of the occasional car on the highway.
Garbelly e Critter