Again drums persisted until the sun stood well above the hills. We rolled out of our nook back to base camp. The forest was beginning to clear out even more as the festivities subsided. A new air had fallen over the valley. Tired and tried people packed up and shuffled towards the end of the valley. Camps dismantled and scattered. Trash piles mounted and were slowly taken to the distant mouth of the valley.
We grabbed our food bag and headed out of the oppressive atmosphere for a quiet breakfast. Upon a tall hill, reflecting on the experience we decided we had had enough. Bikes packed we joined the exodus; reminiscent of refugees escaping disaster.
The post-apocalyptic scene was completed as we reached the end of the long valley. Trash peaks dismantled and sorted. A foul burn pile emitted the stench of burning plastic and synthetic fabric. The stranded lined the road, hoping for a lifeline out of the chaos.
We faced the dreaded gravel though luckily a kindly pickup driver gave us a lift for the majority. Back on the smooth asphalt we were grateful to have two-wheeled freedom. Jackson Hot Springs caught our attention not long after. One Cobb salad later and a brief conversation with some other cycle tourists we headed out.
After roughly two days without riding we cut through the stiff headwind. Soon enough we came upon the two bikers we had just met and constructed a four person draft column. Hank and Terry had already completed two passes that morning in the dreadwind and were happy to have us help pull them into Wisdom, MT. We exchanged some photos and parted ways. Back across the strange grass and sagebrush landscape we left Big Hole behind.
The sinking sun grew larger as we rolled into the May Creek Campground. There we quickly met Nancy, another cyclist. She is riding the Lewis and Clark trail in reverse - check out her blog! We talked into twilight and finally ate the roadside score of tiny shrimp. The temperature dropped as rapidly as it had risen. We settled into our bags with a mere 9 miles before crossing the Continental Divide back into Cascadia.