CDT Day 56 — August 20
Hwy 191 (Grant Village) to Snake River Camp
Camp Efficient to The Last Worst Mosquitos… Camp
Miles hiked: 16
Total miles: 949.9
Can a day on trail be more relaxing than a zero day in town? Absolutely. The Yellowstone backcountry permit system “forced” us to take a relatively short day, and it turned into one of my favorites on trail so far. Time in town is always busy, and extra time on the trail is pure luxury.
We were up and stumbling to the breakfast buffet at 7am, eager to get out of the cold and eat until we could eat no more. The vegan options were limited, but I did just fine with mounds of potatoes smothered in salsa. The sunrise view of Lake Yellowstone was pretty good too. We lingered a bit longer, savoring the padded chairs and easy access toilets, then moved to the road to yogi a ride back to trail. An RV soon picked us up, and we were hiking once more at 10am.
No rush, we only had 16 miles to hike and the whole rest of the day to do it. We cruised easily, first flat, then down to Heart Lake. We stopped on the way to soak in a creek that runs at 102°F, but couldn’t stay in too long because of the mid-day heat. I was sweating and a little delirious after just a few minutes. My skin felt soapy-slick from the alkaline water. I ate BBQ Lays and watched a tiny red worm wriggle on my leg as I lay in the shade of a welcome cloud.
It wasn’t far to the next break on the gravel/sand shore of Heart Lake. I went for a quick dip to cool off, then joined Spice in the shade of a large pine for lunch and more laying. I considered my time so far in Yellowstone. Beyond my expectations, is what I have to say, even having visited before. Big lakes, flowing rivers, the always intriguing thermal features, and constant threat of seeing an animal bigger than me have made it a profound place through which to meander. No mountains, but it feels wild once away from the boardwalks and parking lots.
A couple rounds of Farkle, a couple minutes of snoozing, and a bald eagle. But before the afternoon could drift away entirely, we took one more dip under the watchful gaze of Sheraton Mountain, then shouldered packs to hike the remaining seven miles to camp.
We had an easy stroll along the Heart River, kind of through a canyon, to where it meets the Snake River. Camp is tucked away in the mosquitoiest place imaginable. We ate dinner along the river where a breeze kept them at bay, but there are no outdoor activities tonight. There’s a slight slant to the tent, but all the relaxing has really taken it out of me. There’ll be no problem sleeping tonight. Yep, better than a zero.