CDT Day 39-44: A Walk through Wyoming
CDT Day 39
It rained til after dark. Wake up to a cold and wet morning. But the sun won’t ever make it to me with all the tree cover so I pack up wet stuff. I walk down to the laundromat which happens to sell some snacks. Hot coffee, OJ, muffin, banana, and a breakfast sandwich. Perfect hiker breakfast. I hang out in the massive laundryroom while I eat cause it’s way warmer than outside. I walk down to the main road and get a hitch almost instantly from a nice old guy who is on a road trip. He tells me that it’s cool to see people hitch hiking, that used to be how they got around back in the day and how noone does it. Nope, just thru-hikers and bums. I hit the trail to a misty morning.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell what is fog and what is steam from the boiling rivers and geysers.
The views are pretty sweet and I pass by a massive lake.
I see a couple adorable and furry baby fawns. And the biggest salamander.
The teeniest little chipmunks dart from the trail all day. The butterflies and dragonflies flit in front of me up the trail. The crickets chirp. The bird sing and squawk. The mosquitoes humm. Then it’s all the creek crossings.
In the morning I just walk across them with my shoes on knowing I can dry my shoes out at lunch with the rest of my gear. But after lunch I take my shoes off for the crossings because I know my feet won’t dry before tomorrow and also my left foot it getting some pretty painful trenchfoot, and keeping it as dry as possible definitely helps. Shoes on, shoes off, so many times. I guess it makes sense with all the flooding Yellowstone had a couple months ago. I follow bear tracks pretty much the whole day.
I pass a bunch of NOBOs. I keep thinking I’m getting towards the end of them, but I guess not. The rain clouds threaten all day, but I only a get a few drops.
I’m following the Snake River and it is definitely the prettiest part of the park so far.
And it seems like only thru-hikers really get the pleasure of seeing it. I find a place to camp in the trees in case it rains again tonight. It’s not supposed to, but one thing I have learned about this trail is no matter what the forecast says, there is ALWAYS a chance of rain.
Dinner is chips (always chips), a ridiculously overpriced National Park turkey sandwich (it’s only turkey and bread and it cost $9), and an IPA from Snake River Brewing that was brewed in honor of Yellowstone’s 150th anniversary. It’s all delicious.
CDT Day 40
The grass is dewy and sparkling with frost. The trail is muddy and overgrown. The sun hasn’t popped into the valley yet so the morning is wet and cold. My shoes are soaked in minutes and my sweater is too not long after. Good reason to hike fast. Just when I think my hands are too cold to grip my poles much longer, the sun finally crests the mountains and warms my soul.
I run into a couple hikers and they’re from Nor Cal, specifiamy where I live! One of the guys is Cache 22, the guy who started and maintains the water cache on the Hat Creek Rim, a super dry and exposed section on the PCT. I met him once on the PCT when he was section hiking in Oregon, but he lives around the area I went to high school, such a crazy small world. Right now he’s finishing up a section of his CDT hike from last year.
The day is big meadows.
Lots of creek crossings.
All the mud, horse poop, jumping crickets, and biting flies. I’m just sliding through the trail half the time and rock/mudpit hopping the rest.
The landscape is changing. Much more rocky and jagged.
I do a little off-trail hiking towards the end of the day because there is supposedly a cool slot canyon. It’s pretty neat.
I end the day with a big creek crossing. It’s only knee deep at the moment, but apparently it can be up to 10 feet high at times. I’m pretty pooped by the end of the day and the mosquitos are out in full force. I find a place to camp just as the sun is going behind the mountains. I’m camping right by a river so I’m sure it will be a chilly morning. Oh well, that’s a future Zebra peoblem.
CDT Day 41
The cold morning feels good because I have a big climb. Up and up I climb and then down and down to a gorgeous lake.
It’s surrounded by the most amazing mountains, the kind you see in old western movies.
This is the Wyoming I’ve been waiting for.
I make it down to the highway and get a ride from a couple that turned their car around and came back for me after passing me. They’re hiking the Wind River High Route starting tomorrow so their car is packed with gear and supplies and they rearrange everything just to give me a ride. People are awesome.
I get into Dubois and find the church that lets hikers crash there for free! After dropping my stuff, it’s food time, duh! I find a cool old bar that has some of the best wings I’ve ever had.
After completely stuffing myself because meat and veggies are two things my body is not used to anymore, I head down to the KOA that lets hikers shower and do laundry there for cheap. Then it’s over to Family Dollar for resupply. My next section of trail is probably going to be six days. I hate carrying this much food, but oh well. I walk back across town to the church to repackage my resupply, clip my nails, call my parents to let them know I haven’t been eaten by bigfoot. Then it’s time for food again. I had planned to go somewhere else for dinner, but on a Tuesday night, there aren’t a lot of things open and the ones that are are packed. I go back to where I ate lunch, which is also packed, but at least I know the food is good.
They also do square dancing here on Tuesday nights and the place totally fills up. It feels weird to be so close to so many people, people bumping into me trying to order at the bar, so much people watching after spending most of my days totally alone. It’s entertaining and also just a little too much. I watch the square dancing and try to remember what it’s like to be a normal person and have energy to stay out late and and party and dance as I try to shove all my food into an already stuffed stomach. I walk around town in the dark go help my food digest and it feels good to be outside, in the dark, walking the streets alone. The sky is gorgeous with the little light it has left and the moon and stars starting to shine. I make it back to the church and try to sleep with eight other people snoring and farting all in the same room.
