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Old Faithful to Macks Inn – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Old Faithful to Macks Inn Hike Overview

yellowstone pools hike on the continental divide trail 2018
Back on the official CDT, the trail leaves Old Faithful via a boardwalk through some really cool geothermal features. Mostly, colorful pools and hot springs. Not the kind you soak in though, the melt your skin off kind. After leaving the boardwalk and hitting trail, we left the hoards of tourists behind for good. The trail passes by a lake and some undeveloped geothermal features just before we cross into Idaho. From here to Macks Inn, the trail is rather unremarkable. I did, however, see a bear for the first time since the Gila here. 

Saturday August 25th – CDT Day 127

Got the all you can eat breakfast buffet at old Faithful Inn. Katie and hopeful joined. We talked about our routes going forward and it looks like we’ll be going 3 separate ways after crossing into Idaho. I will be following the Idaho/Montana border, the official CDT. Katie and Hopeful will each be doing some variant of the Big Sky cutoff route. This will save time and allow them some extra days to reach Canada before winter.

The trail leaving old Faithful passes by many geysers, colorful pools, springs and other geothermal features. Touristy, but really neat. This area is called upper geyser basin.

My favorite pool here was Morning Glory. I somehow missed it on my last visit to Yellowstone and it was nice to finally see it. 

The CDT then passes through biscuit basin. More geysers and colorful pools. Past the boardwalk, the CDT continues on into the woods. Now the day’s hiking really begins.

After an uphill climb, the trail levels out. Easy hiking for a while. Ran into two women clearing trees from the trail who worked for the nps. They were kind enough to let us borrow their saw to use as a prop in a picture we asked them to take of the 3 of us.

Reached summit lake and saw old scout here taking a break. We did the same to filter water for the upcoming dry stretch.

The next section was a mix of burned trees and healthy forest. Passed by a couple more hot springs and geothermal features just off the trail. The sulpher smell gave them away and pushed us in the right direction.

Crossed into Idaho around 7:15pm. The border was just a couple of rocks lined up across the trail with a metal Blaze sign reading “welcome to Idaho”.

Hiked a couple more miles to get out of the Yellowstone National Park boundary. Camped a few tenths of a mile past the boundary and had a small fire. This will be my last night together with Katie and hopeful.

Miles – 21
Total Miles – 2103
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer

Sunday August 26th – CDT Day 128

Had some rain from about 4am on. Fortunately, it cleared up as we were waking up at 7am.

We hiked together for another 4 miles before our routes split off. It was a sad moment to leave my friends behind. We had a good run, almost a month together and around 450+ miles. The last month has been the greatest adventure of my life and I was very fortunate to have been able to share that time with Katie and Hopeful.

I pressed on, alone. The Trail followed some degree of dirt road for the rest of the day. In the beginning, the roads were pretty rough and had large berms and pits built into them to prevent Motor Vehicles from using them. However, they were a real annoyance to walk around too.

It was late morning and I needed water. One of the only water sources in the area was Latham spring. It had a side Trail leading down to it from the dirt road I was following. I got about 30 feet away from the spring and scared off a black bear. Medium size, alone. He scampered up the hill and I proceeded to draw my water from the same Source he was drinking from.

The rest of the day was a boring road walk. The roads eventually got wider, flatter and more trafficked. A couple of ATVs went by, then a few cars. Passed by some summer homes, then reached a paved Road. I followed this to hwy 20 where macks inn and island park is located.

Arrived at the Sawtelle Mountain Resort around 3pm. The room was pricey, but I have my bounce box here I need to deal with and with the forecasted cold weather and rain tomorrow, I really don’t want to have to do that in my tent in their Campground.

When I checked in and ask for my boxes, they had not gone up to the post office recently, so they were not there. The woman at the front desk said she’d pick them up in the morning on her way into work. Bummer, I wanted my box tonight. Oh well, tomorrow is a good day to take a zero and avoid some nasty weather. I just don’t have too many Zeros left I can take to reach Canada by October 1st, my goal.

I ate at Connie’s next door. Great Burgers here! It’d be tough to beat that burger at Flagg Ranch but this was up there.

Plotted out the rest of my towns, mileage and days for the rest of the hike on a piece of paper. 840 miles left, 34 days to October 1st. I plan on two more zeros in the towns of Darby and Lincoln. These will be my last two bounce box stops as well. The Revenant was on TV and made for a great background movie to all the planning.

Miles – 22
Total Miles – 2125
Rain – no
Sleep – hotel
Animals – black bear

Monday August 27th – CDT Day 129 (zero day)

The skies were cloudy and it rained on and off this morning. Much colder outside.

Resupplied at the Robin’s Roost grocery store across the street.

Spent the afternoon backing up photo and video, and going through my bounce box. It rained much of the afternoon and evening. This is really great news for all the wildfires burning in the area. Specifically, the Goldestone Fire that has closed a section of the CDT between Leadore and Darby. Hopefully this isn’t an issue when I get there.

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Flagg Ranch to Old Faithful – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Flagg Ranch to Old Faithful Hike Overview

yellowstone hike on the continental divide trail 2018
After leaving Flagg Ranch, we enter Yellowstone through the south entrance. The only wildlife I saw was a fox, very disappointing for a place known for it’s animals. Much of our route through Yellowstone was wet, swampy and not particularly scenic. The highlight of this section was the Bechler River and the Mr. Bubbles area. Here, we were blown away by majestic waterfalls and soaked in a natural hot spring.

Wednesday August 22nd – CDT Day 124

Woke at 7am. Packed up camp, just in time to beat the rain. Headed over to the lodge to grab breakfast and ate by the fireplace. Didn’t start hiking till after 10.

Walked hwy 191 north about 3 miles to the Yellowstone south entrance. Got our Backcountry permits at the snake River ranger Station.

My GPS showed the South boundary trail starting from a road that was signed “employees only”, but we followed anyways. Sure enough, the was trail was there. Hmmm.

The south boundary trail was pretty boring. Kinda like walking power lines or a pipeline, just a staight line through the trees. There were a couple of creek fords. Bridges are pretty much non-existent in Yellowstone.

Filtered water from the outlet below grassy lake dam. Shortly after, we crossed a river. This one looked bigger than it was. Crossed with no issues.

Shortly after, the skies darkened. It was thundering and lightning in the distance. The wind picked up and eventually it started pouring. There was some hail involved as well.

We hiked a few more miles in the cold and rain. The rain let up but the damage was done, being soaked. When we reached our campsite, we were greeted by a sign warning of a bear frequenting the area. Oh boy.

I ate dinner in my wet clothes as the temperature dropped. Hit the tent as soon as possible, around 9:30pm.

Miles – 20
Total Miles – 2047
Rain – yes
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Thursday August 23rd – CDT Day 125

Everything was soaking wet in the morning, and it was cold. Cold and wet shoes, socks, boxers and shirt. The skies were still dark and looked like rain. We were all slow to leave our tents and get going.

Most of the morning was spent fording small creeks and sloshing through swampy fields. It was not very scenic either, so our spirits were low.

Reached the bechler river. It flows through a large meadow here. Hopeful and I were in front and Katie was behind. When she caught up, she had seen a black bear momma and cub, only minutes behind us. Pretty cool.

Now the trail follows the bechler River. This was the most scenic thing we’d seen in Yellowstone thus far.

As we hiked up stream, we encountered several waterfalls. Some were huge, really huge! You could feel the mist really far away. Very impressive.

Father upstream, there were many cascades. This river is wild. We really enjoyed this section.

We forded the river a couple times. Water was mid-thigh deep and swift, but manageable. Ran into trail crews working in this area, they have to Ford the river twice a day.

There were some geothermal features in the meadows now. Hot pools of Sulphur smelling water.

 

We reached the junction for a hot spring named Mr. Bubbles. It was a half mile walk to get to the spring, and we could see large plumes of steam rising in the distance.

Approaching the spring, there were several geothermal features nearby, mainly on the opposite side of the creek. One large one resembled mammoth hot springs, for reference. We thought this was Mr. Bubbles at first until we followed the trail to something more obvious.

Mr. Bubbles hot spring

Mr Bubbles itself was not as impressive visually, but makes up for it by being a great soak. There were a couple guys in the spring when we arrived, who later left us alone. We soaked for a while and really enjoyed this spot. What a wild place to be. Natures hot tub!

Miles – 18
Total Miles – 2065
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Friday August 24th – CDT Day 126

Stated hiking around 7:45. Along the bechler was a couple more interesting spots like twister falls, but nothing like yesterday.

Must of the hike into old Faithful was pretty boring to be honest. Just woods and not much to see. I covered great ground though. There were a couple of geothermal features near firehole River.

Reached old Faithful at 1pm. Ate at the geyser grill. Food here is subpar at best. Got a shower at the old Faithful inn. Showers are free for CDT hikers. Nice!

Didn’t need much from the general store for resupply, since I carried extra food from Flagg ranch. Just some almonds to add to my m&ms.

Hopeful, Katie and I agreed to meet up by the front entrance to the general store. Let’s go and Reed were here as well, who are southbounders. Later, we all ate dinner together at the bear pit restaurant in old Faithful inn. Another northbounder named old scout joined too.

Katie met a guy who worked here at the park who offered to let us camp at the RV park site. After dinner, we headed there and set up for the evening. Sat by the fire for a while and in bed around 11.

Miles – 17
Total Miles – 2082
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – fox

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Jackson to Flagg Ranch – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Jackson to Flagg Ranch Hike Overview

jackson to falgg ranch, teton crest trail hike on the continental divide trail 2018

After walking 2 miles into Jackson, resupplying and walking across the valley to Wilson in one day, we entered the Jedediah Smith Wilderness and Grand Teton National Park. We hiked our own version of the Teton Crest Trail winds in and out of both of these land administrations.  The Tetons are pretty damn grand to say the least! North of Lake Solitude, we took a steep cross country route out of the basin and over to the west side of the divide. Lots of wildflowers, delicious berries to eat, and bushwhacking!

