Going with the flow

Sorry, I know its been awhile. I’ve been in the wind! But here’s  an update:

Ok after the brief July snow it was nice to stumble into Kilgore, ID. A tiny but festive town. They put on a great fireworks show, that I caught from my tent!

Off trail heading into Kilgore, ID we ran into a group travelling by motorcycles and a van. They were so kind to share snacks and water. It’s in the detours that you find the magic. Read about our meet up here https://carlastories.me.

People have been more than kind in Idaho. In the town of Salmon a guy called us over and gave us tasty croissant sandwiches! Later while having dinner at Bertrams Brewery a few customers asked about our trip. When we went to go pay our bill it had already been paid. If you are in Salmon checkout the Sacajawea Inn, great theme rooms!

Two days outside of Salmon, ID I got a call from my friend Tom (Toasted Toad)! He’s been camping, fishing and helping hikers/bikers all around Montana. Since he was heading back to Colorado we decided to catch a ride.

We spent a fun three days traveling back. First visit to Jackson Hole! Camping in a cool back road spot in Yellowstone and in between mining towns in Colorado. I got a bit tipsy at the Yellowstone campsite. Fireball and red wine will do that. We stayed in a hotel in Rawlins and ran into hiker Fun Size! It’s good to know most hikers that hiked Colorado are just entering Wyoming. With luck we can get through Colorado then flip up and be around other hikers.

The CDT is a lot of isolation. Flipping north meant not seeing hikers on trail, and only one in town. I’m kinda a social person so this wears on me.

It’s gonna be rainy going through Colorado at this time, but that is way better than snow. So off to tackle the mountains again!

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I can’t thank Tom enough for hauling us ALL the way back to Chama, NM. It was a fun road trip, thrift store stops and sightseeing and catching up with a friend.

For me this journey is not just about cranking out 3000 miles as quickly as possible. In the end it’s about the experiences and a lifetime of memories.

Just waiting on a friend

I was super excited to see Tom (aka Toasted Toad)! He’s a trail friend from the PCT.

 


We met up at the Ole Faithful Village, can’t believe we found each other in that mess of people. He loaded us up with Mountain House meals and then set us up with lunch.

We also ran into Samson again and met Mary and Rodger from St Cloud, MN!
Tom offered us a ride but we declined, staying to see the geyser and hike out. (Hmmm) call if you need anything Tom says, thanks we say.

Long story short we hiked out into a mosquito attack of epic proportions. We were practically jogging down trail chased by swarms, after hiking through a swampy area. Kelsey had so many bites she looked she had chicken pox, she might have zika. We had but one option, ok we had others but….we called Toasted Toad to come save us. That man is saint, do you know he drove like an hour to come get us then drove us ALL the way to Bozeman!

We stayed in Bozeman it was a great zero day. Catching up with old friends and making ones, loading up on deet!

(PSA: if anybody ever asks you to play Sing-O, just walk away). Toasted Toad, bless his heart, took us ALL the way back to the trail. Thanks again…..hope to see ya, on trail, in Colorado!

 


After being dropped off we hiked right into a snow storm…yep summer on the CDT!

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” – Susan S.

Road walked it right on into Tetons NP. Not a fan of road walks, that pavement is a killer on the balls of my feet. But wow the view was breathtaking and the mosquitoes had us picking up the pace.

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Ran into Samson on the road also after Togotee Pass. We all headed into the park via the gate since the trail was closed due to bear management. Kelsey and I opted to hitch into a designated hiker campsite. There was a ridiculous amount of people, kinda over whelming (but there were bear boxes, so yeah). We high tailed it out of there early and ran into Samson. He kindly got us breakfast then we hitched 27 miles into Yellowstone for our backcountry permits. (Man if the trail was open it would have been only 6 miles).


Grabbed our permit and headed out after lunch. There was about 10 miles to our campsite. Samson was out front warning the bears with his harmonica, then me and Kelsey behind yelling “bear aware” every now and then. We made great time with Samson leading, that dude is long leg fast.

I was mad sweating when we got to camp. But no time to lollygag, the mosquitoes attacked as soon as we stopped moving. Agh!!


The next morning Samson took off early and we weren’t to far behind. We had 15 miles to Old Faithful where we were meeting Toasted Toad, my hiker buddy from the PCT!!

Help me Floyd….

Well, I was feeling pretty good when I left the wind River motel in Dubois, our second favorite motel after the Y motel in Chama. My resupply for Macks Inn, Idaho was mailed and I was off to catch a hitch back to the trail. Got a lift pretty quick from a nice local couple. They had a small well mannered child in a car seat in the back. Seriously 2 strangers hopped in the car and that kid was quieter than a church mouse, NOT a peep. They were super nice warned us of the bears and took us all the way to the unmarked trailhead.

It was a nice morning climb up to a dirt road, where we passed some guys on dirt bikes trying to get around a rock slide. From there we hiked down to Brooks Lake campground. Lovely place with cabins, a lodge, horses and a great view of the lake and bluffs. The campground was not open tent camping due to bear activity. Hmmmm


After another 7 miles we came to what I easily call a raging river! Playing the walk downstream then upstream game we couldn’t find a place to cross. This sucks because you can see the trail, right there on the other side. So close but yet so far. Since it was late afternoon and there was some pre hung bear rope; we decided to camp. Hoping the water would be lower in the morning.

I have to say I was not keen on where we camped near the river and thicket, i.e. bear playground. We now a have a bear aware code word: Floyd. If either of us sees a bear (or needs sime help) we yell Floyd !! Its a running joke. If you watched Amazing Race this season you know Floyd. Floyd you were robbed dude.

