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Posts Tagged ‘Lemhi Pass’

**From September 2015**

Despite a very late start, we managed to get a few miles in before dark. Sometimes just getting back on trail, even a few miles helps immensely the next day. We found a pathetic looking shelter without a floor that we paused to see. It included quite a bit of graffiti, including a tag from Yogi and Worldwide.

We got distracted reading it all and ended up staying there instead of trying to reach a hunting cabin four miles further. Memphis played some comedy from his phone while we ate dinner. Then, I read theSkimm’s summary of the upcoming republican debate as a drinking game.

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My spoon 😦

In the morning, we passed the hunting cabin, which boasted several hunters clad head-to-toe in…you guessed it…cammo. This stretch had more mellow ups and downs full of aspens changing colors for the fall. With the Colorado Trail and the CDT combined, we had no trouble with navigation following the well-defined trail. We cruised, chatted, meandered, and admired the array of aspen leaf colors on the ground and on the trees.

One of those lunches, I went to make the classically old peanut butter tortilla when tragedy struck. My Sea to Summit titanium spoon BROKE in my peanut butter. I held up the handle and peered into the jar.

Memphis: What just happened?

Me: My spoon…

E.D.: In the peanut butter?

Me: I hate peanut butter.

Memphis: Is that titanium?

Me: Yes…

E.D.: You can use my spoon if you need it.

Memphis: You just broke a titanium spoon with peanut butter?

Me: I got this spoon in Daleville on the AT five years ago.

E.D.: Damn.

My favorite spoon was no more. It finished the Appalachian Trail with me. Then it survived a winter of the 46ers I had left to climb in the Adirondacks, it hiked the Colorado Trail with me, it went to New Zealand with me, the spoon survived three ski seasons stuffed into my jacket pocket, it hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, it survived a year of grad school in my backpack, and it went two thousand miles down the CDT.

I retrieved it from my peanut butter jar, licked it clean, and saw that it broke in a spot that neither duct tape nor superglue could fix. I immediately looked for cell service to send my trusty resupply Mother a picture, but none existed. I sadly put the spoon in my bag and thought about all of our times together.

The rolling hills.

The trail continued further through fields and more aspens until a bit before the Creede Cut-Off. On the Colorado Trail, I went into Creede and it was one of my favorite trail towns. This go-round, we would continue to Lake City instead.

Before the cut-off, we camped at the last water before San Luis Pass. Having already climbed San Luis on the Colorado Trail, I did not feel particularly inclined to do it again in interest of getting closer to the road into Lake City, knowing that would be a hard hitch. As per usual, Memphis got up the earliest and high tailed it uphill. It was cold that night and the tents stood rigid with frost. Stuffing a frosty tent into a stuff sack absolutely annihilates the comfort of one’s hands. I usually remedy this by putting my hands inside my puffy afterward.

After San Luis Pass, the trail winds around up and down the high ridges and contours around others passing large volcanic rock structures that always look like sand drip castles on the beach.

On one of the passes, I sat and laid out my tent still complete with frost in the sun and wind to dry while eating some lunch with my poor broken spoon. E.D. came up and did the same and we speculated about the whereabouts of Memphis when he popped up behind us.

Not a bad nap spot.

E.D.: What?

Me: Where’d you go?

Memphis: *smirking* San Luis Peak! My first 14er!

E.D.: Congrats!

Me: Whoa!

Memphis: Yeah! And Action, Shortstack, and Crosby are coming up!

We hadn’t seen Action or Shortstack since Dillon and we hadn’t seen Crosby since Lemhi Pass before Leadore, Idaho! We continued, aiming for the road into Lake City, when Action and Shortstack caught us and told us they were going to take the Creede Cut-Off. They did say that Crosby was planning on going the San Juan route. After catching up, standing, with our packs on, they speed toward the Cut-off and we continued toward the road.

We doubted we’d get a ride around 8pm as the sunset sunk below the ridge, however, we hit the road anyway.

Memphis: WOOHOO!!

E.D.: Something happened.

Me: A ride?

Memphis: BEER!

We hurried down to a wonderful cooler of cold beers. Thank you to the person who left some cold ones by the road!

The sunset going down to the road.

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Leaving Darby with five days of food, we headed back up to Chief Joesph Pass in the back of a pickup truck. The trail followed a dirt four wheel drive track for about five miles of pleasant grades before turning into a trail which The Darkness and I swore was designed by an east coaster. It picked the highest point around, went straight up it, then shot us back down and repeated the process. However, unlike the east coast, most of it was burned and the sun shone bright and hot that day.

On one of those bumps, I met a character named Swanson. He said that he had run into eight or nine other thru hikers that day and regaled me with information on each. I asked him to let Scallywag and E.D know that we were going to try and camp at Big Hole Pass. Scallywag and E.D had to pick up boxes quickly in Sula, so they were a bit behind and we didn’t see them until camp. Swanson mentioned a that there was a guy parked there camping who would talk my ear off.  However, when I got there, it was just after nine and it appeared he was already in bed so my ear did not get talked off.

