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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