Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Day 50 - Old Faithful!

What a wonderful day! So many things to celebrate.

First off, as we were packing, a lanky young man appeared in camp, at the border with Yellowstone. It was the mysterious Sparrow. We are both on the track leaders website, and he's the other 'S'. We've been behind him since some time in Glacier, so I've seen his entries throughout the trail, and long wanted to meet him. He was short on water, and there's no on trail water from Latham Spring to Summit Lake. We gave him 1.5L, and we hiked out together.

A few hours later, we passed a major landmark, crossing the MT / ID border into WY! Seven weeks later, we've finally finished Montana. For those of you keeping track at home, at this rate, it means we're going to take ~28 weeks to finish. Don't worry! We've been getting faster. We're trying to get home by early November. We're definitely not staying past 2014.

The trail was mostly pleasant, smooth and riding a long ridgetop, with some blowdowns. During the larger logs, Sparrow was adeptly jumping up and and around, showing off some nifty parkour moves. In a more pedestrian approach, I was clambering on, and jumping off with two feet. Not the most graceful, but here I am.

After the first 15mi of the day, we hit a critical junction: a direct bike path to Old Faithful Village, or a boardwalk around the thermals. Obvi, we took the boardwalk, which was the slowest and most fun few miles I've had on the trail in a while. We gawked at all of the thermals: little blue pools reeking of sulfur, large pools with orange, yellow and blue, cones with steam billowing out. Truly amazing looking. I especially liked the Grotto Geyser, a large, irregularly lumpy geyser which was spitting water erratically. The geyser had been spitting the mineral water for hundreds (maybe thousands) of years, covering nearby tree stumps, which were now calcified underneath, giving it a strange shape.

We continued to meander in, peering in all the geysers, and tiptoeing as close as was safe. All around us, we were surrounded by peppy tourists in perfectly clean and pressed clothes, and I started to feel self conscious about how dirty and unwashed we must be. We did chat with a few people about the CDT, and what we were doing, and none had ever heard of the trail. A few knew "Wild" or "A Walk in the Woods", which helped explain.

Around 4pm, we got close to the village, and Sparrow got town eyes. He was practically running down the boardwalk, possibly to get some ice cream and coffee and sit on a couch with a view of Old Faithful. We lost him in the rush, and when we arrived at OF, the place was swarmed with tourists. It was impossible to find a person. We picked up our mail, our Yellowstone permits, and checked in to our room at the Inn. Then, we decided, we needed ice cream, too, and went to sit on the balcony facing OF.

A mother-daughter pair sat next to us on the bench on the balcony. Small world. Shellie and Emily were visiting from Wayne, PA, which is close to PA. Turns out, we all went to Wharton, but different years ('83, '10', '13), and Emily actually knew one of Gangles' classmates. We chatted about PA, school, the national parks, and fun local attractions in Yellowstone. It was nice to realize that on a big, remote trail like the CDT, there are still moments of intimate serendipity, like meeting fellow Philadelphians. Small world. I hope Emily and Shellie have a great rest of their vacation.

We later had a buffet dinner at the Inn. We had a wonderful waitress named Malia from Hawaii. She was intrigued by what we were doing, and mentioned her friends were planning for the AT next year. I certainly hope she joins them--I bet she'll have a wonderful time.

So, a crazy and marvelous day, of natural wonders and wonderful people. Sending all of them, and all of the readers of this blog good thoughts. It can feel like a big world out there, but it really is a small world, too.

Mileage: ~20mi from Yellowstone border to OF Inn

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