So, there’s been a side story happening on this journey and it’s time I let it loose.
I met someone amazing this summer. One early July morning in West Yellowstone, I walked into a bike/coffee shop (Freeheel and Wheel) to be a mooch. A grumpy one at that. I was trying to find a local to get a package to Old Faithful Inn for me, since the post probably wouldn’t beat me there. A handsome, smiley fellow, we call him Craig, was not only unannoyed, but genuinely interested in my quest. He found me a friendly local to carry the package down within minutes and we exchanged numbers after a quick date at the Taco Bus later that afternoon. We hit it off, but I didn’t really realize what an impression it had made on me until I walked out of town.
It changed the game, somehow. I was thinking about quitting up to that point, but something about the way he took so much interest in what I was doing, reminded me of why I was out there in the first place. I was pretty interested in his life adventures, too. He mentioned he was running the Beaverhead 100k that following weekend. A race I’d been thinking about a ton, having just come through the area. Turns out he’s a fellow Minnesota native, as well. There were some unique parallels between us, him in West Yellowstone and me in West Glacier, both loving the hell out of life and running around mostly solo.
I called him after Beaverhead to see how he did for the 100k (which was really well) and found that talking on the phone was incredibly natural. So next thing you know, we’re calling each other in every town. And within weeks, I’m running my tail off through Colorado to get to his first 100 mile race.
I made it! I hiked all of Colorado in 3 1/2 weeks so that I could rent a car and pass through his neck of the woods a day before his race. His dad, a couple great friends of his, and I were his crew last weekend. And man oh man! What a thing to see. He was unbelievable. I ran the last stretch with him and could barely keep up. It didn’t seem possible that this happy guy, rock hopping and loving life, had just run 90-some miles and was coming up on hour 28 with no sleep. It was amazing.
I spent a few days with him after his race. In which, he walked around like nothing had happened. Then we went up to Helena together and he walked a bit of the CDT with me and sent me on my way. He’ll be coming up to Glacier next week for the big finish.
Needless to say, I’m hooked. He’s been a great inspiration for me on this trail and I’m embracing this adventure with the same giddy, wide-open arms that I’ve had on this walk. For reasons I cannot explain, it’s just been one-big-fat YES!