Friday, July 26, 2013

Thur, 25 July - Togwotee Lodge

Following the Bearcreek route was a good choice and I saw a number of Elk through the morning and early afternoon.  I have been finding yummy edible Boletus mushrooms the last few days and today I found lots of sweet wild strawberries!  Met my first southbound CDT hiker today.  He got fined $120 for camping without a Yellowstone permit.

The Togwotee Lodge is a fantastic stop.  Picked up my resupply box, took a shower and had a nice dinner, then a few hours in the hot tub followed by a beer at the bar.  Paid the ten bucks to camp at the campground a half mile behind the lodge for the convenience of the bear locker and picnic table. I need to work out my Yellowstone permit and enjoy a buffet breakfast in the morning.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Wed, 24 July - Where's the trail?

Thought it would be a high mileage day but it turned out to be a day of route finding.  From Lake of the Woods to Sheridan Pass I kept loosing the tread and found myself bush whacking most if the time.  Lots of moose sightings. Occasionally I would find CDT markers or posts just in the middle of no where with no clue if there really was tread.  Hiking on the uneven ground got tiring.

When I finally got to Sheridan pass the CDT route wasn't the Leys red route or the purple.  I saw no sign of the red route but for the first time the Bear Creek route was clear so I am taking that route instead of Leys red route north from here.  Lots of moose and deer bones and the sounds of coyotte close by at night.  An interesting day of map, compass, and GPS.  I really give those who are not using a GPS extra credit - you are really hardcore!

Tue, 23 July - Squaretop and the Green River

Climbing over Vista Pass, lightly forested but with great views, I am excited to be hiking past the Tourist Creek Drainage and the Green River Lakes.  Great memories of climbing to the top of Squaretop and our attempt on Gannet via Tourist Creek with Rick, Ed and Mike a number of years ago. tyThe Green waters, rich with glacier flour, and the magnificent views of Squaretop are classic Winds!  

Nice easy climb up Gunsight pass and down where I encountered a run in with a moose and her baby.  They almost ran me over as they ran down the trail within five feet of me as I yelled to get their attention.  Shocked they had to steer into the woods, not being able to stop short in time.  They left a swarm of horse flies in their wake; perhaps the cause of their distress. My heart was pounding as I thought I would be run over.

Mon, 22 July - Bonney Pass, a view of Gannett Peak, and Knapsack Col!

Wonderful hike through Titcomb Basin but then the trail ended and the route up to Bonney Pass was difficult to find.  Perhaps there isn't one?  Think I was to far right and the boulders steep and huge.  Lots of loose scree, rocks, and snow.  Difficult and slow with a full pack.   But the views from the pass of Gannett Peak and all the glaciers was fantastic.  
I must admit seeing the route in person with all the glacier crossings and rock climbing was intimidating.  Especially knowing I did not have the right gear for snow travel.  I had hoped to find a few climbers but saw no tents at base camp and only one hiker crossing the last glacier and he was coming down.  Guessing he turned back short if the summit because it was still very early.  Seeing as it was so difficult to get to Bonney Pass, and others said it rock from 6-9 hours just to get to the summit, I decided it was not safe to go alone.  Disappointing, the summit is only two miles away, but I didn't feel safe going alone without the right gear.  

After a long lunch break enjoying the magnificent views I headed back down Bonneey Pass to rejoin the The route to Knapsack Col.  Had the great idea to glissade down some of the snow fields.  At the bottom of one run I found I had lost all four water bottles. Didn't save much time because I had to up climb to retrieve them. Lol.

Met a couple climbing up the pass and the girl said she stopped to cry three times already because the climb was so hard.  Then I met the climber who I thought had turned back from his climb.  Turned out he hiked in, made the summit, and was hiking home all in the same day.  Unbelievably fast!  He said even he was uncomfortable using crampons and ice ax; which made me feel better about my decision not to summit.

The climb up Knapsack Col while not as hard as Bonney Pass was very difficult as you had to avoid the glaciers on either side and it left you on steep car size boulders.  At one point I found myself too high and right and had to climb down to find a route through.  Very slow going but there may have been better routes.  Amazing but scary climb through the glacier choked pass.

Thought I was home free on top but the climb down to Peak Lake left me boulder hopping and at one point mud hopping through the snow runoff.  Thought I would have an easy hike around the lake but no luck.  More boulder climbing through rock slides on the banks.

Exhausting low mileage day but glad I didn't skip this fantastic day.  Camping just short of Vista Pass.

