July 11: Day 23 (1842.6 – 1857.2) 14.6 miles
We knew we were fairly close to the river, so we expected heavy condensation and everything to be wet in the morning, but we never expected to be fully frosted.
Rather than water droplets on our fly, there was a sheet of frost and fairly good sized ice crystals. Our water bottles were partially frozen and our shoes and socks…fully frozen. Funny, we don’t remember it being cold last night.
Frost coated the tall grass all around us. Birds were already busy chirping and moving about. The sky was largely clear of any evidence of potential growing cloud cover. The morning was crisp, but all signs indicated that it was going to be a gorgeous day.
Rolling fields of brightly colored wild flowers stretched as far as the eye could see. The “Sound of Music” played in my head. Paul quickly became annoyed at me stopping to capture each flowering distraction. “Next time we go on a hike, I’m gonna make sure there are NO flowers!”, he chided me. So here is what we saw. If you can identify them,please let me know.
We wove our way through chaparral and forested areas that eventually led around the shore of a seemingly never ending Lake of the Woods, whose “leaky” shoreline created an oozy bog for us to dance through.
The trail fed into a Jeep road where we eventually had our obligatory missed turn back onto the find and seek CDT path.
Brown fiberglass slats with CDT stickers changed without warning to green fiberglass slats, with and without CDT stickers.
Prior to a cross country find and seek jaunt across the belly of a wide meadow and afternoon climb, we had a million dollar view lunch break. While reclined on a gentle hill beside a barely 2 foot wide bubbling brook, we feasted on tuna, chips, and “fun size” candy bars, all washed down with freshly made icy cold lemonade, while gazing across a flower accented meadow and the sharp rise of what we believe we’re the snow capped Grand Tetons.
The sky and air were crisp and clear. Our pack’s “exploded” contents basked in the sun all around us, like we owned the place, simultaneously drying and airing out their stench as best the sun and slight breeze could do. We would have stayed here for hours and napped, but miles beckoned.
All packed up, we began another chapter of “Hand Me the Binos” (of which we don’t have), spotting and traversing from sea foam green CDT marker to CDT marker, trying to pick the best footing to each.
The trail crawled around the edges of now growing hills with seeps and springs nestled within the folds. With the wind in our face we came around a bend and caught our first glimpse of a small herd of elk. We watched and eased closer to them as quietly as we could in hopes of capturing the moment digitally. Not a chance, as they caught onto us and deftly walked up and into the trees and disappeared.
Having finally gotten our wildlife viewing “fix”, we called it a day and set up for the evening. Additionally triumphant that our shoes, although dusty, were actually dry.
It’s the “little” things that one begins to appreciate on a hike such as this.