CDT WY Section 2 Off-trail

Day 108: Pinedale

I started packing at 6am, and it was decently warm inside my tent, so I had no reason to stall except general sleepiness. I sent a message to my mom at 7:40 saying I was about to hike out and expect me between 11:10 and 12:10.

The first few miles were steep rolling hills along lakes and streams. Very beautiful. At one point, I stepped on a rolling rock crossing a creek and wiped out. Luckily, I was able to keep most of my body on top of a large rock, only getting my arms wet up to my elbows and whatever the splash hit when my arms plunged into the water. My feet stayed basically dry. I couldn’t quite see through my sunglasses for the next mile until they dried though. I was in too much of a hurry to stop and take them off to wipe them.

Since this side trail was not routed on Guthook and the map tiles were not downloaded, I asked almost everyone I passed how far the trailhead was. Some people had smartwatches tracking their distance hiked since they left and could give me reasonably precise distances. I used those answers to calculate my pace and get a better estimate of when I would arrive. Some just guessed, and one guy actually said “you’re about an hour away” as if he knew how fast I was hiking after seeing me for fifteen seconds. My first thought was “I asked how far not how long. How can I calculate my pace from that?” My second thought was “Well, this trail has gotten a lot flatter and gentler; there’s no way it’s going to be a whole hour until I get there.”

When I was a bit over a mile from the trailhead, I passed Ronnie (Rani?) from Israel, another long distance hiker heading into town. As I had decided to skip my morning snack break thanks to my fast pace, I made it to the trailhead at 10:50. Mom and Gail were already there with the car for some reason. After some pictures, Ronnie arrived and we offered him a ride into town. There was going to be a picnic lunch, but I wasn’t into it, and there didn’t seem to be any good spots. So we put Ronnie out next to the visitor’s center and went back to the cabin.

For me it was a shower, a change of clothes, and a sandwich on the back deck for lunch. Then, we were off to the laundromat on the other side of town. The large load washer in the laundromat wasn’t spinning properly and the whole laundromat was flooded. So not only was the attendant overworked trying to push water out the door because the builders had failed to put in a floor drain but also I couldn’t wash my sleeping bag. The other laundromat in town didn’t even have a large load washer. I did get all my clothes washed though.

Anyway, I decided to buy a new sleeping bag. At the town’s only store with backpacking gear. I decided on a very light Thermarest bag that even came with a compression sack. The down was treated with a hydrophobic coating to prevent it from clumping. It was very expensive. I also got new trekking poles.

Then to Ridley’s, the grocery store, for Nuun immunity, doggie bags (substituted by small trash bags since that’s the best they had), Gatorade (for breakfast), and wet wipes. Finally, the errands were done. I still had a lot of blog posts and pictures to upload (having only done three at the laundromat) but I could keep working on that over dinner at the Wind River Brewing Company.

The beer was fine, but the enormous Greek salad I got was incredible, the brisket street tacos hit the spot, and the avocado dip appetizer was perfect with crispy herb baguettes, carrots and celery. Hungry yet? I certainly wasn’t by the time we finished.

After a long three hour repose there, it was back to the cabin, where the party of Ridley’s managers and employees next door was going full swing. So much grilling and noise. Too noisy to work on the blog on the back deck. I switched to packing up my resupply while waiting on a long Google Drive upload to free up some storage on this site for more pictures. By around 9pm, it was time for bed, and I had pretty much gotten everything ready and in place that I needed to hike out, including washing my bottle and a long backflush of my filter.

The party next door didn’t seem to realize it was bed time however. Yes, when we turned off the porch light, they convinced the kids to stop screaming random noises into the karaoke machine, but we heard boisterous sounds, like a powerful adult male blowhard, coming straight through our shared wall for at least another couple of hours. When I had uploaded all the blog posts I had to, I pulled out my headphones and listened to a podcast so that I could fall asleep in spite of the noise. All in all, it was a great little cabin but not so great luck with the neighbors.

9 miles hiked, but none on trail.

