Welcome to Montana!
Friday morning I hit the road and headed to Missoula, MT. I had been in the area ten years ago and remember how beautiful it was, and how many mountains there are. My memory didn't have it right, it is way more beautiful than I remember.
Day 10: Pull into Missoula, get camp set up and head into downtown to get a pizza. I have been recommended a place, Biga, that gets its ingredients locally sourced and am told the pizza is delic. So I order the pizza and head back to the car to change into running clothes. Now, I have to say I was 110% impressed with myself because you see, I was in "normal clothes" at this point and I wanted to take W for a few miles through town while my pizza cooked. Yet, I was parked in the middle of downtown with people walking by. And, me being me, instead of finding a bathroom to change in, I totally changed my outfit, in my car, with no one the wiser! It took some doing, but I did it. hahaha
I headed down towards a local park that had a live band singing, people paddle board and kayaking in the rapids in the river, and families out enjoying a nice evening. We ran just a few miles, enjoying the sites and sounds of the city. Then we grabbed the pizza and headed to camp. Side Note: the pizza was awesome!
Day 11: Sheep Mountain: Get up early and head to Darren's to drop of Waylon. Darren had fresh coffee brewed and waiting and we spent a few minutes drinking some coffee and talking about the upcoming run. I am taking his pup, Daisy, with us on the run. So I load her into the car and head out. I head towards the trail to meet up with Chad, Noah, and Travis. We are doing a 20 miler. I don't really know what to expect having never run in this part of the country. The short version is: 10 MILES STRAIGHT UP, and 10 MILES STRAIGHT DOWN!
The longer version goes like this: Get to the trail head, introductions are made, dogs are happy to greet each other and we head up the mountain. Now, this really is 10 miles straight up the mountain. We do a mix of run and hike as we head up. We are chatting about races we have done, history of the area, and just about everything else under the sun. When we are about halfway up the mountain, Travis comes back from around the bend and says "I just scared a black bear off the trail, call in the dogs". So we call in the dogs, make some noise to announce our presence, and keep running. Within 100 feet we find a fresh bear track. Very cool! We keep the dogs close for a few miles as we keep climbing. We stop a few times to let the dogs play in the pockets of snow and grab a drink from our packs. Both Daisy and Humphries (Chad's pup) will drink from a bottle or bladder.
We get to the top. At the top of the peak there is a big rock wall that we all add a rock too. We stop and grab some nutrition and look at the panoramic views. Mountains on Mountains on Mountains. It. Is. GORGEOUS! Then we head back down.
Now on the way up we had to crawl over and around several downed trees. So I decide I am going to count them on the way down. Now, I though there maybe was a dozen. So when I get to a dozen pretty quick, we are all surprised. Then, we hit 2 dozen. Oy Vey! Final count.... 31. 31 times we either had to crawl over and completely go off trail to get around a downed tree. That is 62 trees overall. We will call it cross training.
At one point we take a wrong turn, but we figure it out pretty quick. Luckily Chad had his map on him or else we would have ended up on a different mountain. Oops. We turn around and get back on the right track. Then we hit the trail head. 20.5 miles. We say our goodbyes, I take Daisy back to Darren's and grab Waylon and head back to camp. I get showered and lay down for a little bit. A storm rolls through and we wait it out in the tent, reading a book and chowing on some gummy bears and trail mix.
Once the storm rolls through, I take Waylon up to Rattlesnake Trails and we do an easy 3 miles. Mostly walking to be honest. He gets to play in the crick and sniff all of the things. He is a happy dog! Then I drop him back off at Darren's and head to a local brewery where I have a slice of pizza and a great wheat beer, learning more about the history of Missoula. Then back to camp, eat some food and head to bed.
Day 12: Sleep in until 7:30, it was awesome. Grab the pup and head to Darren's. Once there I get a cup and of coffee and we head out to meet up with Chad. We are doing a 10 mile loop. We are running Mt. Sentinal, which is right by the University. We ran, yuup you guessed it, UP the mountain. Now these guys are BEASTS on these hills. But I pushed and ran up most of the way. I really feel like I am getting stronger.
Then some eggs Benedict (without the meat for me of course). I plan on taking W up to the mountains and a lake later today to get his some exercise. I will do one more run in the area before I head out to Washington. It has been a great place to run!