Day 127 – 8/26/17
Miles – 7.5
Total miles – 1945.8
Town day! We have a short hike to get to Hwy 15. Yes, the same Hwy 15 that is only 10 minutes from our house back in the San Diego area. Our first task was the walk through a herd of cows, about 100 of them. Walking into them caused many of them to run off down the trail the so way we were headed. We followed them for about a mile, when we went into another pasture. Around 9:00, we came to a high location over looking hwy 15. Papa Raven checked and had a phone connection. He called the only motel in Lima, the Mountain View Motel. We got a room for the night for only fifty six dollars and best of all, the owner Mike would pick us up. The only problem was he could not pick us up only until after lunch. We told him we will get to the 15 around 11:00 and we will wait for him. We arrived right when we said. We walk up the road to get a connection and find out that Mike would be here at 11:15, it was 11:16. We looked over to the freeway and he drives up will a load of out going hikers waving to us. We jump the freeway fence and ran across the four lanes of Hwy 15 to Mike’s truck. After saying hello to Napoleon, Red Cross, and Kool Aid, who were hiking out, we headed to Lima. We will be leaving tomorrow for Leadore, our next stop.
An observation: Alcohol sales.
In New Mexico you could go into a convenience store and buy beer and food.
In Colorado the food and beer is sold in different stores, and you cannot buy alcohol on Sundays.
Wyoming is the same as Colorado, alcohol is sold in a store dedicated to that purpose. Although, I did see a drive through on the side of a bar. Yep, you can buy that six-pack without getting out of your car.
In Idaho we got back to buying beer and wine in convenience stores.
We got to Montana and wondered what rules this state had. Bling and I walked into the only convenience store here in Lima and I turned to see a stand next to the door with chips at the top and beer at the bottom. Well that answered that question. I then turned to the checkout counter. There in the glass counter were the hand guns, behind the counter were the rifles, and all the ammo. That is not what I expected in a convenience store. You can get it all in Montana.
Road-trail junction (04_243)
Day 126 – 8/25/17
Total miles – 1938.3
It was a warm dry night and we really did not want to get up. Nonetheless, our need to get closer to Lima drives us, and we got ourselves moving. We needed water so our first stop was a spring. The only problem was that we could not find the spring. Instead, we found a small stream, which required taking the time to filter ten plus liters of water. For this reason, we like springs, because we just fill our bottles and hike on. Filtering takes extra time, sometime a lot of extra time for a family of four. Most things take longer for us than the average single thru hiker. There our more pit stops, it takes longer to eat (especially with Whisper), more conversations, and more breaks for play time. Hiking in a group is simply slower. We might not be the fastest hikers out here, but we truly are having the time of our lives together! When most of the NOBO thru hikers are done and back home, the Ravens will still be out here. Our only wish is that the weather in Northern Montana, for early fall, will be kind to us.
The ground, for the last few miles, was all turned up and the plants were smashed down. Within a few minutes of leaving the spring, we came to the reason . . . sheep and many of them. This area is being used as an experiment on the affects sheep have in forested areas. As we worked our way around the sheep, the sheepdogs discovered us and let us know they were there to protect their flocks. Some hikers said the dogs were very aggressive, however we just saw dogs doing their job. However, it was a good thing that the trail lead away from the sheep. Hiking away made the dogs quiet down.
The weather was better today. There were thunderstorms, but not directly over us. One big one built up to the North of us, making us nervous, however, we hiked away from it. Tomorrow the weather should improve, but we will be in town, so we will not worry about it.
We spent most of the day walking through fields of grass and flowers. It is really beautiful country. We are never quite sure what state we are in. It is either Montana or Idaho. We go back and forth between the two, all day long. That is why we call it Montanaho!
A ridge (2161.4 R)
Day 125 – 8/24/17
Miles – 23.3
Total miles – 1917.1
Three of us slept warm and one of us did not. I wonder who? That would be Mama Raven. She sleeps every night in her long johns, down coat, hat, fluffy socks, and mittens and she is still cold. We all have lost weight, perhaps that is why she cannot keep warm at night? We got up not long after dawn and began hiking just as the sun came over the ridge. The hills around us have clumps of trees surrounded by fields of flowering plants. Soon after leaving camp, we saw a moose eating bushes up above the hills were we camped. We watched her for a few minutes and then we headed on. The morning’s sky had large clouds scattered about. There was a cold wind blowing. The setting was absolutely beautiful. Everyday of our hike we are surrounded by amazing beauty. However, once in a while, we stumble across an area that is exceptionally magnificent that touches deeply. This was one of those locations. We were experiencing it at the perfect time and conditions to show it off so grandly. The beauty was over powering and it filled us with benevolent energy. It made us feel equally magnificent and compassionate in the environment around us. The master designer of it all, out did himself in this area. Since it was so cold, we left our down coats on for most of the morning. Even with the big climb, we did not want to take them off. It was not until the sun came out fully behind the clouds, that we warmed up enough to remove them. In the early afternoon, a large thunderhead started to form to the West. Since the clouds were moving from the West to the East, we were concerned. We could see it raining to the North and on the other side of the mountains to the West as we headed south. We just did not move far enough South. As we stopped to fill 4L of water, it stared to rain. Taking cover under a thick tree, the black clouds began to hail. Big drops of rain followed. Since we were on the edge of the storm, we hoped it would not last long and it didn’t. After about ten minutes, it tapered off and we set out again. We decided to hike with all our rain gear on because the sky still looked threatening. At about 6:00, the sky darkened and soon it was raining again. We hoped it would not go on all night. It is difficult to set up the tents when it is pouring down rain. To the great relief of all Ravens, the rain let up just before we found a place to camp for the night. In fact we could see clear skies beyond. Little things like this bring great joy to thru hikers!!! We are on track to get to Lima the day after tomorrow. After Lima, we have only seven more re-supply boxes before we reach Canada!