CDT WY Section 2

Day 107: Seneca Lake

After waking up in the night to tighten my guy lines from the shaking power of the wind, eventually my tent warmed up and I could be comfortable. I couldn’t sleep through the night though. I woke up on several occasions. And when there started to be some light, it was raining, so I rushed to pull things in. The rain was light and didn’t last, but I slept in until 7 anyway. By then, the sun was starting to come over the peaks and peek between the clouds, warming up the whole tent whenever it hit it directly. The intense cold winds continued, of course.

By the time I came out of the tent, the chatty old man I was talking to the night before had long since left. So had the three guys down on the water. I could see a few figures on the other side of the lake and one woman crossing the rock hop to the other side. All that was left in camp was me and the tent in the trees above me.

I hiked out about 9:30. Just over the starting scree field to get to the other side of the lake, I was already warm enough to take off my down coat. Two guys from New York (Long Island and Albany) caught up to me there. They were the guys from the tent above me. They would be right behind me throughout the climb.

The first section had something like a trail, or at least a route. There were footprints in the snow when the track wasn’t clear. Sometimes the many streams coming down the hill just ran down the trail. Sometimes the trail was a muddy bog. It felt like a climb up to any other pass but wetter. Somewhere halfway up, I started to feel the effects of the altitude, so I started occasionally hyperventilating to make sure I was getting the oxygen I needed to get up to the col without getting a headache.

The last part of the climb, just above the source of the Green River–where I grabbed a bag of water just for safety’s sake–was a more of a free-form hands-on affair. I stopped for a morning snack, then strapped my trekking poles to my pack to free up my hands for better climbing. Then I just found the best way I could up to where the col was. Maybe it wasn’t always the best or recommended way, but everyone gets to do it how they decide to do it.

I took a break with the New York guys at the top of the pass when they caught up to me there just before noon. In total it was a 2.5 mile climb in 2.5 hours. 1 mph doesn’t put it quite in the bottom tier in my trail ranking system. In short, it wasn’t that bad. It was quite literally the high point of my trip so far at 12,288 feet.

The descent was much swifter. Some Chinese ladies had made a nice series of post holes down the Twins Glacier, which was covered with fresh powder and easy to make tracks in. Bits of snow knocked aside with a step had a tendency to roll down the hill and gather up more snow as they went until they formed into giant cheese wheels standing at the end of a narrow track. When I came to a steep and rock-free area of snow, I took a shortcut by just sitting down and sliding down the hill until I reached the next rocky patch. I was able to do this a couple of times before the hill started to get less steep. Then I could sort of ski across the snow field on my shoes. It took maybe only five or ten minutes to reach the bottom of the glacier this way.

I continued to work my way down into the basin along the creek that was forming among the rocks. A little after two, I reached the bottom, as evidenced by the campsites people had built by arranging stones into wind barriers. I stopped behind one extra large boulder that was doing a decent job of blocking most of the wind for lunch. It was just after 1. The New York guys joined me shortly thereafter, and we hiked out again about the same time. I got way ahead of them once we regained a proper trail and didn’t see them again.

The trail in question was a boggy, rocky mess along the valley floor running alongside a chain of increasingly large lakes. It was also an extremely popular trail. There were just as many people headed to the top of the basin as moving down it with me. Scores of people.

An hour or so into this, the weather changed its mind. I ignored the little drops of rain at first, but they got more frequent until I had to stop and install my Packa. No sooner had I gotten that on and started hiking again, the rain turned into hail. Much larger hail than what I’d seen two days before. Sometimes it stung when it hit. Then, before the hail had even stopped falling, the sun came out again.

Coming into the Island Lake area, I came over a hill with very little wind for some reason, so I decided to take advantage of the return of good weather with a snack break on a rock there. But I had barely gotten started snacking when it started raining again. Back on went the Packa and I started hiking again, figuring that handful of calories could get me to dinner.

As soon as I climbed out of the Island Lake area (another extremely popular area mobbed with hikers and their tents), I was stopped for a conversation with a forest service ranger. Once he has confirmed I had a trowel to bury my poop (yes, he said those exact words) and that some of the people hiking next to me hadn’t pitched their tents too close to a lake (they had–he promised to give them a ticket if they didn’t move them by the time he came over there), he was willing to give me a lead on a good spot to legally camp and chat about his job.