Thursday August 16th – CDT Day 118

Started hiking at 7. It was less than 2 miles to the trailhead. From there, we walked into Jackson.

When we reached the downtown area, the search for a breakfast restaurant was on. We landed at The Bunnery. Good food, but pricey.

Everything in Jackson is expensive and the people are yuppity. Lots of tourists and tons of traffic. Jackson was not my favorite town stop. Fortunately, we were just getting what we need and walking out later.

We hit up an outfitter, the ranger station and a couple stores. Then we headed over to the rec center to take a shower. They had a pool, hot tub and sauna, so we spent about an hour here taking advantage of the amenities.

Lunch at DQ, then headed to the other side of town. Here, we hit the library for a few hours. Hopeful and I spent some time researching the big sky alternate. Feeling the crunch for time, in terms of reaching Canada by Oct 1st, it was a good idea to have this as a backup.

I called Patagonia to arrange for a new capiline lightweight baselayer shirt to be sent father up trail. Mine has a forearm sized hole in the back.

We then went to the grocery store for food and picked up dinner. Katie found a ride to Wilson, so hopeful and I will do the road walk and meet her there. This will set us up well for entry into the Tetons tomorrow.

I didn’t find Jackson to be very scenic. However, the views were much nicer heading west out of town. The road had a bike path next to it that we followed much of the way. We didn’t leave Jackson till after 8, so it was going to be a bit of a night hike.

There was road construction on hwy 22, next to the bike path. Lots of traffic backed up and honking horns. Kinda hard to deal with after spending so much time in the wilderness.

Katie texted us and said we could camp in the backyard of the guy who gave her a lift. She gave us an address and we headed that way.

We took what liked like a short cut, and it dead ended at a gate with a keypad. No private property signs though. We could walk around the gate. As we were contemplating what to, in the darkness, a truck came flying the corner from the opposite side of the gate. Illuminated by the headlights, all I could do was wave and see who they where and their intentions.

As it turns out, the 5 guys in the truck were trying to take a short cut themselves and avoid some of that traffic. They had just spent last week in the wind river range themselves. When we said we had been walking since April, they have us each a cold beer.

Moments later, another truck pulled up behind the first truck. This was the landowner, and she asked what we were doing. Truck guys said looking for a short cut to pass through, the woman said OK and opened the gate. We said the same thing and she wouldn’t let us walk through. We were only about .3 miles from fish creek road, half mile total from our destination. I mentioned it would be an hour or more detour for us, but she didn’t care. That really sucks!

It was 10:30pm now and we started the long walk around. Back to the road construction, then another pitch dark bike track and country roads with no street lights. I had a terrible headache, and was finding the walk difficult near the end.

We finally reached the house Katie was camping at sometime after 11:30pm. The house backed up to a river, and were told to camp there near it. Fine. I know there’ll be condensation in the morning, but I’m so tired I don’t care. Cowboy camped under the stars. Fell asleep around 12:30am.

Miles – 18
Total Miles – 1939
Rain – no
Sleep – backyard, tent
Animals – deer

Friday August 17th – CDT Day 119

Sure enough, everything was wet this morning. Got up at 7 since hopeful and Katie were already awake. Packed up and went to a bagel shop down the road for 2nd breakfast. Already ate leftover chicken strips and croissants earlier.

Stated hiking hwy 22 up to Phillips trailhead sometime around 9:30. It was already hot out. The road walk kinda sucked with all the traffic and vehicles that don’t get over a little when they pass by. Some came awfully close.

Lots of cars at the trailhead. The people faded out when the trail split off for ski lake. The views also began to open up.

Lots of wildflowers high towards the pass. Good view at the top. Now we enter the jedidiah Smith wilderness and begin the teton crest trail.

The farther we hiked, the better the views became. The trail winds into a new valley. On the other side, rock formations that look like they’re part of a castle. Beautiful.

On the next pass, we entered grand teton National park. The trail winds back and fourth between the national park and wilderness throughout the teton crest trail.

The trail passes by Marion Lake, a really nice spot. The kind of place you only dream of camping on the CDT. But as always, there’s more miles to cover before I can feel good about the day’s progress. 

Great views continue. Good trail, helps to keep a good pace. There was a lot of climbing today and with heavy packs, it was tiring. I listened to some music today for the first time in a while. This helped keep me going.

A few more scenic miles and we were approaching the final pass leading up to death shelf. I’ve seen some great pictures from this area and so I was looking forward to it.

Death shelf did not disappoint. However, it was overcast and it killed the sunlight, so it was not as photogenic at I hoped for. There’s always tomorrow.

Miles – 21
Total Miles – 1960
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – marmot

Saturday August 18th – CDT Day 120

Nice hike this morning coming out of death shelf.

The Tetons have been looming on the horizon for many miles now, growing bigger with every step. Amazing views in an otherworldly landscape!

Alaska basin was nice. Mainly, the northern section. Tons of wildflowers.

Grand Tetons and Schoolroom Glacier

At the top of hurricane pass was our first unobstructed view of the three tetons; grand, middle and south. Incredible! Oh and fun fact, tetons is French for “tits”. French fur trappers who discovered the area named it as such because the pointy peaks reminded them of boobs. Grand Tetons literally means “big tits”.

Below hurricane pass lies schoolroom glacier. It has a large moraine that was now acting as a berm to hold back a small lake. Icebergs in the lake, beautiful water.

The upper cascade creek area was just incredible. On par with the wind river range. Our pace reflected this too.

Rain clouds building on and off. Hiked down to the junction with solitude lake, and took this trail uphill. Saw a Moose on the way up.

Lake Solitude and The Grand Tetons

Awesome views from Lake Solitude. Tons of people here too. Pretty ironic name if you ask me.

Now it’s time to climb out of the basin. Around the lake and up hill. Some steep rock climbing with limited holds involved.

Now up on the highest shelf, we could see no easy way to the top anywhere. The skies were also pitch dark and looked like rain at any moment. We made the call to head back down to the lake.

May try another way out of the basin tomorrow or head up paintbrush ridge in order to drop down to mink lake to try another way over the crest.

Miles – 20
Total Miles – 1980
Rain – yes, light
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – marmot, moose

Sunday August 19th – CDT Day 121

Started hiking at 6:30am. I spotted another potential exit from the lake solitude basin. It was a grassy chute that looked increasingly more appealing the closer we got. It was steep, but not as bad as last night’s failed route.

Made it to the top of the chute. It was hazy today due to forest fire smoke, coming from who knows where. Nothing close by to my knowledge. Grand Teton was a prominent feature looking through the haze. Really incredible views from here.

After the chute, we walked over some talus fields and pools of melt water on relatively flat ground. Not what you think of when you imagine mountain ridgelines. More impressive views on the other side of lake solitude.

Next we followed a ridge over to Littles peak. It was a bit of a knife edge for a hundred yards or so. Pretty cool! 

We traversed around Littles peak instead of going up and over. This was mostly a great choice, avoiding elevation gain and boulders. First half was grassy and somewhat flat. Then it became steeper and took some work to find a way down.

Lunch break by a steam, then moved on. Nice walking for a while. Passed some scenic little lakes which reminded me of a scene in the Sierras for a bit. 

The trail then goes up and down for a while. Nice little basins and ridges.

We took a break at a stream above bitch creek. Yep, bitch creek, that’s the name. Descended to the creek then ascended dead horse pass. Something like 1800′ in 1.1 miles. No wonder why they call it dead horse pass… The horse is dead by the time it reaches the top. Just like I felt. Great view and break spot at the top though.

We made quick work of the descent. Covered good ground through the valley and took another break before the ascent to camp lake.

The first part of the climb to camp lake was the steepest. Pretty steep for about a mile. The terrain flattens out some before the lake but I was already whooped at this point. Hopeful and Katie were ahead waiting for me at the lake. It was 7:30pm now, and we decided to stop here for the night.

I went to bed around 8:15 tonight since I was so tired. Katie and Hopeful stayed up and had a campfire. Today involved a ton of climbing, at least 5-6k feet.

Miles – 19
Total Miles – 1999
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer

Monday August 20th – CDT Day 122

Left camp lake at 8am. We’re hoping to make it to flagg ranch today, or at least very close.

We followed good trail up to a junction for nord pass. From here we needed to take a trail that was on the map but didn’t seem to exist on the ground. More bushwhacking, Yay!

We eventually picked up a faint trail that looked like it hadn’t been used or maintained in many years. Made it to the pass that will drop us down into Webb canyon and enjoyed a hazy view. I hit my 2000 mile mark here which was a nice milestone.

The route down was off trail but an easy grassy slope. We hit trail and followed it down to Moose creek. However, this is where the trail ended.

We crossed moose creek over some downed trees, the last time we’d keep our feet dry. From here on out, it was a nasty bushwhack. Steep slopes, thorn bushes, downed trees and tall vegetation hiding holes, rocks and sharp downfall. This forced is into the river a few times, just walking downstream. The water was cold though, and progress was limited to how long you could stand the pain. This was one of the most difficult sections of bushwhacking I’d face along the entire CDT.

After a couple miles of the above, we hit a poorly maintained trail that faded in and out for a mile or two. More bushwhacking, but not as nasty. After passing through a meadow, the trail seemed to be maintained like normal. Great, because we still have a lot of ground to cover now.

Took a break and was surprised to see 4 hikers coming up the trail. They were seasonal NPS workers heading up to a cabin for a week. Here, they’ll be on the lookout for big horn sheep and mountain goats, studying their numbers and location, etc. We told them, “good luck” with the trail above the meadow. We figure, once they see how shitty it is, maybe they’ll put in a work request for trail maintenance there. But if it goes by how much traffic the area gets, forget it, it’s never getting done.