Anywho, after a super cold night. For real my shoes were frozen in the morning! This weather is ridiculous, come on its June already. As much as we wanted to rise and shine, we didn’t move til the sun hit our tents. Sadly, even after putting on my neoprene socks, crossing that river was not an option. It was still pretty high. Even if we risked it there was another stream it converged with 4 miles later that we’d have to cross.

Although we hated to, it was plan B time. RETREAT. Yep hike back and road walk it.

BUT WAIT……so while I was sitting in my tent, waitin for my shoes to thaw that morrning I saw something……

MOOSE!!

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I have been wanting to see one for awhile. He just strolled past camp, stopped then mosyed right on by!! Silver linings.

High Water…..

Our next section through Bridger Teton National Forest is brought to you by water and mosquitoes. It was a record snow year all along the trail this year. So record snow means high melting run off creating raging high rivers and standing water create a bjillion mosquitoes.

The mosquitoes have been eating us alive. I thought when we got back in the snow at 10,000′ there would be none, or less. Nope. Those little buggers are relentless. We stopped for one break and had to put up our tents just for a moment to eat and rest.

The raging rivers are a whole other story.

At one crossing the water more than waist deep. We went up stream about 1.5 miles just to find a safe place to cross and it was still thigh high. Then we had to bushwack back to the trail. About 5 miles later we had yet another crossing with the river trifecta…wide, deep, and fast current. In the picture that pole is a trail sign, under water. This crossing was pretty scary as it was so fast and wide. We spent almost an hour looking for a safe place to cross. It would not be the last crossing.

We hiked faster the rest of the day. It was great to actual get back to a point where we could pull out 20 miles. While the snow is still around it is melting so really it’s just wet and super muddy. The bear prints left in the mud reminded us we are in bear country. I’m not a fan. Now I am hanging my food in trees and it can be frustrating just getting it up there. We hiked to one campsite because it was supposed to have a bearbox…..unfortunately it was buried under a bunch of snow.


On the way into Dubois the views of the Tetons are amazing. I even took part in hike naked day, tastefully of course. I was glad I did it early, because even though we haven’t seen ANYONE since we left town, all of a sudden 5 cyclist on the Tour Divide race came by!


When we hit the road it took awhile to get a hitch. A girl we passed hiking down the mountain, Emily gave us a lift into town. She was out picking mushrooms!

Hanging out in Dubois now resupplying and sending supplies ahead. Headed for Yellowstone next!

Wyoming mountains

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Left Pinedale feeling optimistic, and we got lucky, scored two hitches right away! A nice couple from Utah and then got picked up by Jeff. Jeff had a whole 3 truck caravan, ready for some camping. They had a canvas tent, chairs, a chainsaw and potato chips! Once Jeff spent a winter in Wyoming backcountry living in a teepee, hardcore. He pointed out things of interest and asked if we had bearspray.
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So yes I caved and got bear spray after numerous warnings. Since this trail has western theme, I hooked it to my side belt. I feel like a gunslinger!

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We camped that evening at Green River campground, nobody there but us, but it had bear boxes and neither of us was to eager to start hanging our food.

Next day we happily crossed Green River, on a Bridge! There was a 2000′ climb shortly there after up to Gunsight Pass. The climb was super tough as we were attacked by mosquitos all the way! We were reward with snow on the north side of the mountain.
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This is about where things took a turn for me. I couldn’t stay on my feet, slipping on the snow and mud, plus our first waist deep river crossing. Whenever we cross a stream/river i let Kelsey go first, duh, she’s a lifeguard. If the water is too deep or the current too strong for her I ain’t going. I often worry she’ll power across and I will be left there scared stiff. Fording rivers scared the crap outta me.

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Later I miss judged a slippery rock crossing a creek and went down hard. Half my pack went in the water, managed to save my phone, but busted my knee on a rock. Camped early due to my knee and wet clothes. It was pretty comical us hanging our bear bags (pretty much us pitching rocks at each other) it distracted me from my bloody knee.

The trail will provide…lessons

 

So we are out of the ‘flat’ part of Wyoming also known as the basin. It was just a teaser. For awhile there we were all….this is nice, flat and warmer weather. But nope, this is the CDT. First lesson when having a dance party on the CDT, apparently you should pay attention to the trail. I was dancing/singing my heart when I realized Kelsey was no where to be found. Checked my GPS and I was lost, (by lost mean off trail). I had to cross country it about .65 miles just to get back on trail. Then I high tailed, 2 miles to the next water source. She was there waiting, whew.

Second lesson ticks are no joke. They are freaking everywhere out here. Glad I have long pants, but I am consistently flicking them off. I about freaked when I found one in my tent!

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Third lesson, there is no hiding from the wind. We beat the rain to our campsite by the river. But the wind beat us ALL night! I really was unsure if my tent would survive the night the way it was bending and the rainfly whipping.
Survived the wind and made it to South Pass City aka the other windy city. To get here we hitched first to Lander. While walking down the street I hear someone call out ‘chardonnay’! It was Samson, we met on the PCT. He was with Sandy she stays in South Pass City. She gave a us lift around town then back to South Pass. She also kindly let us shower, laundry and sleep inside her cool cabin. With the winter storm rolling in she let us stay a 2nd night, fixed us dinner, and told us all about the Arizona Trail!

South Pass City is a national historic landmark a major feature on the Oregon Trail travelled by thousands in the mid 19 century. If you want to see some mining history this is the place.


People are so kind. We also met Hawkeye, he hiked the CDT in 2014-15, and is maintaining a water cache near South Pass City. He got down on my level for the picture (my feet hurt and standing was not an option).
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Next we head for Pinedale (possibly snow) oh and bears! We hear there has been some bear and wolf issues in the area, great. Embrace the Brutality…or go home I guess.