I hiked across the Fremont Crossing, joined the CDT, passed the tiny lake where those others were illegally camped, left the CDT again, and continued up to a ridge overlooking Little Seneca Lake. I posted up on a rock there and started filtering the water from the Green River source to make dinner. I had just started boiled the first bit of water for dinner when another forest service ranger, a small lady, hiking up the hill came over to chat. She was headed up to join the other guy, but in the meantime, she was happy to give me some tips about where to eat in Pinedale.

I only went a mile more after dinner, just to the point where the trail leaves the shore of Seneca Lake and climbs over the bluff next to it. The first ranger (Brett) had said to camp in these knolls. He wasn’t wrong. I had only gone a hundred yards or so into the hills when I found a beautiful campsite with some wind protection and lake views. I had a nice long easy evening there. There was a brief bout of rain once I was tucked in my sleeping bag, but it didn’t last long enough to worry about. And even though I was still above 10000 feet, it wasn’t even that cold compared to the previous nights.

Trail miles: 10.8 (the Seneca Lake Trail doesn’t count)

CDT WY Section 2

Day 106: Peak Lake

Another cold morning meant sleeping in until 7. It wasn’t cold except when a chill wind came whipping through the cabin from the opposite direction it had the night before. That kind of unpredictability was why I put my tent in the middle of the room. Wind could blow the rain in but none of it could reach my tent. Hence, everything was dry that could be dry. Which is to say, everything was dry except the wet socks I donned and inserted into wet boots.

At 8:30, I left the cabins and walked over the bridge to the campground. I talked to a nobo on the way up to the trailhead, the first Black CDT hiker I’ve seen out here. They are rare, but they exist! There were a number of other backpackers just leaving, some wanting to talk to me, some that I would see later in the day.

My first stop in the campground was the administrative building, namely the trash cans in front of it. One of the guys working there really wanted me to know that “we are the ones who have to pack that out” before he let me add my trash to the bin. Of course, my trash was small and weighed less than a pound, and his “packing out” meant driving out in the back of a truck, so it really was easier for him than me.

Next stop, carry my water bag over to one of the many spigots throughout the campground. Since it was easy and would save me time later, I filled it right to the top. Then, I hiked right back out the way I came in.

As soon as I crossed the bridge again, I met another hiker out to do the Wyoming section of the CDT southbound. We both had the same plan for the day: get to Peak Lake on the Knapsack Col alternate and see whether it would be passable given the amount of snow there was up there after all those storms. We had high hopes because it was shaping up to be a beautiful warm clear day (aside from that cold wind) and would indeed be exactly that. We never got around to introducing ourselves in all the eagerness to hike, even when we met again and again.

I passed hiker after hiker coming around the east side of the lower Green River Lake. It was a surprisingly popular trail. Most were headed north, some were just sitting in chairs with an indeterminate direction, some were fly fishing the river (but from the bank–that glacial melt was far too cold to stand in), but I passed other pair of old guys aimed for the same part of the mountains as me. One of them wanted to chat about moose the second time he caught me. Based on his pace, they wouldn’t be getting anywhere near as far as I planned to that day.

Once I got to the last bridge over the Green River, I didn’t see any more going my way. I stopped for lunch in a sunny clearing (it was still cool in the shade just before the trail started its big climb into the mountains. While seated there, I saw three northbounders coming down, but no one going up. I also changed into my dry, thick socks because my boots were dry and the damp socks were making my feet hurt.

The climb itself wasn’t too bad. It was mostly really gentle switchbacks and had been pretty well cleared of blowdowns, except for one at exactly head height ready to bonk me. I was able to climb at basically the same speed I go over level ground. The only major obstacle was the Trail Creek crossing. Normally, it’s an easy rock hop to cross dry this time of year, but after all that rain and snow, it was raging. I went a long way upstream but could find no easy rock hop routes. Eventually, I crossed on a pine tree downstream from the trail, not an easy feat. But I kept that nice pair of socks dry.

