Day 121/ Aug 18- Another night of poor sleep in the hotel room for me. We headed over to the cafe next door and enjoyed a good meal. We also bought some of the donuts they sell which were delicious. I learned the man who owns the hotel bakes them every morning. We got our things together in the room checked out and headed to the PO to mail home boxes. We have switched back to the two person tent for the rest of the hike. We will stay much warmer that way. Wyoming recently changed their law allowing hitchhiking, but Dubois does not allow you to hitch within city limits. So we walked out of town always peeking to see if it was a cop car before sticking out our thumbs. We made it to the city limits still walking as a woman in a pickup pulled up. She offered us her yoga mat to sit on in the back and would take us up the hill closer to where we got off. I enjoyed all of the cute log cabins and farm land. Huge rock formations and cliffs dotted the landscape as the wind almost ripped off my hat. She dropped us off at a good spot for another car to take us the last 14 miles. It only took five minutes as a Mercedes Benz turned around. A what? Nicest hitch yet. It was a couple from India visiting the US for 10 days. They were on their way to Yellowstone after visiting the Tetons. What a nice and kind couple to pick up two American hitchhikers. As soon as we climbed out of the Benz, the thunder was booming and lightning hit nearby. We rushed to a highway underpass for shelter. It was a smart choice. We hung out in complete shelter as the storm roared above our heads. It is all about timing. We spent a little over an hour here waiting out the worst looking clouds before emerging and connecting back to the trail. Two huge elk and a baby rushed out in front of us. We managed to get off trail… Nothing unusual. We followed the nicest trail which was simply a game trail. We hiked uphill finally reconnecting before joining a road towards a campground where we planned to met up with Chipmunk. As we were getting closer so was the storm, it hit hard again soaking us this time with no where to hide. We walked fast and found the privy seeing her hiking poles in front of it. The three of us sat in the front of it under the awning letting the rain pass. At least that batch of rain. The campground host warned tomorrow was supposed to be bad too. We pushed onward along a lake and made it an hour or so before the rain fell again. The trail turned into a mud slide as it was comical how difficult it was to walk. I was slipping all over the place and my shoes were caked in mud. It felt like I was wearing heavy boots. It was slow going and luckily one of the streams allowed us to rinse off our shoes. We were surprised to find the last few miles more enjoyable as the rain had stopped and all the water had soaked into the soil. It was fast walking again. We stopped a bit before 7 to eat dinner. You are not supposed to cook where you sleep in grizzly bear country. They enjoyed half a bottle of whiskey and got pretty funny.
It rained on and off during the night and I had the responsibility of getting the food. We packed up, ate breakfast, and did the typical chores. I went down to the river we forded last night to get another liter of water as a bald eagle flew overhead. As I was filtering, I saw a second bald eagle soar above the river. I bet there are some good fish in there. We got on trail around 7:30 a bit later then we had hoped. The morning started with a 1,000 foot climb that warmed me up so I had to take off my rain jacket. We are hiking close to each other. Paperweight up front, Chipmunk in the middle, and I take up the rear. She does not have any bear spray yet so we can protect. This area also has a high concentration of grizzly bears so we are hiking close together and camping together. Most of this section burned a few years ago as well, but the flowers are blooming and lots of small trees are growing. We walked for 7 miles before our first break across a stream. It took some careful log stepping to make it across the stream. We dried out our tent and cooked an early lunch since we didn’t cook for dinner last night. We all stayed close together as we busted out the miles on easy terrain. The sun is shinning and the day has been beautiful. Through the burnt trees, you can see various rock formations and cliff sides. We checked out some possible mountain lion prints as well along the day. We had another nice break after 3 and I was getting antsy. So I packed up before them and headed out on my own. I have my own can of bear spray now and feel safe hiking alone. I had to stop for five groups of men on horses. They each ride one horse then have one to three attached carrying huge canvas tents and other gear. I’m sure they have lots of whiskey and beer too. One said “you are a long ways out.” As I replied, “I still got a long way to go.” Sunny warm afternoon of easy hiking with gradual climbing. They caught up to me as I was taking a break and blogging. We headed to our dinner spot at the Parting of the Waters. This is a spot where the river splits and sends water in two different directions. One side to the Atlantic and the other to the Pacific Ocean. It was a neat dinner break. We met a SOBO who was yelling “hey bear” on her way down the mountain. Lots of other hikers yell various things and our favorite it “yeap” since it looks like the auctioneer guy from storage wars. We made lots of fun sounds on our uphill climb. It was steep and I was dragging up it. The sun began to set and it was chilly by the time we arrive another 1,000 feet higher than our dinner spot. I was in charge of the bear hang and managed to get the rock bag that you toss over the tree stuck. I mean stuck good! The bag loop was on a dead branch and it wasn’t coming down. He spent a good 20 minutes trying to get it down unsuccessfully. Chipmunk shared her bear rope so I hung with her. So instead of a 50 ft piece of rope it’s about 46 ft now. Whoops. It was so cold by the time we got in the tent after 9 and cuddled to stay warm. Tomorrow we walk into Yellowstone National Park.
