Wild and White Blazing!

For AT thru hike aspirants! Join Carla Robertson me and a list of AT experts to plan and prepare for your walk.
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Trail Journals Photos – 2013 Continental Divide Trail – Forested Morning

Wyoming Walk Day 14: Now this is backpacking at its best in the high passes of the Wind River Range!
Here are 14 photos from the day: http://www.trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=783439

We got an early start today. Just as we were about to leave our campsite who should show up but Gary, our former companion who had taken a different route two days earlier! “Well, how was the high route?” we asked. “I lived,” was all he said, looking a tad haggard. “I came down Pixley Creek, and at one point, I was talking to the boulders asking them to show me the way. It was straight down from the Divide!”
Just at that moment, two other CDT hikers came along. One of them, named Bluefoot, had taken another treacherous route down from the Divide. He and Gary bonded instantly, and the three of them took off on the trail, sharing stories of their adventures. John and I continued at our slower pace, thinking that Gary had found fast walking comrades for the rest of his walk.
A turn-off sign indicated our route toward Vista Pass. The trail was getting rockier as it wound up the forested mountain side. Near here, we took a break to talk with a group of about a dozen women on a Sierra Club trip called Women in the Winds. Some of them were from Florida and were finding the altitude of nearly 10,000 feet quite an adjustment! I was feeling pretty good myself. My body must have been acclimated now.
“What a beautiful place to get to camp and spend a whole day!” we marveled when we took a snack break at Vista Pass, a peaceful spot surrounded by jagged peaks. The Sierra Club group had done that midway through their weeklong trek. Captivating boulder piles and flowers graced the snowmelt lake area. Reluctantly, we moved on toward further passes.
We walked on to Vista Pass, a steep, rocky ravine that rose several hundred feet in a notch between steep ridges. John and I had found a well- defined trail that made the climb moderately easy! To our surprise, about half way up the 1/2 mile climb, we saw Gary, Steve, and Bluefoot way down below scrambling over boulders as big as rooms. They had missed the trail while concluding that there was none to be found. When they saw us up above them, they were crestfallen with the extra effort they had endured! The CDT is so varied in that way. Sometimes it’s actually a good trail!
At Cube Rock Pass, Steve, Gary, and Bluefoot joined us for a break. Steve talked about his life as a Community Supported Agriculture farmer at his farm called Prescott’s Patch in PA. Bluefoot was interested in what we were eating – hummus! They were heading for a route through Titcombe Pass, which would take them past some reportedly beautiful lakes not on the usual route. We had planned to stay on the main CDT route over Shannon Pass. Gary asked us if it would be ok if he walked with us again, admitting that his high route adventure had left him with strained leg muscles, and he would appreciate our slower pace while he recovered.
“Stunning, simply stunning,” we cried when we topped Cube Rock Pass and saw a remote lake called Peak Lake caught within the steep sides of the mountains. This is the Wind River Range at its finest! The landscape up here was starkly awesome and vast.
After winding up through the rocks for about an hour, we saw the mountain level off. The terrain is bare, jumbled rock, stretching out on all sides. Here and there, pioneer plants poke up through the rocks, ever so gradually breaking them down, finding their nourishment in the grainy new soil.
At 11,200 ft, there was still a patch of snow!!
Shannon Pass, with its challenging elevation and rocks gave way to Jean Lake, quite a bit lower and verdant. We looked back to the high peaks that had loomed just next to us on the Pass. Although we had already climbed three passes, we kept walking for another hour or so, past Jean Lakes, descending several hundred feet in elevation to Freemont Crossing. By contrast to the bare landscape of the high passes, the river valley was lush with plants that had filled in between the boulders and rocks.
It wasn’t completely soft, though and finding a flat, smooth sleeping spot proved challenging. This is where the tarp proves its value being adaptable to marginal terrain like this. There was just enough flat ground for two among the boulders where we made our home for the night. Particularly challenging here, however, was locating a tree for hanging our food bag!
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Trail Journals Photos – 2013 Continental Divide Trail – Bear Safety Information

Wyoming Walk Day 12: Friendly Shuttle, Farewell, and Fire.

Around 9 a.m. we hopped the shiny black Jeep owned by Gary, the seasonal host at the KOA. He was excited to have the opportunity to drive us back up to Union Pass. He had not yet been up there, and shuttling us would be a good excuse to explore.
This time, we rode inside the vehicle instead of in the truck bed, having lively conversation about Gary’s new lifestyle – Work Kamping – living out of an RV and traveling from seasonal position to position. In their second year, he and his wife were enjoying the journey.