I could keep that steady climbing pace pretty well until the turnoff for Vista Pass, a much steeper trail with a lot more blowdowns. It had been a few hours since lunch at that point and I was starting to drag a bit. So once I gained the more level ground near the top of the pass, I pulled over to a sunny rock near a shallow pond to make supper. I had just started boiling the water when the old southbounder guy from the morning came over to join me briefly. Then he hiked on ahead to do the last three miles to the lake. It was nearly an hour before I finished up and followed him out.

There were more blowdowns and water and mud in the trail for the first mile, though, riding high on the dinner energy, I didn’t let those things slow me at all. Soon I was crossing a scree field, and someone had sort of arranged the rocks into a kind of path. Then I crossed the creek and ran into a wall of boulders. It was a matter of finding my own way from cairn to cairn for this little bit, a real Abol Slide Trail (at Katahdin) moment.

But once I got high enough above the scree, something more like a trail reemerged, and I picked up the pace again. Near the top, the trail turned into a streambed, and I hopped from side to side, staying on the high rocks to keep my socks dry.

There was even more water and mud in the trail as I took a hard turn left and came over Cube Rock Pass, and it was a stream again all the way down the other side to the lake. I started avoiding the trail and finding other ways down. My socks came out slightly damp but largely unscathed. And I got to see my first pika of the year. Finally, some proper mountains!

Since I would be camping down there, I hoped the bowl of the lake would have some good wind protection, or that I could find a protected spot for my tent. Hope for the latter was dashed when I saw just how many tents there were already at the lake. The place was mobbed. A difficult side trail to the foot of an even more difficult climb at an elevation of 10,500 feet, and everyone and their brother had come out.

Pickings were slim for campsites that were on only slightly damp ground, so holding out for wind protection seemed a lost cause. I found the chatty old guy who was on the same plan as me, and saw a little shelf to stick my tent just around the corner from him. It was on the wrong side of the rocks to be out of the wind, but I didn’t see anything better around, and it was getting late.

With the tips now broken off both trekking poles, it took some time to get set up in a wind-resistant fashion. My only blessing was that the forecast I downloaded said that even with the windchill, it would only get down to 36 that night.

I was glad to have the first nice day and night in a while be right when I was planning to do this section. What lay ahead didn’t really even deserve to be called “trail.” If you remember my trail classification, it would fall somewhere near the bottom end of that. A 2000 foot choose-your-own-path up a scree field over the course of just 2.5 miles. And then something similar down the other side. It wasn’t possible at all without good weather, much less worth the effort. But on a good day, the views should be incredible.

Trail miles: 17.8

Distance to Pinedale: 20.8 miles

CDT WY Section 2

Day 105: Green River

It didn’t rain all night, but it was very cold. I learned even before I fell asleep that the sleeping bag I bought last year for extra warmth has gotten its stuffing so compacted and moved around that it didn’t provide nearly as much warmth as it once did. But even though it was still slightly cold all dressed up in the bag, it was colder still outside it, and yet colder with even the inner tent flaps open to let the breeze in.

When it’s that cold, I don’t get up before sunrise. I would rather go to bed late and get up late in winter weather. So I rolled over and over to stay in my bag in my tent until 6:30 when it started getting light out. The first thing I did was grabbed my towel to mop up the expected condensation from camping near a lake on a cold night. But when I went to do the same for the fly, it only crackled. It had been cold enough to turn the condensation into frost. There was even a layer of frost on the part of my backpack that wasn’t under the fly. And it was nearly that cold still. Just another August morning in Wyoming, I guess.

Obviously, I stalled as much as possible the putting on of wet socks and shoes and packed up everything I could pack before opening the outer flap to let all the heat out. The sun was firmly in the sky by the time I did that. And the wet boots didn’t end up being that bad. What with stopping to stand in the sun or tuck my fingers between my legs, I was very nearly packed before my fingers and toes were painfully cold and losing feeling. I took off my jacket at the last minute, packed it up, and hiked out around the lake around quarter to nine. Which, you know, was still an earlier start than the last two days.

The trail walked along the dam on the southern end of the lake keeping it from spilling into the much lower meadow on the other side. I can only assume the dam was artificial, but it was old enough to be completely overgrown with trees, which in turn had fallen all across the trail. Right off the bat, I was introduced to the theme of the day: navigating piles of blowdowns over the trail.