The next section had some nice waterfalls, lined with vibrant wildflowers. Also, lots of blueberries and raspberries growing along the trail. We stopped to pick some along the way. Delicious!

As we entered a burn area mid afternoon, it started raining. It rained for an hour or so, but we hiked through it. We could now see Jackson lake in the distance.

As we neared the lake, the weather cleared. We reached the berry creek ranger station around 4:30pm and took a break. From here it was 8 miles to grassy lake Rd, then a couple miles of road walking to flagg ranch.

After our break, we decided to go for flagg ranch. It was now sunny and we were in good spirits. The trail was not the most scenic which helped us cover good ground without many stops for pictures.

We reached grassy lake Rd a little before sundown. We walked into the darkness and made it to the ranch around 9:45pm. We checked in and got a tent site. The general store was still open so I bought a couple of hot pockets to stave off the hunger. On a side note, every time I would blow a snot rocket on trail, I get the Hot Pockets jingle stuck in my head, but using the words “Snot Rockets” instead. That’s not gonna leave ya now is it?

After setting up camp in the dark I took a nice hot shower. Almost as good as a hot tub. Looking forward to sleeping in tomorrow.

Miles – 28
Total Miles – 2027
Rain – yes
Sleep – campground, tent
Animals – deer,

Tuesday August 21st – CDT Day 123 (zero day)

Slept in til 9am. Headed over to the lodge and had the breakfast buffet. It was a bit subpar but nevertheless, I filled up. I then picked up my boxes from the front desk… Food from dad and a new pair of shoes from REI.

Today was spent organizing food and planning out the next town stops and route for Montana. Did laundry as well.

Ate dinner at the lodge. One of the best burgers I’ve had on trail. We then had a fire in camp and drank some whiskey.

Tomorrow we head into Yellowstone.

Miles – 0
Total Miles – 2027
Rain – no
Sleep – campground, tent
Animals – none

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Dubois to Jackson – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Dubois to Jackson Hike Overview

dubois to jackson, gros venture wilderness hike on the continental divide trail 2018

Leaving Dubois, we had another 2.5 days of hiking to cross the northern Wind River Range. This proved to be much more difficult than anticipated, exceeding our time estimates. Road walked from Green River Lakes west to the Gros Ventre Wilderness. The Gros Ventre sees few hikers, and has few established trails as a result. Off trail adventures continued here on fields of snow and boulders, and involved some sketchy moments scrambling down steep rock faces. Once again we found ourselves low on food and hungry, only this time with a different outcome. This section was full of adventure and very scenic, among my favorites of the whole trip. 

Friday August 10th – CDT Day 112

Woke at 7. Went to breakfast then finished packing. Liz, the owner of the motel, gave us a ride to glacier trailhead where we left off. Katie didn’t want to do a section of road walking that Hopeful and I were doing, so she had Liz drop her off about 6 miles back down the road we came in on, and we’ll meet Katie there.

The road walk was, well, a road walk. Not much to say about it other than easy walking for once.

Katie was hanging out at this wildlife viewing pavilion thing in the shade. We joined her for a while, happy to get out of the heat.

Resumed hiking around 12:45. After a short road walk, we jumped on a trail that took us over a ridge. On the other side was a scenic little valley with a ranch.

The trail took us right into the ranch. Not sure exactly where the trail continues through the ranch, we stopped at the office to ask. We were on private property, but the owners gave us permission to pass through. They also gave us ice water, cookies and a loaf of coffee cake!

The valley beyond the ranch was nice. Eventually we left the ranch and entered public land, although this boundary was not marked.

Crossed a river and then took a break. After this, the trail was thick and had lots of blow downs. Also lots of boulders and a little scrambling. Tough section. We lost the trail many times.

Came to another stream crossing. The stream had a steep cut bank that was sketchy getting down. I slipped and cut my hand. Used super glue to close the wound.

Continued uphill on an increasingly better trail. Found some raspberry bushes with some tasty berries. Reached a flat spot that had good camping near a stream, and decided to stop to make camp. We packed out two beers that we put in the stream to get cold for later.

Made a small fire, my first on trail, and enjoyed our one beer with dinner.

Miles – 15
Total Miles – 1816
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Saturday August 11th – CDT Day 113

Woke at 6. Lots of stars last night.

The trail climbs uphill immediately after leaving camp. Went over a ridge then dropped down to a small lake. Kept going and made it to Simpson lake a short while after. Took a break at Simpson.

Followed Simpson lake’s Inlet Stream uphill. It was beautiful here with snow capped peaks, blue lakes and green grass. Stopped at pinto lake for a swim.

Next the trail goes uphill to a pass. It’s scenic and mostly gradual, but had a few steep spots. Good views on the other side of the Divide, so we stopped at the top of the pass to eat a snack.

Excellent views coming down the pass. Found our route down despite the steep grade.

Reached a cliff that forced us to hike around. The new route required some down climbing with a little exposure. This took us a while to find a doable route down, and the doing was slow and sketchy.

Down at roaring fork river, we needed to cross. The bank was very steep and loose, but we traversed it to a point where a safe river crossing was possible. This, and the cliff above, took about 3 hours!

The river Bank was thick, thorny and rocky for a ways. We ended up crossing again. Picked up a small trail and followed it downhill.

More obstacles… Boulder fields and thick vegetation. Came across 3 guys camping along the river, wasn’t expecting this here. Very little traffic in this area. They pointed us to a trail a hundred yards away. Back on track.

Walked another few miles before finding camp along the river at a bridge.

Miles – 20
Total Miles – 1836
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Sunday August 12th – CDT Day 114

Last night, We agreed to sleep in to 7am is morning. The extra hour of sleep felt great.

Crossed the meadow with roaring fork running through it. Hiked trail on the other side of the river for a while, before it faded out.

Crossed roaring fork River again, it was cold! Took a short break after.

Trail goes over a ridge and into the valley containing green river lakes. Squaretop mountain can been seen in the distance. Beautiful.

Hiked down to the green river. It was wide but shallow enough to cross. It was a few inches above the knee on me. Fun fact: This is the Colorado river’s largest tributary.

Now it was a long road walk. Katie immediately began planning to hitch down the road to avoid it. We stopped under an awning to figure out the logistics of where to meet up later, etc.

Katie very quickly secured a ride with a guy parked on the side of the road. Hopeful and I continued on our road walk. I guessed 10-12 miles.

The Green River

The scenery was pretty nice overall. The Green river winds along the road for most of the way.

We saw Katie sitting under a tree along the road a few miles before the bridge. After a few minutes of sitting together, a couple atvs pulled up. Really nice people… Gave us cold beers, drinks and were just nice to talk to. Wyoming locals, they’ve been pretty friendly thus far. Then Katie hitched with them to the bridge while Hopeful and I walked. Continuous footsteps to Canada, that’s what it’s all about for Hopeful and I.

A few more miles and we reached the bridge. Took a food break here then moved on.

The three of us were now hiking together again. We’re now following a dirt road towards the Gros Ventre Wilderness. Nice walking.

Hiked a few more hours this evening. Nice calming and relaxing landscape. Rolling hills, sage brush and the sun low in the sky.

Found camp on a small hill along the trail at 8:30pm.

Miles – 25
Total Miles – 1861
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – elk, pronghorn

Monday August 13th – CDT Day 115

Hit the trail at 7am. Meadows and forest as we descended to the creek below. Passed an old mining operation.

Crossed the creek and took a break. Hopeful saw an animal that looked like a cat, and was about the same size. Probably bobcat.

Entered the Gros ventre wilderness. So far, we had trail. Passed an old wagon. Saw bear shit and tracks.

The trail disappeared as we headed up hill to the pass. It was a pain in the ass due to the thick brush, catching each step.

Passed a couple of nice lakes. Looks like very little use here.

The route up the next pass was littered with large pits under he rock towards the bottom. The hole in the ground would look small, but underneath would be a larger than expected pit. Interesting. Gonna have to watch my footing here. 

On the top of the pass, it was a nice but daunting view. Lots and lots of boulders, very barren looking. Found a route down though steep and loose rock. Very sharp too. Climbed many ridges up and down to cross the main valley, and started up hill to a small saddle.

The saddle provided a view of snow and boulders. More hard work ahead.

Now to skirt the mountainside. Steep boulders, and sharp. Truly horrible. However, we did find some really cool rocks. Geode like rocks with crystals. Lots of yellow in the rock. Bagged a few to take with me.

Crossed a couple of snow fields. Micro spikes would have been nice but didn’t feel too bad without. We sent these home in Dubois after the Winds. Hopeful slipped a slid a little. A couple times actually.

Took a break after the snow fields. Lots of huge slabs of razor sharp rock to walk on now.

We headed up to the top of the ridge where we’ll cross and get down into the next valley. Only problem is, it’s all sheer cliffs. Beautiful scenery though!

 

 

Walked to the last saddle on the ridge. At first, it looked like no way down. Then I spotted a steep, but doable, chute to down-climb. Looked to be about a 60ft climb.

Hopefull went first and scouted the route. Katie followed, then myself. The climbing wasn’t as bad as it looked. However, we were now faced with a steep and loose scree field. We slid on our butts and somehow avoided cutting up our hands too badly.

Made camp right below the crazy wall we just descended. It was 8:45pm now and almost dark. Beautiful spot though.

Miles – 19
Total Miles – 1880
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – elk

Tuesday August 14th – CDT Day 116

Last night’s nightmare wall was this morning’s scenic view. Just awesome.

Hiked up a small pass above camp. Now we could see the long ridge we needed to walk around. Looks like lots of ups and downs on Boulder fields.

We took a lower route to Steamboat peak, which we’ll hike around. 

Made it around Steamboat peak and was rewarded with an actual trail to follow. Hiked down to a small pond on a shelf. Lots of wildflowers and a great reflection.

