Thursday, July 24, 2014

Idaho, Montana, no, Idaho, now Montana...both?

After trying to leave West Yellowstone, failing, and deciding to stay another night, we had the pleasure of meeting Frank and Pami. This couple from Florida spend their summers RVing around the country and, fortunately for us, parked in the Grizzly RV park next to us. After seeing us walk back into our campsite they invited us to a wonderful home cooked meal. They also treated us to breakfast the next morning then drove us up to Targhee Pass to get back on trail. They were pretty much the greatest people to meet as hikers.

Hiking again felt great. We were both feeling healthy and strong. Being along a ridge-line splitting the Divide, and Idaho  and Montana with expansive views helped as well. We opted to take a short side hike/scramble to the top of Targhee Peak which gave us a great view of the Divide back to Yellowstone.

One of the fun things about this section has been bouncing back and forth between two states. Along the Divide every switch back takes us into one state and out of the other. We have jumped lines a couple hundred timed now and it looks like that will continue for the next week or so.

Dropping down from Targhee Peak we came across a moose with a very very newborn baby Bullwinkle. A few miles later we saw papa moose with full paddles. This stretch we also came across a massive herd of elk that we sent running into two separate states. Aside from that and dozens of hawks, wildlife sightings have on the lean side.

After a bigger day yesterday in the mis-guided hope that we could camp with a bear box, we made it to Lima, MT back on schedule. The motel here runs a great shuttle service so we didn't have to try and hitch off the interstate.

The last couple days both of us have been feeling great and enjoying the feeling of putting up bigger days. We are enjoying the hiking and the physical aspect and challenge of hiking all day. Despite probably running out of time to finish the last section (Weddings need attending in LA) we are definitely enjoying the trail again. I just hope Sara starts laughing at more of my jokes.

Next up we hit Leadore where my parents will be there to help resupply us. Yay!

Happy trails,

Track and Field

Friday, July 18, 2014

Old Faithful to West Yellowstone

Apparently it isn't a thru-hike for us until one of us needs to see a doctor. We have pulled off trail in West Yellowstone for (hopefully) a day for Sara to get some stomach pain checked out. The doctor here is incredibly understanding of our hiking schedule and was able to get her multiple prescriptions in case the first doesn't work. I have also started feeling a bit nauseous, like my first symptoms last year, so I'll get in as well, but hopefully back on trail shortly!

The morning hiking into Old Faithful was incredible. We hiked into, and through, the Shoshone Geyser Basin. Like the Old Faithful area this was a thermal area with boiling water and sulfur mist spouting up in random places and collecting in crystal clear pools with blue and copper colored walls. While not as explosive as the Old Faithful basin, we got to walk right through this area. We were close enough that we felt nervous about the sturdiness of the trail in some spots, especially when our poles made a hollow sound upon striking the ground.

We reached Old Faithful in time for lunch and grabbed our box from the PO. The backcountry office let us take over their porch to go through all our food, then leave our packs while we played tourist for a bit. There were so many people! We watched Old Faithful do it's thing then found some food before continuing on to our last spot in the park.

On the way to our camp at Summit Lake we saw multiple trees stripped of bark by grizzlies looking for ants and grubs. Sara took it as a good sign that maybe the bears were so full of food that they wouldn't eat us. I saw it as the bears were so desperate for food they had to tear apart trees, which meant we would be attractive. Fortunately we finished the loooong day to camp with no incident.

The next day we headed out of the park and through a lot of what burned in 1988. Sara was feeling pretty rough by this point, but we still managed to hit our mileage on our way to West Yellowstone.  The trail drastically changed as far as moisture is concerned. As soon as we left Summit Lake the ground dried out. We ended up on some snowmobile routes the rest of the way into town, which were also very dry. I had miscalculated our water carrying to the point we started getting a little worried, but fortunately found some just before I would have had to run a few miles off trail to a spring. Aside from that we had a fairly mellow cruise into West Yellowstone.

We are now camped at the Grizzly RV park looking on with envy at the zip line adventure course. We did find ice cream though so for now we are stationary and happy.  Sorry for the lack of pictures on this post, but we don't have a way to get pics up currently.

More from Lima,

Forrest and Sara

A Moist Wind Rivers and Yellowstone

Sara and I are currently in West Yellowstone, but this is the post we tried to put up from Old Faithful, if we had internet:
Along Heart Creek, nasty tasting water, but pretty camp.

"We just finished eating one of the greatest on trail desserts in thru-hiking history (self-proclaimed). Since we are resupplying at Old Faithful tomorrow we needed to finish some food so we mixed chocolate and vanilla pudding with Nutella and peanut butter. That was an excellent cap to a 22.7 mile day in Yellowstone.

The resumption of our hike has so far gone pretty well. Neither of us feel like we have been out ten days, yet here we are. We have decided that we would much rather start a long hike in the mountainous trails, even if it involves snow and river crossings, than a desert cross-country/road walk like last year. Our bodies, despite the aches and pains normal to thru-hiking, are much happier.