I also got a number of animal sightings in. Aside from the cows, herds of which parted before me every time I crossed a meadow, I also saw a deer right off the bat.

I kept seeing small groups of pronghorns in the next long pasture I crossed, sharing the area with the myriad cows, but by the time I reached the other end, they had joined together into a massive but tight cluster of at least 50 of them. I felt like I was on the Serengeti for a moment.

After a short break where the trail briefly entered the trees (as they provided a convenient windbreak for that ever-present chilly breeze), I stopped at a small lake 3 miles in to watch a beaver swimming, at which point Cliff Richards and Lost Keys appeared suddenly behind me. They had cut across a meadow and avoided visiting the lake for some reason. I chatted for a moment about our plans for the next few days and the weather (an especially interesting topic of late) but excused myself as quickly as possible to get some miles in and give Cliff some privacy to take his long johns off.

I committed to not stopping for lunch until 2, crossed a meadow and a creek, and plunged into the next forested section. Once again, there were myriad blowdowns constantly sending me off-trail, and on one such diversion, the rain started falling. I stopped to put on my Packa and got back to work just as the clouds opened up with fifteen minutes of Dippin’ Dots sized hail. It subsided to normal rain, then reprised this performance fifteen minutes later while I was navigating the nastiest stack of trees in the section. After that was a slight lull in the rain, so I finally stopped for lunch. It rained more while I ate, but not heavily, and it did not hail again at all. There was some pretty intense lightning during the next climb though.

Finally, I came up to Gunsight Pass, which wasn’t much of a climb to the top, and didn’t offer much of a view due to the rain, I got a nice respite from the blowdowns as I descended to the Roaring Fork. I crossed the river with blowdowns as bridges (even though my boots and socks were already soaked from the rain), and then had to cross the thickest blowdown-filled section yet. But once I had picked my way across that, I was treated to an easy, muddy traverse across to the edge of the Green River Valley.

It stopped raining for minutes at a time at this point, and the sun was even briefly visible on a couple of occasions. I took advantage of one of those short windows to get a snack break in that could carry me to my destination. Then I came to the edge of the ridge that dropped into the valley and could actually see the whole thing spread out before me. Yet again, it stopped raining long enough for me to drop my pack and climb up on a trail boulder and get a panorama. Then I was making the long descent into the valley.

Along this descent, I saw a couple of bull mooses below the trail, one with an enormous rack, but they didn’t stick around long enough to even get my phone out.

Finally, with the rain picking up again, I reached the edge of the Green River. I was planning on heading over to the campground on the other side to make dinner, but there was a fortuitously placed abandoned log cabin with a sod roof nearby I needed to check out. It was completely dry inside, so obviously I decided to make dinner right there. I watched two deer work their way across the meadow from one side of the cabin to the other while I ate.

Right next to it was another smaller cabin with a dirt floor, also pretty dry, so I pitched my tent there while my dessert tea was steeping. I was briefly accosted by a little brown bat during this and got a very good look at it climbing up the wall and out an exit of its own. This was my last animal sighting of the day. I went back to drink my dessert, brush my teeth, then fetch my pack and everything I would need to sleep into the smaller cabin. I would go to bed without having to worry about the rain, though the shifting cold winds and dropping temperatures would still be a concern in the little cabin with open holes for windows.

Indeed, around 11pm, the wind was whipping my tent flaps around so much it woke me. I finally decided to get up and check on the Packa I had hanging in the other cabin. I put my bare feet in my cold wet boots and climbed out into that wind to find my ground cloth all folded up and some bags sent to the other side of the room. The Packa was fine as the other cabin didn’t catch wind from that direction very well, but I took it down and put it against the wall anyway. By morning the wind would have shifted to a direction that could have torn it apart with blowing. Then I returned to my tent to start the process of warming my freezing toes up again from zero. Within an hour, another thunderstorm was raging outside, but I had tightened up my tent guy lines and had nothing left to worry about, so I let the thunder put me to sleep.