Below the pond we came across shoal lake. Another beautiful lake. The outlet was lined with colorful wildflowers as well.

 

 

This whole drainage is just incredible. No wonder it was its own wilderness… The shoal creek wilderness study area. Great trail and awesome views.

The trail drops downhill and through an old burn area. It then crosses the creek and goes uphill again, over the opposite ridge.

The next section of trail is less scenic. Lots of woods and low brushy, weedy plants. Then a burn area. Super.

Finally, we reached the trailhead and a road. Now it was decision time. We had very little food, basically enough for the rest of the day. Jackson was still about 30 miles away, so another day of food was paramount. We didn’t want a repeat of the winds, hiking a full and difficult day on a handful of m&ms.

We walked into a nearby ranch place, which ended up being a school of some sort. There was a guy riding around on a mule, and we informed him of our food predicament. He told us to sit tight and returned with 3 bags full of food. Ham and swiss sandwiches, nuts, apple, cheese, granola and dried fruit. Perfect! This was a real help.

Still, we could use a little more food. We’re hungry thru hikers after all. We then proceeded to chat with an older woman named Jean camped by the river in a huge rv. She offered to drive us to to the granite hot springs about 2 miles up the road to check what concessions they have.

The hot springs had chips, soda, granola bars and some candy. We picked up a few items and headed back. In the parking lot, couple from Texas gave us some granola bars, cold waters and 2 beers. Jean was then nice enough to give us a huge bag of chips, 6 cokes, and some canned foods back at her rv.

Feeling good about our food supply, we headed out. We decided to hike the granite creek trail instead of the granite highline trail, since it looked like It would have a better trail and was more gradual with its elevation gain. We stopped to eat dinner in the granite campground, eating the heavy and most garbage producing foods first.

Hiked up stream along the granite creek trail about 2 miles past the hot springs and found a nice campsite.

Miles – 19
Total Miles – 1899
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer

Wednesday August 15th – CDT Day 117

Hiking at 7. Great trail, allowed us to cover good ground. Steep sided mountains and cliffs line the canyon.

Morning was very pleasant but uneventful. Just knocking out miles through beautiful country on a legit trail for once.

Made it to the top of the pass going over to cache creek around noon thirty. Lunchtime. With cokes!

The other side of the pass was beautiful too. Great hiking and very enjoyable afternoon.

Down at the bottom of the valley we hit the cache creek trail. 9 miles to Jackson according to the sign.

Good hiking but nowhere to camp along cache creek. Hiked to about a mile before the trailhead, where we found a decent spot. It was only 6pm, early for thru hikers.

I used the extra time to wash up in the creek, gather sticks for and build a fire, and catch up on some journaling. Clearly I didn’t feel like writing much today. Great evening by the fire. 

Tomorrow, we Jackson!

Miles – 22
Total Miles – 1921
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer

Like what you see?

Lander to Dubois – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Lander to Dubois Hike Overview

lander to dubois, wind river range high route hike on the continental divide trail 2018

The first 30 or so miles are a lead up from the lowlands of the great divide basin desert into the high country of the Wind River Range. The next 120 miles were the most challenging, beautiful and outdoor experience of my life. I had more adventure in these 10 days then the rest of the entire CDT combined. Jagged peaks, frozen lakes, glaciers, crevasses, abundant wildflowers, miles of boulders and snowfields, mountain lions, big horn sheep, steep snow traverses, scrambling and climbing, milky glacier fed rivers, and almost NOBODY to share it with. Additionally, the majority of this route is off-trail. In my opinion, the Wind River Range easily offers the best backpacking experience in the continental US. 

In the southern Winds, we left the official CDT and began the 450+ mile alternate route I created. My route, now affectionately known as the “Famous Route”, takes a much higher route through the Winds and into Dubois, then back through the Winds and cross country through the Gros Ventre Wilderness and into Jackson. Next, we’ll hike west across Jackson Hole and hike the Teton Crest Trail north into Flagg Ranch. Finally, we’ll enter Yellowstone through the South Entrance and hike the Bechler area to Old Faithful where we’ll reconnect with the official CDT route. 

Sunday July 29th – CDT Day 100

Slept to about 8am. Spent the morning getting food and gear together, and didn’t leave until after 11am.

Hopeful, Katie and I hiked down the main strip in Lander to hitch. We got a ride after 20 minutes from a guy named Eli. He dropped us off right where I had left off yesterday morning. Another guy was there at this gate on his way out, having just dropped off a couple of CDT hikers himself. Tim Green from South pass city. Nice guy.

We set off into the wind river range around 1pm today. It was a great feeling to finally be here again but I wasn’t feeling the best. Still worn out from the basin, and the egg casserole I had for breakfast wasn’t agreeing with me.

Today’s hike was an easy one on dirt roads and some trail. Little elevation gain. The landscape is now hills and forest, with Rocky outcroppings dotting the meadows. Looking back to the south, the basin is still clearly visible. Easily identifiable by the lack of trees.

Late this afternoon we bumped into Alex and Ariel, two CDT hikers from Missouri. We took a break together and chatted for a bit. They mentioned a campsite a little ways up and we decided to go for that tonight.

The 5 of us set off for the evening’s hike. Pretty country with mountains in the distance beyond the meadows.

The campsite was decent. Near a river and flat. Wind died down at sunset and it was a good night.

Miles – 14
Total Miles – 1664
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Monday July 30th – CDT Day 101

Got up at 6:45. Still wishing I could sleep more to recover from the basin.

Started hiking at 7:45. The views kept getting better as the Morning progressed. Passed a couple of nice streams and rivers.

Now we have a 2000′ climb ahead of us. The grade was decent so it wasn’t bad at first.

At the top of the climb, there was a great view of little Sandy lake.

Stopped for lunch along little Sandy creek. This is also where the cirque of the towers alternate begins.

After lunch we started hiking the alternate. Mostly through forest. Some steep sections of trail, mostly short though.

Unnamed lake

We stopped at this unnamed lake this afternoon because it was so damn impressive. Favorite lake on trail so far. Jagged peaks make a great backdrop. Katie and hopeful went for a swim while I relaxed along the shoreline.

The trail was hard to follow after this. We thought it stayed high on a hillside above a valley, but eventually we saw a trail below. A short scramble had us down on flat and open ground, much easier walking.

This area, along little Sandy creek, was absolutely incredible. We were all in awe and took our time stumbling through here staring at the canyon walls. This is only the beginning of the treasures that lie ahead in the winds. I know this, but Katie and Hopeful are oblivious.

We ran into a NOLS group this evening, a fairly common sight here in the winds. We pressed on another mile or so to treeline and found a couple of campsites with a great view.

Tomorrow will be a tough day with 3 passes, and cirque of the towers.

Miles – 21
Total Miles – 1685
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – deer

Tuesday July 31st – CDT Day 102

Started hiking around 8am. Up to the top of a pass, which leads to temple lake. Just below the base of the pass was a beautiful lake, again with no name on my maps. The mountains surrounding the lake were very impressive as well.

Great views going up the pass. Knots was hiking up the pass at the same time, and didn’t stop at the up. We never saw him again today.

Going down the pass towards temple lake was incredible! Temple peak was a massive sheer rock face, which towers over the lake and valley below. We were all in awe.

First bit of hiking around the upper lake was slow. Boulders, snow pack, ups and downs over an occasional use trail. Stunning scenery though!

The trail improved as we headed downhill. Now the cirque of the towers could be seen ahead, especially Pingora. Very enjoyable section.

Big Sandy lake was much nicer this time. When I was here in 2014 on my wind river high route, there was a storm and I couldn’t fully appreciate the area. Lots of people around here too. Big Sandy trailhead is only a few miles away, which is probably the busiest trailhead in the winds.

The trail going up to Jackass pass starts out steep. At least I found the trail… In 2014, I Bushwhacked down the creek since I could not find a path to follow. It was rough!

Again, amazing views hiking up to Jackass pass. Lots of wildflowers and pointy mountains everywhere. Fairytale land, really.

Even though we found the trail from big Sandy lake going up, it eventually turns into a scramble up boulders. It was the heat of the day and really wearing us out.

There’s a legit trail every now and then, but often it was just a matter of hiking uphill. Below the top of Jackass pass were some of the best views of the cirque of the towers area in my opinion. These mountains just blow Colorado away. Unimaginable beauty. The kind of place you imagine in some exotic country.

We stopped for a much needed break at the top of Jackass pass. We sat here for a while looking down at lonesome lake and the whole cirque. Great spot.

Easy hike down to lonesome lake. Took another break here for water and to cook dinner.

 

Next we headed up Texas pass. It was really steep for the first 500ft, a little better in the middle section. More awesome views, but getting cloudy. Looks like potential rain. In 2014, low clouds engulfed all the peaks in the cirque of the towers, so it was really nice to be able to see this place in its entirety. However, we needed to get over this pass in case the weather turns.

Near the top of the pass was a long chute of snow. Same as 2014, and I was here in late August then. Not too bad going up.

Made great time to the top, and it was much easier than anticipated. Jackass pass was much harder. This was the third pass we Climbed today.

More awesome views looking down on Texas lake in the new valley. However, it was really steep going down. There was a path weaving through a Boulder field, but it consisted of fine dirt and pebbles. This made slipping a frequent hazard. We all slipped and fell a few times. Pretty treacherous.

It started sprinkling just before we reached the bottom of the Boulder field. Put on rain gear and continued. The rocks were really slippery now.

The rain quickly subsided as we traversed Texas lake. Stopped here for a break so I could address my rumbling stomach.

The next lake in the chain was Barren Lake. Another beautiful spot. Great views in both directions.

Billy’s lake was next. This lake had a sandy beach which just added to its beauty. 

The sun was setting and creating a pink hue to round out the back drop. Gorgeous. We hiked down to an area just north of shadow lake. We saw a Llama grazing in the field, which was odd. It had a saddle and was probably part of a pack Llama team, but no other Llamas or people could be seen in the area. We ended up camping here in the area though.

