CDT Day 57: Snake River Camp to North Buffalo Fork – The Last Worst Mosquitos… Camp to Eyes in the Dark Camp
Miles hiked: 30
Total miles: 979.9
Today we said goodbye to Yellowstone, but that doesn’t mean we said goodbye to all the really cool stuff. It turns out that when one hikes 30 miles, the variety of environments alone is enough to be interesting. My energy ebbed and flowed throughout the day, but in the end it didn’t even matter. Yesterday was great, today was greater.
It was still totally dark out when the 5am alarm sounded. And freaking cold out too. The frost on the grass was proof of that. But eventually our desire to hike out of camp before the mosquitos woke up brought us back from snoozville and onto trail before 7am. My thermometer read in the high 20s and I hiked with my hands in my pockets. Alpenglow scorched the cliffs behind us, hazy shade cooled the views ahead.
The morning dragged a little bit as we climbed along the Snake River. First cold, then blazing in the sunlight for a 30°F swing. It was a beautiful place, but frustrating hiking on numerous small up and downs. A flatter section brought wide meadows and a snakier river, but no wildlife to speak of in the heat. The morning finished and lunch commenced at a closed up ranger cabin right on the park boundary.
A big storm rumbled as Spice and I sat on the porch eating pb, guac, Frito, and hot sauce pitas. The new shade was welcome. With a few mosquitos about, we learned a new game, Blood or Hot Sauce.
My energy waned, so Spice dragged me up and down a few big climbs, but at the top of the last one, above 10k ft, the views gave me all the energy I needed. The world opened up all around as we crested a wide plateau. The Tetons, my goodness, they looked good. The sky was still stormy and the mountains barely more than a silhouette with a golden glow outlining the sharp jags. A few hazy glaciers provided a little structure. Some new, unexpected cliffy things rose sharply to the south. We found shelter from the wind and took an obligatory vista-break to absorb the glory.
That was a cool spot, but just a few miles later, we reached arguably one cooler. This was the Parting of the Waters, where a creek splits in half across the Divide, the left side flowing to the Atlantic and the right to the Pacific. An old wooden sign pegged to a tree made it official. Spice and I each stood straddling the separating flow, one foot in each ocean. Maybe it doesn’t sound all too impressive — I know that I wasn’t expecting much — but standing there was kind of awesome.
We had 25 miles on the day, but it was only 7pm so we decided to hike for a couple more hours. Wide horse trails sped us up and over a gentle rise. Sunlight glowed once more on cliffy stuff above. We made camp on what seemed like a pile of horse poop dust, but that’s just what everything smells like right now. Spice saw some eyes in the dark with her headlamp, probably deer, maybe bears. The bigger annoyance is likely to be the little mouse scurrying around. Too tired to care either way. So much cool stuff today. A lot to look forward to too.