Location- Grant Village
Distance Traveled Today- 25.1 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 857.1 miles
Weather/Temp- partly cloudy, 70s
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- rodents
Humans encountered on trail- several
Thru hikers encountered on trail- 7 nobo
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 7
As I predicted, but didn’t want to admit to myself yesterday, we both slept in this morning. Then after sleeping in we both enjoyed the breakfast buffet downstairs. It’s the little things in life that matter…like huge buffets.
Yellowstone hasn’t really held any big views. Their draw seems to be the geysers, lakes, and wildlife. Sadly, it hasn’t shown much wildlife…at least not in the areas the CDT passes through. What I’ve been left with instead is conifer forests, sweeping meadows, marshlands, geysers, and boiling sulfur springsv that smell of…sulfur (or rotten boiled eggs).
In the early afternoon we passed through what I can only describe as the biggest mud field of my thru hiking career thus far. It was nearly half a mile of slogging through ankle to shin deep mud/muddy water. Once you embraced the wet and gritty shoes, it was actually really fun.
As evening and dark was setting in, we realized that we would be hitting a road at the 25 mile mark of the day with about half an hour of daylight left. Six miles west down that road was another national park village. Stomper and I decided we would try and double dip; we were here, so we might as well.
It was after 8:30pm when we began hitching on the surprisingly busy road with absolutely no luck. As 9pm passed, it was already completely dark; this was useless. All of the cars were out of state tourists, they probably wouldn’t pick someone up even in the daytime.
The amount of cars going by had drastically lessened, and the temperature was dropping fast; I was starting to shiver. I told Stomper I was going to go set up camp if the next car didn’t pull over. He agreed.
A couple minutes later, a grouping of two headlights appeared way down the road. This was it. I normally wouldn’t admit to this next part, but I’m going to, because it contributes to the story and the proceedings. I started to do a stupid dance and sing/chant a positive vibe mantra while shooting invisible positive energy beams out of my fingertips at the approaching vehicles while also reciting Jedi mind trick phrases like…”You do want to pick us up; you do want to give us a ride to the village; you do want to help thru hikers.” If anything, it got a chuckle out of Stomper.
Of course when the cars were close enough to illuminate us, I had switched to only holding my thumb out, as well as a hopeful and friendly expression. The first vehicle whooshed past. The second vehicle whooshed past, but then jammed the breaks and threw it in reverse to get back to us. “IT WORKED!” was all me and Stomp could whoop at each other and bump fists.
Our ride hosts were a Romanian couple from Detroit who had a young female child in the back seat. Pretty much the last demographic you’d ever expect to pull over for two men on the side of a road, in the middle of the woods, during the total darkness of night; but people will always surprise you! They were incredibly kind, and acted as if nothing was out of the ordinary when two strange men crammed into the back of their van with their young daughter. It was just another day of family vacation for them.
They dropped us off in front of the General store in Grants Village five minutes before it closed. We were going to have our cake, and eat it too. Drinks, sandwiches, wraps, etc., we got it all and enjoyed every bit of it while sitting in huge wooden rocking chairs out front. This whole ordeal may not sound very “woodsy” or “adventurous,” but it’s spontaneous little side adventures that play out perfectly in the final moment when everything is going against you…that stand out in your memory long after the fact. Getting some food and drinks at the end of a long day may seem mundane to you, because at this moment, you the reader can have whatever you want, whenever you want it. You’ve probably got some type of food or beverage within reach of you right now that I’d hike a 30 mile day just to get my hands on. You won’t understand the cravings or the importance of certain “ordinary” luxuries until you realize 4 or 5 days and perhaps 100 miles of “who knows what” stands between you and something as simple as a glass of cold sweet tea. I hope you do know that feeling, or at least get to experience it at least once; so as to better understand what I’m talking about. You’re not simply waiting for these luxuries, you’re working for them. The harder you work, the less you have to wait.
It was well after 10pm when we finished indulging. Looking at a map, we could see that we were in the middle of a criss-crossed amalgamation of roads, forests, various buildings, parking lots, and other common national park structures. Where do we camp? This is where being a thru hiking dirt bag comes in hugely handy; you’re comfortable sleeping literally anywhere. My criteria are…dry, out of sight…and that’s it. So we crept behind the “Welcome Center” building and made camp in a small but dense patch of trees next to the employee parking; Voila!
It shouldn’t be terribly difficult to get a ride back to trail tomorrow. This place is crawling with more people than an ant heap.