CDT Day 52: 0 miles

Friday June 7, 2019

All this uncertainty about trail conditions has been very frustrating and mentally fatiguing. We realise that all this skipping across the states to find safe and hikable sections of trail, defeats the purpose of a through hike. But we decided that for now we will embrace the logistic challenges and the unplanned transits as part of our adventure. And so it was today.

But coffee first, everything else can wait. I walked across the road to the Blue Coyote Cafe, and while waiting spoke to the barista. She used to be a hiking guide in the Brooks Lake area where the CDT goes through north of Dubois. She thought the area had the highest concentration of Grizzlies she had ever seen. And they are coming out of hibernation and are hungry and grumpy. We felt better about our decision to come back and hike this section of Wyoming later in the season when the snow should be largely gone and the Grizzlies will be better fed.

We were packed and after saying farewell to Nascar, we started to walk out of town to hitch a ride to Jackson about 70 miles (135 km) away. And of course the rain arrived as soon as we started on the road. About half an hour later a car stopped and a local lady rancher picked us up. Unfortunately she was only going 10 miles up to her ranch. We were happy to be in warm and dry in the car, even for a short drive. She also mentioned that Grizzlies have been extra active this year, coming up to her house. Yikes!

Anyhow she dropped us off before turning off to her ranch. The rain had eased but it was so cold, I was shivering standing by the side of the road. It took about half an hour and a driver going to Jackson had turned back to pick us up. Such a relief, I thought we may have to return to Dubois just to get out of this cold weather.

Tim is a local who works on a ranch in Jackson. And was returning to Jackson after visiting his parents in Cody. Hammer talked to him in the front while I tried to take photos of the landscape we were passing. The rain was heavy and it was hard to see. Approaching and then going over Togwotee Pass I was so grateful we were not outside. The snow levels increased, it was misted in and windy. It looked like winter up there.

Once we started to descend the Pass, the rain eased and the huge, snow covered Grand Teton range came into view. Even though the mountains were misted in, the shear rise of the range from a flat valley makes for heart stopping grand majesty. Even on this not so nice day, there were lots of photographers out capturing this magnificent landscape. The CDT trail unfortunately does not pass through the Grand Teton National Park. So we will have to be content with this view for now.

Tim dropped us off at the bus stop in Jackson. It was a fair way out of the old heart of Jackson. We had about 5 hours before our bus to Idaho Falls. It was lunchtime and Tim recommended a couple of good food places nearby. We went to the Picnic cafe. It had great coffee and probably the best breakfast burritos we’ve ever had. A nice quite spot in the cafe provided space to make some phone calls to book transport and accomodation ahead. It was cold and wet outside, so it was nice to sit in a warm place and enjoy the comforts of modern city life.

I can’t help but feel reluctant to head back out on trail. But at the same time I’m pulled towards it. I know that once this awful weather passes and summer arrives, it will all be fine. Our bus driver to Idaho Falls guarantees that the summertime switch will be flipped on June 20. We had an enjoyable but wet, bus trip to Idaho Falls. As we were the only passengers the driver was friendly and happy to talk about local points of interest. We arrived at 8.30 PM and the next bus to Butte was an hour later.

It arrived and passengers onboard were already settled for the 3 hour trip We got the last seats near the toilet, which thankfully was out of order. This does not mean that it did not stink. It was the coldest and smelliest 3 hour bus trip. Hammer chatted most of the way to Zachariah, another passenger who was sitting nearby. I was trying to take my mind elsewhere, with sporadic success.

We arrived to a very chilly Butte just after 1am. It’s a bigger town then we expected. The town lights spread out a long way. As I was already cold, hitting the outside chill just increased my shivering. Hammer was in shorts and did not feel the cold so badly. We had a half-hour walk to our hotel in the old part of town. Our shivering bodies and frozen feet were welcomed to a warm reception room at the motel and by 2am we were tucked up in a comfortable bed.

Still rolling with the unexpected adventure, but my resolve to continue is being tested. We are both looking forward to being able to just hike. We have completed around 900 miles and we have about 1,800 miles left to go with two flips southbound before finishing in Chama, New Mexico. Roll on summertime.