Tagged: continental divide trail

Lander, WY

It’s 6:30am and I’m up. That’s normal, I do that every day. But one of
the great things about waking up early in town is that while I’ve got
a kick start on the day, the rest of reality is still on it’s slow
schedule. So here I am, spending time on my hotel’s computer, waiting
for the world to gear up so that I can get back to the trail. My ride
this morning is, as usual, the Official Saintly Naomi. The same
fantastic specimen that put my up in her hotel room when I was injured
up in Glacier. The same fantastic person who has repeatedly visited
her husband on the trail and by extension all of us. She drives us
around. She’s non-trail company. She drinks beer with us. She’s
officially a Saint. This morning, after breakfast, she’s driving Wing
It, Don’t Panic, Lost and I up to the trail. It’s some 40 miles each
way, and would be a very hard hitch considering that there are a few
murderer fugitives out on the lamb in WY right now, that there is an
intersection that diverts traffic between myself and the trail, and
that it’s illegal to hitch in this state.

The whole crew came in to Lander last night. People seem to be in
various states. Lots of abused looking faces. Some deep sunburns. Some
Hiker Hobbles. Three people are sick. etc, etc.. So people are zeroing
today, and Lost and I find ourselves in front of the pack. We’ve all
left the high mountains and are heading into the desert. Forecast is
80 degree, sunny and likely windy. Not bad. Plus, we’ve got the crazy
idea of doing a 50 mile day. The plan is to try it on the last day in
to Rawlins. I hope I make it!

The memories of the Winds are still vivid. Especially the stellar
alternates over Knapsack Col and the Titcomb Basin, both sides of the
Cirque of Towers, meeting TinMan from AntigravityGear.com and the walk
up towards so called Temple Pass.

I’ve got new shoes again. This time they fit. I’ve got a loaded pack
of food. I sent away my bear spray and bug repellent. Heck, I even saw
a movie last night. (Inception.. I’m left confused) And the highlight
of my stay in Lander was that Ben, a friend from college drove in to
town and we shared burgers and beers for a few hours.

The Wind River Range on the CDT

Whew. Made it to town. The last section was superb. Likely the best
hiking on the CDT so far. Took seven days from Dubois, hiking just
with Lost. The 140 miles had a little bit of everything. From unsigned
road walking, to following cairns with no trail, to cross country
boulder fields. Took two alternates to very famous places. I’d now
visited the stunning Titcomb Basin and Cirque of the Towers. Just
pulled in to Lander, WY and am staying at NOLS’s Nobel Hotel. Pool
tables, TV lounge, laundry, computers, dorm rooms, ….

I got my mojo back.

Hot dang did it suck to be sick. Now that I’m better, I realize just
how hard it was to thruhike while sick. Then I went to a doctor. And
now I’m better. While I’m pretty damn emaciated, walking is easy.
That’s a good thing, because walking for twelve to thirteen hours a
day is a lot of walking.

I’m on to my third pair of shoes. The last ones pretty much rotted off
my feet. I also wore my my socks too long. They got dumped in their
own trash bag at the place I bought new ones.

Just finished Yellowstone. It was a lot nicer that expected. A
helicopter that was shuttling goods to a backcountry station was even
willing to bring us cold gatoraides on their next run. We had to walk
on before they got there though. Saw two moose in one day. They’re
huge.

Hiking into the Wind River Range. I’m carrying one less day of food
than everyone else. Hmmm….

I was behind the herd, because I took an extra day off. Thought that
I’d be hiking solo, but ran in to Stretch. So hiked with a new person
for four days. Good, fast, flat walking helped me recover. And now,
I’m in the same spot as eveyone else. I figure that there are 22 of us
heading southbound. We’ve met about twenty northbounders as well.

Loving my new camera. It takes great photos. I’d like to post some,
but there are ten people wanting to use the computer.

The weather has been great. Hasn’t rained much in a while. My new
shoes are too big, and mean that I’ll have a new round of blisters.

Getting my feet wet on the Continental Divide

I started out in a bad way. Most everyone would have headed to the
doctor when their knee hurt that much, instead I headed out on a 200
mile backpacking trip. Luckily it worked out, and I’m feeling all
better. But that wasn’t before my knee pain, became ankle pain and I
limped for an additional few days on a swollen ankle.

The memories will be of other things though. Generally the walking was
pretty easy. Lots of long river valleys to go up and down. Really nice
as it stayed below the snowline. Before our resupply at Bechmark
Ranch, we did two higher bits though. Went up and over the enjoyable
Trilobite Range in beautiful weather. Also hiked the famously remote
and famously grand Chinese Wall. Both on snow, both not a problem.
Neither were stream crossings, nor bears. The immense sense of
wilderness highlighted the trip. The Bob Marshall is wild, and feels
even more so when you’re thruhiking the CDT in a season where not even
the rangers are out yet. It will also be remembered for my hiking
companions. Lost and I met up with a trio from Iowa. Boone, Moosa and
Jessie are new friends.

At Bechmark, we slept in the grossly underused “Fly in Campground”
next to the airstrip. I also carried a WAY too heavy pack out of
there. It was loaded with seven days of food so that I could skip
Lincoln. And it’s from Lincoln that I currently type. My pack was so
heavy that I bailed out of the wilds to mail some stuff home. Seven
pounds!! The 25 miles into town included over 9000ft of elevation
gain. I obsessed over my pack weight much of that distance. Doing
20-30 miles a day is rediculously hard, and it’s stupidly hard with
anything other than an ultralight pack. Those up and down miles were
on the actual divide. Initial huge views became clouded yesterday and
today when severe thunderstorms rolled in. We bailed off the crest for
a while yesterday to sit on our foam pads, in pouring rain, hoping to
not be killed by lightning. Then again in the middle of the night,
sitting on my pad in a wind whipped tent and flashing pounded down on
Lewis and Clark Pass. Storms in a ultralight tent SUCK. It’s just a
constant misting, like someone is spraying you in the face with a
bottle.

Hotel tonight, trail tomorrow. Computer on the 8th when my parents
visit in Butte.

– We keep turning to eachother saying simply “this is brutal”. I
expect that to continue.
– I sent my ipod home. It’ll be sorely missed.
– I’m an inch away from dropping hundreds of dollars on new ultralight gear.
– Deepest stream crossing was waist deep and not very dangerous.
– Hitch in to Lincoln took about 15 minutes.
– Most everyone I know is in front of me.
– I saw a grizzly this morning digging from tubers.
– The wind today was so strong that it was blowing us around.
– I’m burnt out on granola for breakfast.
– The host of Benchmark Ranch told me that I’d scare the bears the way
I looked.

The Bob Marshall Wilderness on the CDT

I’m leaving East Glacier tomorrow for twelve days of hiking the CDT to
Helena, MT. My knee feels better, but is still a concern. I’m hiking
with another invalid named Lost. What are my chances?

The weather looks stormy. The rivers look high. The mountains look
snowy. The wilderness beckons. I’ve had a few too many days not in the
wild. It’s time to go see the flowers.

Hiking so far has been wet. I walk through the creeks and the mud
puddles. So I’ll probably have wet feet for the next two weeks.
Wildlife has been superb and should get better. So far, big game
includes, grizzly, black bear, big horn sheep, mountain goats, deer
and moose.