Top of Shannon Pass in the Wind Rivers-Miles of Microspikes
Amber dropped us off at the Big Sandy trailhead 10 days ago and we headed north for a 130 mile stretch in the Wind River range in WY. We were concerned about our fitness and ability to make miles over the snow, but fortunately had a fairly "easy" first two days of 14 and 20 miles with little snow. The next day, however, the Winds struck back. We crossed over a snow covered Lester Pass early in the morning then continued to hike and route find through a large valley on the way to the more snow covered Shannon Pass. From the start of that climb, and for the next 5-7 miles, we hiked in solid snow, which meant a lot of time in our microspikes. Solid as in we could not see the ground, not solid as far as footing goes. Random post holes were frequent and jarring. Fortunately the scenery in that area is breathtaking. Huge bowls are still completely snow laden and we could tell we were the only two up there (aside from the two unhappy looking gentlemen heading downhill on our way up). From the top of Shannon Pass we opted to do a traverse across an...interesting snowfield to the next valley/pass instead of dropping and climbing 1000'. Turns out the trail was not a PUD (pointless up and down) but rather avoided the even more sketchy traverse and descent on the backside. I had one slightly bad fall and one that spooked me pretty bad and left me flat on my back, head downhill and leg stuck in the snow. That fall left me with a tweaked knee that has been on and off swelling.

Since that section our snow travel has decreased drastically to almost non-existent. We made good time the rest of the way through that section, survived a "no room for error creek crossing," and were relieved to see a bridge over the very swollen Green River. We got to Brooks Lake Lodge a day early, partly because we made decent time and mostly because Forrest math said we should have  20 more miles than we actually did.

Parting of the Waters on Two Oceans Creek
From Brooks Lake we made the decision to try for an alternate route on the map that would avoid the horse-ford on the South Fork of the Buffalo River. According to the maps, and a couple of helpful Game and Fish guys, the crossing would be swimmable at best. So we hiked back up to Togwotee Pass and Sara got us a ride, chocolate, and fresh cherries to the alternate a few miles down the highway. This allowed us to use a bridge, which after seeing the size of the river ended up being a great decision.

Just before crossing the Yellowstone border we hiked through Two Oceans Pass and the Parting of the Waters. I thought this was where Moses got his start, but it turns out that Two Ocean Creek runs down the draining and there is a very obvious split where the right fork flows to the Pacific and the left fork flows to the Atlantic.  The Parting was actually one of the most interesting things to see on this section in terms of mind-blowing significance.

Crossing the Lewis Channel at the south end of Lewis Lake, Yellowstone
From there we journeyed into Yellowstone along the same trail used by horses, deer, elk, one human, and grizzlies and wolves with very large feet. The tracks are everywhere, we just haven't seen them, yet. Yellowstone has been gorgeous and we have been able to take our time through here a bit. Yesterday we saw some massive white birds that we think we either cranes or pelicans. An elk woke us up this morning snorting at our tent, but then took off when he smelled our morning breath. Most of the day was on and off drizzly, but we did have a fortunate break just before we crossed the Lewis Lake Channel, which, according to our map, should have been a chest deep ford. For me us it was a waist/thigh deep ford on a very picturesque lake in luke-cold water. The mosquitoes were even down a little in the middle of the ford so we took our time.

The one thing that has concerned us so far had been our impact on future generations of mosquitoes. Based on the sheer quantity we have killed, there have to be sections of the Winds and Yellowstone that have now been naturally selected for faster skeeters. We have squished all the slow ones out of the gene pool. The little buggers are horrendous right now so we are hoping for a couple freezing nights to show them the superiority of mammals."

From Old Faithful we were supposed to head on to Lima before stopping again.  Sara has been having some severe stomach pain, however, so we sidetracked to West Yellowstone for her to stop in the clinic. She is there currently so I'm hoping everything is going ok.  We will probably be here in town tonight as well, and hopefully, fingers crossed, be back on the trail tomorrow.  Her stomach symptoms apparently feel pretty similar to the giardia cramping of last year, but we have been purifying absolutely everything after our experience last year, so hoping it's something else.  We will find out soon enough!  We'll also try and get another post up from our last stretch since Old Faithful before we skip town.

Original joke of the day:

What do you wear if you are dressing up as a bovine?


Happy trails,

Forrest and Sara (Track and Field)

Friday, July 4, 2014

Back on the Trail!

Happy Fourth of July!

We are celebrating the day we threw down our Red Coats in possibly the most "American" place in the country, Lander, WY.  Since the parade ended this morning there has been an endless barrage of sparklers, bottle rockets, mortars, shells, artillery, and possibly tank fire, all in the name of freedom. Seriously, there has not been a span of more than 10 seconds without some sort of crack or boom or shriek.  It has actually been pretty incredible how involved the town is in the Holiday. I have not seen such mass participation in an event since the release of the last Harry Potter book in Oxford.

Anyway, the last week was a whirlwind.  Last Saturday I made a last minute decision and jumped in the Northland Hospice 5k in Flagstaff as a last hurrah and ended up winning by a couple minutes before heading to work.  Meanwhile Sara cranked out two huge paintings for a couple coworkers.  Her paintings are incredible so if you ever need a new piece to hang on your wall give her a call.

