Friday, July 18, 2014

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)

1 comment:

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