Vertical gain: Strava knows!
Liquid consumed: 180 oz (maybe too little!)
Wildlife: Badger (under a bridge, no less!), pronghorn, squirrels, deer, cows
Faith in Humanity: A couple people stopped on the road and offered me a ride (I declined), everyone else waved!
Well well, I made it to the CDT! Took 27 miles though, not 17. And most of them were completely exposed to the sun! I feel really accomplished and proud to get back to the CDT though, that alternate route to include the Tetons was tough! I had some moments of doubt, frustration, and being lost, but step by step I made it! And it was a lot of steps! And a lot of wildflower gunk all over me, and getting lost several times, and fording some pretty deep, swift streams.
I forded the Gros Ventre river for the final time about 7am this morning. It struck me as funny that most people are getting ready for work or on their commute, and I'm being guided to a 10 foot cliff waterfall to ford the Gros Ventre river! Thankfully there was a better place to ford near and it wasn't so bad. Next a mile later was this super broken barely standing bridge across another creek. It was: mandatory hang on to the handrail tightly so you don't fall off, but don't hang on too tight or you'll break the handrail. Made me giggle.
Up next was an 8 mile road walk on a gravel road. A pretty nice, any car can make it, smooth gravel road. It made me wonder how different things get funded. Was this the work of a hefty donation for the cause, good lobbying efforts to the National Forest, or something else? Just seemed funny, given the supreme remoteness of the area. The first car that passed me rolled down the window, laughed, and said "guess you're trying to get away from the crowds, huh?" We had a laugh and they were impressed at my Gros Ventre Wilderness traverse. For me, it wasn't over until I was back on the CDT, but the wilderness traverse itself was quite challenging. With its lack of trail signs, and trails fading in and out of existence the Gros Ventre is definitely to be respected!
I stopped to get water on a small bridge the road went over. I heard an unusual noise as I approached and it was a badger! I backed off and decided to get water somewhere else. He came up to the road to check me out after my flee. Definitely a badger, really cool! I've only seen one in the wild one other time in Utah.
Ok so after the 8 mile dirt road walk, it was a maze of lesser two-track dirt roads. I got lost for quite a bit at first but eventually found my way. Oh, one thing I forgot to mention is how sun exposed the entire route was today, minus the initial stream crossing. I kept my buff over my entire face as much as I could tolerate today.
I eventually found my way in the two track maze, but then: Private Property, locked gate. I could have hopped the fence, but I walked the border of the fence and hopped a different fence to be back in legal ground. There was actually a fairly quick way around the private place. Then the next place the map directed me: Private Property, No Trespassing. This piece of property looked huge, but I again obeyed the sign and started following the fence line. To my surprise, only about a 1/4 mile up was another gate with a Forest Service logo that said "please close gate" and there was a Riad that led directly past the other private property I was trying to avoid. I walked 3 days from Jackson to get here, I wasn't giving up or turning around.
Next up was a long follow the two track follow the cow path, follow the Green River section. This wasn't so bad other than the intense sun exposure the entire way. Soooo sunny and no shade. Flat though so I could make good time. This section seemed to go on and on and on. The river was beautiful, but I was hot and I wanted shade. I wanted to be back on the CDT where I wouldn't have to look at my map 40 times a day. Not that that's bad, it's just a bit stressful and mentally trying in comparison. The CDT is no cake walk by any means, it there's almost always worn tread and most intersections are signed!
I thought I was done. I kept pushing. I wanted to touch the CDT. My GPS indicated that I should be on the damn CDT! Where is it? Of course, the trail was rerouted. Of course I had to duck through a barbed wire fence. That's it, I'm taking a break no matter what at that clump of trees in the distance. I wanted so badly to take my next break on the Continental Divide Trail. But I was done. I needed a long break. There was shade.
I didn't see it until I was just steps away: in the designated clump of trees: the trail, the CDT! I excitedly dropped my pack, ate a ton of food, took my shoes and socks off. I did it! My first test of Walk the Parks: a crazy remote linking together of obscure trails and roads to connect National Parks. I felt great!
Of course, the mosquitoes then came out in full attack mode. It's ok, I made it! Even better? The place I'm at now, just a mile from where I rejoined the CDT is the start of the Wind River Range! I'm camped above Lower Green River Lake and it's spectacular. A beautiful, large, pristine lake with uniquely shaped towering peaks all around! I'm sure the hiking will be challenging, wet, and mosquito-filled, but the Wind Rivers have been on my list for a long time! Dreams becoming reality, my favorite!
Not so favorite: the CDT Guthook app which is the best thing going for tips and trail navigation just isn't working! I have spare paper maps, but it's disappointing that it's not working. Oh well, I'll figure it out next time I have wifi.
And with that, I'm enjoying my final beautiful lake views before jumping in my tent for the night. A rough, trying, exhausting day. The Winds start tomorrow! The Winds start tomorrow!!!!