At Union Pass, Gary the hiker, said farewell to us and headed off on a different route. He was aiming for the “high” route along the Continental Divide, looking forward to places like Iceberg Lake and to skirting glaciers at high altitude.

We,on the other hand, would be taking a low route. Our challenge would be taking a detour around an active forest fire, the Green Fire. We stopped at the Shoshone Forest Ranger Station in Dubois on our way back to the trail, to get current information about the fire and the CDT trail closure. The ranger gave us a map, clearly indicating the closed route and an alternative.

Our first challenge was not the fire, however. It was a bear trap near a cow carcass very close to the trail. Some campers had alerted us to it before we passed that way unawares. We could see the trap, a big green cage open and baited. We were told that the bear had been coming up the gulch to the carcass. That’s just where our trail went! We played it safe and took a cross-country detour well away from the trap and the gulch. No sign of the bear!

Late in the afternoon, we stood high above the Green Fire area. Perched nearby was a USFS truck with rangers watching the fire. Just at 5 p.m. we surprised them at their window! They weren’t expecting visitors. They had been just about to leave, telling us that the fire was diminishing and not dangerous. Nonetheless, we would avoid the CDT through that area, taking a 4-mile detour to the west and across the Green River to the road.

We walked along for an hour, believing that we were on the trail AWAY from the fire. Instead, we kept heading east, not west, and soon realized that the plume of smoke we had seen high up from Gunsight Pass was directly in our path!

We took a sharp turn and walked cross-country down the forested and tangled slope, picking our way over fallen logs and through thick beds of moss, finally reaching the open valley and Roaring Fork “Road”, which was really a very old and vague path. After an unsuccessful search for a shortcut directly south across the Roaring Fork River and valley, we camped for the night in a quiet, soft piney forest, resigned to finding our way in the morning.

Sunset in the smoky valley had been a real treat.

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Trail Journals Photos – 2013 Continental Divide Trail – Dubois KOA

Wyoming Walk Day 11. Town Day! http://trailjournals.com/photos.cfm?id=781756
Today is a “zero” day in Dubois, WY. The focused activities are: laundry, shower, eat, communicate, and, for me do something about my shoes. I really want to continue hiking without hurting feet!
The first tasks were easily accomplished at the KOA and along the one street of Dubois. We chose to rent one of the Kamper Kabins, a one room log hut with a double bed and a bunk. Perfect for the three of us and easier for spreading out our gear than a tent.

The showers here are great and WiFi is available.
I’ve updated my subscribers with a longer email than the 160 character notes I’ve been sending by inReach and made some calls to family members.

We had a big breakfast at the Cowboy Cafe, which seems to be popular with a good portion of the tourists. And there are some other CDT hikers too! Gary was especially happy to meet someone he had met on his previous hike.

John and I took a walk around town in search of shoes. We first checked at the Opportunity Shop, the second hand store here. We both found socks for twenty-five cents! I bought a pair of shorts that can replace my torn ones. I’ll wear them and send my dress home. Although I enjoy the looseness of the dress, it’s warm under my long sleeved shirt which protects my arms from the sun. So, it’s back to shorts and shirt for me. Alas, the only shoes there were Reeboks a full size larger than mine.
We looked at the outfitters too. Again, some super Keens, but only in size 7, which seem a bit too big. I didn’t want to experiment with $128 shoes!

At 3 p.m. I changed my mind about the shoes, having put mine back on. Even with the thin socks, they just cramp my toes too much! I took a walk back to the Opportunity Shop and tried on those size 7 Reeboks. They felt cushy and maybe not too big. I bought them for $4.50 and walked back to KOA with dancing toes.

Last stop in Dubois was the Exxon Station for a ride on the alleged “Jackalope”.
Well, the photo says it all – all out whimsy!

I was almost completely satisfied with our town stop, except for the desire to clean up my inReach communicating. I spent a good hour in the laundry room connected to WiFi in the wee hours of the night, setting up a “recipe” on IFTT.com (If This Then That) to have my Facebook link posts go to my son’s email so he could then share those with my subscribers by email. Maybe that would work.

Something we missed by being in town was the Perseid Meteor Shower. Funny that the nights of celestial activity we were in town instead of on the mountain!
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