What a great day. Easily the most scenic day on the CDT for me, and I believe Hopeful and Katie agree. They were in awe of the winds, and I’m really glad to see how much they’re enjoying it. We only hiked 16 miles though, humbling as a CDT hiker.

Time for bed, gotta recharge for another tough day ahead.

Miles – 16
Total Miles – 1701
Rain – sprinkles
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – marmot, Llama, deer

Wednesday August 1st – CDT Day 103

Hiking by 7:45am. Lots of mosquitoes this morning.

A few river Crossings this morning, but able to hop rocks and keep the feet dry. Nice views looking at the back side of the cirque behind us.

Reached the trail junction where the cirque of the towers CDT alternate splits off from our route. Hiked past skull lake, mays lake and then pyramid lakes. Mays and pyramid were beautiful!

The trail ends on the map at pyramid lake. From here it’s cross country hiking for a while. There was a decent use trail in spots but most of the time you just find your own way. There was a very scenic unnamed pond above pyramid lake as well.

We crested the top of the saddle above the east fork River. This was just as impressive as I remembered it. A long wall of imposing peaks. Very cool.

Now we climb up raid peak pass. Snow patches and Boulder fields make up the route, but it wasn’t too difficult or steep. Time consuming on the boulders though.

After a quick break on the top of the pass, we moved on. It looked like rain clouds building so we hurried over to the saddle where we drop down to Bonneville lake.

The route down to Bonneville lake looked a bit scary from the top, but looked doable once we approached it. It was steep and had some butt sliding going on, but we made it down to the Crux. Hopeful went down first, and as Katie headed down she kicked loose a tennis ball sized rock. We yelled “rock!!” down to hopeful who thankfully knew what to do… Tuck into the mountain and cover your head. The rock hit the back of his calf but he was ok. Whew! This was a tense moment. I dislodged a larger rock that just missed Katie later on. Dangerous decent to say the least.

We took a break above Bonneville lake and monitored the rain clouds. The view was incredible! Some of our favorites so far.

The hike around Bonneville lake wasn’t too hard and was beautiful. We really enjoyed this part and took our time. Hopeful and I tried glossing down a slope that ended up being too flat to go the whole way down. Still fun.

Next we hiked the pass leading from Bonneville lake to Lee lake. Booneville pass? Not sure of the name. Great views going up.

At the top of the pass was some of the most beautiful mountains I’d ever seen. As I crested the top of the pass, covered in snow, towering peaks became larger. The sun shined just behind. This was a magical moment that words or even pictures can’t describe. 

Hopeful and I had another shot at glissading with all the snow on the pass. This time we picked up a little speed, and it was quite fun. Safe runoff so no worries.

We headed over to a ridge to check out a potential campsite. Instead of traversing a steep snow field, we chose to glissade down then walk up. Great choice, fun had by all.

Although we decided not to camp here, the views from this ridge were insane. Below the towering Pronghorn Peak lies Donna lake, which was still partially frozen. Huge chunks of ice were floating in the lake. Just so cool! Where the hell am I, Patagonia??

We headed down the ridge to look for camp. Some of the best views so far of the winds, and thus, the entire CDT.

We found camp around 8:45pm. Got all our camp chores done just in time for a thunderstorm to roll in at bedtime. Heavy rain and lots of lightning. Haven’t had one in a while, and at least I’m in bed now.

Miles – 16
Total Miles – 1717
Rain – yes, heavy thunderstorms after 10pm
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – marmot, pica

Thursday August 2nd – CDT Day 104

After retreating to my tent last night, the rain started. Lots of thunder, lightning and heavy downpours. This persisted for a while, maybe two hours.

I was slow to get up this morning with everything wet. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. Storm clouds were building this morning as well, but they quickly dissipated after we started hiking. Hit the trail after 8am.

It was a soggy hike around middle fork lake but a beautiful one. Our feet got wet crossing a river without ample rocks to hop, and our clothes were wet from the willows. The route around the lake basically goes through a cascading waterfall. Lots of wildflowers, putting our FPH numbers off the charts… Since we were covering so few miles, we decided to rate our progress in flowers per hour instead of miles per hour.

Next was some off trail hiking. Over a small saddle, into a scenic little valley and up another hill. Ran into mold and mildew, who joined us for a while. This would have been a pretty confusing area to hike without a GPS, as the land features were small and not so prominent.

The halls lake area was beautiful. It seemed much more impressive than my 2014 visit. The weather was a little better than last time and I am going in the opposite direction, which gives a whole different perspective. Stopped along the lake for lunch with mold and mildew.

After halls lake we were basically off trail. Awesome views, great hiking.

Europe canyon was cool. Steep decent. Lots of wildflowers around the lake. Lots of boulders too.

Next we climbed a small pass to long lake. Really spectacular views here.

Took a break around Long lake. Progress is slow when things are so beautiful. Also, the terrain is really tough. It was wearing us out. Up here, the ground is seldom flat and grassy, but usually super rocky or piles of boulders.

Past long lake, the clouds started to darken. They were the most menacing looking clouds I’d seen in awhile. Rain looked inevitable. Katie and hopeful had their tents set up before I could find a spot, so when the rain started I jumped into hopefuls tent to wait it out.

Waited for about an hour before the storm let up. I then found a spot of my own and watched a beautiful sunset over glacier lake.

Miles – 13
Total Miles – 1730
Rain – yes, heavy thunderstorms 7pm
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Friday August 3rd – CDT Day 105

Woke up at 6, hiking by 7. Everything around glacier lake was wet, not only from last nights rain but it was soggy and swamp like. Just like I remembered from 2014.

Hiked up to Hay pass. Everything here, and all along this route, seems more impressive this time around. Maybe because I’ve already hiked 1700+ miles and this blows everything else away. Maybe I’m in better shape and not in zombie mode like 2014. Either way, it’s just beautiful around every corner.

The view of Dennis lake from Hay pass was incredible. Now we descend to the Golden lakes area. This too was a sight to be seen. A chain of lakes surrounded by green, nestled in a tight little valley.

Down at Golden lake, we took a break. Then we moved on past Louise lake and then upper golden lake. Again, just awesome. Streams, waterfalls, blue lakes and great camping.

Lake 10787

North of Golden Lakes, we hiked past Lake 10787 and an unnamed lake, just south of Douglas Peak. It’s not on the map, but I believe the pass is called Douglas Pass. Again, very scenic. I mean, what isn’t in the Winds? 

Then we dropped down to camp lake. Stopped for another break then moved on. More water Crossings. Many today. In fact, I got my feet wet on probably 8 separate occasions.

Hiked over a hump separating camp lake from another lake. This unnamed lake was crazy beautiful. We crossed the stream at it’s mouth to the lake, and discovered there was basically a stream flowing into the lake and out of it at the same spot. We stopped to filter water here.

Next we climbed a steep rocky slab slope along mini cascading waterfalls. We called this waterfall pass. Quite an interesting place to be, I don’t recall another spot like it on the CDT. This took us up to the Alpine lakes area.

Hopeful realizing what the Alpine Lakes area is all about

Ledge work. This is where we jumped in the lake and walked around the cliffs

The route around the lowest alpine Lake starts out steep. Had to jump in the lake and walk along a cliff in knee deep water to get around one spot. Tough work in the boulder fields to work around this lake. But, this is only the beginning. Having been through here before, I knew how difficult the route around Alpine Lakes is.

Walking around the SW corner of the lower Alpine Lake was again, gorgeous. This is about as easy as the hiking gets around the Alpine Lakes, although still a rocky mess. 

Next was a large snow field to cross. One part was rather steep and if you fell, you could slide right into the icy lake. However, ridiculously beautiful scenery!

Dark clouds overhead and few campsites ahead past the lower Alpine Lake. No way we’d make it over alpine pass tonight, and no where to camp along the upper alpine lake. I know this from prior experience. Just boulders, ledges, snow and ice.  We decided to make camp at 6:45pm on the peninsula that jets out into the lower alpine lake, where i camped on my hike here in 2014. Good call!

Miles – 15
Total Miles – 1745
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Saturday August 4th – CDT Day 106

A little windy last night. Woke at 5am, hiking by 6am.

Worked our way around the middle alpine lake. This one is not too bad compared to the upper and lower lakes. Nowhere to camp though, and the team was happy with the call made last night to camp where we did.

Do not try this at home

Crossed a river running under the snow before reaching the upper alpine lake. Huge icebergs are floating along the western shore. Hopeful hopped two floating icebergs to reach the main one, which had footprints on it. Katie and I were skeptical, so he ran the length of the iceberg/lake to scope the exit. Nothing good, scrap the iceberg idea.

This was a tough spot back in 2014 when I came from the opposite direction through here. With no shortcut across the iceberg, we headed up and over a notch in the rocks. We should have tried the low route, Because this became a long ordeal.

Now we had a large snowfield to cross. So much snow! However, the snow is easier to walk on than a sea of boulders, so that’s preferable if the angle isn’t too steep.

Two couples caught up to us as we put on our micro spikes to tackle the ascent of alpine pass. They were former CDT hikers themselves. The pass was completely covered in snow and steep. Hopeful went first and kicked steps. We angled up to a Rocky outcrop where we took a short break.

View south from Alpine Pass

The final push up alpine pass was wild. Steep and slippery. Everyone else took the Boulder field once near the top, but I just went straight up the snow field. It was awesome! Steep, but fun.

Indian Pass in the center, Knife Point Glacier below

Coming down into a new valley now, finally out of alpine lakes area. Tons of snow here. The entire upper basin was filed with snow and glaciers, specifically, knife point glacier and bull lake glacier. Very impressive. We descended boulders for a while until we reached a snowfield. We glissaded the rest of the way down. This is always fun!

