CDT Day 55 (WY – Lander to Pinedale)

Banking Some Miles

  • Big Sandy Trail (2.1)
  • Diamond Lake Trail (2.5)
  • CDT Miles: 1,764.5-1,779.6 (15.1)
  • Total Hiked: 903.6 miles
  • Elevation Range: 9,300-10,565

The cowboy camping experience was pretty great, until… splat. splat splat. Splat splat splat splat splat.

Around 4:15am, I awoke to some big fat rain drops that seemed like they were the kind just before a downpour. I started to dig in my pack to look for my rain fly and as I did, Cheer poked out from her tent saying I could put my sleeping bag and whatever else in there. I gave her my bag and then finally got my rain fly out. All that was maybe a minute or so and then the rain fizzled out. I slept the rest of the morning til my 5:30am alarm with the rain fly draped over me and all my stuff. Thankfully, no wind whatsoever so it worked out nicely for the few more drops of rain I ended up getting.

Groggy Stevie…

I hope y’all enjoyed the pics yesterday. That was quite the day and today would prove to be as well. Last night at dinner we had a chat about our options and such. Basically, we just haven’t been making the miles we need to get into town with our food supplies. If we continue on the Cirque alternate, we’d go into the actual Cirque of the Towers today, which is supposed to be amazingly beautiful. The only thing is the reports we’ve heard told us that one of the two passed we had to go through, Texas Pass, was supposed to be a tad sketchy. We hadn’t actually heard from anyone who’s tried, but some climbers coming out from the Cirque told us it “looked messy” and at the gear shop in town this was the one they said had some snow still.

Anyway, we made the call to use a few connector trails back to the CDT and try and make some miles today to get us into town “on time.” Decisions made, off we went…

We camped at the junction, so in the morning we set out on the the Big Sandy Trail (a popular trail that leads to a trailhead). It just so happened to be a holiday in July and we just so happened to see a Bald eagle fly over the lake. I don’t know how psyched I’ve been about our country lately but this was a cool moment nd the lake was stunning. We had fun trying to get the best reflection shots…

The mosquitos were out this morning, but I’ve been really surprised how well my bug spray has been working. The side trails (Big Sandy and Diamond Lakes) back to the CDT were nice with a few lakes, big meadows and mostly clear trail (even some evidence of recent trail work).

Just like that, after a quick 4.6 mile morning jaunt, we were back to our beloved CDT by 9:00am. We felt that was worthy of a celebration and so sat right down and had our second breakfast stop there. We started seeing lots of weekend backpackers at this point being close to the trailhead. Probably had five groups go by us as we sat right next to the trail chowing down. Saw a young curious deer around too.

In a recent post I mentioned my new breakfast menu of dry milk and granola. I’ve been liking it. The cold coffee even too. My question for the audience though… Is there anyway I’m getting more caffeine as opposed to when with hot water? I’ve really been noticing some post breakfast energy lately. Or maybe it’s the granola grains giving me a boost?

Once going again, we started in the woods…

But around 10:30am, things opened up which is how the rest of the day stayed for the most part. Lots and lots of lakes and big open spaces and usually some snowy mountains in the background. There’s a reason this seemed to be a popular spot for the locals. Gorgeous and smooth walking.

Got some water here at Mirror Lake…

Cruised by Dad’s Lake…

Wound our way over, through, and along some creeks…

To Marms lake…

Thought that was pretty neat, so hiked on to see more. We had lunch at a spot just prior to the trail going downhill and meeting the end of the Cirque of the Towers alternate, where we would’ve joined if we’d continued through. It was a good shady lunch spot with a view and a nice pond for water fill-up.

Afterwards… down we went.

And crossed some streams/rivers. Seemed like about 4 in a row we crossed, but the map just labels them as the East Fork River and Washakie Creek. Our way of going about crossings is to first look and see if there are any viably safe rock hop options, but otherwise just go in with shoes and socks to get across.

Leaving this valley, it was a pretty steep climb. We new it was coming and got the tunes going to pump us up it. Found some snow up there…

Sumi built a snowman…

And amazing views of the Wind River Range skyline! Next, a flat open section that was our high point of the day. Just stellar views all around.

Things continued to be amazing the rest of the afternoon. More lakes, more wide openness and mountain backdrops, more cascading streams of clear water, more glacial boulders spread out as far as the eye can see all sporadic-like. It’s just a truly special place and we were all loving it. None of us really knew much about the Winds, so our minds have been a little blown by this place. Bad bugs in early July though (particularly morning and evening)!

We did our dinner stop at 5:35pm and the mosquitos were bad, hence my legs trying to cover up using my fleece.

Worked pretty good actually. We were all very tired once again, but wanted to push after dinner a few more miles. There’s a pass coming up that we don’t have much information about and we’d like it so we’re not there at the end of our day tomorrow, so big day today to help ensure we get our miles, not knowing what challenges might be ahead.

Running up that hill…

We finally stopped around Raid Lake and made camp up above the trail a ways. It was an awesome spot with views of several lakes. Only problem was there was a hoard of mosquitos. That’s right folks, a hoard! Hanging our food bags was particularly gruesome and profanity was yelled. Cheer sadly broke her glasses and so there was very nearly a meltdown by all of us after a long day.

It was in truth such a good day though and after complaining we were laughing and checked out the view before pulling some ninja moves to get inside the tent without skeeters joining. Failed still. You might have to zoom in to see, but they’re swarming the mesh trying to get in.

Podcast of the Day

Philosophize This! – “Ralph Waldo Emerson: Nature and Other Things”

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