In our blogs, we have yet to thank our support crew who are at home mailing all our food and supply boxes and any other items we need. There has been a lot of boxes they have been responsible for. Everything has been delivered to perfection! Thank you Denise and Karin! Papa Raven’s mom and dad has also helped out. From the bottom of our hearts to the tippity tips of our soar feet, what you have been doing for us, is so appreciated. They are old pros at this job. They held the same position, back in 2015, when we hiked the PCT. We could not have more loyal friends and family to do such a big task!
Near a Creek (2138.1)
Day 124 – 8/23/17
Miles – 21.1
Total miles – 1893.8
We had a nice warm night in the cabin. Mama and Papa Raven woke with apprehension regarding how Bling would be feeling this morning? After sleeping twelve hours straight, Bling woke and said he was hungry. What a relief for all of us. We split four different muffins and had mini donuts and milk for breakfast. We hiked out a little later then we desired, 7:30, but not too late. We had to hike 1.5 miles down Hwy 20. A very busy road during the day, however, it was somewhat quite at this early hour. As we neared our cutoff, Sawtell Peak Road, came another lodge, gas station, and, on the corner, a Subway. As we looked at it with it’s open sign on, then looked at one another, off we went for Subway sandwiches to go. They opened at 8:00 and it was 8:02. Simply, we could not resist! After having our sandwiches made, back to the business of hiking. As we hiked up the road, we looked closer at the route on the map. We had just stared an eight mile long up. Almost all of it was on a gravel road. It was not too steep, it just seemed to go on forever. In the late morning, we stopped to eat our sandwiches. They were amazingly delicious! This is one of those times we wished we had ordered a 12″ instead of 6″. As we ate, we reminisced about our Subway sandwich adventures with our Auntie Raven in New Mexico. After the rest, we continued our climb. It was not until early afternoon that we left the road for a real trail. Within a mile, we left the trail for the bushwhack section. There was eight miles of little to no trail. Following our way down a stream, we made our way to a lake. Somewhere along the way, without any fanfare, we crossed into Montana. The only word of caution for this area was to “stay high and to the right” as we neared the lake. Supposedly, there was a deep marsh just at the month of the lake and by “staying high and to the right”, we would avoid sloshing through water. We succeeded at keeping our feet dry by following the instructions! Finally, we made it back to the official CDT. It is always comforting to be back on the trail. It is like joining up with a lost friend. Of course, the first thing it did was to go up. We climbed about 800′ and crossed a ridge, passing back into Idaho. For the next week or two, we will be hiking right on or near the Idaho/ Montana border. We have nick named the area Montanaho. The sun was getting low as we found a great place to camp in a small stand of trees. We stopped an hour early because Bling was very tired. Roughly, in 2.5 days, we will be in Lima, Montana. Hopefully, we will move quickly through these mountains.
Mack’s Inn (MIa 15.2)
Day 123 – 8/22/17
Miles – 18.4
Total miles – 1872.6
We woke to another perfectly blue sky. After the last round of rain we had, we are thankful for every day that is dry. If it never rains again on our trip that would be perfectly fine by us! When we started hiking this morning, the sun was just rising. Over the next few weeks, starting at our normal time is going to get harder and harder. It will be darker and colder. The hiking was easy and we moved along quickly. We need to get to Mack’s Inn before 4:00, which is eighteen miles away. We will be cutting it close, but we should make it. In about 3 miles, we got to the beginning of the alt, a nice wide dirt road. We hiked quickly taking only a few breaks. One was by the side of Moose Creek, which is a deep, crystal, clear creek flowing through a meadow. This is a different Moose Creek then the one we encountered in Yellowstone. A little while, after lunch, we came to a paved road and followed it to a small town of Island Park where Mack’s Inn is. We arrived a little after 3:00. Our bump box was the first item of business we took care of. We also had a box of miscellaneous items such as rocks Mama Raven picked up, to send home. Papa Raven literally run to the Post Office getting there just before 4:00. He needed tape to close the bump box but they had none to sell. They told him to go next door and they would not close up until he returned. After a quick stop at the hardware store, the bump box was ready to mail. When he returned from mailing the box, we finished putting food away, made some important phone calls, and ordered a pizza. Bling had one piece and said he was full, that is not like him. Fifteen year old thru hikers eat a lot. We sat a bit and talked then we went for ice cream. Bling did not finish his, in fact he had eaten only a small amount. Something was wrong. He wanted to take a short lap before we hiked out. It was around 6:00 and we wanted to get another four miles in. But it was obvious that Bling was sick. Mama and Papa Raven agreed we should not push on and instead see if there are any cabins available. There was, once again, only one cabin left. We got it and put Bling to bed. He sleep for hours. We all, Bling included, hope he feels better tomorrow. He told me that he wants to hike out at 7:00 tomorrow.
A little way into Idaho (?)
