Day 74-78 July 14th-18th
Day 74 July 14th Things are Changing Fast in Wyoming.
I woke up in Encampment at about 5:00 a.m., but the bad news was that nothing was open. I took care of a couple of things and packed up and noticed the coffee truck across the street. I stopped by but The lady said she wasn’t open till 7:00.
I walked up to the gas station which was a vintage old Sinclair with the little dinosaur up front. I thought about grabbing coffee there but the gentleman sitting around the table shooting the s*** were guys I didn’t want to spend any time around. They were local guys just doing macho guy stuff.
Anyways I grabbed a few candy bars and some other snacks along with a couple of instant mashed potatoes to supplement the food I already had. I headed down to downtown Encampment to find the one and only open restaurant.
It was a little restaurant bar that bragged about being open 7 days a week. I honestly didn’t care, I just wanted some breakfast. I ordered a chicken fried steak, covered in gravy with hash browns and sourdough toast and a short stack of pancakes. I don’t think the waitress was used to thru hikers and looked a little puzzled with the order.
Chicken fried steak was really good, but there was something weird about the pancakes but either way it was filling. That in about four cups of coffee and I was ready to go.
This little town is set up to support through hikers and it’s kind of neat. The best spot to catch a hitch is right in front of this little house and they were nice enough to build a bench and a hiker box. I don’t know if I’ve ever explained a hiker box, but it’s just a place that hikers throw stuff they don’t want and another hikers can grab it. You’ll often find things like Band-Aid, used deodorant, soap, shampoo and almost always some sort of crappy breakfast mix.
I waited there for about a half hour or so. Most of the traffic leaving town where tourists in their RVs or work trucks headed out for the day. Generally those aren’t good options for hitching since they both feel like they need to be somewhere in a hurry and I only slow them down.
A nice guy in a well used pickup stopped and offered to give me a ride up to the mountain. Said he had never picked up a hiker before but he looked kind of excited about it. He was listening to conservative talk radio and I was really hoping he would turn off. You can listen to what you want but political talk radio on either end of the spectrum is awful.
He turned it off and we chatted for a little bit. I told him my story in about the CDT in general. And of course we then talked about Joe Pickett and the CJ box series. We both agreed that the TV show didn’t live up to the books. We had slightly different reason for that but either way Joe Pickett carries a shotgun not a 22. The guy who gave me the ride was adamant there was something wrong with Joe’s hat and the TV show. That wasn’t something I noticed.
The trail started off with a pretty decent amount of snow. Most of it was avoidable but some of it I had to climb over, but it was all solid and there wasn’t any post holling. But there was a fair amount of it.
A few hours into my hike and as soon as I kind of walked out of one forest area I literally walked into an arid desert. And the rest of the day was sort of like sometimes in the forest sometimes in a pretty arid and rocky desert that reminded me a little bit of the New Mexico Boot heel but with some more elevation.
It was a decent enough day of hiking and I should be into Rawlins in a couple of days. Plan is to catch a hitch there and skip the rest of the great basin.
Day 75 July 15th Sometimes Change isn’t Good
Okay I’ll try to remain positive, but this last day was super boring. To add on to that I didn’t do a good job of loading my podcasts before I left civilization. So an incredible boring road walk wasn’t filled with an update on all the NBA transactions or where Damian Lillard is going to end up. Instead I got to listen to Bill Bryson talk about the Constitution. A decent trade-off.
I wish I could say something nice but it’s mostly like a desert, but instead of being all excited about hiking in the desert because it’s the beginning, I’m now two months or so into the journey and thinking am I really doing this over again? I had originally planned on hitching from encampment past this part, but I changed my mind because I think the hitch out of encampment would have been difficult.
Oh well, there is another 33 mi before I get to a town and this one’s much larger. Well for Wyoming at least. When I get to this town I’m going to try to find a ride north to skip this less than exciting part.
It was nice to bump into the same hiker a few times during the day. It doesn’t feel like that’s happened since the beginning of Colorado. Nice young lady from England. She saw me in encampments and thought I was somebody else. I appreciate that she doesn’t feel obligated to talk to me and can just walk by and say hi.
Off topic: What would you do with $20,000 you couldn’t invest save or pay off bills / mortgage?
It’s a decent amount of money. It wouldn’t change your life unless you were an amazing business person who could start some sort of side hustle with 20K. I used to ask this question or this type of question at least to my Air Force RoTC classes as an intro and to get them thinking and talking. For 19-year-olds you need to set the money level much lower. For 20K they could live for 4 to 5 years.