Trail miles: 18.0

Distance to Pinedale: 38.6 miles

CDT WY Section 2

Day 104: Lake of the Woods

I woke up at a few stages throughout the night and morning and it was always still raining. Nonetheless, my tent modifications were effective and everything inside was staying dry. I knew from the forecast that it would still be raining out at my usual rising time, and it was. I also knew that it wouldn’t rain all morning, so I decided to just sleep in until it stopped so that I could pack up without getting myself and all my gear wet in the process. It stopped raining about 8am, and with the extra time of changing clothes and getting the tent interior less wet, I didn’t start hiking until 10:30.

Just because it wasn’t raining doesn’t mean it was dry. There was still plenty of pea soup fog to ruin any nice views I might have had all morning otherwise.

I had a late lunch again on a log just as the rain started again. I kept my Packa on and draped my Tyvek over my pack to keep it mostly dry. I had to hunch over my tortillas to keep the rain off the as I prepared my wraps.

Within an hour of lunch, the sun came out. During another stop, I put away the Packa and stuffed a bunch of bars and candy into my pockets so I could eat while I walked for once. Just past this stop, I left the trail and crossed a meadow to get to a road that ran over Fish Lake Mountain before meeting the trail again. On the way up a steep hill, a brief rain started that I put my Packa on again for, but it stopped and I kept climbing with the jacket off. I also took off my down puff that I had been wearing all day because this was the first time I had actually been hot in it.

Eventually, once I had climbed to the prairie on the top of the plateau, I was glad to have come this way once the weather had slightly cleared. There was no protection from the cold wind, so I pulled the jacket on again, but I could actually see some views of the surrounding mountains, and herds of pronghorns running in the distant fields. A few miles of this and I finally rejoined the official trail. Or, more accurately, the trail rejoined the road I was on. It seems pretty likely that the road over the mountain used to be the trail once.

I stopped for supper near this junction. It was much easier than lunch since it wasn’t raining. I got a weather report while cooking and decided to hike all the way to Lake of the Woods on that basis–it wouldn’t be raining all night. The sun was getting low in the sky and the temperature was dripping, so I put up my Packa and put on my down puff again to do another three miles through cow pasture to Lake of the Woods. I arrived around 8:30, just in time to see the full moon rising over the lake. I set up my tent and crawled inside to change for a mostly dry but very cold night.

Trail miles: 17.4

Distance to Pinedale: 56.6 miles

CDT WY Section 2

Day 103: Sheridan Pass

To keep from waking everyone else up, I slept in until 6. But then I got up and started packing, and everyone else woke up too. Prince and Beanie Weenie did not really get out of bed, as all they had to do was hitch 40 miles out to Yellowstone that day.

But who did get up immediately was the mystery fourth hiker, Andrew, who turned out to be the lone sobo I had passed the previous day going over the hill to Cub Creek. Apparently, he had passed me again somewhere near Cub Creek where I ate dinner without me seeing, hiked all the way to the road, and spent the night at some random guy’s house halfway to Dubois while I was weathering the storm in the campground.

Anyway, before I had even finished packing, he left, saying he was going to a public restroom because he’s a “shy pooper,” which makes no sense as an excuse to leave to me. It certainly supported our efforts to give him a trail name along the lines of Secret Agent Man–he always comes by when you aren’t there or aren’t looking or can’t see, and disappears again just as mysteriously. Now, I’m thinking maybe Secret Squirrel would be funnier.

For my part, I finished packing, loaded up, and walked to the Village Cafe again. Even though the Cowboy Cafe had a line of people waiting for a seat, Village Cafe had enough free tables I could seat myself. So, coffee, bacon, sausage, 3 eggs, and hash browns leaving me still a bit empty, I ordered a plate sized hotcake too.

When I left the cafe, I was actually ready to hike, even though it meant hiking in the rain. It was that misty, foggy, and occasionally lightly sprinkly sort of wet. But I wrapped up in my Packa and walked a mile to the north edge of town to stick out my thumb. Much better luck this time. Ken, working up at the Triple Bar J, was headed home from getting a tooth pulled on his day off, stopped for me after I’d only been there ten minutes, and took me all the way up into the pea soup fog of Togwotee Pass and right to the trailhead. Super nice guy, too. Lived and worked in WY his whole life.