Day 122 – 8/21/17
Miles – 19.2
Total miles – 1854.2
All six of us slept well. We headed off for breakfast around 7:30. Red Cross and Napoleon headed one way and The Ravens went another. The grill had not opened and the store would not open for thirty minutes, thus we headed over to that deli at the inn, which opened at 6:00. We picked up four cold croissant sandwiches, yogurt, drinks, and a cinnamon roll. When it was wrung up at the cash register, it came to the same price as the all you can eat buffet where the food was hot and much better. We told the cashier that we wanted to cancel our order. Quickly and excitedly, we headed to a repeat of yesterday’s amazing breakfast. It actually ended up being even cheaper than yesterday, because the waitress gave both Bling and Whisper, the kids price (age 12 and under). Yesterday, only Whisper received the lower price. After breakfast, we got our re-supply box from the post office and went back to the room to sort it. Napoleon and Red Cross showed up with their box and soon everyone was ready to hike out. We left them and started down the trail. Our path away from Old Faithful, lead us past geyser after geyser. We saw at least six of them erupting. It took us much longer to get down the valley then we expected because we wanted to stop and watch. We were nearing the end when the total eclipse started. We hiked on as the daylight lessened. In this area, the sun was 98% covered. Way back in South Pass City, we purchased some solar eclipse glasses so we could watch it. The first thing that happened that we did not except was the way shadows changed shaped. The more the sun was covered the more we could see the effect. The light coming between the shadows was crescent shaped. And the crescent moved from the left side to the top and then to the right side as the eclipse progressed. The other thing that we did not expect was how cold it got.
As we hiked out of the Old Faithful valley, the eclipse ended. We continued on toward Summit Lake. When we got there, we took a nice long break. Then we headed on to the Wyoming/Idaho border. Our next objective was the border of Yellowstone National Park, which we shortly came to. We could now freely camp where ever we desired. No more assigned camp sites. As the day was ending, we turned North on an old road, which we camped on. In a few miles, we will start the Mack’s Inn alt. This alternate route chops thirty-seven trail miles off. Since were are now eight days behind on our schedule, it seemed like a smart thing to do. We should get there tomorrow.
Red Cross and Napoleon
Old Faithful (22_012)
Day 121 – 8/20/17
Miles – 2.9
Total miles – 1835.0
We woke at are normal time. We ate the last of our food for breakfast, packed, and headed out. In about an hour, we were hiking into Old Faithful in Yellowstone National Park. We found the all you can eat buffet breakfast we have been hearing about from south bound hikers: French toast, build your own breakfast burritos, sausage, bacon, eggs, grits, biscuits, gravy, pastries, yogurt, fruit, oatmeal and more. This is what thru hikers dream about in their sleep. The Ravens stuffed themselves. Napoleon and Red Cross were also there indulging their stomachs as well as we were ours. It was a magnificent event! We went back for plate full after plate full. We were so full we had to sit for a bit before we could waddle out. We talked a bit with Red Cross and found out that we could get a cabin that would sleep 3 for $100. It was the last available room in all of Yellowstone. This was pretty much a miracle, because this was the eve of the solar eclipse that would be nearly directly overhead in this part of Wyoming. Rooms up here are going for outrageous prices for the big event. We expected nothing available, and not in our price range. However, there is one cabin for three at a reasonable price. It is Sunday, and we have to stay somewhere to wait for the post office to open on Monday morning. Tent camping is not allowed because of grizzly bears, thus we snatched up that cabin real fast. We split the room with Napoleon and Red Cross. All six of us fit snuggly in the cabin with a wonderful view of Old Faithful out our front door. We did our laundry then got showers at the community bath house. We picked up extra food for the next section and we will get our box tomorrow morning, then we hit the trail to Mack’s Inn, just 37 miles North from here. When we woke this morning we did not know how this day was going to work out for us. We had no intentions of taking any time off at Yellowstone, but circumstances dictated we were suppose to be here. We are enjoying our visit!
Lone Star camp (21_208)
Day 120 – 8/19/17
Miles – 13.0
Total miles – 1832.1
We slept in. We did not start to wake up until after 7:00. Usually, we are hiking by 7:00. Since we only had 13 miles to go, we were not in any hurry. As we lay in our tent, we heard some hikers go by. A short time later we could hear them yelling. Not a lot, just a few screams and other noises. It sounded like it was coming from the river. We thought there might be a bear in the willows by the river. Eventually we stopped hearing anything. Bling got out of the tent to get our food down and we had breakfast. Then we packed up. We did not put on our shoes because we knew that we had to cross the Moose River first thing. We carefully walked through the willows, just in case there was a bear and got to the rivers edge. We all crossed and found that the water was incredibly cold. Our toes stung. We looked for a path through the willows and could not find one. We searched for about five minutes before deciding that we needed to walk up a slow moving finger of the river. So into the water we went. Our feet had not recovered from the first dunking and they hurt even more. We got out of the water and pushed our way through the willows towards the far shore. Then we ran into a wide pool. We had no idea where the trail was other than it was somewhere on the other side. We just had to cross the pool. Papa Raven went first and within two steps he was up to his upper thighs. The mud at the bottom was pulling at his feet. It was slow to cross and the water was freezing. The feet hurt! He made it with a lot of load exclamations. Then the rest of The Ravens came across, all making just as much noise. Now we understood why those other hikers made so much noise this morning. We all sat on the shore drying our stinging feet and legs waiting for the pain to settle down. Another hiker, just as lost as we were, pushed his way through the willows, then he crossed to us. Talking to him, as he too warmed up, we discovered that he was hiking South. We pointed out that he was on the wrong side of the river. He had crossed two parts of the river only two get turned around and recross to his original side. All five of us found the trail and we told him where he made his mistake and were he needs to end up. Where the path is, we do not known. We felt bad for him because he has to cross all the pools of water and rivers all over again. It was the most painful river crossing we have ever done. Perhaps it was early in the morning and the water was extra cold? We hiked on.