Right now I know what I do. I go first class to Maui with my family. I think I could spread it out over 10 days I’m not exactly sure what first class plane tickets to Maui cost and some of that depends on when but I guess in this little fantasy I’ll do it over Christmas break. We’d go for 10 days, the first 3 days would be in a hotel or resort. We drive to watch the sunrise, check out the lava fields and maybe take a surfing lesson.
The next week would be at an Airbnb type place. We buy lots of pineapple and fresh fruit and maybe do some sort of off shore fishing excursion. I’d make the kids try mahi mahi and other fish. We’d go hiking and look for waterfalls. We wouldn’t have to worry about buying milk we just go ahead and splurge and do it. Milk in Maui is ridiculously expensive.
Oh and last thing we’d probably do some sort of horseback riding excursion. We’ve done something similar a couple times and so he’s a lot of fun. My oldest kid always struggles because they Don’t want to hit the horse. They usually give me the horse that needs to be hit the most.
This is here to do a hiking but it’s my blog. If you haven’t thought about this question I recommend you think about it.
Day 76 July 16th cutting corners
More road walking through the desert. About as boring as you can get. I ended up camping near a forest service camper which was nice because there was a porta potty right next to it. I know in real life you basically avoid porta potties at all costs, but when you’re camping in the woods or in this case the desert, a porta potty is a great way to start your morning. Anything to not have to dig a hole in rock hard desert ground.
It was about 33 mi into Rawlins, but I figured I could make that a little bit shorter if I cut it off and hitched in the last 10 or so miles. I bumped into a guy with a homemade trailer about 15 miles out and he asked me about good places to camp nearby. I said with a trailer there wasn’t much and that there was some public easement for the past 10 miles so it wasn’t optimal.
I saw him again about 2 mi down the road and waved about and asked for a ride into Rawlins. He was nice enough to oblige even though he wasn’t headed that way. He was retired guy living his best life moving from free campsite to free campsite.
He dropped me off at Buck’s bar in downtown Rawlins. Not my favorite restaurant, but there was a couple of guys traveling for work, and other bike packer and some other people in the bar. I had a couple beers, some spinach dip and cowboy chili which is just chilly over spaghetti. Nothing memorable though they did have $1 ice cream sundaes.
Rawlins has a Hampton inn so are you some points and got a free night and figured I’d do my best to hitchhike into Lander the next day. This will be my longest hitch, so we’ll see how it goes. I’m not worried about an ax murderer I’m just not looking forward to staying on the highway for 3 hours either. It’s a $300 Uber ride which is a bit pricey. I could buy a Walmart bike for that much. So I’m going to test the graciousness of strangers tomorrow and see how it goes.
Day 77 July 17th Not as Easy as it Sounds
I woke up at my beautiful hotel, the Hampton inn of Rawlins Wyoming and enjoyed their legendary hot breakfast. Whenever you check into a Hampton they always remind you it’s a hot breakfast. Anyways I crushed a waffle, two bowls of cereal, an omelette, a whole plate of sausage, and two cups of coffee.
The plan was to hitchhike to Lander Wyoming. I had no idea how it was going to go. There was a spot about a mile from the hotel where I thought I might get some people coming in and out of the gas station out of town. I waited there for about an hour and gentleman in a pickup truck turned around and gave me a short ride to the edge of town and said I’d have a better chance of getting a ride out here. He said he picks up CDT hikers often and this is the best spot to get a ride towards lander.
Not long after a gentleman in a work truck stopped and gave me a ride out to muddy Gap. There is one gas station there and it’s huge, but also small at the same time. Just one guy working with a couple of shelves but in an enormous building.
Probably 40 minutes after that I got picked up and brought to a teeny little town called Jeffrey City. I guess it used to be a uranium mining town. Now there is one bar that somehow is in business even though it doesn’t have a sign outside that says it’s a bar and a pottery shop.
I waited there with there a German couple that I had met my first week on the CDT. I always forget the husband’s name but the wife’s name is Trixie. They’re avid hikers and they’re done basically nothing but hiking for the last 20 years. I was surprised to bump into them again but they are sort of just doing their own thing they do about 10 miles a day and I think they flipped around quite a bit. I think they’re happy being nomads.
We waited there for about 2 hours before one of the guys at the bar gave us a ride out to Sweetwater station. I thought he said that the town had a restaurant but I miss heard him because the windows were open and he just said rest stop. But I figured a rest stop wouldn’t be a terrible place to get a hitch.
