GOODBYE TO YELLOWSTONE
CDT Day 101: 25.5 miles/41 km
CDT SOBO Mile 1040 -1065.5
Friday July 26, 2019
It was a very cold start to the day. So cold that I was expecting to see snow on the ground around every turn of the trail. We were high on the side of the narrow Snake River valley. A cold wind was funnelling down the valley making it feel even colder. Masses of wildflowers carpeted the sides of the trail. I kept stopping to take photos. But with cold hands I was fumbling.
It was hours before we descended to cross the river and the sun reached us. So beautiful to feel the warmth of the sun and the gradual thawing of the hands and feet. We sat in the sun and enjoyed breakfast by the river. We were finishing when a familiar face popped out of the cottonwoods. It was Sebastian,whom we had not seen since Cuba, in New Mexico. He is from Germany and had just recently graduated high school. We worried about him going through Colorado on his own under such difficult conditions. Especially since he had not done any other long distance hikes. So it was good to see him looking well and smiling. Such a huge achievement. We talked with him for a while and had to say goodbye and part company.
Once in the sunshine the hiking was comfortable and easy. We soon exited Yellowstone National Park and entered the Bridger Teton National Forest. The trail continued to follow the aptly named Snake River. There was something very calming and meditative about watching the gentle and languid flow of the river. It was mesmerising. I wanted to stop and just get lost in watching the gentle river flow but the trail kept calling us onwards.
There was no shortage of water with plenty of creek crossings which meant continual wet feet. This did not feel all that bad as it was a hot day. A lunch stop gave our feet and shoes a chance to dry out a bit before we started the long climb up to Phelps Pass at 10,000 feet. Hammer found it to be a slow grind in the afternoon heat. But once on top the sweat and the grind were forgotten. It was a stunning view of a mountain range. The geology of the landscape transformed from volcanic to sedimentary with lots of conglomerate boulders lining the trail.
The descent off the pass was slow and perilous. Like descending on ball bearings, I had 3 near misses. It was cool to cross the Two Oceans Creek which was right on the Divide. Once we descended off the pass it was back to hiking along creeks and creek valleys. We camped by a swiftly flowing Trail Creek.