A short time later we came to where Napoleon and Red Cross had camped. They came out to talk a bit. After realizing the post office was closed until Monday, they decided not to hike another +30 mile day. There was no need and like us, were going to have a lazy day of hiking. We hiked on knowing they would catch us. After several miles, we came to the West end of Shoshone Lake. There we had to cross a wide meadow that was flooded. Thus we had a quarter of a mile in ankle deep water and mud. Once across, we entered a large area of hot water springs, small geysers, and fumaroles. With the late start, our many long breaks, including a long lunch with Red Cross and Napoleon, and not hiking very fast, we got to Lone Star camp around 4:30. A nice slow day. We have 2.9 miles to reach Old Faithful and an all you can eat breakfast buffet tomorrow morning.
Moose Creek (21_081)
Day 119 – 8/18/17
Miles – 21.0
Total miles – 1819.1
Another late start. The days are getting shorter and it is darker now at six o’clock, hours shorter than it use to be. We need to make good miles from here on out and we cannot loose to much time in the mornings sleeping in, even though we want to so badly. We are six days behind schedule. Day time is decreasing. Fall is around the corner and we still have over a thousand miles to go. We are starting to worry about finishing. Soon we are going to have to get up while it is still dark and no one will like that. Getting up late today did not hurt too much. We only have 21 miles to reach our next assigned camp. The morning light across Heart Lake was beautiful. A mist was rising from the lake and blowing away from us. Our camp was only 20′ from the lake and the air was very cold. We packed and headed up the trail. We hiked for several miles before returning to Heart Lake. We sat down on the shore for a rest and enjoyed the scenery. Down one side of the lake, we could see stream rising from the ground. As we sat there, we saw Rustic Geyser go off. Before we started hiking again we saw it go off three more times. Our trail lead to the end of the lake and then straight into Heart Lake Hot Pools. The next miles was covered with boiling pools of water and other thermal activity. They were everywhere. The steam and water running down to the lake was warm. We thought about washing, but we did not. Hours later we were stopped for a break and up walked Napoleon. He and Red Cross had gotten behind us as when we hiked the Winds. The two of them are pushing through Yellowstone doing 30 to 35 miles a day to reach their camp sites. It was a little after noon and Napoleon had already done 23 miles. That is moving fast. We Ravens cannot do those type of miles. After talking with him a while, he left us quickly. We watched him head up the trail and he was nearly running. Our next big stop was on the shore of Shoshone Lake. We needed to cross it’s outflow, so we stopped in the sun to eat, filter water and change shoes. All our bottles had been dry for the last eight miles, thus we drank a good bit while we sat there. The river crossing was a deep one, coming up to Whisper’s upper thighs. After drying our feet on the other side, we hiked the last 3 miles to camp. We got there at about 6:30. Mama and Papa Raven went down to Moose Creek for water and saw Red Cross crossing the creek. We talked for a bit. She was planning on hiking the 15 miles in to Old Faithful tomorrow to get her box. We told her that the PO is closed tomorrow. She is not sure what she will do. We have the same problem. We have decided to buy what food we need to get to Mack’s Inn and have our boxes forwarded someplace. Tomorrow is a very short day for us. We hope to find a hot springs to get clean in. There are several possible places. We’ll see.
Heart Lake (20_153)
Day 118 – 8/17/17
Miles – 25.7
Total miles – 1798.1
We slept a little late. It was a cold night and we were simply nice and cozy in our sleeping bags. When we realized our error, we ate and packed quickly. We had another beautiful clear morning to get us excited and eager to hike. We need to cover lots of ground to reach our camp in Yellowstone. It do not take long to finish our climb in the early morning sun. A few high clouds floated past. Today’s trail was down and long stretches of level with a few short ups thrown in for good measure. We crossed the Snake River twice and both times we had to take our shoes off. In fact, we had to remove our shoes four times to cross rivers. The last at the end of the day, the time we dislike the most.
On the south side of the mountain, we saw almost no bear skat, but when we crossed to the North side, we saw bear skat all over the place. We do not know if it is from a black or a brown bear. Also we are not sure how new it is. It could be recent or a few days old. For tonight, we have hung our food and will try to hang it every night we are in Yellowstone. Sometimes we will camp in places where there is little or no trees so hanging will be unfesable. Our camp site is stunning. Literally, we are on the shore of Lake Heart. It’s time for bed. We have a twenty one mile day tomorrow and The Ravens are tired.
On the last big climb in Wyoming (1979.8)
Day 117 – 8/16/17
Miles – 21.3
Total miles – 1772.4
It was cold last night. Frost on the tents. Frost in the meadow. However, we woke to clear skies. It has been a long time since this has happened to us. Being close to a meadow, our tents were soaked. With today’s sunshine we will have an easy time of drying out. Todays trail goes down long flat valleys with flowers all about then over a number of small pine covered ridges. It did this until our last up of the day, a big one. About, 2,000′ in 4 miles. we climbed over half before stopping for the night. The sky did cloud up in the afternoon but we did not get any rain. By evening, it was clear again.
For dinner we stopped above a small 30′ waterfall. It was a pretty place to have an early dinner. Mama Raven, Bling, and Whisper went down to filter water while Papa Raven cooked dinner. As he cooked away he glanced over toward the trail and saw a badger scampering along the trail. It had not seen Papa Raven, who quickly got out a camera then stood up. The badger stopped, looked at him, then headed off the trail into the woods. He was able to get three pictures before it disappeared. That was the first badger we have ever seen. Unfortunately, the pictures are on the camera we cannot get any images off until we get home.