So, I headed off into the fog and sprinkling rain up a long road that devolved from gravel to mud over the course of just 3 miles. I had my hood up and my head down, but at some point, I looked up and saw a yurt standing there. It seemed like a good time to take a break, so I climbed the steep and rotting wood steps and pushed open the knobless door. I was surprised to find the place was fully furnished and clearly well-used. There was a double bed (partially soaked since the canvas roof was leaking) and a bunk bed next to it. A table with a propane stove hooked to a propane tank on top. A wood stove in the corner… with hot coals smoldering inside. Someone had just left. I hoped I was allowed to be here. (Comments on Guthook indicated lots of hikers staying there before me.)

So I grabbed a couple of pieces of split firewood from the pile by the stove and slid them inside. I tore a page from the magazine on the table, balled it, and shoved it under them. Then, I just blew a few times on the coals and the fire was roaring again. The stove was a bit leaky and smoke was getting into the room. But it started burning more cleanly soon. So I dragged a chair over and had a long, relaxing snack break next to a fire and out of the wind and rain. It was afternoon by the time I hiked out again.

The fog lifted over the next hour or so, but there was still a cold wind blowing and the sun never came out long enough to dry anything.

I met nobos Crocs and Jibs beside the road. Jibs was on the phone with a hotel in Dubois and could only say a few words to me, but I gave Crocs some tips about Dubois and in return, he suggested a shortcut of the upcoming hairpin in the road. I don’t think I quite found the trail he was talking about, but I did find a decently well-used trail through the dense, wet woods and cut off a mile of trail.

I stopped for lunch a little way past there, a pretty late lunch considering my late start and huge snack at the yurt, and then the trail finally left the road and cut through the woods for a while. Further on, the trail started alternating between wet, boggy meadows and woods. Later on, I was following a series of signposts that seemed to run right through the thickest parts of the bog and thick bushes, which was odd since I had no trouble skirting the bog on the edge of the meadow. It became clear when I checked my map that the trail did indeed avoid the bog and those signposts had nothing to do with the trail. But I was already well away from the trail and there was a good cow track in front of me, so I continued following it out to the road and cut across to the trail on that.

Just past where the two crossed, there was one of those enormous two man Zpax tents nestled at the edge of the woods, which was odd because it seemed way too early to be encamped. I called on it to find out if it was anyone I knew.

It was actually a couple, Cliff Richards and Lost Keys, and they were actually sobos for once. They had come out of Dubois late the previous day and spent the night in the yurt on the double bed then left late in the morning, hence the hot coals still in the stove. Cliff said they were stopping early just because they didn’t feel too good for some reason and liked this campsite, but still intended to hike all the way to South Pass City without a stop in Pinedale. I only saw Cliff’s face, Lost never poked hers out, but I figured I would see them again down the trail.

I, however, still had some time to get some good hiking done and didn’t intend to stop. It was starting to rain lightly again, and I was hiking out into the meadow with no protection from the cold wind. Even with my new gloves, my fingers were freezing.

I made it to my goal of Sheridan Pass without stopping and without having eaten dinner, so I continued until the next stand of trees (for wind protection) and made camp. The rain was getting heavier as I did, so I was trying to keep everything dry and get it under shelter as fast as I could. I decided staying warm and dry took priority over bear protocol (and what kind of bear would be out in that weather anyway?), so I climbed inside my tent, did all the set up from the inside (which is slower), changed into dry socks and added my long underwear, got into my sleeping bag, then cooked supper in the vestibule and ate in the tent. It was a pretty intense rain while all this was going on and it all took so long that it was well into the ten o’clock hour by the time I was ready to sleep.

But I couldn’t. As soon as I lay down, water was dripping on my face. I got out my towel and started mopping up water from the inside of the tent and fly, then modified the shape of my tent the best I could from the inside to stop it from channeling condensation in such a way that it would drip on my face. I put the towel next to my head and finally went to sleep.

Trail miles: 16.5 (counting the mile I skipped)

Distance to Pinedale: 74 miles