Day 1 – out of the woods
We all gravitated to the Post Office, some for mail, all for rides. Its the social center of Encampment. By 9am we all got a hitch, a guy who had promised the previous day to pick up a lady hiker. It’s a known thing that having a lady hiker with you gets a ride faster. Someone said the phrase “hitch bitch” but that seems tacky. We squeezed 7 people into the back of a loaded up pickup. By 10 am we were all hiking. Not together of course, since I’m slow, but you know, all hiking.
The road took us up almost 3000 feet. First from the scrub, then up through aspens, then pines. Shortly after hiking we neared 11000 feet, and it was mostly grass. The hiking was easy, mostly down woods roads. A bunch of us got lost; the trail stealthily wandered off to the right, and we all walked straight. I didn’t get far, all the fast people came BACK up the road to me.
Wyoming is dry. Also, “the bubble” of hikers is catching up to where I am. Here, water is scarce enough that you have meetups at water sources, like the PCT. Get to a stream, there’s always someone there, filtering. We all reached the last good stream for a while, so it was a bit of a party. Someone made coffee. This guy from Luxembourg, Logan, carries a small rechargeable hair clipper, so another hiker borrowed it to trim her hair.
In a few miles interrupted by serious blowdowns I reached the end of the woods. It finally felt like I was moving, making progress. 800 of Colorado finally felt over, and I didn’t even walk all 800. Moving out onto the ridges, I rolled my ankle. Again. It was a doozy. The long rolling ridges, called “cruisey” by the humblebraggers, are actually covered with short scrub and are mostly talus. Think pointy, poorly stacked golf balls, just waiting to move underfoot.
I pushed about 20 miles, despite the late start. Then got lost, following my feet down the dirt road, for the second time that day. I camped with Logan and his friend Squeeks on a big open ridge. Gorgeous sunset, huge sky. Despite the literal and figurative ups and downs of the day, it all seemed worth it.
Day 2 – Sage Creek Rd
To ease the pressure on my bad ankle, I ddcided to walk all the way into Rawlins on pavement. I taped up my feet preemptively, although this ultimately didn’t work, my first real blister this whole time. I spent a few hours on trail, and doing a little route-finding/ bushwhacking, before reaching a firt road, and then the paved Sage Creek road. 38 miles to town, with no idea how far I’d make it.I
I ended up carrying almost 6L of water, filling up at a barely moving slightly grungy stream under the road. Good thing, the rest of the streams, weren’t.
I met a handful of bicyclists, this section doubles up with the bike route that goes from Mexico to Canada. They obviously do it much faster. I also met a couple of people who stopped and asked if I needed water, but not a ride. I met someone who I think was a real cowboy. At least he looked and dressed the part, and had a horse.
Day was pretty monotonous, although the landscape started to get cool. Exposed layers of rock, and getting very canyon-y. By mid afternoon the clouds had become sinister. I could see rain falling miles away, and thunder rolled across the sky once in a while. I accelerated. At 28 miles out of town, there was a sign “CDT H20”, and a cooler. Keeping my hopes low, I opened it. Not only did it contain bottled water, and root beer, but they were on ice. Glorious.
Pushing on, rushing ahead of the storm, I got to the Teton Reservoir recreation area. On fumes, I walked in a bit, found a sort of parking area, and flopped down. 28 miles, 24 of which were on pavement, and I felt each one. In a few minutes this hippy drove up in his van, with Axel the big goofy dog. We had a bit of a chat about the CDT, he offered me tacos, and we went our separate ways. I made pasta and was asleep in record time.
Notes: Mile R- 30 privy and open field camping, R-28 cache with soda, R-25 last good creek, rest dank swamps, R-18 water cache, R-14 Teton Reservoir with pit toilets
Day 3 – Rawlins
Not much to say. 14 miles of roadwalk, broken up by prarie dogs racing across the road, the odd oil well in the distance, or a salt flat where a lake used to be. At 7 miles out there was a weird ventilation pipe coming up out of the ground. For a missile silo maybe??
The last part was an endless 5 mile hot walk into downtown Rawlins. Starting here you can see the highway, high tension wires, and the sort of roadside trash that tells you youre near town. Its like Grants, NM but with less meth and more Trump stickers.
Typical town stuff. Hit the public library for water, bathroom and phone charge. Then book a hotel. Then pizza, a 1.5 mile walk to the hotel, and finally a shower. No plans for the day, since I was taking Friday off, and waiting for the PO on Saturday. My body and mind needed a rest.
CDT logistics are much harder and more annoying. Lots of non-value-added time. For instance, the Yellowstone PO is now closed. So we’re all trying to sort out what to do for food the last 100 miles. Things like that. Plus I’m doing a cutoff trail coming out of Yellowstone, so I have different resupply issues anyway. Things like that.
Next up – the 5 day, 115 mile, no-shade, Great Basin walk to Lander. Blistered foot will be a problem, especially in 90-plus degree heat.