After dinner and at the bottom of our big up we came to something interesting. Coming down the mountain was a stream called Two Ocean Creek. We came to a “Y” in the creek at a place called Parting of the Waters. At this location, the steam splits in two. The right branch flows to the Pacific Ocean and the left branch flows to the Atlantic Ocean.
Tomorrow we head into Yellowstone and our first assigned camp. In Yellowstone National Park, we cannot camp wherever we want to. We had to be assigned campsite locations. Our first one is a long ways away and we hope we make it. Meanwhile, it is cold tonight and time to go to sleep.
Upper Nowlin Meadow (1958.6 R)
Day 116 – 8/15/17
Miles – 18.5
Total miles – 1751.1
It rained last night, but we did not care, because we were nice and warm in our hotel room. When we did wake in the morning, we found that the sky was mostly clear. Today’s weather forecast calls for rain and thunderstorms thus, we knew our blue sky will not last long. At least, it gave us a good mental outlook for this mornings hike. The best news was that the long term forecast was for clear and warmer weather starting tomorrow. Hurray!!! Bling and Papa Raven went out for our usual breakfast here in Dubois of donuts and milk. We have been buying only one each, but this morning since we are hiking, it is two each. They are freshly baked. Our favorite is the maple and chocolate bars. At home, apple fritters are our first choice however, they do not make them here. That is alright, because what they do make is delicious! It will make a good calorie packed breakfast. We worked on closing up the packs and waiting for our ride. We loaded the gear in the car by 8:30. Back up to the pass, we went. It was cold at the motel so we knew that it would be even colder at the trail and it was. We put on our long sleeves and our down coats. At the pass, there were more clouds building up than down in Dubois. For the first few miles, the trail was non-existent. We had to follow posts and we get lost several times. Out of frustration, we decided to simplify the situation by cutting up to a dirt road that the trail would eventually join up with. We came out at Brooks Lake and stopped for a few minutes. There was a wall of cliffs looking over the lake. We think this wall is referred to as the Great China Wall. It was a very impressive and beautiful setting.
It can be hard leaving town. Often, we feel sluggish and hiking is slow going. Having 2.5 days off makes it even worse. After hiking to Upper Brooks Lake, we started to get our legs working more efficiently. Building thunder clouds were above us. We knew rain would be unavoidable. As we hiked from a valley, we got closer to the thunderstorm. We could hear it in the distance for awhile but it was moving across in front of us. The rain started light and grew heavy. After a half an hour of rain, the storm moved to the east. The only problem was that all the over grown plants over the trail were wet, which made us wet as we walked through the them. Additionally, the trail became a thick sticky mud, which coated our feet with an equally thick layer of the brown ghoo! All the mud made the trail very slippery. With our late start, we pushed for as many miles as we could get to line is up with our assigned camps site in Yellowstone. We will see how tomorrow goes. It seems for weeks now, we have gone to bed with wet shoes and woke to put the those same on in the morning. We are so hoping for a change of weather!
We are officially in Grizzly county. We have our bear spray and we need to change the way we set up our camps in the evenings. We need to start cooking away from where we camp and hang our food. We did not do a good job of it tonight. We are still trying to get into this new routine. We will be fixing dinner at our last break instead of camp. One thing we have noticed, was that there are very few places to hang food. The trees are small or have branches that are too small. In Yellowstone, there will be locations to hang. This will make the job of hanging food much easier.
Day 115 – 8/14/17
Miles – 0
Total miles – 1732.6
We headed up to the trail today. Our ride headed out around 10:00 and the farther we were up the mountain the worst the weather got. The rain started well before we got to the pass. It was bitterly cold when we got out of the truck. Before we left the hotel, someone said it was suppose to snow tonight at the higher elevations, which is where we were. Mama and Papa Raven could see the dread on Bling and Whisper’s faces about today’s hiking. It looked like a miserable, cold and wet day ahead. Even Mama Raven was not happy about the situation. The three looked at Papa Raven and that was it. He said it would be a terrible day of hiking. Back down the mountain to the hotel we went. We will try again tomorrow. We called the back country office in Yellowstone and changed our campsites. We have lined up a ride to the pass for 9:00 tomorrow morning. All day it was very cloudy and cold in Dubois. It is hard to believe this is summer with the weather we have been having. The owner of the hotel says this is far from normal weather for this area. Tomorrow is supposed to be the same, but it gets much better after that. We cannot take any more time off. The hotels are expensive and we are behind schedule. We will head out tomorrow.
Day 113 and 114 – 8/12/17 and 8/13/17
Total miles – 1732.6
We woke, ate the last of our food (half of Belvita biscuits each), packed, and headed for town. We moved quickly and made it to the highway by 9:00. Since we were all very hungry our first thought was to get to town and food. We started hitching. Most of the cars were people on vacation, campers, motor homes, and trucks pulling trailers. Not much hope there, but we tried anyways. After a short time a SUV driven by an older gentleman stopped. We loaded our packs and hopped in. Glen lives in Dubois and he wanted to give us a tour of all the sites on the way to town. He drove us out to Brooks Lake, the campgrounds, fishing holes. Then he wanted to show us his house and the town. All we wanted to do was to get to town for food but Glen wanted to make sure we got a tour of the area. Of course we let him. He was enjoying himself and we did not want to hurt his feelings. By the time we reached town, our stomachs were grumbling loudly. We got him to stop at the Post Office so we can pick up our resupply boxes. He offered to let us stay at his home for the night, but we told him that we would like a motel and be close to the stores and restaurants. He was dropped off in the middle of town. The Black Bear Inn is where we got a room. Next we headed to the grocery store for food, which we got fried chicken, and hot crescent breakfast sandwiches. We sorted our box by the river of the motel as we waited our room to be cleaned, then came showers and laundry. We took Mama Raven to a cafe for her birthday dinner and then had Marie Callender mini pies from he grocery store for dessert.
