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Posts Tagged ‘wet feet’

On the way into Yellowstone, there was a strange junction that threw us all for a loop. We had to make a left on a “road” which was blocked by large berms and small lodgepole pines. Jeff and Memphis managed to find it. E.D., and I missed it by .3 and had to walk back. Scallywag and The Darkness missed it by a lot and didn’t catch up to us that day.
E.D. and I found the tricky spring and kept heading toward the Yellowstone border and subsequently, the Wyoming border. When we reached the end of the Macks Inn alternate, we stopped for a break and heard voices. We thought it was The Darkness and Scallywag, but it was Tails and Chaps! They had hauled and managed to catch us! We were very excited to see them and we hiked closely together for both borders.

They went to camp at Summit Lake while we stealth camped right before it. In the morning, we didn’t see them, but found Memphis.

E.D., Memphis and I walked the 14 miles into the zoo that is Old Faithful and went toward the backcountry office for permits. However, when we got there, something we did not expect happened.
Ranger Lady: “Sooooo…we don’t have any permits for you. Everything on the CDT is booked up…”

 

Memphis: “What would you like us to do then?”

Ranger Lady: “Camp in designated areas only and ask people if you can share their campsite…”
We all looked at each other. Ok…

After about an hour of going back and forth, she gave us a permit for a campsite 12 miles out from a no show, then an admin site 13 miles later (because we’re totally going to only do 13 miles…) and then a site somewhere on Heart Lake 10 miles later.

We decided to stick to the permit the first night, then use her suggestion for bumming onto a campsite for the next night, then getting out of the park and it’s regulations the third night. However, we couldn’t just show up empty handed and bum onto a campsite…so we picked up a handle of fireball at the general store and split it into two plastic bottles to carry out as bribery.

After watching Old Faithful and the zoo of humans watching it through their screens instead of their eyeballs, we found Scallywag and The Darkness at another general store. We were on our way out and they said they’d be twenty minutes behind us.

The hiking flew by. The miles were easy with hardly any real climbing. We passed a geyser field that was actually way cooler than the Old Faithful area and with NO people. Amazing!

We were making good time, when we hit a marsh a mile before the campsite. It was a field of ankle deep water with no good way around. Again came a major theme of the CDT…wet feet.

Plunging in, the cold water infiltrated our socks with no hope of drying because the sun had just set. Occasionally, in the middle of this marshy stuff, an actual creek would flow through and a board would appear to cross it. Not that a board was necessary when one has to step up out of ankle deep water to step onto it.

After the marsh, we threw our poles down and took a shot of fireball. The warm whiskey went down so well and made us both feel better.

When we found the campsite, we also found Memphis and we cooked a late dinner.

The next day, the weather turned to shit. According to our permit, we only had to do 13 miles. Easy miles. Right.

The storms and rain seemed to come in waves. There was no point in putting on dry socks to walk in the rain, so we all put the wet socks back on. If you’ve ever had to put on cold, wet socks, you’ll understand the frustration.

We started running into a slew of nobos. Despite the fairly constant waves of rain, we always stood there with our packs on and swapped beta for about 200 miles in either direction. One of the major points immediately south of us was a ford that the Ley map said could potentially be chest deep. It was ankle deep. Maybe Ley just went for a swim in the lake instead of crossing the outlet stream.

In hardly any time, we got to the “admin” site assigned on our permit near the road. The road that went to Grant Village…which has food…and beer…it was lunch time…

We went toward the road and decided to try hitching there for fifteen minutes and see if we could get a ride. If not, we’d hike on. Memphis spotted the parking lot nearby and suddenly yelled over that he’d yogi’ed a ride.

After a good lunch, we got a ready hitch back from a couple hard of hearing from Missouri. We had about half an hour of dry hiking when the rain came back.

Later in the evening, after getting soaked for hours, we found a ranger cabin without the ranger (conveniently) and we cooked on the porch.

The three of us moved on to try and find a campsite that we could share with someone else.
We took a right down a side trail toward a campsite and the damn side trail was about a half mile off. When we saw the people there, who looked utterly confused, we explained ourselves. Then we offered fireball.

Dude: “Oh shit! Christina forgot hers! She’ll be so happy!”

Other dude: “Cool, we’ve got some Maker’s too!”

A mutual stand around and drink whiskey from assorted containers happened with friendly conversation and we shared the campsite. Note: diffuse situations in the woods by sharing whiskey.

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We did another ten miles or so from the cabin, but lazily, because we were tired, it was blazing hot, and because we spent two and a half hours on the cool porch.

Stopping to eat dinner near a ford, we became swarmed with flies. They weren’t biting, at least not much, but I couldn’t help thinking about how bad we also smelled and if there were more flies on us than the horse shit in the trail.

By the time we finished dinner, it was well after 7 and the heat had drained our energy. I did thoroughly enjoy a hearty dehydrated dinner…thanks Mom! There was also a nice, large campsite on the other side of the willows that could easily accommodate our five tents plus some. We decide to go for it.
At about 9:30pm as I was laying in bed reading Hondo, which The Darkness passed me, in walks three more thru hikers: Sleepwalker, Tortoise, and Hare (who we’re trying to rename Rabid). They camped with us that night, too.

