Expectations are silly little things. We often attach them to people and places, but feel let down when they don't meet our needs. You never know what to expect on the trail or when coming into town. That's what makes this journey so fantastic, I suppose. I live in a constant surprise of what my day will bring.
I met Sheri, John and father Fred in my first town stop. They invited us to sit at their table as we gorged down our burgers and beer. Kindred spirits from the moment we met. Fred had a homestead outside of Polbridge, Montana and Sheri and John were up for a quick visit from Ione, WA. We got to talking and realized that the PNT runs just outside of their riverside retreat, a few hundred miles in the future. I promised a visit when I got close.
Two weeks later, and I made it to Metaline Falls. I checked into the Historic Washington Hotel, a delightful resting spot for any hiker with laundry included in the $40 room! Onward to the 5th Avenue Bar and Grill for my favorite, a triple BLT no mayo extra beer. Naturally, the retired couple sitting behind me should be from a small village in the country of Montenegro, just miles from where I spent my early married summers. Zdravo! Kako si!? What a night we spent reminiscing of the Adriatic Coast!
After a delicious breakfast at Cathy's Cafe, I got ahold of John and Sheri and made my way to the neighboring town of Ione, Washington for a zero day with my new friends. We picked thimble berries all over their property and took the boat out for a ride up the Pend Orielle River, under the Orange Bridge, scouting out bald eagle nests. Sometimes, I get this feeling that I must be doing something very right in my life when I find myself filled with these perfect experiences. They treated me to dinner at Dillon's new hot spot, The Block... a hikers paradise. His place was packed with friendly locals, rounds of drinks, hip decor and delicious food. See for yourself, you won't be disappointed. Mary Kay and DeLane (from the PNT board, who also own a kayaking company that can arrange a quick trip up the river to enhance your hike), met us at the bar. These trail angels are stations smack in the middle of Metaline Falls, and if any of you hikers don't at least make a quick stop to introduce yourselves, I will be personally offended.
The night ended with a jacuzzi bath (!!!) and hours of conversation, bonding me and my new friends as family. I don't quite know how to express my gratitude... all I can say is thank you from the top of my heart.
The trail has been tough on me this past week, but I keep pushing forward, expectations on the side. Who could have guessed that I would be rewarded with one of the best days ever? My only regret was missing the Down River Days where all the neighboring towns come together and race their snowmobiles across the river... That's right, snowmobiles! I hope to be back next year to catch the extravaganza, but hikers, if you're in the area on the last weekend of July, you must check this out! It's a process, leaving your expectations behind, but life is so ridiculously full when you let go and just ride.