Leaving Leadore was easier since everyone else had left the day before. Sometimes I have to marvel at our luck as it had rained all day on them while we stayed nice and dry in town. I actually have a rule: I don’t leave town in the rain. Turns out that all the other hikers got rain every day. Our luck held out until the evening before Lima, but more on that in a minute.
The trail continued to actually follow the Divide on grassy ridgelines. On the first day out of town we climbed over 10,000 feet for the first time and enjoyed lunch with stunning 360 degree views. We broke that record the next day by taking a side trail over an 11,000 foot peak. The wildlife has been picking the as well. We saw several herds of elk, plenty of mule deer and even some jackrabbits.
Each day we watched afternoon storms blow across either right in front of us or right behind. However our luck ran out yesterday evening. We were halfway through a ten+ mile section up on the high ridgeline of the Divide. The ridge was wide open grassland with a barbed wire fence running down the middle marking the ID/MT state line. We watched as a large storm slowly came rolling our way. With nowhere to go, we donned our raingear and hiked on as it started raining. Shortly thereafter the lighting started. As a matter of habit we counted seconds between the flash and thunder to determine the distance. It started several miles away but each strike seemed to get closer to us. When it hit a mile away, we decided we had no choice but to find cover. We headed the only way open to us; down. We literally ran down a gully dropping some 500 feet in a matter of minutes. We made it to a small grouping of trees and hunkered down while the storm blew over.
After it let up, we decided to hike on as the camping there was miserable. We used the large climb back up to warm ourselves. Reaching the Divide again we turned around and were rewarded with a stunning sunset behind storm clouds. Because of the rain delay we hiked until almost too dark to see before we dropped off the Divide and camped in a field.
If you are going to be rained on, there really isn’t a better time than the night before town where you can do laundry and dry out. With our normal efficiency we made it to town before noon and had all our chores done lickity split. We watched the other group of hikers leave again to head back to the trail. 30 minutes later it was raining :-)