Took a snow filled valley down hill. Then we entered a prehistoric looking Valley filled with a maze of streams. Crossed downstream where the channels of water had converged into one.

Then we hiked over a pass leading into another valley. Lots of wildflowers here, very nice.

The next area we entered was north fork bull lake creek. Super long name, I know. Huge impressive peaks, lots of snow. The river was this milky blue green turquoise color, so beautiful. This was one of my favorite places so far.

Crossing North Fork Bull Lake Creek

Crossed the river and made camp partially up the climb to blaurock pass. It was 6:45pm, not enough time to make it over the pass and down safely the other side to find camp there. So again, we stopped early. Only 12 miles today. Beautiful views from camp though!

Miles – 12
Total Miles – 1757
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Sunday August 5th – CDT Day 107

Start hiking at 6am. The sun never came up though, it was obscured by clouds today. These clouds looked like trouble, too.

Almost immediately after leaving camp, we found ourselves in a massive boulder field that leads up to Blaurock Pass. These were some pretty big boulders, with big gaps in between. Tough to work your way through. To make matters worse, it was beginning to snow. This made the boulder field even more treacherous, as the rock was now slippery too.

Whiteout conditions pose a serious threat for us at the top of Blaurock Pass

The snowfall became heavier as we climbed higher. It wasn’t long before the conditions had deteriorated severely, and we found ourselves in a complete whiteout. There were less big boulders to contend with now, and mostly just snowpack. On top of the pass, we could see nothing. On the other side, the topo map appeared to be steeper. Going down in these conditions seemed like a poor idea, but we had no cover either. We considered waiting it out under an emergency blanket. As we discussed our options, the snow began to clear up and visibility improved. Good thing, because this moment was one that had the three of us pretty worried.

Going down the north side of Blaurock pass wasn’t as bad as we anticipated. The grade was steep but the mountainside was littered with scree and not big boulders. Much better to work with, but still not easy. The weather improved as we dropped in elevation.

After losing more elevation, we stepped off the snow and scree fields and onto a grassy hill. Around this time, the clouds cleared momentarily and the sun shined through. The surrounding mountains became visible and knocked our socks off. This place has an otherworldly feel to it. The kind of stuff people dream up, but never see in real life.

The weather changed rapidly throughout the rest of the day. From sunny to storm clouds and back to sunny all within 10 minutes. Get used to it.

We continued downhill, traversing a couple more snow fields along the way.

Once we reached Dinwoody Creek on the map, we followed this uphill again towards Dinwoody Glacier. The small ponds here were an intense turquoise blue color, due to all the minerals in the water. Water like this always had a way of mesmerizing me.

Dinwoody Glacier

Above the mesmerizing turquoise ponds lies a massive boulder field, which likely would have been covered by Dinwoody Glacier only decades ago. It probably would have made walking through this area easier had it been glacial ice and not boulders.

 

Next we began the climb up West Sentinel Pass. The best route appeared to be a high one in the snow above a bowl. We began the traverse along a steep snow slope, kicking in steps as we went. The closer we got to the top of the pass, the more steep it became. In an instant, Jay had slipped and slid 150′ down the snow into the bowl. Fortunately, the slide was not a dangerous one with boulders or a cliff below. Moments later, I too slipped and fell down into the bowl. Poor Katie was left alone up there, and decided to glissade down herself. It’s a bit easier when it’s on purpose.

On top of West Sentinel Pass

The three of us took a more direct route up the pass this time, no issues. At the top of West Sentinel Pass, we entered Gannett Glacier. This was the largest glacier we’ve been on yet, covering the entire upper basin we were standing in. Massive.

Hiking across Gannett Glacier

Straddling a crevasse on Gannett Glacier

We worked our way across the glacier until we encountered some melt out. Going down straight down would just mean more water, and the map shows crevasses here. We decided to go up and around the melt out, and then back down. Still, this had us weaving in and out of crevasse territory. We encountered several crevasses, mostly smaller ones. Down in a gully below us, only an unintentional glissade away, we could hear the roar of water flowing under the snow.

Gannett Glacier terminus

After dropping in elevation, we reached the terminus of the glacier. This is quite an interesting place to be. Much of this ice is dirty ice, a mix with mud and debris. The ground below the terminus is freshly exposed for the first time in potentially thousands of years. I wanted to search for interesting rocks, if only I had more time. It started raining around this time, and we continued downhill in search of cover where we could take a break. The clouds had really moved in fast.

 

By the time we reached Gannett Creek, the rain had subsided and it was sunny again. No cover but we stopped here for our break.

We worked our way up Gannett Creek, which was more like a series of ponds and small lakes with an occasional stream in between. Beautiful color.

We continued uphill through a sea of rocks until we reached a snowfield above an icy pond. We thought about traversing the slopes above it, but the team was not up for it without an ice axe after this afternoon’s slip down West Sentinel Pass. Instead, we dropped down to the pond and found a narrow spot to hop boulders across. We followed the other side of the pond until we were clear of the pond, then continued the ascent up an unnamed pass NE of Bastion Peak.

From the top of the pass there was a good view of Bastion Peak behind us, and Grasshopper Glacier to the north. The closer we got to Grasshopper, the more prominent the terminus of the glacier was. A wall of ice at least 50′ tall marked the edge. And that’s where we need to go tomorrow!

We found a place to camp near the temrinus of Grasshopper Glacier. The ground was a fine sand/silt, a little wet and soft. It seemed this area was usually covered in snow and or ice, and only recently exposed. Not the ideal campsite, but a unique one for sure.

Miles – 12
Total Miles – 1769
Rain – 2″ snow, complete whiteout. Rain, hail
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn sheep?, marmot

Monday August 6th – CDT Day 108

Hiking at 6am. Cold night, Frost inside tent.

Grasshopper Glacier terminus

Walked up to the edge of grasshopper glacier. The terminus of the glacier must be 60+ feet tall. Never seen anything like that up close. Hiked up the glacier to the snowpack, uphill for a while.

Huge snow fields. Just massive. Easy walking too!

Hiked up to the Continental Divide. Followed the ridge for a while, fairly easy walking.

Iceberg and Baker Lakes

Iceberg Lake

Reached baker lake and iceberg lake. The latter was really cool. Another tall glacial terminus. Lots of icebergs too!

 

Next we Climbed uphill and followed the Divide for a while.

Reached a saddle a mile before downs mountain. On the map, We saw what looked like a route down to our end point the glacier trailhead. Skirted the mountainside along the least steep terrain the topo showed. This looked easier than the Ley alternate coming down from the summit of downs mountain.

We spent 5 hours working our way down a series of ledges and steep boulders on the mountainside that ended at a really steep snowfield. This appeared to be steeper than we could safely cross, but I went down for a closer look. I attempted to take the first step off the boulders and onto the snow, but the angle was so steep that step kicking may not cut it. Right then, Katie and Hopeful said they weren’t going to follow me even if I go for it, due to the danger of it. I stopped and assessed the situation and they were right. The runoff below is boulders or a cliff. Without ice axes, it would just be stupid. Reluctantly, we turned around and headed back uphill to find another way.

Back at the saddle we started from, we headed up the ridge to downs mountain. We weren’t going to be able to drop down into the valley we saw this earlier from here though. Instead, we’ll have to continue many miles north and take a completely different route. Awesome views from the climb up Downs mountain though. Lots of boulders, hard work and sometimes sketchy. We were already rationing food for the last several days, and nearly out. We planned on getting to the trailhead tonight, but that’s not gonna happen now.

Tired and hungry, we worked our way around the west side of downs mountain instead of doing the climbing up it. Lots of boulders either way. Mentally exhausting. Saw some big horn sheep on the ridge above us, that was cool. Basically right on top of Downs Mountain.

Continental Glacier

Hiking across Continental Glacier

At the saddle after Downs, we set foot on Continental glacier. It’s all snowpack up here. Absolutely enormous!

Hiked to 8pm. We descended the glacier instead of staying high above it on a ridge to find camp. Cleared rocks in a debris field for campsites. Dinner was 1 granola Bar. Can’t wait for town tomorrow, I hope we finally make it.

Miles – 15
Total Miles – 1784
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – big horn sheep

Tuesday August 7th – CDT Day 109

Another cold night sleeping in a debris field next to a glacier. Woke at 6, didn’t start hiking until almost 8am.

Today is our 10th day in the winds. We ate the last of our food for breakfast, which was basically starvation rations to begin with. We only planned on 7 days of food.

Walked over some boulders and back down to Continental glacier. Hiked on the glacier since it was much easier travel than rocks and boulders.

Walked up shale mountain next. Fairly easy walking, for the winds anyways.

Crossed a large snow field with a collapsed section where a stream runs underneath. Some crevasses as well. 

Made it to the top of the pass that leads down to the ross lakes area. Really steep. Took a break at the top, couldn’t see much of a way down. For the record, I don’t think this is really a pass at all. Just a possible route down for those willing. 

Found a ridge to follow down. Walked down a snowy slope to a patch of boulders. Another snow slope below the boulders, but this one was steep. Hopeful went first, no micro spikes, and slipped. He slid about 40 feet and crashed into a large Boulder. He turned at the last moment and his backpack took the brunt of the impact, but still hit his ankle. Fortunately he was alright.

Although the slide down was scary, it was really the only good looking way to continue downhill. I kicked some super deep steps with my spikes on and made it down safely. Katie went last and also made it safely.

Down on the valley floor, we filtered water from a steam. Just downhill, I saw 2 mountain lions standing in some large boulders. Side profile, tail curled up in the air. Big cats. They saw and heard us, and ran off. These were the first mountain lions I’d ever seen.

Next we went through a section of blown down trees in thick brush. Kinda where the mountain lions were. I tripped a few times and cut my hand. Pain in the ass. Would be nice to have some calories in my stomach.

Ross Lake

Climbed over one last hill before mostly heading downhill. Awesome view of Ross lakes from here.

