Friday, August 16, 2013

Day 61 - In and out (no burgers)

Nice morning in Pinedale, busy with errands. We did laundry, got mail, dropped by the outfitters and did a full resupply at Ridley's. Thanks to Jill from the Sierra Club women's group, we went to Heart and Soul Cafe for lunch. Terrific salad and sandwich. Then, to the road to hitch. We usually don't have trouble hitching, but we couldn't seem to get anyone going all the way up to the trailhead. A few people offered to take us up a couple miles, but we were hoping to avoid multiple hitches. A blonde woman furtively smoking a cigarette in a Honda Odyssey pulled up, and opened her minivan door. She said she'd take us partway. We'd been hitching for a while in full sun, so we jumped in. She left us near a subdivision opening, and we started the hitching process again.

In a few minutes, a young woman named Sheila pulled over. Her jeep was packed with folded boxes for food, like Sysco boxes for eggs. She's with the Half Moon Lodge, and she gave us a ride all the way to the top. She's a traveller, too. While she's settled down for now at the Lodge, she spent a few months cycling in NZ, so knows about the life of an itinerant traveller. She was so nice and so interesting. Great to hear about her trip in NZ, and growing up in Saratoga, WY. Thanks, Sheila for the ride. You're the best.

At the trailhead, we happily ran into Wendy from SLC. We met her the day before, near Seneca Lakes. She was fishing and hiking solo with her dog. Chatted with her a bit, but didn't want to keep her from a slice of pizza in town at the end of her trip.

We also met Ted coming down the trailhead. He too had been suffering from altitude sickness and was exiting early. He shared 3 big pieces of advice: 1) Go 0.1mi NW of Photographer's Point for an amazing view, 2) Look out for great views between Cumbres Pass and Chama, and 3) Find an employer with a defined benefit pension plan. We followed #1, and are working on #2 and #3.

The hike in was beautiful, lake after lake after lake. We had initially planned to camp at Pole Creek Lakes, but heard there was a bear sighting (mama plus cubs) two days ago. The bears had apparently gone into an unoccupied tent looking for food. A little spooked, we decided to push on to Chain Lakes. We saw signs of a horse camp in the distance, and thought that would be safer. Horse packers tend to have dogs and guns, which should help with the bears.

The horse camp is on the other side of the narrow lake, and they have been incredibly loud. The horses have bells, and it sounds like a University bell tower carillon. The bells have been mixed with dogs barking and human screams. They may be drunk, I don't know. I can't believe I'm writing this, but on the plus side, we've only heard one gunshot tonight. If this racket keeps the bears away, I'll take it.

For our food, we've packed it into our Ursacks (kevlar sacks) and tied it to a tree far from our tents. We had a hard time fitting all of our food in there,but we did it, thanks to some diligent cramming smashing, and a tremendous amount of eating. From 5pm-9pm, I would estimate that we've eaten ~4,000+ calories between the two of us:
+ 9oz of Lays, Chicken and Waffles flavor: 1,600 cal
+ 1 sugar cookie: 400 cal
+ 1 blueberry scone: 500 cal
+ 1 dehydrated meal: 800 cal
+ 2 honey buns: 500 cal
+ 2L Gatorade: 300 cal

Oh, and the lake water has the acrid, grassy taste of a fresh horse apple. We are uncomfortably full from all that food plus the questionable water. I think the stomach stretching plus strange din from the horse camp will give us unusual dreams.

I'll let you know tomorrow.

Mileage: ~12mi from Elkhart trailhead (Pinedale) to Chain Lakes area

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