So, it’s been quite a while since I posted anything, because I’ve mostly been going to school. I have, however, been on spring break, which has allowed me to get out a little bit. I originally planned on hitchhiking to Great Basin National Park in Nevada, but I decided that it was a bit ambitious and there were some things I wanted to do here in town too. I started my break off by helping out with a youth retreat, which is a great time of sleep deprivation, caffeine, dancing, shenaningans, and of course prayer, bible study, and worship. After retreat I slept for 14 hours and hung out in Polson for a few days.
I did decide to go south on highway 93, just not as far as Nevada. I initially went to some hiking areas in the Selway-Bitterroot Wilderness, an area of hiking trails that straddles the Montana and Idaho border. It was still pretty snowy for hiking, but it was pretty cool all the same. One of the areas I went to, Blodgett Canyon, is pretty popular for rock climbing, so I went there and scrambled around. I don’t know if there is a designated area or something, but I had to cross a beaver dam and go up some random hillside. Being the poser that I am, I didn’t climb anything too serious; it was mostly semi-vertical formations and a little bit of legit bouldering. Nonetheless, if I slipped this could have been me:
Some of the bouldering was legitimately scary for me. It was quite a beautiful area, but given that I only had my camera phone, I didn’t get any nice pics. Here is one I found on Google though:
After Blodgett Canyon I headed further south down 93 into Idaho. I wanted to go to some hot springs down by Salmon. It is not the most well-known spot, so it was a bit hard to find. At first I couldn’t remember if the turn off was near mile 292 or 282, so I fumbled around a bit. I eventually found it by 282, but there is no sign or anything. It’s a mile or two to hike up to the springs and it was getting late, so I just set up camp. Side note: my homemade camping stove worked pretty well. It is made out of a cat food can, a tuna can, a piece of fiberglass, and is fueled by Heet. It is very lightweight and affordable. Here is a link if you want to make one yourself : http://zenstoves.net/CatCanStove.htm
I got up fairly early the next day to head to the springs, thinking it would be best when it was still a bit chilly. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of the springs, so you will just have to go there yourself! They are nestled in a little, rocky canyon. There are about four pools up there varying in size, mine was about the size of a big bath tub. I think there is a bigger one but I didn’t go to it because it was occupied by a couple and I didn’t want to walk into something like this:
So I was content to alternate between my little hottub and the ice cold stream that flowed down the mountainside. I had some fun climbing up the creek bed that was strewn with boulders. I made it up to a little waterfall and put my head under it. Instantly numb, I hurried back to the hottub. I left late morning/early afternoon and at the perfect time. On my way out about a dozen people passed me headed for the springs.
I headed back to Polson that day via a circuitous route up by Hot Springs and then returned to Hot Springs the next day to soak and go to a rave. Kind of a random place to have a rave; Hot Springs is pretty much in the middle of nowhere, but it’s a cool little town. It was a pretty small rave that didn’t necessarily play my kind of music, but it was fun nonetheless. I met a Jehovah’s Witness guy there and we talked about God for quite a while, which was cool until I lost my voice. That JW sure could dance too; I didn’t think they were allowed to go to raves.
Despite that the party went all night, I went home “early”, about 3 AM. 2 days after the rave I was grocery shopping and picked up a hitchhiker. He told me that he was Missoula bound (about an hour away) so I told him I would take him. His eventual destination was Seattle, and after some deliberating I decided to just take him to Seattle (about an 8 hour drive); I had nothing better to do. So I drove the guy to Seattle and we got there at about 2 AM Tuesday morning. He showed me around a bit and took me to a cool viewpoint of the city. I opted to not do the space needle since it costs 15 bucks or more and really isn’t even that high. That night we pulled into a park and slept in my car. Well, he might of slept, I tossed and turned and maybe got 2-3 hours.
The next morning we got up and toured the city more extensively in the day time. We went to the main parts of town and to a cool park called gas works, which I heard of on this blog http://www.valisemag.com/a-day-in-the-sun-gas-works-park/. All was going well until I burnt out my clutch on a steep road. I was able to get my car, which smelled like burnt toast every time I shifted, to a transmission shop. The short of it: new clutch in Seattle= 900 dollars. I considered selling my car for parts, but decided against it. So I left it in the shop and wandered down 4th avenue.
I figured I would hang out with some of the local homeless people and drug addicts, since I saw many while I was driving around. It wasn’t long before I found some. There were a few emaciated people who I knew right off the bat were on heroin, but others didn’t look like they were. In the part of town I was in there is a clinic that gives out clean needles to heroin users. I happened upon a free-spirited looking guy of about my age sitting with his skateboard and made some small talk with him (I’ll call him “Jackson”). He said he heading to the needle exchange and asked if I wanted to come, so I walked with him.
A couple young, black guys met up with us at the building. After Jackson got out of the needle exchange, the group started walking down 4th avenue again. I started to talk to one of the other guys “Tim” a little bit. He had been on heroin (or black as he called it) for about two years, and shooting it for about 6 months. I told him it was dangerous, to which he agreed. He said he was having trouble getting his life on track and he blamed himself for a lot of stuff. He said he needed a change of scenery, so I told him to come to Montana. I wish I could’ve brought him back and gotten him a place to stay away from all of that. I shared about the Lord with him a bit, which he was pretty open to. It seemed they had a lot of errands to run, so I didn’t get to talk with him too much. While we were walking a black guy in about his thirties with a 20 something white guy in a hoodie asked us for “shards” (meth). We stopped and talked with them a bit too. Another guy asked if I wanted to buy some “clear” (meth).
After a bit, I parted ways with the group and just hung out on this block that was overrun by people tweaking out, selling drugs, sleeping, etc. There was a security guard nearby, but I guess he didn’t notice or care that some dude was selling pills out of his lunchbox. One of the guys buying looked like a high school English teacher or something. I offered a limping guy prayer, to which he refused. The whole scene was overwhelming and sad. I met back up with my friend on this block and we headed back to the shop to await my car. After spending an hour or so in the waiting room, we drove back downtown to drop my friend off at the homeless shelter. The traffic was atrocious though because there was an accident on a freeway. He eventually got out and walked, which goes to show how slow we were going.
I headed out of town, hoping to make it Spokane, but actually making it all the way home in the wee hours of the morning. I would’ve liked to stay in Seattle for a few days, but I was over sleeping in my car, and after maxing out my credit card to fix my car, I wasn’t going to stay in a hotel. I suppose I could’ve found a place to camp, but I had stuff to do in Polson anyway. After spending so much to get my car fixed and learning of numerous other expensive problems, I am wondering if I am going to be able to much this summer. I am still planning on going to California, but I’m not sure if I will still be able to hike the John Muir Trail, go to Burning Man, or climb Mt. Shasta; it seems doubtful right now. We will see though, ten more weeks of school and I will be out of here! Stay tuned.