So cold! My gloves, hat, and down jacket were necessary to getting out of the tent. I managed to spill filtered water in the tent this morning making a mess. A hornet decided to land in my cream cheese and get stuck as well. I just wanted to go back to bed. We were still not at the top of the climb and even the steep uphill for a mile did not have me taking off my jacket. Finally, the sun was warm as I reached the top throwing off all my warm gear and enjoying a flattish walk along the top of the mountain. Of course that is followed up by a steep downhill towards water. I cruised for over 6 miles before finding Paperweight taking a break near water. We have all got pretty bad at taking short breaks. Chipmunk joined us as well after she made the curve banging together her hiking poles. Lots of bear poop around today so we all stick together most of the day. We headed out in search of the welcome to Yellowstone sign. We found it a few miles later and continued along through a burn section. This is some of the most remote parts of the park and you can tell not many people besides CDT hikers will ever see this area. Ups followed by downs in now the warm sun for the afternoon hours. We found our way to our reserved campsite at Heart River Campsite. A few nice established spots and a bear hang spot with a board nailed high enough to two trees. It cost us each $3 to camp here and since we made a phone registration an additional $25 that we split. A few spots we wanted were already reserved. It was a nice night and it stayed warm for a bit, but when the temperature drops it happens quick so to our tents. Camping in a spot in Yellowstone that only a few non CDT hikers will ever see.
Yellowstone miles pass very quickly and for most parts the trail is nicely maintained. We walked past Heart Lake and I could see what I thought was smoke. As I got closer, I realized it was steam from a geyser. So neat! We passed a ranger station and a female ranger came running out asking where we had camped and if we saw any grizzly bears. There has been a troublesome bear who has gone through a few tents the last few days while the campers were out hiking. They have closed down a few of the campsites for this reason. She told us about a creek ahead where we could soak. So we headed off in search of this spot. We found a spot that wasn’t too warm or too cold to soak most of our legs in and it was wonderful! So relaxing and therapeutic before returning to the grind. We passed a few geysers that mesmerized me with their colors. This is a very neat section. We came to a parking lot to realize with trash cans and a privy that I took advantage of before I headed out alone. I hadn’t filled up enough water and wanted to make it to the ford before stopping for a long lunch break. It was nice just doing my own thing cruising down the trail making fast time on the flat terrain. I came to what was labeled a sometimes chest deep ford. I was happy to find it to be an under the knee ford. I crossed and watched ducks float out into the river while eating lunch and hydrating with lemonade. It was a peaceful spot that I had to myself for almost an hour before they caught up. We climbed uphill and looked down at the lake before dipping back down into a meadow area. We saw and heard cranes playing in the meadow. We suddenly came to a swampy area of muck. I almost lost my shoes in here. They did have one foot bridge over the deep section. Only on the CDT in a national park would you find this type of walking. We rinsed off in the next stream which was warm from a flowing geyser. We passed a section called the Shoshone Geyser Basin that delighted me. I’m not sure how many geysers there were, but I’ve never seen anything like it before. The colors were unreal and it smelled like rotten eggs. Certainly, this was one of the highlights of my hike so far. If you ever have the chance to hike out here, I’d recommend it. We pushed on toward our camp site. Basin Bay Beach was our reserved sight for the day. Our guide book did not say how far off trail as others were mentioned. I was so annoyed to find it well over .7 miles from the CDT. It just kept going and going. The campsite itself was nice right on the bay of the water. We set up quickly then moved to the campfire area to eat. Then we hung our food before quickly passing out.