The Darkness: “Did you talk to that weird dude?”

Me: “Yeah, he told me about the location of the spring and who’s ahead of us, did you?”

The Darkness: “No. I knew you would, so I didn’t bother.”

The spring was beautiful, piped, and not far. The beginning of the side trail to it though was hidden.

In the morning, I left first and headed up the dirt road looking for a tricky trail turn to the left where the side was supposedly hidden. I found it very quickly and began down the trail only to immediately be impaled in the face with a massive cob web. I took a step back and peeled it off, checking to make sure I didn’t have the spider on me. There were about two miles of woods trail before popping out on a closed (and therefore badly maintained) four wheel track. The entire time I pulled an old AT trick of waving one hiking pole up and down in front of me to knock down the cob webs. That only works so well though and I continually found myself peeling them off of my arms and face.

Later on, E.D came trotting down the trail.

E.D.: “Are The Darkness and Scallywag ahead?”

Me: “No…you’re the first person I’ve seen since leaving this morning and I’ve been on trail the whole time.”

 

The cabin and the wheel

We looked at each other and knew that something was wrong. E.D. had left with them, but paused for a morning bathroom break and hadn’t seen them since. We found a dilapidated old cabin, sat in front of it, and threw serotinous cones through the spikes of a rusty old wheel which reminded us of the old computer game about the Oregon Trail. We looked at the maps to see if they took a short cut and somehow got ahead of us. Nothing.

I placed my bet that they continued up the dirt road and missed the left turn.

We kept going, knowing that we had to make miles or face running low on food. A 3,000 ft climb came next which we broke up with lunch in the middle by a messy stream. We didn’t feel like having wet feet, so we found a log that was both several feet higher than the stream and barely the width of our feet. This was advanced stream crossing. E.D went first, stopped in the middle, chucked her poles across and straddled it across using one or two wiggly rocks underneath. As I watched, I extended my hiking poles and managed to walk across. The climb went steeply up for a long time, then finally began to have a better grade toward the top.

E.D. and I continued along the bumpy divide for quite some time until we stopped for dinner in hopes that the other two would catch up. In fact, they did roll up.

The Darkness: “We took the teal route…” (The maps show the actual CDT in red and the alternates in purple)

Me: “So, where did you get off trail?”

Scallywag: “We kept going all the way up Eagle Mountain instead of taking that hidden left turn…and then instead of going back down like smart people, we decided to bushwhack down and scramble down a talus field instead. It took awhile.”

We ended up going another few miles and camping at a lake with the Swiss Couple, Jeanine and Patrick who we hadn’t seen since the day before Lincoln, or about 200 miles. They had a small fire and were roasting marshmallows.

 

The lake campsite

The next morning, we all plodded down the trail and tried to work around the thunderstorms which kept trying to repeatedly explode above our heads right as we were going above treeline.

I kept noticing the thunder when it would appear as a wrong bass line in whatever music that I was trying to jam out to. The thunderstorm that day hit right before noon and was over quickly, but it was enough to push us into some trees to eat lunch.

We had as long decent down to a “parking lot” of a trail-head, which was really just a dirt road that you could move a car to the side of, out of the way. On the way down, we passed two beautifully blue lakes and it was hot out, so I took the opportunity to skinny dip for a moment to cool off.

From the “parking lot,” we had to climb. But this particular climb had recently been redone with wonderful switchbacks making the climb pleasant and not really a kick in the ass.

We kept going and found the last campsite close to Berry Creek. This campsite was not really a campsite, but it was mostly flat and was just wide enough for our tents. We had somehow gotten on a late schedule of leaving camp between 8-9am and camping at dusk, eating dinner at about 10pm. Oops.

From Berry Creek, we had a long climb upward again with something marked as “overlook” on Guthook, which was really just a pass, but it did have a good view. We roller-coastered around high up before dropping lower.

The next day, we had some high and exposed sections to go through as well. And there were…you guessed it, thunderstorms!

 

Right before one storm hit.

From Gibbon’s pass, which had a “spring” a bit off a side road (which was a puddle in the road itself) we went up a very exposed, but awesome peak. When I got to the top and thunder crashed across the sky, I looked at the dark mass of clouds coming my way and made it down as fast as my knees would let me on the loose rocks. I made it down to some trees, put my rain gear on and watched the storm pass. Scallywag and E.D waited with me in the trees, The Darkness had made it over the next exposed bump on the ridge.

That evening, we found a campsite that definitely only thru hikers would call a campsite and threw up our tents in a gap in the rain.

The next morning, we waited until another gap in the rain to pack up quickly and head toward Lemhi Pass. This part was surprisingly easy and we cruised through it to find the Swiss Couple and Crosby sitting there eating lunch.

Crosby had called Sam at Leadore Inn to pick him up there instead of the next, normal pass to get to town on, Bannock Pass. We all chatted and ate while Crosby waited for Sam.

When Sam came, we conveniently asked him if we could reserve two rooms for the next night and get a ride down from Bannock Pass the next day at 4pm. He said that sounded great and would see us then.

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