After that we began frantically packing our apartment and stressing about prepping for resuming the CDT.  For the hike last year we spent almost a whole year looking at maps and gathering stuff we needed.  This year we took Monday night through Wednesday morning interspersed with moving our apartment into two friends' garages.  But, we got it done.

Wednesday afternoon we were able to leave Flagstaff for the last time as residents.  It was a bittersweet moment for both of us.  Flagstaff has been our home for most of our lives.  We both grew up as locals and experienced the town as kids.  Then after college we both moved back, made great friends (really great friends), saw the town turn into a city, and have very fond memories of the trails, pubs, and people.  While it was difficult to watch the Peaks disappear in the review mirror, we are also incredibly excited for our next adventure on trail and in Missoula.
Sara's painting of Calf Creek Falls in Grand Staircase

We arrived in Lander yesterday afternoon and are fortunate enough to have Evan and Amber put us up for a couple nights.  I jumped in the half marathon this morning, because why not race the day before we begin hiking again?  I was actually very responsible, kind of, and only raced the first six miles before backing off and running the last downhill half of the race at a tempo pace while talking to Evan on the bike.  This did mean that first place pulled away a little, but I held on for second and am not too beat up to hike.

The four of us then hung out downtown a while and after an ice cream breakfast watched the parade.  Despite seeing entirely too many political floats it was still fun to see the entire town of Lander out.  The end of the parade was marked by a fleet of fire trucks dousing an intersection with thousands of gallons of water from their water cannons.  Everyone seemed in a great mood and was able to cool off after 90 minutes of sitting in the sun.

Since then Landerites have been blasting the sky with fireworks.  As it's getting darker the frequency has increased to the point where it sounds like the background shooting in an epic war movie.  We have no idea how we will be able to sleep tonight.  Hitting the trail tomorrow will seem more quiet than normal.

Tomorrow we're back on the trail!  After nearly a year of waiting we will be back on the Continental Divide Trail.  We're starting at Big Sandy trailhead near the south end of the Wind Rivers and heading north towards Glacier National Park (roughly 1000 miles).  We were able to check out the snow conditions yesterday, from a distance, as we drove in from the West and it looked much more hike-able than flying over last month.  There will definitely still be snow but with our Kahtoola Microspikes and hiking poles we should be okay for most sections.  We just finished going through our packs and got the last bit of food so we should be ready to go.

Our fitness levels, however, may be questionable.  I have been running a lot more than last year, but have been hiking less.  Sara has spent a lot more time on the river and less time running and hiking.  Without the specificity of training both of us are expecting to hurt quite a bit this first section.

All-in-all though we are very excited to resume our trek.  Last year our hike was cut short quite abruptly and neither of us were prepared to be done (aside from wanting to figure out why I was dying).  We had some unfinished business that we are now able to take care of, hopefully with fewer incidents than last year.  I also still need to find a wolf puppy, which is really my main goal of hiking.

We will be resupplying at most of the same projected spots as last year, but we did change some. For most of the Montana resupplies we are mailing boxes to ourselves rather than hitching into towns.  Below is a tentative schedule of when we will be where.  Keep in mind this is very tentative pending our fitness and potential off days.

Starting out at Big Sandy (Wind Rivers)      July 5th.
Arriving Brooks Lake Lodge                       July 11th.
Arriving Old Faithful                                  July 18th
Arriving Lima/Targhee Pass                      July 23rd
Arriving Leadore                                       July 28th (my parents should be here)
Arriving Sula/Lost Trail Pass                     August 1st
Arriving Anaconda                                    August 4th
Arriving Helena/MacDonald Pass              August 9th
Arriving Benchmark Ranch                       August 15th
Arriving East Glacier                                August 20th
Arrive Waterton Lakes                              August 25th-ish (could drop this last section for
                                                                              now to make a wedding in LA)

Arrival DateLocationAddress
7/16/2014Old Faithful VillageForrest Boughner & Sara Hooker
c/o General Delivery
Old Faithful
Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190
7/23/2014LimaSara Hooker & Forrest Bougher
c/o Mountain View Motel
P.O. Box 277
Lima, MT 59739
7/28/2014LeadoreForrest Boughner & Sara Hooker
General Delivery
Leadore, ID 83464
8/2/2014Lost Trail Pass-SulaSara Hooker & Forrest Boughner
c/o Sula Country Store & Resort
7060 US Highway 93 South
Sula, MT 59871
8/6/2014AnacondaForrest Boughner & Sara Hooker
General Delivery
Anaconda, MT 59711
8/9/2014EllistonForrest Boughner & Sara Hooker
General Delivery
Elliston, MT 59728
8/14/2014Benchmark RanchSara Hooker & Forrest Boughner
c/o Darwin & Shellie Heckman
$25 fee to hold boxes422 County Line Road
Fairfield MT 59436
We will update our blog as much as possible, but it could be a few weeks as internet will be quite intermittent.  

Happy Trails!

The return of:

Track and Field