Daily Miles: 18
Total Miles: 1381
The true title of the blog post should be Encampment Entrapment because it felt like we were there for so long. Our first triple zero on trail…three rest days in a row.
Coming into Encampment we knew that we would be taking two zero days because of the winter storm. But, then we decided to take another zero to let the snow melt and hopefully start walking in a bit higher temperatures (the morning after the snow day was supposed to be only 23 degrees at 8:00am).
And then to add another layer to things, we found out on our second zero day that there was a fire that had started north of Steamboat Springs (our next town stop) that had closed ten miles of the CDT. So, we had to spend a chunk of our third zero day coming up with a plan for how to get to Steamboat Springs while avoiding the areas which were closed for the new fire.
Encampment is a weird place to take a rest day, let alone three. There is no cell service in the town…our motel room for the first two nights was pretty dumpy and had no real working internet (our second two nights, we switched rooms in the same motel to a recently rehabbed room with good internet)…there are two restaurants in town but they were both closed on all of our zero days which meant that we had to walk down to the neighboring town just under a mile away to buy food from the convenience store since there is no grocery store in town. Luckily they had a library that was open two days so we could go and get some work done on their computer.
The morning of our third zero day, we got to talk with MountainMan and Ace for the first time since we started back at Yellowstone. It was really great to hear their voices and to hear all about their hike the past month. Turns out they were dealing with the same winter storm, but in Yellowstone.
So, with an alternate hiking route to get us to Steamboat Springs, and a not stellar, but tolerable weather forecast for the next few days, we made the decision to head back out on the trail today.
We had contacted a Trail Angel for a ride back up to the trail this morning. We had assumed that she lived in Encampment, but we realized this morning that she lives in Laramie…about an hour and a half away! We felt so bad that she was driving all that way for us, but she insisted that she loved doing it (this is not uncommon for her) and she would be there to pick us up. We continue to be amazed by the generosity of people along the trail.
As we headed out to the road to wait for Heather, we were dismayed as snow started to fall. Because there was no wind and we were still warm from our showers, the temperature didn’t feel bad, but it was grey and snowing…not how we had hoped to start this morning.
Heather was super nice and she told us a harrowing story of how a tree had fallen on her when she was hammocking and it broke her neck (and other bad injuries). It sounded like the recovery was long and hard…she wasn’t sure she would ever walk again (she has made a recovery and is now walking and hiking!). It was so crazy to hear, since we hammock as well and the forests are not always very healthy on this trail.
When we got to the trailhead, we put to use the garbage bags we had bought yesterday to put around our feet. We had our socks on, then put the bags on and then put our shoes on. Our hope was that even if our shoes got wet from walking in the snow, at least our feet would stay dry and warm. They did work pretty good today and we were really glad that we had them.
As we headed out on the trail, it was still snowing. But luckily it was done for the most part within the first two hours of walking. The sky would alternate during the day between clearing up and being sunny or cloudy and foggy. We were constantly taking on and off our wind shirts and our mittens.
The hiking was pretty easy today. In the morning, we were hiking in and out of marshy meadows. Beardoh even managed to step in a mud hole up to his knee. The bright side of having snow on the ground, was that we could pretty much just follow the footprints in the snow of the CDT hikers who had come out yesterday. We hardly had to check our navigation app all day.
We didn’t take many sit-down breaks today since it was so cold. If anything, we would stop and eat a snack while standing up…ready to keep walking as soon as possible.
In the afternoon, we came across a ton of downed trees. Most of them looked pretty fresh…and most of them were live trees. A hunter we met this morning had told us that two days ago, the wind was really crazy and he got out of the woods when he started to hear trees snapping and falling over. We figured a lot of the downed trees today were from a few days ago.
After seeing the trees and hearing about Heather’s experience, we wanted to find a protected place to camp tonight. We decided to aim for our low point of the afternoon…the lowest elevation of the trail for several miles since we figured that would be more protected from any possible wind. Luckily it is very still out as we lay in our hammocks.
We know that tonight is going to be really cold…since it never got above freezing all day, we expect tonight to be in the low twenty’s at a minimum. We have multiple layers of clothes on as we go to sleep with the hope that we will stay warm. SweetPea is wearing two pairs of socks, three pairs of pants, three layers on top, a hat, a buff and mittens. Beardoh has only one pair of socks and two pairs of pants, but basically we have on as much clothes as possible.