Trixie and her husband decided to go a different direction because they’re just trying to resupply and then get back to the trail closer to Rollins basically where I met them in Jeffrey City. They were picked up pretty quickly.
I waited around for about 3 hours before taking a break to eat dinner and then try to talk to people and convince them to give me a ride. No luck. The lady that came to clean the rest stop reminded me that there was no overnight camping and that she said it was sometimes hard to get out of this spot.
I said I think we’re pretty much surrounded by public land so I’ll find a place to throw up my tent that’s not here. She pointed a couple locations but I pretty much ignored it. Hopefully nobody comes taps on my tent late tonight so they can’t sleep here.
The plan in the morning will be to hitchhike into Riverton. It’s north when I need to go west, but there is a bus that runs from Riverton to lander. So maybe I can have more luck getting a hitch to Riverton and then I’ll use public transportation to my advantage.
I hate this stuff
This type of thing is exactly why I didn’t flip when the weather was so bad. I’m not patient enough to stand around and wait for somebody else to pick me up. I’d much rather pay a reasonable fee to get where I need to go at the time I want to get there. If it doesn’t resolve itself tomorrow then I guess I could walk. It’s a long road walk but it’s not impossible.
Day 78 July 18th I gave up on Hitching
After sleeping in an open field across the street from the rest area, I got up used the facilities made some breakfast and thought about my options. I talked to a couple people stopped at the rest stop to see about getting a ride with no luck.
My options were to either keep trying to hitch, either west or north or do a 33ish mile road walk into Atlantic City Wyoming. That would link be back up with the trail but at the end wouldn’t save me the time I was hoping. But again I’d already been hitching at that location for about 6 hours.
I decided to start walking
The problem with jumping on a unknown route is water. You can see what you assume to be streams and creeks and rivers but you don’t really know until you get there. So because of that I went a little water heavy in started out with 2 liter’s. For some of you that might not sound like much but that’s twice as much as I normally carry. And frankly I could stretch two liters for a long time.
The road was long and boring.
The good news was multiple people stopped. The bad news was none of them were willing to give me a ride until the very end. The first guy who stopped was in a federal government vehicle and said he wasn’t allowed to have an extra passenger. I didn’t want to bust out any regulations on them and he was nice enough to give me a water so I let him carry on.
The next guy who stopped was going the opposite direction and was very interested in how I was doing. I think I might have met him yesterday but it’s hard to tell.
A couple of Mormons stopped to check on me. They didn’t offer me anything. I didn’t know this was a important area for the LDS church. But I guess this was the route they took leaving Ohio or something.
The next guy stopped was going the wrong direction but also told me the easiest route to get to Atlantic City. Though I’m not sure it was the easiest route, because I think he was trying to get me back onto the main CDT faster. He was very nice though and gave me two bottles of water and a Mountain dew. Few things taste better on trail than a ice cold cold soda.
So with all the truck traffic I was doing fine with water and there were multiple streams with flowing water. I just had to deal with the 30 mile road walk. Oh yeah and 20 mph head winds. It kept it cool but man that wind was strong.
About 4 mi outside of Atlantic City I saw a couple of young ladies driving around in a Honda Accord. Not exactly the kind of ride you see in this type of terrain. I gave them an odd look and they waved.
They turned back around and were nice enough to give me a ride to Atlantic City, saving me an hour and a half or so.
It’s an old mining town with two restaurants, three bed and breakfasts, and an RV park. The moment I got into town I met a French hiker named Pepe Le Pew. I’ve seen his name a few times ahead of me but this is the first time I’ve met him in person. The moment I saw him I knew he was a hardcore hiker. No trekking poles and his pack was half my size.
We ended up eating together at the mercantile exchange. Like every French guy he ordered the fish. It looked awful. I ordered a double cheeseburger, onion rings, and a brownie Sundae.
The restaurant bar was unique. I’m pretty sure it’s the original bar they built back during the Gold Rush and it’s covered with old pictures of the boom times and dead animals.
I’m going to hang out for the restaurant to open for breakfast, grab a bunch of food maybe some candy bars and head out. It’s a four or maybe 5-day hike to my next resupply.
No more long hitches
I don’t have any issue with getting a hitch back and forth from town, but I’m not going to try to hitch past big sections again. If I can’t secure reliable transportation I’m not going to hang out on the side of the road for half a day. I just don’t like it.
Thanks again for reading. Sorry for the long gap in posting. Old gold rush towns don’t have good WiFi.
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