We woke to a beautiful morning, by the sound of the creek. Sparrow tagged along again today, since he is without maps or GPS.
We only had 12mi to the road, so expected a short day. The hike to the Upper Brooks Lakes was fast, a few ups and downs. During one of the passes, we came across a group of 15 people in different hiking outfits standing in a circle. I wished them 'good morning', and asked them where they were going. They said they didn't know, but probably some meadow. I figured them for a NOLS group, which makes sense since national HQ is in Lander, WY nearby. I envied the improvisational nature of their trip, that they could go any which way they wanted. But, for me, like a giant flightless migratory bird, I was only headed South to Mexico.
As we approached the main Brooks Lake, we ran into two Nobos, Free Radical and Burrito. Both were so fresh and so clean, but Burrito is probably the cleanest looking thruhiker I've ever seen. She wasn't, but she may as well have been wearing a twinset and pearls.
Just as we hit Brooks Lake, we decided to take the excellent J Ley alternate dead East to Hwy 26. This necessitated climbing ~1000' into a tall notch just East of the lake. The trail was not much loved, used but with the occasional blow down which we had to clamber over. But when we neared the top, it was stunning. We were on a small promontory with a view of the Brooks Lake, the rock fin we had been tracing, or a roaring waterfall. Surely some of the best views of the trail.
When we reached the highway some ~2mi later, we had a remarkably quick hitch from a woman headed to Dubois. She had been working in Minneapolis for the past 30 years, and was actually staffed at the hospital where Gangles was born. Small world. The 30mi hitch in the back of an Escalade pick up truck was surprisingly comfortable, and one of my best naps ever on trail. Happy to be in Dubois.
Mileage: 12mi from Trail Creek to Hwy 26
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