When I woke up my stomach was feeling better, and I knew i would have a good day of walking…and WOW, I wasn’t in the middle of the granite pillars of rock like yesterday morning, but the area was simply stunning! The copious lakes, wildflowers, rock grottos and lush meadows were otherworldly. I looked up at one moment and saw a beautiful little fox checking me out. We both sat there for about 10 seconds admiring each other before I ruined the moment and reached for my camera, sending him scurrying on his way.
I swore I could see fresh footprints on the ground before me and had a feeling a thru-hiker may have passed me since I made such an early camp the night before. I came upon a NOLS group out for a month and learned a fast hiker in a white hat was just about a half mile in front of me…a white hat? Didn’t sound like anyone I knew.
AND I could see the white-hatted thru-hiker a ways down the trail, I’m gonna catch him! I came up upon Toast chatting to a couple out for a week. I’d heard of Toast on the trail, but this was my first time meeting him. We all stopped for a few minutes to soak in the view. Dude. Love the Winds.
Toast and I hiked together about 2 miles before my 10+ mile side trail to Pinedale came up and he kept going, having carried enough food to get him through the whole Winds. That was a bit of a bummer, I finally meet another northbounder, and only get to hike with him for 2 miles! Oh well, that’s how the trail works.
I started down the Pole Creek side trail, and even though Ley’s maps said it was just over 10 miles, it felt longer. A brief storm passed through dropping hail and heavy rain, but it passed quickly, the mountains behind me didn’t look so lucky. I wonder if Toast ended up heading up Knapsack Col, a stunning pass, which can be quite difficult even in good weather (and an alternate). If I get up there and the weather doesn’t look good I’ll probably skip it, but I hear it’s one of the best views on the trail, so I hope I luck out!
About a mile before the Elkhorn Trailhead I ran into Marion and Bill who had been out for a week. I was able to secure a ride with them the 15 miles to town, and we had a great chat about gear and backpacking on the way down. They dropped me off at the Wind River Brewery where I had a pale ale and ruben sandwich. I left so full (I really don’t know why I get so full off a regular sized meal, what’s up stomach????) that I was in pain, and started walking towards the campground in the middle of town when Smiles, a 2014 CDT thru-hiker, stopped and asked if I needed a ride…well sure!!
She offered me a ride back to the trail tomorrow, and upon getting to the campsite, saw that it was closed….hmmmm…but there were a few tents set up anyway, so I got out and pitched my tent next to some great divide bikers. They weren’t sure what the deal was, apparently the city just bought the campground, but the previous owner was still there and said they could camp. I chatted with the 2 young guys who were biking, set up my stuff, chatted with Kirk and laid down to let my stomach do its thing.
It was a little noisy, but had a pretty good night’s sleep.