This day we took care of many tasks that have been backing up. We ordered new rain coats for Mama Raven and Bling. There old ones are leaking water. We got our permit for Yellowstone National Park. This took time to plan out. We could hike straight to Old Faithful in 5 days, but are required to stay in specific campsites. That means that we will not get into Old Faithful until the 6th day. This required to purchase an extra days food. Also, we purchased a can of bear spray because from here on out till Canada, we are officially in Grizzly bear country. Papa Raven epoxied hiking poles to repair them. Bills back home had to be paid and plumbing problems had to be resolved for the women staying at our house in San Diego. Blogs and photographs were worked on. Most importantly, we ate a lot more food. More fried chicken, chips and dips, dough nuts, coconut cream pie, sandwiches and drinks. The Cowboy Cafe here in Dubois had great food. Liz, who owns the Black Bear Inn, makes s’mores every night for her guests. She had learned that Mama Ravens birthday was yesterday so she had a Hoho with a candle in it for her. It had been good and productive rest. We will be heading back to the trail tomorrow morning, Liz is taking us back up.
Pelham Lake Creek (17_108 R)
Day 112 – 8/11/17
Miles – 21.2
Total miles – 1727.1
We slept too well. We woke up a half hour late. Mama Raven woke telling us all about her dreams of food last night. She was torturing us as she described in detail each item. Our morning hiking was in the cold morning light however we had clear blue sky above. The hiking was easy and the only problem we had was getting lost. We did that two times. Normally, we misplace the trail once every few days but today we were on a streak. The trail is easy to lose. It peters out in the grassland and we may pick up a cow path instead of the real trail or we may lose it under an area of down trees. A weak trail could make a sharp turn, and an animal trail continues straight off our trail causing us to hike the wrong direction. The first time we lost the trail today was the worst. We followed the trail down a valley all grown over with plants. We went almost a mile, wading through the dew covered plants and flowers until we crossed a small stream and stopped for a break. Papa Raven looked at the GPS and saw that we were suppose to be on top of the ridge above us. Not far as the bird flies, but 300′ straight up above us. Instead of walking back through the plants, we decided to switchback up the ridge. This was made more difficult by smooth round rocks that covered the slope. They kept rolling under our feet. The second time we got lost, we just could not find the trail. The GPS was not helping. It did not want to update, so we kept wandering around looking for the trail. Eventually, Papa Raven had to close the app and restart it then we were able to find the trail. Today we came across our first large bear foot prints in the dried mud. We are in Grizzly bear country now, so we will have to do things differently with our food such as hanging it at night and not cooking dinner were we sleep. We will be picking up two cans of bear spray in Dubois for added protection.
We were running on empty stomachs most of the day. Because of that, we were tired and hungry most of the time. We had a little food to get by, but not enough calories to satisfy our active bodies. We will come into town tomorrow with no food. That has never happened before. Usually we have something left over. We will not even have a full breakfast tomorrow, but we will survive. We only have 5.5 miles to get to the road and hopefully a fast hitch to town.
Leeds Creek (1913.5)
Day 111 – 8/10/17
Miles – 20.2
Total miles – 1705.9
Oh what a night! It rained until after 11:00. Finally, we went to sleep. It was not a good night rests. In fact, it might be the worst night sleep we have ever had. We were cold and everyone had to work to stay somewhat warm. The sleeping bags became the wettest we have ever experienced due to the high condensation levels inside the tent. Come morning, we ate and then started the soggy job of emptying the tents of the soaked gear. Once out of the tents, we were happy to see almost no clouds in the sky. There was fog in the valley below and fresh snow on the high peaks above. We carefully packed wet items with other wet items and the few dry items with dry. There would have to be some major drying out sometime today.
After climbing to the top of Gunsight Pass, the land flattened out and was a mix of open fields the pine trees. For the past few days, we have been trying to move as fast as possible, but routinely, it seems that everything, especially the weather, was against us. Our newest issue is the lack of food. We are running out of food and we need to get to town. Our seven day section, looks like it will end up being nine days long. We have been budgeting our food and eating dinner at our last break to stretch out food for the most energy impact. We go to bed without any food. Bling has been figuring out how much we can eat and when. For a physical active day that we have, we are not eating very much and we really are getting hungry. The lack of calories is making us sluggish.
About midmorning, we stopped to dry everything, tents, sleeping bags, rain gear, clothes, food bags, and whatever else that was wet. It seems everything in our back packs, including themselves, were out drying over rocks and downed logs. It took an hour with the sun sliding behind clouds that were just starting to form. This was a critical task to do. We needed to get this job done before the clouds grew thick again and there would be no sun available. We did not want to go to bed tonight with dripping wet sleeping bags and tents. With a sigh of relief, the gear was dry. We set out again. We dropped into a huge pasture with hundreds of cows. Then it was back up into the trees and around Lake of the Woods. Along this area, we met southbound hiker High Country. He stared the CDT on the same day we did. He hiked New Mexico and then jumped to the Canadian boarder and is now hiking South. It was good to see him again. We finished hiking about 8:00 a little short of the 23 miles we wanted but considering the late start and dry time, we did not do too badly. No matter what, it looks like we are arriving to Dubois on the ninth day. At least, it will be in the morning.