CDT Day 42
I toss and turn all night with the noise of cars and other people, but wake at 6, wide awake. Most everyone else is still asleep so I lay in my sleeping bag and research the weather and the upcoming section of trail until my stomach is yelling at me and I have to get up to eat. I walk back towards the end of town and take in all the fun sights.
I end up getting two hitches to get back to trail. At first it’s a road walk and then it’s a mix of forest and fields.
There’s a lot of blowdowns. Technically this is the old CDT I’m walking on. They put a new trail in to the west a few years ago, but from what I’ve heard it’s not even close to being complete and is mostly bushwacking, so most people take the old trail. I only see two NOBOs on the trail and one SOBO. I think I might finally be nearing the end of the NOBOs. If I’m still seeing them at this point, they’re right on the edge of being able to make it all the way to Canada before the winter storms start dumping.
It’s a lot of navigating today since I seem to be crossing tons of roads and trails, mostly snowmobile ones it looks like since I dont see anyone besides the three other hikers. I find a preestablished campsite to call it a night. Looks like maybe a hunters site. Even has a homemade table and a privy, what a luxury!
CDT Day 43
I have a road walk to start the morning which is a nice way to warm up and see some views. I see so many deer. Probably more just this morning than I have seen the rest of the trail so far. Even a couple good bucks.
And all the cows. Even a dead cow that looks like he was frozen and then someone pushed him over, all his legs still sticking out straight.
It’s back and forth from hot open meadows to thick forests with all the blowdowns.
Sometimes you can find paths around the blowdowns. Right now the paths just lead to smaller blowdowns so that I don’t have to climb over every massive tree lying on the trail. Have I told you how exhausting blowdowns are? They are the worst at zapping my energy. I trip going downhill on a root in the afternoon and fall hard. Knees and hands all banged up. Luckily this is the first bad fall I have had so far on trail, so can’t really complain. I get some ice cold rain drops which feels amazing since it’s blazing hot out, but they don’t last.
I find a beautiful valley with a massive lake I walk along and eventually camp beside and a view of the mountains I will hit tomorrow.
There’s a decent amount of weekend warriors out since the Wind River Range is a popular backpacking destination. I can hear kids yelling as I’m looking for a place to set up camp, which is both comforting and annoying at the same time. I’m pooped after a long hard day and don’t really have the energy to entertain the weekenders like I normally do, so I answer a few questions, give their dog some good rubs and find a quiet place where I can pass out and hopefully have a much needed peaceful night of sleep.
CDT Day 44
Freezing cold morning walking along the prettiest river.
Green River. I can see why it got its name.
I get a better view of the mountains I could see yesterday.
I have 10 miles until I reach a junction for Knapsack Cole, an alternate route off the CDT that I am taking that is supposed to have some epic views. And some serious climbing. I climb up to a beautiful valley. And then find the most gorgeous lake.
And then I keep climbing up a canyon with snow and rivers coming down it.
I get way off course at one point following some mystery carins, but luckily I realize my error before I go up the wrong pass, the one that has an avalanche of snow. I finally make it to the top of the pass with some scrambling and a lot of boulder hopping just as the thunder cracks overhead.
I go as fast as I can going down, but the rocks are slick and moving underfoot and it’s steep so I have to be really careful. I make my way down to the valley as the rain drops start and the thunder is echoing through the canyon. I pass a sweet glacier.
I’m above treeline, but I find a massive rock that has a bit of an overhang that I decide to take a lunch break at and wait out the storm. Watching the lightning strike as I eat is mesmerizing. The storm passes through pretty quickly and I keep on toward another set of gorgeous lakes.
I pass a tent and a guy in standing outside. “Look over there,” he says and points to a snow patch on the side of one of the mountain cliffs. The deer are running back and forth across it. I have no idea how they are doing it, it looks so steep. They’re playing! It’s the only logical thing we can come up with since they aren’t actually going anywhere. So freaking cool. I keep on and pass more and more gorgeous lakes.
The trail is wet and muddy, but nothing could deter my happiness. I feel like I’m in a Lord of the Rings movie and I keep murmuring to myself, “How is this real life?”
This is my kinda hiking. This is what my soul needed. One thing I’ve learned from thru-hiking that also applies to anything in life, the hard stuff is always the best stuff.
I’m almost back to the trail when I run into Suvi! I met Suvi hiking the PCT in 2018 and now we’re both on the CDT together. She’s on her way to do a different alternate, the Wind River High Route, I’m jealous, I can’t wait to do that someday. But I want to wait until I have more time and can take it slow, since it requires multiple days in excess to what we are already hiking. I push on until I reconnect with the CDT and find a spot to camp that’s slightly covered by a couple trees since the thunder is back at it and out here, there’s always a chance of rain. My heart is so happy after today. I don’t know who or what you are Knapsack Cole, but I love you! This has definitely been the best part of the trail so far and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the Winds bring.
Random thought of the day: Hiker hunger must be really kicking in now because I kept smelling foods today that were definitely not there. Blueberry muffins, french fries, mac and cheese. Torture.
Also, just a reminder that I am using my thru-hike as a fundraiser for a local charity that raises money for families with kids who have cancer. If you’re interested in donating or learning about it, click here.
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