Sun, 21 July - The Mountains and Lakes around Hat and Lester Passes

Lots of ups and downs today over rocky mountain passes, many many lakes, meadows and hillsides covered in wildflowers, and majestic mountain views.  Hat pass thru Lester Pass was amazing and the views of 1000s lakes in the Pole creek basin was just like the PCT in the Sierras.  Got wet with several stream crossings the last few days and it felt good on the legs and feet. 

Met a couple that climbed Gannett two days ago.  Said they saw Balls and Sunshine, and Tattoo Joe about three hours ago. They also met Highlife climbing the mountain with just his tent peg for an ice ax. Big decision on if I attempt the climb tomorrow.  Camping just above Islands lake on the start of the Titcomb Basin /Knapsack Col Alternate route.  An elk almost ran into my tent at night.

Sat, 20 July - Cirque of Towers!

Today I climbed through the Cirque of Towers.  What is there to say but, "It's Amazing!"  From Big Sandy Lake the views just got better and better.  I kept stumbling; not because it was rocky(it was), not because my pack was heavy(it was), not because it was steep and difficult(it was), but because I kept looking in amazement at the granite peaks and tripping on the rocks.  Made terrible time between Jackass and Texas Pass but it was so worth it!  Some snow in Texas Pass.  Made some mileage back on the track along many many lakes at the end of the day.  At one point crossing a herd of a 1000 sheep and sheep dogs.  A great day. 

Fri, 19 July - Back in the Mountains (Bridger Wilderness)

Finally back in the mountains.  Glad to be done with the Divide Basin.  I even got to touch some snow today and the water is ice cold and sweet again.  Got a cold beer from a camper and it tasted so good.  

I was surprised to find the marked CDT make a turn off the Leys maps.  Turns out the Cirque of Towers alternate route starts earlier than I thought and the Bear Creek CDT route isn't even on his maps. No problem let the fun begin.  Slowing down as the route gets rocky and alpine with lots of wildflowers. 

When I finally got to the top of Temple Pass it was pretty late.  I reluctantly skipped my hoped for side hike to Temple Peak.  Probably would have had to hike down in the dark.  No way I was going to lug my pack and seven days food up there just to sleep in a cave on top.  Still it was so close.  But the best is just ahead - the Cirque of Towers!  Dropping from the pass on huge boulders and loose rocks.  Camping beside Temple Lakes and the full moon is just above the mountains. AMAZING!

Thur, 18 July - South Pass City

Spent the whole morning wandering through all the old buildings and mine at South Pass.  What a fascinating view back into the days of history.  Back on the trail around 1pm with new food and tasty treats from Sybille's food care package to enjoy the Winds!  The trail on dirt roads at first then real trail.  Starting to get back into trees, mountains, and streams already!

Wed, July 17 - 40 mile Road Walk to South Pass

Met Sweetwater, Rocket and SillyChile and were able to give trail magic of apples, carrots, juice and water.  A goodbye to Sybille - will miss you in the miles ahead sweetheart.  Feeling great and was able to make the long miles into South Pass City at dark. 

This section follows parts of the old Oregon, California, and Pony Express Trails and has many marker posts.  Would have camped but wind and thunder storms brewing on the ridge didn't make for any good campsites. Many many elk sightings in herds today.  

Tue, July 16 - Atlantic City by car and then back on the trail at Basin Basin Road

Sybille made a fantastic picnic breakfast in the city park this morning.  on the way out of town we pIcked up a hiker, Mark, and gave him a ride from Landers to Atlantic City.  Along the way we stopped at South Pass to leave a resupply box for my hike.  
In Atlantic City, at the Miners Grub Shack the waitress yells, "It's Papa Smurf!  The Trails Amazing!"  Turns out Bob, the hat maker, had told her about me and that I'm always loudly saying how amazing the trail is.  Didn't know I was getting a reputation.

We met Puck having lunch and he asked if we could give him a ride to Landers to find a dentist so after a tour of the historic buildings in Atlantic City we headed to Landers with Puck.  After an ice cream, then a beer at the open air courtyard near the brewery in Landers we drove back to camp on the CDT at the Bison Basin Road crossing.  Lots of wind and blowing sand but we managed a great dinner and ate in the back of the rental car.

Mon, July 15 - Popo Agle Falls, Sinks Canyon State Park, and the town of Landers

Feeling much better.  I think the antibiotic is really working.  I think I got giardia despite being careful about filtering water.  Today we hiked to Popo Agle Falls and I took the scary rock slide down a section of the falls.  Exciting!  Very pretty trail and series of waterfalls. 