Picked up a trail at the bottom of the hill. You don’t know how good it felt to reach this trail! Now it’s time to haul ass to the trailhead. We were just empty shells now, running on a couple hundred calories and less than 2 liters of water all day. Hopeful hiked the day on 12 M&Ms. Running serious deficits that cannot be sustained.

Reached the trailhead around 6pm and luckily ran into a guy named Stephen. He was headed back to Dubois and so he had no problem giving us a lift. He also had a couple of ice cold beers for us, which tasted amazing! Keystone Light never tasted so good.

We ate at the noon Rock pizza place in Dubois with our new friend Stephen. Pizza and wings really hit the spot! Got a room at the black bear inn which was very hiker friendly. I think we all went to bed with an enormous sense of satisfaction having just completed the greatest adventure of our lives. I know I did.

Miles – 17
Total Miles – 1801
Rain – no
Sleep – hotel
Animals – 2 mountain lions, marmots

Wednesday August 8th – CDT Day 110 (zero day)

Slept in today which felt amazing! Ate breakfast and got started on town chores.

Picked up packages at the longhorn ranch, which we intended on staying at. However, the allure of a hotel was much too great. The ranch was kind enough to give us the packages at no charge, even though I offered to pay a reasonable fee for the service.

Did laundry, ate at the cowboy Cafe (2 entrées), and backed up photos and GoPro videos.

Thursday August 9th – CDT Day 111 (zero day)

Hurried to pack up and get ready to hike. However, it was obvious I had too much to do today, and we could all use a little more rest. So the decision was made to stay another day. This gave me all the time I needed to check off items on my to-do list, like sending in a couple pairs of Darn Tough socks for warranty, etc.

The motel we were staying at was the Black Bear Inn. Super hiker friendly. They had a river flowing through the property and there was a sweet patio setup down by the water… BBQ grills, tables, hammocks, christmas lights. Bumped into a few other hikers today in town and invited them over to grill out with us and drink some beers. We made grilled cheese sandwhiches and italian sausages. So naturally, we combined them… yum!

Back on trail tomorrow.

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Rawlins to Lander – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Rawlins to Lander Hike Overview

rawlins to lander hike on the continental divide trail 2018

In this section I’ve decided to push for my highest mileage day on the CDT, as well as an overall push to cover the next 126 mile in as little time possible. The desert is pretty flat here and elevation gain is not much of an issue. It’s a massively vast area to be walking through. Sage brush as far as the eye can see, and not much else except an occasional wild horse or pronghorn. Much of the beauty here is in the sky… wicked looking dark clouds and vivid sunsets are common. This is some wild country.

Tuesday July 24th – CDT Day 95

Packed everything up and left the hotel around 11am. Started walking to the post office so I could mail out my bounce box and a bus stopped to pick me up. There was no name on the side of it, assuming it was a city run bus. They charged no money, and I asked if she had a tip jar but she said no, and I insist. Okay then!

After the post office I ate lunch at Bucks Sports Bar & Grill. After that, I headed back on Trail. It was 1pm now.

It was a couple of miles of road walking to get out of town, then the trail takes a dirt road into the desert.

The next several miles were pretty flat, and mostly followed really faint old dirt roads or a faint trail.

I reached a spring, the first water source of this section. There was a solar pump here that pumped water into a well that I could draw from. Good quality water! The BLM had created this water source just for CDT hikers. Without it, it would be a 28 Mile carry.

Just beyond this water source I ran into several horses. Normally horses are fenced in, but these guys weren’t. And no saddles. Wild horses? I hear there are many in the basin.

I hiked a few more miles along the road before cutting back into the desert. The trail gets pretty hard to follow at this point. It’s pretty much open desert, so you just pick up bearing in stick with it.

I stopped to make camp around 8pm. I want to get up early tomorrow and push for a big mile day. Otherwise, I would have kept going for another hour. Either way, 22 miles for a half day is not bad.

I was planning on cowboy camping, but as it got darker more gnats or noseeums kept coming out. It was crazy, haven’t had this many bugs since twin Lakes in Colorado. They were driving me insane so I had to set up my tent. There were no rocks or sticks or anything near by and the ground was kind of hard, so it was tough to get the tent stakes in the ground.

While setting up my tent, several horses ran by camp. I also saw several pronghorn, and heard some coyotes howling nearby. So much Wildlife in the desert, unlike the mountains. Most people don’t realize how much wildlife there is here.

Miles – 22
Total Miles – 1544
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, rabbit, wild horses

Wednesday July 25 – CDT Day 96

I slept like crap last night. The delamination of my neo air mattress caused a huge bulge that prevents me from finding any comfortable position. There were a ton of bugs even at night. I could hear them buzzing just outside of the bug net, just inches from my ear. Large bugs were constantly hitting the tent as well. Then it got a little windy. It just was not a very good night for sleep.

When it was time to wake up I did not feel as refreshed as normal. It was going to be hard to go for a big mile day today it seemed. Nevertheless, I hit the trail just minutes before 7am, an early start for me.

The trail follows a lot of dirt roads this morning and all day really. There wasn’t a whole lot to see this morning. I saw lots of pronghorn but that’s pretty normal around here.

It was really hot this morning. By 8:30am, it already felt as hot as it was yesterday.

I reached bull Spring around 11am, having done 11 miles so far. Good water here but no shade. It can be hard to eat when sitting in very warm direct sun light, but I forced myself.

After lunch I had a bit of a hard time mentally. It was just so hot and I had to cover so many miles, and I was just not in the mood to do so. Hiking 12 to 14 hours a day has been wearing on me. I feel good physically, I’m just over walking all day long everyday. I’m not considering quitting at all, just acknowledging the mental challenge. I’m sure the lack of sleep last night brought this on too.

The day seemed a little better after I crested a high point. At least there was some sort of view in both directions.

It was a couple more miles downhill before I reached an electric well. Good water from this source. I ate dinner here and then moved on around 6:30pm.

I hiked a few more miles before the menacing skies above could no longer be ignored. I wanted to cover a few more miles since it was not even 8pm yet, but there’s no way I was going to avoid the rain.

I stopped at the first flat and clear spot I could find. I could see rain in the distance, so I hurried as I set up my tent. Just in time too, as soon as I got it up it started pouring. I jumped inside with minimal collateral damage.

After a short downpour, the rain stopped and I could see a very vibrant orange glow outside my tent. I ventured out and was rewarded with the best sunset I’ve seen on the CDT yet. Just spectacular. There was even some lightning in the sunset clouds. Man, I wish I could have captured that in a photo.

The rain came back as the sunset wrapped up and I was banished to my silnylon prison. Time for bed, hope I can sleep better on this ghetto air mattress tonight.

Miles – 31
Total Miles – 1575
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, Jack rabbit, wild horses, Prairie dog, horned lizard

Thursday July 26th – CDT Day 97

My tent was soaking wet this morning both from the rain and condensation inside. I got up at 6am and started hiking at 7.

I hiked about an hour before reaching a solid water source, a pipe fed from a spring. I stopped here to fill up with 4 liters since the next water source is 28 miles away. Well, the next decent water source, one without cow shit floating in it.

Today I’m planning on putting some big miles in. I made a conscious effort to walk faster and did my best to maintain this pace. This morning especially, many of the dirt roads were soft sand which slowed me down a bit.

It got hot very quickly today. There was also more climbing then the day before. Today was already a little bit more scenic than yesterday with a few more views from high points.

I took lunch around noon under an actual shade tree. I stopped to think about it, and I don’t think I’ve come across one in over 100 miles now. I was tempted to stay much longer but I kept this break to about 25 minutes. I’ve hiked 14 miles today at this point.

The rest of this afternoon was actually a decent amount of ups and downs along Ridge lines, although nothing like in the mountains. Nice, but hot!

I took a short break around 4pm. I was hoping to find some shade, but nothing in sight. I just sat down in the middle of the trail and drank some water. It was too hot to really want to eat anything since I was sitting in direct sunlight. So I skipped meal time here even though I really needed it.

Another 6 miles down the trail I reached a water cache. There were two insulated boxes in an enclosed fenced area. I open the first box, all of the gallon water jugs for empty. I opened the second box and there were two full gallon jugs. Woohoo! I’m drinking water tonight! 32 miles hiked today so far, just after 6pm at this point.

Nice walking this evening. At one point there was a wild horse running through the field, with a rising full moon in the sky and a sunset-lit storm cloud also in the background. My wide angle lens was too wide for the right shot though.

Hiked to 9:45pm tonight, stopping at 40 miles for the day. This is shatters my old record of 34. I watched a distant lightning storm play out in the distance as I ate dinner under a full moon. Not a bad way to end a really really long day.

Miles – 40
Total Miles – 1615
Rain – sprinkles
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, wild horses

Friday July 27 – CDT Day 98

Was really sore today after hiking 40 miles yesterday. Only got 7 hrs sleep. Started hiking around 7:45.

Slightly Rolling hills, open fields everywhere. Vast and barren.

The Continental Divide Trail follows the Oregon Trail and the California Trail in this section. Being here really makes you think back to all those people who traveled this route in the olden days. 

Today was a blur. A challenge. Tough. Everything hurts. I just pressed on in zombie mode.

Stopped for a break under a bridge over the Sweetwater River. Nice river, green grass and very scenic. Hiked 18 miles so far and have another 17 to go.

It was a really long walk down this dirt road after lunch. It was really hot, but at least now I could see the wind river range in the distance. The road seemed to lead right to it, so the mountains got bigger with every step.

My legs, knees and feet were shot. Every step was painful. I stopped around 5pm to put some new insoles in my shoes, as I just remembered I brought them for this purpose. My feet felt a little better, but the rest of my body was still hurting.

I saw a nice shade tree along the road around 6pm, so I had to stop and escape the sun. First shade since the Sweetwater River at lunch. This felt amazing, but not enough to overcome my extreme exhaustion.

