Distance Traveled Today- 28.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,101.3 miles
Weather/Temp- smokey, 70s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- moving right along
Wildlife encounters- 4 elk
Days without shower- 0
Days without laundry- 9
I didn’t sleep well at all last night. The moon was too bright, it was warm, and I had the feeling that my skin was crawling on my legs. As a consequence I kept waking up, itching, tossing and turning. I didn’t greet the morning feeling rested or spry.
Knocked out a fairly challenging climb right off the bat after rejoining the CDT, then the rest of the day was gravy, for the most part. It was a little warm, but smoke was thick in the air, creating a slightly overcast effect on the sun’s heat. It was hazy and the air smelled, but the silver lining was a diminished sun that would have made the wide open stretches much hotter.
Aside from the smoke and warmer air, the only other challenge today was blowdowns. They weren’t terrible, but they were worse than anything I’ve seen since way back in early Montana. Lots of hurtling and walking around trees today.
I hiked with Red Bass for most of the day as we alternated between sagebrush desolation and the pine/aspen groves. Mostly talking about other trails, fishing, sports, injuries, and our respective childhoods growing up; wholesome stuff.
Aside from four short water breaks, we all pushed steady and fast to reach the day’s goal. Later in the day around 4:30 pm, Red Bass and I were sitting by a small creek getting a drink when we heard a loud snap nearby. We both turned to see a huge bull elk walk across the trail, trot through the patch of trees near us, then cross a meadow. I was late getting my phone out to record it, but to my luck and surprise, a second bull elk emerged in the same spot, took a quick drink, then casually took the same path as its predecessor. I did manage to record that encounter. Usually elk are very quick to disappear when you first set eyes on them, so to see these ones linger by like they did was very fortunate. We also spied two cow elk running up an embankment about fifteen minutes before the bulls. These marked my first real wildlife encounters here in Wyoming. The animal situation has been surprisingly bleak through here. I really wanted to see a Wyoming bear. There’s still a little time…
The last mile was wide open sagebrush plains with strong gusting winds whipping across them. This was unofficially the end of Grizzly country on the CDT, and a cause for celebration. So how do you celebrate being out of Grizzly country for the first time in 1,100 miles? You do a full dump on the canister of bear mace you’ve been carrying but never needed.
I wasn’t going to write about this until I was safe and alive out of Grizzly Country, but I got rid of my bear mace over a hundred miles ago (left it in a hiker box). My mother would have had an aneurysm if she knew I was hiking through the most dense grizzly bear population in the country (Wind River Range) without protection, so I didn’t write about it. So now that I’m alive, I can safely come clean. Sorry mom!
Red Bass on the other hand still had his bear mace. So we made a video of him spraying it into the wind. Ironically enough, the canister went off unexpectedly while he was removing the safety catch, giving both of us a momentary scare. Good times.
Funny Bone, Mongo, and Honey Pot got to the road before us and scored a ride. Red Bass and myself thumbed down a ride about 5 minutes later with a young man named Chase. Stomper got to the road and caught a ride about 30 minutes later.
Chase was headed home from hunting Black Bear, and ended up going 70 miles out of his way to take us to Lander. He said he was bored and didn’t have anything else better to do at the moment, so he didn’t mind. We all talked almost exclusively about hunting and fishing during the 35 mile drive to Lander, and even got to see a herd of more than a hundred elk on a distant hillside while enroute.
Lander is easily my new, new favorite town. I feel like I keep saying this, but the towns just keep getting better. I haven’t had any kind of good cell service until today, so I was very concerned to learn of the major hurricane headed towards Florida. I have both family and friends from the top to the bottom of this state, and I’m very worried about them. I gave it some thought earlier and if the storm makes landfall near my hometown where my parents and grandparents live (just yards from the beach), I’m going home to help salvage and clean up, no doubt about it. The devastation these storms cause is beyond comprehension, and I’ve seen it first hand more than once. To think of my poor old parents and grandparents picking up the pieces while able bodied Kyle continues his hiking vacation makes me sick to my stomach. So if worse comes to worse, I will be heading home to help. When the bulk of the work is done, I will return to the trail to do the rest of what I can, however I can do it. I’m hoping for the best outcome, but the situation doesn’t look good…
Sorry, but the videos aren’t uploading onto the blog with the Wi-Fi connection I have. They’ll be on Instagram or my Facebook!