July 7, Day19: Elkhart Trail head – 1800.1 ( 12.7 miles, 10,600 ft elevation)
8 am was our scheduled “shuttle”. Stetson picked us up in his Nissan Pathfinder and drove us to the trail head. By 9am we were huffing our way uphill back into the Wind River Range. Along the way we thanked a trail crew that was fixing the damage that horses had done to the trail during a “rainy” period.
There are three ways to return to the actual CDT from the Elkhart trail head.
- Pole Creek Trail (10.5 miles) – CDT mile 1795.5
- Seneca Lake Trail (10.3 miles) – CDT mile 1799.5
- Lost Lake Trail (12-17 miles?) – CDT mile 1801.9 at Freemont Creek crossing
We chose the Seneca Lake Trail for three reasons.
- We didn’t want to revisit the Pole Creek Trail.
- It was 2/10ths “shorter”
- It bypassed Lester Pass, and I was a little “shy” about descending another pass. This one was at 11,115 ft.
We were still laden down with a six day food carry, which if we were younger and faster could be a four day food carry. But we’re NOT getting any younger, or faster for that matter. We are however, getting a bit lighter and stronger though. We’re hoping that the weight we have been losing, stays “lost”.
In any event, we didn’t have to worry about added weight from water carries. The Wind River Range is replete with so much available water, that you don’t have to carry much.
It is practically everywhere! So much so that the by the time we had to walk around Little Seneca and Seneca Lake, it must have been “high tide”.
The trail was completely submerged. So much for maintaining dry feet.
As it was all “new” sights and terrain to see, the 10+ mile climb was not as daunting as it could have been. Granted, it was ALL uphill, and breathing was at a premium, but the trail was actually pleasant.
We had planned to make it a “short” mile day and put our goal at just getting back to the CDT. Somehow or other, we were moving pretty good, and squeezed in 2 more miles after we rejoined the CDT, and decided against the Knapsack Col alternative.
I set up our tent while Paul collected water, and rinsed our socks, from his own private island.
We dined on Subway sandwiches we had packed out from Pinedale with a million dollar view.
Little did we know that we would “pay” dearly for our “short cut”.
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