I pressed on through the evening. About 8 miles to go. I staggered my way through South pass city, a very small community with a mining history. Not much going on here.

The trail was spotty after leaving South pass city. Only 2 miles to hwy 28, where I’ll hitch into Lander. The landscape is really changing now. Random rock outcroppings among rolling hills. Cool.

I reached hwy 28 around 8:45pm, very little light left. Almost no traffic heeding east to Lander. The vehicles that did pass ignored me. I tried to hitch until 9:30 is giving up. It was dark and it just wasn’t gonna happen tonight. I was really disappointed, was looking forward to a hotel bed and shower tonight. Crushing.

I retreated to a patch of trees along the highway. They were actually a thick stand of willows with tons of mosquitos, but I was so exhausted it didn’t matter. I set up camp here and passed out immediately.

This was one of the hardest days on trail for me and possibly my lowest point on the CDT. Glad it’s over and now it’s time to rest up for the winds.

Miles – 35
Total Miles – 1650
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, wild horses, horned lizard

Saturday July 28th – CDT Day 99 (zero day)

I woke up to sprinkles on my tent. Light, but enough to soak the tent. Packed up and headed back to to the highway to resume hitching.

I had much better luck this morning, getting a ride in 20 minutes. My ride dropped me off at the oxbow restaurant in Lander. Breakfast was good and much needed. I remember eating here for breakfast before my Wind River Range Traverse back in 2014.

I contacted Hopeful, the CDT hiker who agreed to hike the winds with me, to see what he was up to. It turns out he is staying with a woman who he met in the airport. She also loaned him her minivan to get around town in, so he picked me up. Nice! Katie, who I’d met in Chama, was also staying at the house and looking to hike the winds with us. Even better!

Back at the house, I immediately took a shower. This felt so good! It was a really nice house with an amazing yard that was well landscaped. There was a pool, hot tub and even a volley ball net. What a great place to stay!

Next we went out to run our town errands. We first stopped at the bulk food store next to NOLS. This was a cool place, they had garbage cans on wheels full of food like trail mix, dried fruit and sesame sticks.

We also popped into NOLS to check the place out. Got a tour of the building and played on this swing they had in one of the gear rooms. Talked to a girl who just back back from a NOLS trip she they summited Gannett peak, Wyoming state high point. It’s in the winds right where we’ll be hiking, so we got a little Intel on the snow conditions. Good thing we have micro spikes!

Went to the post office next, then an outfitter, then lunch at the dairy king. Home of the cheese wheel! It’s a burger battered and deep fried, perfect thru hiker food.

Went to the grocery store and bought food for the next week, then back to the house.

Spent the afternoon in the pool and hot tub. Very relaxing and just what I needed after such a brutal stretch of trail.

Later that evening, we drove about 10 minutes down the road to sinks canyon state park. There’s a river that flows into a mountain and comes out further down the road in another spot. It was a lot cooler in person than it sounds. Great way to spend an hour and see something awesome.

More hot tub this evening before bed. We stayed up until 1am though, so I didn’t get to catch up on sleep like I hoped.

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Encampment to Rawlins – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Encampment to Rawlins Hike Overview

encampment to rawlins hike on the continental divide trail 2018

North of Encampment, the landscape abruptly changes from mountains to desert. The desert here begins as rolling hills, filled with pronghorn. It’s a long road walk into Rawlins. The views aren’t the finest, but the new landscape is interesting after so much time in the mountains. 

Friday July 20th – CDT Day 91

I didn’t go to bed until around 11 last night, but I also slept in till 9am. By this time the only hiker still here was Jesus and knots. Knots was on his way out, so I followed him over to the divide restaurant near the post office for breakfast.

I hung out at the campground most of the day, taking care of little things on my to-do list for those days in town when I have internet. It was a warm day so I was also really taking my time, waiting for the heat of the day to die down.

It was around 6pm when I left the campground. As I was walking towards Encampment, I saw Aaron. He gave me a Gatorade and we walked back to the Bighorn Lodge where he was staying with Dixie. I’m headed over to the divide restaurant again for dinner before hitching out of town. Later, Aaron and Dixie joined me.

I stood out in front of the post office to hitch back to battle pass around 7pm. The first car that drove by picked me up, took less than 5 minutes.

I was hiking by 7:30pm. After leaving the paved road the trail is a dirt road for a while. I followed it uphill through a little ways and made camp a little after 8pm. 2 miles, this will probably end up being my shortest day on the CDT.

Miles – 2
Total Miles – 1459
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Saturday July 21st – CDT Day 92

Walked to the top of Bridger peak this morning, 10,951′. This is the high point for the next 200ish miles along the CDT.

 

The trail drops in elevation from here until the great Divide basin desert, which I’ll enter in another 20 miles.

Stopped to filter water at a Creek, and ate first lunch. Another mile later, I reached a trailhead. Here I met a guy named crazy Joe who was camping and doing a little trail magic. I drank a beer with him and talked for about an hour. Cool guy. Not as crazy as the name implies.

Next the trail pops out of the forest and into an open Ridgeline environment. I’m digging it.

It’s a couple hours walk along the remaining mountainous Ridgeline, in and out of forests. I saw a lot of deer through here.

 

Reaching the last hill was cool. The very end of the mountains and down into the desert, just like that. It’s a profound feeling, the nearly instant and obvious transition from mountains to desert in what seemed like a single step.

Almost immediately the trail joins a dirt road. I followed this to sage creek rd, which I then will follow all the way to Rawlins.

It was still pretty hot even though it was now really evening. I had a half litter of really warm water left. I hiked a few miles to savory creek, whew I took a break in the shade. I ate dinner and filtered water. Chugged a liter and carried 4 with me.

Hiked another couple miles with a nice sunset to entertain. I also saw several pronghorn, first on the CDT for me. Even though I was along the road, I could appreciate the desert landscape. It’s not the super flat kind of desert. Rather, the kind filled with rolling hills.

Found camp around 9pm. It’s just a flat spot on a burm above the road. Decided to cowboy camp, mostly out of laziness.

Miles – 29
Total Miles – 1488
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, cowboy camp
Animals – deer, pronghorn

Sunday July 22nd – CDT Day 93

I woke up around 3am when it started sprinkling. I set up my tent just in time, as the rain intensified right after.

The skies were grey and occasional light sprinkles this morning. Not what I expected in the desert, especially since I’ve only had maybe one other gloomy morning on the CDT like this so far. Almost no days like this in the New Mexico desert.

Today will be straight forward… Follow the road to Rawlins, all day long. Yay.

Came across a cooler along side the road this morning filled with water for CDT hikers. I had 3+ liters, so I left the water for others.

With the grey skies, the Temps were nice and cool, and there was a nice breeze. Perfect for desert hiking! However, Road walking can be pretty boring.

I took lunch in a culvert along side the road. It started sprinkling so it was perfect timing.

I came across another cooler a few miles south of Teton reservoir. This one had ice cold water, with some ice still floating around in the cooler. I definitely took advantage of this one!

Teton reservoir area was the most interesting thing I’d see all day. Not because of the water, which was not that visible from the road really, but because of the interesting mesas just beyond. I took another break in a culvert here, this one with a good view of the mesas.

After this break, the clouds stated clearing. This meant hotter hiking.

A few miles north of Teton reservoir, the dirt road turns to pavement. Good news, as I no longer have to eat dust and pebbles as asshole motorists fly by with no regard to my existence. Bad news, it’s a bit harder on the feet.

The walk along the paved Road was even less interesting. Nothing to do except walk as fast as possible. I took this opportunity to monitor my road walk pace. I figure 3.75 MPH, or 16 minute miles.

I could see Rawlins in the distance as the road approached town. It felt like a Wyoming version of Grants, NM. Hopefully no gauntlet of aggressive dogs guarding the city though.

Rawlins is pretty spread out, so it still took about an hour to reach the hotel after entering the city. Apparently all the hotels are near booked so I barely got a room at the days inn, which had changed names to Magnuson. Nothing special about this place. A little run down actually.

Are dinner at McDonald’s and came back to the hotel to pass out. Today was 34 miles, tied for the most miles I’ve ever done in a day.

Miles – 34
Total Miles – 1522
Rain – yes
Sleep – hotel
Animals – pronghorn

Monday July 23 – CDT Day 94 (zero day)

Slept in to 9am which felt great, but still not long enough. Did sink laundry and called my dad, then I went to McDonald’s again for lunch. There isn’t much around here to eat really.

Made a reservation across the street at Econo Lodge for the evening, since it seemed like a nicer place for the same price. Plus, they have a hot tub! Walked over there around noon and they had no rooms available yet, gotta wait. I hate how hotels do that, make you wait until 3pm to check in. They start cleaning them at 9am so how can there be no clean rooms available? Come on now.

I waited about an hour for my room. Not sure if it was the owner, but an older guy walked by a few times and noticed me sitting there and told the woman at the front desk to hurry up and “get this young man a room”. So I’m wondering, what age do you stop becoming a young man and just a man? Is it relative? You’re young man if you’re younger than the person referring to you? Either way, I’ll take it. Young man > old man.

After getting checked into the room, I walked up to Walmart. On the way up there I ran into bartender, another hiker. She had just made the decision to leave the trail due to tendonitis in the foot. It’s really sad to hear that, it must be really hard to make that decision after coming so far.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing typical town chores. Mostly, dealing with stuff in my bounce box. Backing up pictures and video, updating my GPS with Wyoming tracks, and getting my plan together for the wind River range.

I had put up a post on the CDT Facebook page looking for a partner to hike from Lander to old Faithful, since my route through this area will not be on the official CDT. It would be nice to have someone to hike the winds with, as well as strength in numbers through grizzly country. A hiker name hopeful replied, and it looks like we’re going to meet up in Lander. Perfect!

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