Not even two months in and I find myself halfway on my way to Mexico. For some reason time on this trail seems to move way faster than on other trails and we’ve already crossed off Montana, a small part of Idaho and Wyoming.
Thru-hiking is intense business. If you’re not hiking from early morning to late evening you are in town doing chores such as laundry, resupply or fixing your gear and sleep just never seems to be enough. And of course, taking the time to eat (and a lot of it) is always a priority! But this is the life of a thru-hike. It is not the same as being out backpacking when you can take your time and relax. When thru-hiking you need to keep moving, and that’s pretty much constantly. That said, sometimes you just gotta take a couple of days off instead of just one to catch up with pretty much everything – so in Steamboat Springs I took my first double zero on trail.
Two out of five – Montana and Idaho
Montana offered the stunning Glacier National Park, followed by the Bob Wilderness that challenged me with blowdown trees, overgrowth and a lot of bugs but this state also had deep valleys, a lot of ranching land as well as Tobacco Root Mountains and Spanish Peaks. Being a country gal, it’s a state I really enjoyed, and even though I’ve since long thrown out my cowboy hat I still dream about that ranch!
Through this state we also cut many miles of trail due to wildfires, a decision that was on my mind for quite some time but at this time I feel was probably for the best as fires are still roaring around us and the smoke is getting to both my nose and throat.
And even though we decided to do the Big Sky-alternate, I still got to go into Idaho for a very small section, but all and all that alternate probably cut off 250 miles of trail due to fires.
Three out of five – Wyoming
I still find it hard to believe that we have already hiked through the entire state of Wyoming. It’s a state that definitely impressed me with the sheer size of the vast landscape, Yellowstone National Park where trail led us right next to gaysers and the Winds River Mountains with their remote beauty had me, Darwin and Rad climbing over 11 447 feet (3489 meters) at Texas Pass in thunder and rain.
We finished off the state through the desert landscape of the Basin, even though the desert weather was left out (a bummer for me, since I do like the sun and heat!). Instead of having baking sun and heat, we hiked out of the town of Lander in rain and thunder which stayed with us all through the afternoon, evening and following morning. And even though the rain stopped the following morning, the wind picked up and temperatures dropped to what was probably the coldest temperatures to date on trail and for the first time so far I woke up and considered hiking in my tights.
One good thing about the Basin though is that it is pretty flat, which means you can hike big miles. And somewhere along this section, with the town of Rawlins alluring ahead of us, we decided that this was the place to do a challenge of bigger miles. With 58 miles left to town, we got going at 6.30 am and hiked into town at 2 am including a few breaks, one being a pizza party along the highway courtesy of Darwins friend Meow, who hiked with us through this section, and his girlfriend Madi.
Our last few nights in Wyoming was some of the best I’ve probably had so far on trail; a red harvest moon rising over the mountains as the wind died down while camping in a big valley. We also had the best view of the Milky Way that I probably seen, and later on the sky so clear the moon is like a big flashlight leaving big shadows all through the night.
Milage, hiker-hunger and Colorado
Since heading out of Wyoming and the Basin we have been averaging about 30 miles per day. Somewhere in the Winds, hiker-hunger struck me bad and I felt like I could eat my entire food bag in one go. And even though my hunger isn’t as bad as before, having a 16-inch pizza followed by a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream is no biggie whatsoever.
With my 3rd pair of shoes and some freshly painted toe nails (with polish sent as a gift by Darwin’s wife) Darwin, Meta and I hiked out of Steamboat Springs. Following the double zero and with very little elevation gain and a lot of road walking we felt good and hiked until late in the night, covering about 36 miles.
The following day was tougher with lots more elevation – probably the toughest day I’ve had on trail so far when setting out to do a steep climb of 2300 feet (700 meters) towards the end of the day after already having hiked 26 miles. Adding 3 liters of water to my pack since there was no more water until reaching camp, I was definitely having my ass kicked and had to stop several times to catch my breath and strength. Reaching the peak at dark, we started our descent towards camp along the ridge. Going down, I slipped on some loose rocks and fell hurting my knee pretty bad. But even so, I made it into Grand Lake and hopefully the pain will subside pretty quick. One thing is for sure – Colorado will be tough!
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