My alarm went off at 4am. Why!?! We were 11.5 miles from Old Faithful Village and there is an all you can eat breakfast buffet. That’s motivation. The three of us were on trail around 4:40am and moving quickly with our headlamps on. We were talking loudly and making silly sounds to keep the bears away as well. The terrain was easy as we were doing likely over three miles an hour. We passed a few other campsites in the darkness as well. It was a lovely sunrise that we got to enjoy over a bridge where we took a moment to soak it all in before rushing forward. The trail finally came to the spot where you started dipping down to the road. You could see all of the buildings in the distance and that made us move faster. We booked it to the road and crossed the street in search of the breakfast. Our guidebook had marked the wrong place, but we ended up at the Old Faithful Lodge. We completed 11.5 miles by 8:15 for the AYCE breakfast buffet! Yes it was so worth it. I had OJ, milk, fruit with yogurt, hash browns, eggs, French toast, biscuits and gravy, lots of bacon, muffins and other goodies! Our server was very curious about our hike and asked lots of questions! Our meal was free! Not sure how our server managed to do this, but we left a nice tip. Then it was time to watch Old Faithful erupt. I lucked out and saw another one in the distance erupt as well. I watched Old Faithful erupt three times today surrounded my hundreds of people. It was a magical time, but so many people had me getting anxious to leave. We hung out all morning and into the afternoon before going to the general store to buy food for the next sections and pizza for an early dinner. I enjoyed sitting in a rocking chair and people watching. We met lots of southbounders as well today and shared advice before we headed out of the tourist area. We followed the path, but should of followed the boardwalk that would of led us closer to the geysers. It was beautiful though. I have a feeling I’ll be back here sometime as I want to check out other spots that the trail does not go through. We still had quite a few miles to do to get our reserved site at Summit Lake Campsite. We crossed a road and followed the boardwalk again near geysers that mesmerized me. We then turned on to our trail to no longer see any more people. We climbed up from the park and into the woods again. It wasn’t too tough of walking and we got to camp a few minutes for sunset. My heel is killing me and I looked to find little puncture wounds maybe from rocks. I hobbled around and Paperweight took care of me as usual. Some days I wonder how far I would of made it without him. Chipmunk still hadn’t arrived when we went to bed after 10. She got there really late just taking her time this evening.
We ran in to lots of southbounders this morning. Like 6 or 7 of them! This would be the last big group we would meet. The terrain was again a burn section and actual dry for many miles meaning we had to carry extra water. Today we would be leaving Yellowstone and entering Idaho. We crossed into the state of Idaho before noon. My first time in this state! Someone had made a border marker out of a trail marker. The end is getting closer and I took in the moment wondering how many more times in my life I’ll be walking through states. The three of us celebrated by snacking and chatting for a long time at this location. It feels so good to be here! I left first and within half a mile I saw a black bear. It actually saw me first and was gone before I had a moment to get a good luck. It wasn’t a grizzly, but it still took me by surprise. It had been a long time since I’ve seen a bear. The trail was a bit absurd the rest of day consisting of walking an old road that now has so many berms blocking it from being driven. You have to walk to the right or left of the old trail to get around them. It was obnoxious! We are taking the Mack’s Inn route instead of Henry’s Lake as most hikers do. We began the gravel road walk towards the small town. I have a mail drop to pick up in the morning so we decided to camp off the road in the trees not too close to any of the homes in the area. Pretty sure we were back in National Forest land, but no one knows for sure. First night of camping in Idaho and ever being in this state.