Below Gunsight Pass (1893.2 R)
Day 110 – 8/9/17
Miles – 22.5
Total miles – 1685.7
We slept well, nestled in a small stand of trees. First thing on our minds was what does the sky look like this morning? With apprehension, Mama Raven peeked out. The sky was clear in the direction we will be hiking. Our hopes for good day of hiking raised to new hights. We did not want a repeat of yesterday’s storm. Most of today, we hiked down along the side of the Green River. It was about 16 miles to where we left it. We hiked along cascading water falls, through meadows, and along two big lakes. It was quite pretty. About midday, the clouds built up and it began to rain. We put on all our rain gear and headed out into it. There is nothing more dismal to a long distant thru-hiker than hiking in rain. Snow is better than rain, because you do not get as wet. It simply is not pleasant! On top of it, rain really slows us down. By the time we reached our turn off, the sun was out and all was right with the world once again. Leaving the Winds behind, we started up a 1,000′ climb and we made good progress. The views from the ridge were wonderful and there were wild flowers galore! Wide flat green pasture land with the Green River glistening in the late afternoon sunshine as it meandered through the valley below us. We pasted a number of old abandoned farm buildings. We dropped into the valley on the other side and stopped at a bridge at the bottom. Thunder could be heard down the valley. We decided to go up a mile and look for a camp. The thunder was on the other side of the ridge so we went a little farther. Then the thunder was right over our heads. Lightening and thunder was bursting out all around us. We did not dare go up in higher to a mountain pass with no trees on it. Instantly, the rain started to pick up. We needed to find a spot to set up the tents right away. Bling found something that would work. It was a little small for both the tents to fit, but we could not afford to be too picky. In a tight little place, we worked on pitching our tents. Rain and hail pounding down then all hell broke loose. A layer of hail covered the tents before we could even get them up. Big rocks in the ground prevented the tent pegs from going in. The tents were too close together to put the guide lines down. Bling had to dig in the mud with his bare hands to fit tent pegs into the ground. Tent pegs were getting dropped and we could not find them. Our umbrellas were set aside and we became soaked from head to foot along with all our gear. We needed both hands free to setup the tents. The sky was nearly black except for the constant bursting of lightening and thunder directly overhead. Somehow, the tents got up. It was not the best tent pitching we have ever done, nonetheless, they got up in a difficult situation. First Mama Raven got in the tent, then Whisper and Bling and finally Papa Raven. Everything was saturated with water, even the floor of the tents. We found dry towels and started cleaning up the water. The one good piece of news was that the sleeping bags were somewhat dry inside of the plastic trash bags. Also our town clothes, in zip lock bags, were dry. It felt good to get out of the soaking wet clothes and then into warm sleeping bags! Pap Raven cooked dinner in the vestable of his tent. It felt very good to eat warm food. Meanwhile as the night went on, so did the flashes of lightening, lighting up the night sky followed by the terrifying loud thunder. The rain and hail continued. It was a very nerve racking evening! It has rained hard for at least three hours now. We hope it stops soon. Our lesson learned was, we should have stopped at the first sign of rain, then we would be a lot dryer right now.
Trail Creek (1870.7 R)
Day 109 – 8/8/17
Miles – 21.6
Total miles – 1663.2
It was a cold night but we were warm in our sleeping bags. Once again, the sky was a mix of clouds, which usually is an indication of bad weather is on its way. As predicted, we would have to dry out tents and sleeping bags from last night’s heavy condensation. Today’s trail would keep us up high, getting above 11,000′ several times. This will be the last time we get above 11,000′ in all of Wyoming. We left camp and headed down a valley passing several lakes before starting our biggest climb for the day, Lester Pass. As we climbed up, the sun would come and go behind clouds. It took us several hours to reach the top and by then a thunderstorm was building to our left (southwest) and our right (northwest). Our trail continued to the West and then northwest. We passed many lakes, both big and small. The Ravens have fallen in love with the Winds Mountains. It quickly is becoming our favorite part of the entire CDT. We wish we could slow down and enjoy them more, but we do not have the luxury of time. Nonetheless, we hope that the thunderstorm around us would play out before we got there. Close to midday there was a large enough gap in the clouds to dry out the wet gear from last night. We quickly pulled everything out. Our gear dries fast in strong, mid day sun. It took only 15 minutes to complete. While we were eating and drying, the thunderstorm to the North started to sound out with big claps of rage. After we finished eating, we headed over a small ridge and we could see the storm. Straight in front of us, was one of the blackest storms we have ever seen. The near by mountains were completely obscured. Even though it was not raining yet, we put on full rain gear, because we knew what was coming our way. We set off toward the storm, hoping it would move east before we got there. No such luck for The Ravens. Instead, rain and hail hit us square on. Not too much, because we were at the end of the storm. However, as the first storm moved off, a second one, just as dark, moved directly over us. The hail came down hard and heavy. Soon the ground was white with hail, it was beginning to look like a winter wonder land in August. Ledges on the surrounding mountains were white. It was nice to see but miserable to walk in. The hail covered pools of water, so we had to be very careful where we stepped. In no time, the feet were sloshing wet and were freezing. We kept moving as that storm moved off. We were heading up to the highest point for the day, 11,200′. As we worked our way up the valley, the sky was dark and the wind picked up. It was a very cold wind and it blew right down the valley towards us. We put on warmer clothes and continued on. What could make it worst? How about sideways blown sleet. Or how about a deep river crossing we would have to take our shoes off, however at this point, the feet are already so wet, why not cross with shoes on. Mama Raven said absolutely no way to the river crossing in this horrible weather. Instead she found a different route. Papa Raven checked his GPS system, and it was doable. We had to back track a little bit, but we did not have to cross the river. By this time, all four Ravens were miserable being exposed to such hideous conditions, but there was no where to go or nothing we could do but carry on. Freezing does not begin to describe how cold we were and everything we were wearing was starting to become saturated with water. We are not sure how long this went on for? It is hard to tell when you are in it. It seems like an eternity. We estimate three to four hours of this weather. Slowly, the sky lightened and the rain let up, then it stopped. Next thing we knew the sun came out! Our entire moods of dismal dismay turned into euphoria. As that storm blew away to the east, we had a field of blue sky above us. There has never been a more glorious sight to us. The rest of the day was easy walking, but we got into camp late. We were trying to make up the low mile day due to the bad weather. We are going to bed, hoping for a better day tomorrow!
