mile 1524.1 to Battle Pass: 22.3 miles
Total miles: 1332.4
After the rain the night before, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the tent had dried off over night. This dry mountain air is still surprising to us coming from the damp east coast woods. We had breakfast, and then set off on the trail with a little more pep in our step than usual because in just over a mile we’d be crossing into Wyoming.
A week ago I wasn’t sure I’d make it this far. I was struggling with the trail, and was feeling like it was time to go home. The stretch from Grand Lake to Steamboat Springs wasn’t exactly easy, but I was able to find my stride and decided to continue on after Steamboat Springs. I’m sure glad that I did. This last section was beautiful, and the slightly lower elevation really agreed with me. Walking into Wyoming was a mini-triumph. Who knows if I’ll get all the way to Canada, but crossing the Wyoming border was exciting in its own right.
From the border, the trail changed dramatically from the forest we’d been in the day before. There were many more down trees, compared to the well manicured trail in Colorado. We walked through a marshy area, completely soaking our feet, and took a small shortcut on a gravel road to save eight tenths of a mile and a small climb. From there, the trail opened up a bit and with lines with hunks of rock that looked like large pieces of pink salt and sugar cubes. The food reference may also be due to the fact that I was hungry today! I kept thinking of all the foods I wanted to eat, none of which were in my pack. I had plenty of energy bars, but I wanted something else; anything else, really! We knew we had a chance to make it to the town of Encampment for dinner, and my stomach really hoped we would.
Fortunately, the afternoon went by smoothly, and we decided to head for Battle Pass on WY Route 70. Just before we arrived there was a box of trail magic, and I thoroughly enjoyed a lukewarm root beer. We made it to the road around 6pm, and nervously started to hitch. We’ve heard this can be a hard hitch because the town of Encampment is tiny, and there isn’t much traffic on the road. A few cars passed in the thirty minutes, and one even hesitated to drive by. Ariel and Alex came out of the woods, and waited in the parking lot while we tried to hitch. Suddenly our lucked changed, and a red truck pulled over and agreed to take all of us as long as we didn’t mind piling in the bed of the truck. We all smooshed in, it was a tight squeeze, and by 7pm we were in Encampment.
We quickly checked into the only motel in town, and wandered over to the only restaurant (1 of 2 in town) that was open for dinner. We had garlic cheese bread, and then Garrett had a pizza and I had a basil chicken sandwich with potato wedges and coleslaw, and it was all so good. Our waitress told us that a man at the neighboring table had bought our meal for us, which was a real surprise! We thanked him profusely, and made a mental note to pay the favor forward one day.
After dinner we went back to the motel to finally shower, and then stayed up past 10pm watching TV. At 10:30pm, we finally decided to turn off the TV lest it temp us to stay up even later, and I eventually fell asleep a little while later in the stale hot town air, pining a bit for the cool mountain air we’ve grown accustomed to.