The next morning, E.D tried to beat the heat and shot off before I was even out of my tent to pee. When I did wake up to the normal rustlings of Ziploc bags and stuff sacks, I got up and noticed either Tortoise or Hare snoring lightly. I could judge the volume of my own rustling if the snoring paused or not.
Not even a mile into the day, E.D and I found a lightweight Under Armor jacket. I checked the pockets. Jo’s credit card. Shit. Those two girls were a day ahead of us! Then I check the other pockets. Sunglasses. She’ll miss those, but she’ll be OK. A small device that neither E.D nor I could figure out. Then the last pocket held not one, but TWO lipsticks. Lipstick….really?!?! Are you trying to impress the bears? What the fuck. I’ll carry gear and a credit card forward, but lipstick?! And two of them…that had to be at least six ounces. Damn. E.D attached the jacket and it’s curious pocket contents to the outside of my pack and we trudged forward. Scallywag later informed us it was a smart phone tripod for selfies.
We followed a creek the whole way again the next day and I lost track of how many times we forded it or side streams. It was still hot. The trail meandered about and horse shit alternated with bear shit and the occasional moose shit.

When we finally caught up with E.D. at the Spotted Bear alternate junction, we felt our faces melt off through a burn area. We continued on the Spotted Bear alternate because we heard it was more scenic when we saw another cabin…with another great porch! We stopped and hung out eating a snack and waiting for The Darkness, Tortoise, Rabid, and Sleepwalker to catch up. Out of nowhere two hikers appeared from the river…it was two flippers, Wide Angle and Flip. We chatted with them, then they hiked north. We decided we needed dinner before we hiked more, so we cooked dinner. Patch showed up and told us about how he side tracked and went high up on the divide, then hiked on another six miles. Theeeeen, we just stayed, camping near the river which our maps warned could be double, waist deep fords. They looked between ankle and knee deep.
¬†Setting up my tent, I managed to smash my finger between a tent stake and the rock that I was using to pound it in and gave myself a blood blister. I popped and drained it while I watched a small river snake attempt to devour a fish considerably bigger than its mouth. That evening, we thoroughly enjoyed that porch talking and swapping stories until the inevitable “oh shit, it’s ten pm!” and it’s still light out.

The fords the next morning were cold and we all started the day with wet feet. We had to climb up out of the river valley over Switchback Pass and there was not great camping for another few miles, despite what Wide Angle said.

We ate lunch at Dean Lake, where Whistle skipped rocks and clouds began rolling in. Something had to break the heat. It looked like a storm was brewing.

Throwing on rain gear, we continued. Ten minutes later the rain gear was off because it only sprinkled and it was still too hot. We made it up and over the pass OK and plunged down the other side. Switchback Pass lived up to its name…and…at the bottom of the pass was another cabin with a porch. Attached to the door with a rock was a note saying something along the lines of:
“Dear forest men,

Thank you for the extra fuel you gave me. It was so nice to have hot soup last night.

Thanks, Kathleen”

Then underneath in someone else’s handwriting made to look similar was:

“PS: I owe you both BJs”

That seemed unfair, but it was funny.

Alas, we decided that we did actually need to do another five miles or so to set us up better for Benchmark. We knew we’d only find smaller campsites along the river bottom after the large cabin area, so we split into two groups. The Darkness, E.D, Scallywag and I stayed at one and the other for went two or three miles further.

Chinese Wall

They went further, but they got up later and we saw them picking up the next day. It was the day of the Chinese Wall! We hiked up for quite some time and finally saw it. We found a lunch spot in the shade of a tree. It was hot, but not melting hot…the first time in days.

Rabid was talking about needing electrolytes when The Darkness offered him a nuun tablet. Before she could explain it, he popped it into his mouth to a chorus of NO NO NO!!! He spit it back out of his mouth and it started to bubble and stared at us.

The Darkness: “You put that in a liter of water and let it fizz for a minute, then you drink it…”

Oops.

The Chinese Wall extended for miles. We walked underneath it, going up and down for about nine miles. Along the way, we met Melinda, a trail angel in Helena. She told us she saw the two girls about two hours previously. Narrowed the time gap from a day to two hours. Not too bad. I wanted to get rid of the damn lipstick.

We continued down to another river in order to get to within ten miles of Benchmark. Near the junction we wanted to camp at, we saw another cabin, and went up to see it. A few guys were there from the forest service, but they were jerks. We really just wanted to use the privy.

Dude: “it’s locked.”

E.D: “Do you have the key?”

Dude: “Yeah. #1 it #2?

….. We wouldn’t have walked up this extra little hill for #1 dumbass……

Dude: “If we left it unlocked, then we’d have to dig more holes.”

….. Wouldn’t you want to concentrate the use in a heavily used area……

We left. And dug catholes. Because three shits totally would have overflowed your privy. Right.

Zonked, we found a campsite in some trees and shared with a couple and their two large dogs. In the middle of the night, at 12:37 to be exact, there were some crashing sounds and the dogs started barking like crazy. Then more crashing sounds. We rolled over and went back to sleep. Thanks for scaring the bears, dogs!

We crossed a bridge over the river and all commented on it. We hadn’t seen a bridge in about 100 miles. The next morning, we ran into a group of overnight hikers and asked if they’d seen the two girls.

Dude: “Yeah, a looooong time ago.”

Me: “How far ago?”

Dude: “About four miles ago.”

Scallywag: “Oh, and hour and a half ago.”

Dude: *mouth opens… No words*
It was flat…easy to hold 3mph.
We rolled into Benchmark area and began walking toward the ranch which held packages for thru hikers when we heard Tortoise and Rabid yell from a cabin.
Gentleman named Bob: “Want a beer?”

Yes, please!!!

 

Bob’s cabin and hikers

We found out that Bob was 88 years old and a World War Two vet. He gave us a ride to and from the ranch to get our boxes. Whistle and Sleepwalker had managed a ride to and from Augusta (30 miles down a dirt forest service road) and said that they saw the two girls there and they asked if I would leave the jacket in the hiker box at Benchmark Ranch. I don’t think they quite understood the meaning of a hiker box, but I left a note on the back of their note there stating:
“Here’s your coat. Your new trail name is Hot Lips.” I hope she’s heard of Mash.

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