On the way into Landers we stopped at the Sink and Rise in Sinks Canyon State Park.  This is where the Popo Agle sinks underground and then rises back up from the ground down stream.  Very interesting geographic feature.

Spent a relaxing night at the Frontier Lodge in Landers. Take a good look at my beard in the photo because tomorrow Papa Smurf gets a haircut.

Sun, July 14 - Off trail at Louis Lake Rustic Log Cabin

Spending a few days with my girlfriend Sybille!  We drove to Louis Lake, with a nice breakfast cafe stop on the way. We  planned to camp but I am still feeling ill, so we stopped to see if we could rent a cabin.  A family reunion had them all booked but i think the owner felt sorry for me and at the last minute decided to rent us a rustic log cabin.  It was wonderful!  No electricity but a stove, bathroom with claw tub, firewood for a campfire, and kitchen.  I decided to try taking the Flagel antibiotic as things are not feeling better but the visit to the Louis Lake cabin with Sybille's company is wonderful.  

Ps. Sybille brought me my extra boots.  Retiring my first pair after almost 1600 miles. 

Sat, July 13 - 3 Forks / Muddy Gap and Sybille joins the adventure

Excited to be meeting my girlfriend tonight at 3 Forks / Muddy gap.  Miss read the resupply notes;  I thought it was 35 miles from Rawlins to the gap but it was map 35.   Turns out it is more like 55 miles.  The Ferris Mountains were pretty, and actually had a nice stream were i finally got some cold good water, but much of the route was bushwhacking through some tree covered steep rocky terrain with lots of blowdowns.

Dropping down to follow the Whiskey Creek after Young's Pass and the cows and dirt roads returned.   Passed lots of elk and thought I might have seen some long horn sheep high up on a ridge of rocks but it was hard to tell.  Made it down to the 3 Forks / Muddy Gap gas station at dark and set up camp.  Sybille joined me after 11pm and we enjoyed a cold beer before trying to sleep in the parking lot with a trucker who had a load of cows and the engine running.  Not the best camp spot.

Fri, 12 July - Leaving Rawlins on the Ferris Mtn Route

Dropped off my clothes at the laundromat and went for breakfast. At breakfast I had a fun conversation about the trail with the two men at the next table and to my surprise they picked up my tab for breakfast.  Amazing generosity - trail magic!

On the way out of town I saw a historic marker describing the Rawlins Paint Mines and wondered if that was the cause of the alkaline water?  Passed the old penitentiary with its neat old buildings but it was getting late and I missed the tour.

The Ferris Mountains Route was not what I had hoped.  Miles and miles of dry dirt roads with very soft sand that made for very rough difficult walking.  The many springs on the map turned out to be warm cow pools hard to get to with all the cow footprints and mud and basically almost the same as taking water from the cow tanks.  Yuck.  

Made it to Rendle Spring around 9pm hoping it would have good water but it was another cow hole.  Got excited to hear a windmill chugging away but a big letdown as the pump rod was disconnected.  Feeling very fatigued and wondering if I have something different then just bad alkaline water.  Lots of cows today but also many elk that ate fun to watch.  And lots of small armored lizards?  Looking forward to getting into the Ferries Mountains and the trees.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Thur, 11 July - Bad Alkaline Water an Desert Heat

Did I take a wrong turn and end up back in the NM desert?  The last 50-60 miles were on hard packed dirt roads with lots of cows and cow poop, open rolling hills of sagebrush without a tree in sight, and sun and heat over 100 degrees.  Even got sunburn on my very tan left arm.  It was only three days ago I was near snow.

It's actually pretty and I saw lots of Elk and a few coyote. You could hear the howl of the coyotes from both sides of Bridger Pass all night and this morning; where I camped overnight.  Still the hardpacked road, heat, and never changing terrain seemed to go on forever.  And the sweat bees and delta wing biting flies where horrible.  Despite feeling hot and fatigued every time I stopped to rest the flies would drive me nuts.  I killed dozens at a time, sometimes two and three with one swat on my arm or leg.  

There was a warning about the alkaline water in the area so I made a point of only getting water from the north fork of the Slavery Creek and a spring on the climb up Bridger Pass. I carried six liters from each and skipped the dirty water of Muddy Creek.  Leys map said the spring was ok but it smelled and was warm.  I think it was alkaline but I saw no other options and took the needed six liters to make it to Rawlins.  As I hiked I became more and more fatigued, with a cotton mouth despite drinking, and a headache and flu like symptoms.  At first I thought it might be heat stoke.  Late tonight I started with the runs.  I think I definitely got bad water.  Glad to be in a room in Rawlins tonight.