June 7-8, 340 miles hiked
We took a zero day in Pie Town, which was actually very relaxing because there’s not much to do in that town except relax at the toaster house, wander the one dirt road that the town sits on, or eat at the one open cafe. There isn’t even a store. Sometime in the afternoon, two other hikers appeared! This was very exciting for us, as we’d seen only one other hiker the entire trip so far and really missed the camaraderie of seeing other hikers (or even humans, for that matter) out on the trail. They were Mark and Monique, also from Oregon! We chatted about the trail, comparing notes and sorting our food. That afternoon we wandered over to the community center and met Nita, the owner of the toaster house. She told us about a restaurant in Datil, 20 miles down the road, that we needed to experience, mentioning their amazing beef several times. We’d also heard of this restaurant from Mark, and decided we should go. Nita let us borrow her car, and within minutes, we were there.
Datil seemed to consist of a gas station and convenience store, which the restaurant was attached to. On a big sign outside, in place of the gas prices, the letters were arranged to read, “anyone but Hillary,” and on the other side it said “anyone but Bernie.” The walls were lined with guns, flags, and elk heads. We ordered our beef, and when our food came I ate my cheeseburger in record speed and then felt like I could eat three more. Phil worked on a huge slab of steak. Indeed, it was delicious beef.
When we arrived back at the house, two mountain bikers had arrived. I’ve recently learned about the existence of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, which goes from the Mexican border all the way up to Banff, Canada. The trail follows a similar route, so we’ve gotten used to seeing lots of mountain bikers along the way. Everyone at the house had seen my violin and convinced me to play for them, so I played fiddle tunes and some Bach. It was so nice to play for people. By this point, I had gotten very tired of carrying the violin, and was even considering sending it home in Pie Town. Playing at the toaster house gave me a new surge of inspiration, and I decided I’d carry the violin a little while longer.
Then, Nita decided that we needed to have a jam session the following night. Arrangements were made for me and Phil to walk the trail out of town the next day, which was a thirty-mile dirt road walk, and then get picked up and taken back to the toaster house. So, the next day, we walked 28 miles down the perfectly flat, straight dirt road. The first water was 15 miles in, at the home of John and Anzie Thomas. The Thomases were an elderly couple that lived in a huge converted barn. They told us many stories, ranging from the Vietnam War to their marriage (they got married when she was 14 and he was 17).
Radar, who was also staying at the toaster house, came to get us at 6:30. When we got back to Pie Town, the house was full of people and gigantic slabs of steak were being grilled. Various varieties of whiskey were spread out on the table. It seemed that Nita had invited the entire town, and everyone had brought their instruments. What followed was a wonderful, four-hour jam session. Everyone sang, many played guitar, and I fiddled along. After the monotony of the trail, it was just what I needed.
One of the mountain bikers at the house that night was a musician (percussionist) doing an awesome project during his journey. He has commissioned thirty composers to write a piece for each time he crosses the Continental Divide during his bike trip, and is making a video about it. We decided to collaborate on an impromptu improv/spoken word piece before we headed back to the trail, during which he PLAYED THE TOASTERS with his mallets and Nita read haikus. Learn more about his project at http://www.sonicdivide.com. So cool!
Pie Town was a magical place.