When I entered Wyoming on July 22nd my expectations for this section weren’t very big. I knew that I would have to cross the Great Divide Basin and that in the northwestern corner of the state I would go through Yellowstone National Park. I thought that that was just about it. Don’t get me wrong. Yellowstone and the Great Divide Basin are both awesome places, each in their own way. But I was about to realize that Wyoming has so much more to offer: cool towns, nice people, and… the Wind River Range!
First up was the Great Divide Basin, often just referred to as the Basin. Almost immediately after crossing the Wyoming border both the terrain and the trail starts dropping down in elevation. We did a short stop in the towns of Riverside and Encampment, two small towns that are only a mile apart from each other, but still separate. Go figure. Riverside was getting ready for a music festival, but we were still able to get a campsite and ended up spending the night before continuing onward into the Basin. We ended up doing a 30 mile roadwalk from the foothills and into Rawlins, and happened to run into several southbound Continental Divide bikers. Two of them, an American and an Australian in their sixties donated their bear spray to us, since they figured they wouldn’t need it anymore now that they were out of grizzly territory. Trailmagic!
After a 2-day stay in Rawlins, where lots of thruhikers happened to be piling up, me and Elizabeth, aka. TraJiK, set out to cross the main stretch of the Basin, from Rawlins to South Pass City. Except for some strong winds on the first day this section wasn’t really that bad. Sure, it was kind of hot and we had to plan the water carries, but the terrain also allowed us to make good miles. With a little bit of night hiking we managed to do up to 37 miles a day and made it to Atlantic City, just next to South Pass City, in only 3 days. Based on the information in our guide book, Atlantic City was supposed to be a community hostile to hikers, but we still decided to go there and found it the complete opposite. People were very friendly and we ended up spending the night in the camper of a local woman that we ran into at the local saloon. Trailmagic!
From Atlantic City we continued on through the historic mining town of South Pass City to highway 28 where we hitched in to Lander, yet another cool town in Wyoming. Lots of hikers, bikers and rock climbers, and a fairly rad town for Wyoming. After a couple of zero-days in Lander we finally managed to break free from the vortex of town and headed back to the trail and into the Wind River Range, an area which I didn’t know much about on beforehand. The towering, jagged peaks of the Wind River Range turned out to be an awesome surprise though. The only sad part about the Wind River Range was that we “inadvertently” followed the official CDT, and thereby missed out on the famed Cirque of the Towers area. Why the official CDT does not go through the Cirque is a mystery to me, and I’m really sad that I missed out on it. I might just have to go back and hike the Cirque at some later point.
Halfway through the Winds we dropped out to the town of Pinedale for resupplies. Unfortunately all the motels were fully booked, but some locals tipped us off that the episcopal church let hikers and bikers stay in their community room. That’s where we ended up, together with lots of other hikers and bikers. Pinedale also happened to have a really awesome aquatic center, apparently built with money from big oil. For only $5 a day we got full access to the swimming pools, the water slide and the rope swing. Time for grown men to act like kids again.
We ended up staying for 4 days in Pinedale before finally getting back to the trail again (excessive number of zero-days ended up being the rule of thumb for Wyoming). We missed out on Cirque of the Towers, so we were determined not to miss out on the Titcomb Basin area. Awesome views and scenery, and well worth the scramble up over Knapsack Col.
Our next resupply town was Dubois (pronounced Doo-boys by the locals). Dubois turned out to be yet another cool little town in Wyoming. And, you guessed it, we ended up taking another couple of zero-days. I also managed to get my hands on some new hiking shoes to replace the failed Brooks Cascadia 10, the New Balance Leadville 1210. I’ve heard promising reviews about the Leadville 1210s and it will be interesting to see how they hold up. And they come in my color, neon green 🙂
From Dubois the trail took us north and up to Yellowstone where we arrived in Old Faithful a couple of days later. Old Faithful is normally fully booked at this time of year, but the friendly staff at the Old Faithful Inn were able to help us out and get us a room at a reasonable price. We ended up spending 3 days and having a great time in Old Faithful.
All in all Wyoming has been an awesome section of the CDT, the best so far. But all the zero-days in Wyoming, at least 10 of them, has created a time crunch for us. We really want to make it to Canada before the first snowfall! The solution – cut off 200 miles of hiking by taking a shortcut from Old Faithful to Butte, Montana. We decided to make our own version of the Big Sky alternate via Mammoth, Big Sky, Ennis and Whitehall. New Mexico, Colorado and Wyoming done. Only Montana remains. To Canada we go, along Viper’s Canada Express!
Click here to see the pictures (high res) on Flickr.