Monday, August 5, 2013

Day 49 - Into Yellowstone (or nearby)

We slept in this morning, and had a leisurely morning, having breakfast in the seemingly luxurious Sawtelle grocery store (which was a large gas station store). I won't bore you with the old hiker saw by listing everything we ate, but suffice to say we had at least two servings from the fruit food group, so life was good.

The walk from Sawtelle to Mack's Inn was short, just a few miles. Mack's Inn was an idyllic little resort town, with not much going on but rustic cabins, canoeing, fishing and a tiny dinner theatre. We didn't make it in time for either show (Andrews Brothers, or Cowpokes and Cowgirls), but did admire the little town. And then Gangles had a genius idea. What do you do when its hot out, and you have to hike along the road? You scream, I scream, we all scream for ice cream.

So, there we were, strolling along Hwy 84, eating ice cream getting passed left and right by families on Sunday ATV rides. I have mixed feelings about ATVs--they ruin a wilderness experience since they are so loud and smelly. But, there was something sweet and wholesome about being able to do this as a family, from little kids to grandparents.

We met a Nobo, named Bo along the way. He mentioned that Latham Spring was the last water for 18mi. It would be well-marked, and it was by a "W" formed with sticks, and a cairn with a stick upright in the center. I followed the series of improvised cairns, and contributed one of my own on a tricky turn, to find the idyllic little spring. There we were, just the spring and me, on top of a long ridge. The water trickled cold and clear out of a small pipe just coming out of the ground. So, as a rule, I never drink untreated water. But this was just about the best water I've seen on the CDT. I think I maybe drank 1-2x on the PCT untreated, and never on the AT.

This water was high enough and remote enough that no animals could have contaminated it. There was a pipe bringing it straight out of the ground. So, I collected a few ounces with my bottle, and it was amazing, sweet spring water, the real version of what you can buy in plastic bottles at the grocery store. Now, I may have overlooked something obvious about the spring, so there is a chance I'll send my next entry from an ICU, but for now, I'll just remember that perfect little spring literally at the top of a mountain.

The trail continued along on a decommissioned road, which had been blocked with large berms to prevent ATVs. I'd never seen a berm until this trail. A berm is a man-made hill, maybe 5-10' high, plowed right into the road. This discourages ATV riders and cars from using the road with these very tall speed bumps. It also slows, but does not stop intrepid hikers, who have to climb the little hills with a running start, or tiptoe around them at the edges.

A few miles from the end of the day, we met Sweetfish and Ninja, two very nice Nobos. Sweetfish told us to go to Dubois, a great town. He gave us two wooden tokens to use in town. The coin entitles the bearer to a free jackelope ride, so I've got that to look forward to, which is nice.

Since our permits for Yellowstone don't begin until after Old Faithful (tomorrow night), we aren't allowed to camp legally in the park yet. Tonight, we walked literally to the edge of the park. I can see it from inside the tent, marked with an orange flag. Clearly, we aren't the first who've done this--there's an established fire ring and tent site right here. Tomorrow is a big day. Crossing into Yellowstone, and... we leave Montana. Finally, we'll be on to state #2.

Plus, did I mention the geysers?!? It's going to be great!

Mileage: 24mi from Sawtelle to the border of Yellowstone

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