Friday, August 2, 2013
Day 47 - Do Nobos & Sobos dream of thruhiking sheep?
They were teaching us their super lightweight Nobo ways. First, they don't carry stoves or cook. They rehydrate their food in ziplocs a few hours before dinner, then eat it cold. Second, they carry space age Cuben fibre tents. We have our trusty Henry Shires tarptent which got us through the PCT. With a weight of ~2lbs, it looks positively obese next to the 5-8oz Cuben fibre tents. We may need to go on a pack diet, and look at ways to slash weight. While I'm excited about the Winds, I'm also apprehensive about carrying that much food without causing longterm damage to my precious knee cartilage.
Later in the day, we ran into Sky and Tim again, lunching at Aldous Lake. Tim was sitting at a picnic table which he had made. Actually, it was made by a different Tim, as an Eagle Scout project, and was quite nicely hewn. Tim had just broken conventional wisdom, and accepted candy from strangers. He offered us some Pearson's Nut Rolls, which were delicious. We saw both of them off and on throughout the day--unfortunately, Sky had somehow leapfrogged Tim without him knowing, and Tim was waiting for him. Mystery solved when a Nobo mentioned Sky was ahead, thinking Tim was ahead. Trails can be confusing.
The trail was reasonably well marked today, though confusing in the meadows around the end of the Targhee National Forest. We heard from Nobos it was best to just walk marker to marker. This did result in an unfortunate scramble. We were following the relatively mellow switchbacks built on old jeep road up ~1000'. After the first 6 switchbacks, we saw our first rock cairn. Since it was the only rock cairn on the switchbacks, it looked as though it indicated something notable. Just above the cairn, there was the faint double track of a jeep going straight up the mountain. I checked the GPS, which indicated a CDT marker directly up. As we were scrambling up the 100', we realized this was not actually trail, probably a dry drainage. The trail was exceptionally soft, and our heels kept sinking into rodent tunnels. The fact that we had erroneously cut the switchback was confirmed when we saw a Nobo in an orange safety windbreaker cruise down the switchback around us. You win some, you lose some. Its important to remain philosophical when misplaced on the trail, or you'll have an ulcer from frustration.
We met some other great Nobos today, Balls, Sunshine and Huckleberry Finn. They gave us the scoop and WY, saying it was surprisingly beautiful, and to keep an eye out for active geysers along the CDT. Getting excited for the next stretch. So great to meet Balls and Sunshine, who are a father-daughter duo completing their triple crown (knock on wood). She's maybe 13, and already a more accomplished thruhiker than I am. Very impressive. And though we only chatted for a few, nice vibes from all three of them. Best of luck for Montana!
Just after we met them, we finally exited the U.S. Sheep Experiment Station. The federal government allows grazing of sheep up here in July and August, and notes the very aggressive sheep guard dogs. We have seen neither hide nor hair of the sheep, and it made me wonder if we are the sheep, wandering through this area on a set path. That may overstate the importance of thruhikers, but we seem to be the only humans or domestic animals around. Baaaaa.
Finally starting to feel like mid-Summer since the fruits are starting to ripen. I had 4 wild raspberries today, at the expense of multiple burr attacks. Delicious, and totally worth it. Making bear noises while eating fruit off bushes only enhances the taste.
We are camped tonight a little too close to the trail. We climbed our last mountain tonight to end at 9500'. We managed to find a windbreak behind a few hardy pines, but are otherwise quite exposed. We couldn't see anything else with any kind of coverage. Even now, the wind is howling something fierce outside.
Ok, off to bed. Sawtelle tomorrow!
Mileage: 25-28mi (depending if you ask J Ley or Bear Creek) from Rock Spring to somewhere on a windy ridge