After taking nearly four days off, we left Steamboat Springs and made our way back to where we got off the trail. I was feeling much better after getting started on the right medication for Giardia, and it felt great to be hiking again. Rather than trying to hitch a ride back to the Three Islands Lake area, we found a hiking route out of town that would rejoin us with the CDT after about 25 miles.
Though this added an extra day to this stretch, it was great to see a different part of the Mt. Zirkel Wilderness. We crossed many flowing streams (yes, we treated ALL of our water this time), passed huge granite cliff faces, and meandered through expansive aspen groves. The wildflowers throughout this stretch were spectacular. Indian Paintbrush, Lupine, Sunflowers, and a variety of other colors and aromas surrounded us.
Once we rejoined the CDT, we weren't far from the Wyoming border. Crossing this state line felt momentous, and after a series of trials in Colorado it felt like we were finally making progress. Our maps instructed us to "whoop it up" as we crossed the stateline, and we surely did. After about 15 more miles, the terrain changed drastically. We went from dense forest with many fallen trees to open rolling plains of sage brush, grass, and even some cactus. Our route transitioned from single-track trail to roads, and in a way it almost felt like we were back in New Mexico. By the time we made it to Bridger Pass we had officially made it to the Great Divide Basin. This basin does not allow any water to flow Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. Any rain that falls in the basin remains there, and mostly evaporates.
With a quick inventory of our food and an examination of our bleak water sources, we decided to push our daily mileage and make it to our next resupply point in Rawlins a day early. This involved hiking a 35 mile day followed by a 44 mile day, our highest ever. To be honest, much of these two days now seem like a blur. Highlights include a spectacular sunset, seeing some very misplaced bear prints, and being visited by a seagull and other sea birds during dinner (we were very confused by this at first). Lowlights include biting flies, hot weather, and walking on roads for hours on end. All of the surface water in the last 30 miles of our stretch was alkaline and salty, and hence undrinkable. It was taunting to be hot and thirsty, with only a limited amount of water on our backs, walking by a lake that was practically untouchable.
We made it to Rawlins late, and had trouble finding a motel room. Apparently Rawlins, Wyoming is a very busy place in the summertime. Fortunately, we snagged the last room at the Days Inn, a smoking room. After taking a well-deserved day off our feet, and moving to a non-smoking room, we will get back on the trail tomorrow. The entirety of the next stretch remains in the Great Divide Basin, which ends at our next resupply: South Pass City. Once there, we are looking forward to visiting with our friend Amber who lives in Lander.
Sorry for the absence of pictures. Every time I try to load them the computer crashes. We will try to load some in the next post. Until next time, and further down the trail...