Above Baldy Lakes (1849.1 R)
Day 108 – 8/7/17
Miles – 20.6
Total miles – 1641.6
Another day of sleeping in late. This morning was extra dark outside and we thought it was earlier than it actually was. Peeking out of the tent, Mama Raven saw the sky was full of clouds. There were breaks in them, but not many. This could mean a rainy day or the clouds could burn off for sunshine. There was condensation inside the tents, the sleeping bags were wet from the drops of water raining on them throughout the night. Time will have to be made to dry them, if there is any sunshine for the job.
This morning’s trail slowly dropped in elevation crossing high alpine meadows with many lakes. We hiked around at least a dozen. The sun was very weak and the air was cold. The temperatures only made into the 50’s. Mid-morning, we stopped to eat and to try and dry the soggy tents and sleeping bags. It was a slow process and it took time but things did dry out. Once back on the tail, we finished our long down then started up a ridge. Next we crossed the head of a valley. That was the pattern for the rest of the day. Four of the valleys were wide grassy meadows with large rivers flowing through them. We had to cross each of these rivers, but there was no bridges, logs, or rocks. So off came our shoes. Many hikers just cross the rivers in their socks and shoes. It is much faster that way. We prefer to take them off, put our Crocs on and then cross. We quickly dry our feet with our bandannas and put our dry socks and shoes on. We have cozy dry feet to continue our hike. It does take longer, but it is The Raven way. The first river got deep and Whisper had to pull up the legs of her shorts to stay dry. The next two were very wide and shallow. We came to the last one late in the day and we did not want to remove our shoes and cross it, but we did with a good bit of mumbling and grumbling. From where we have camped, we can see down into the valley below and we wonder if we will have to cross another river tomorrow morning. With each river crossing, we lose valuable time. There was another thing that slowed us down this afternoon, a thunderstorm, that decided we were a good target. We had just come down from today’s high point, Hat Pass and the rumbling started. Luckily, we made it over the high point before the lightning and thunder began or we would have had to stop early before the pass and wait till morning. We continued hiking down until the rain began, then Mama and Papa Raven, and Whisper, stopped to put on our rain gear. Bling was ahead so we set out to catch up to him. We found him under the protection of a very large tree just waiting for us. We decided to eat something under its shelter. By the time we finished, the rain had stopped. We hope tomorrow will be clear and sunny because, as we are retired in our tents for the night, we are already getting condensation. By morning, our gear will be soaked and we will have to dry out again.
Near an unnamed lake (1828.5)
Day 107 – 8/6/17
Miles – 23.4
Total miles – 1621.0
Our physical bodies are tired. They work exceptionally hard all day, every day, with rarely a day off. The muscles, joints, and the mind just want a chance to be lazy. This is simply another morning that no one wants to get moving. We just wanted to lay in our sleeping bags and relax. Grumbling words came from everybody’s mouths as we got up. Whisper was not happy having to put on her wet shoe from last evenings dunking. So far the trail through the Winds has started to the far West side of the mountain range and barely cut into the higher peaks in the middle. For the most part, the trail had been good except for all the downed trees. This morning, there was one place where got lost. We were hiking up the side of a ridge on good trail, with plenty of foot prints when we realized that we were a lot higher then we should have been. Papa Raven found our location and we cut cross country over there ridge and across the hillside. To the proper trail. It was difficult going with all the fallen trees. Finally, we broke out into a wet meadow an cut down and across to one side. There we found, the trail. We all regrouped. We do not like it when things like that happen, it takes a lot of time to get back to the trail. Too much time is lost. Much of the morning we passed through meadows and streams infested with cows. They are not the most pleasant places. Every other step is having to avoid a wet pile of fresh cow dung. Mid-morning, we came to a huge meadow without a sign of cows. It was one of the biggest meadows we have seen on this trip. It was a beautiful sight. Our path took us past several hight mountain lakes, namely Mirror, Dad’s, and Marms. Several times, we just stopped to look at them because they were so magically beautiful. As evening approached, we camped over 10,600. This was one of the coldest nights we have had in a while with a chilly wind blowing. The Winds are stunning in every way. We understand why they are a favorite with many CDT hikers. We might not have seen the Cirque of the Towers, however what we did see and experience could not be less beautiful than them, just different. We were not disappointed in the least. We will return to these mountains!