July 21: 1965.4 – 1979.3 (13.9)
Yesterday we did just shy of 21 miles. Today we cruised into camp (OA3) at 6pm. A whopping 14 miles, unless of course you count the 1/2 mile of going in circles just after we crossed Summit creek.
Being in a National Park means that you have to camp in your assigned/reservered spots. Sometimes that means long miles and sometimes short ones.
We still have yet to have started the morning, or ended the day with dry shoes. This morning was no exception.
Bright and early we left our campsite at Shoshone Lake (S01). The trail turned toward the shoreline that consists of golf ball sized volcanic rock.
Along the shoreline we walked until we reached the lake’s outflow, that morphed into Summit Creek.
After a thigh deep crossing in calm water, we spent the next 40 minutes exploring the “trail to our right and the trail to our left. Neither one showed us anywhere on the redline, that is the CDT. What Guthook and our Garmin inReach showed us, was that we were absolutely “off trail”. The left one definitely did NOT go in the direction we wanted to go. The “right” trail became the final option. We were prepared to bushwack if necessary to get back on trail. Luckily the “right” one eventually fed onto the CDT. As “usual”, we figure we’re not on the CDT unless we get lost or have to backtrack at least once a day.
Today we walked the 10 miles to the north end of Shoshone Lake, the second largest lake in Yellowstone, and possibly the “largest lake in the lower 48 that cannot be reached my motor vehicle”(according to US Fish and Wildlife Service) .
Part of it was in the trees, and part was along the shore.
The trail turned from the lake and entered a vast meadow with tall grass waving in the breeze.
Soon however, under the tall grass, was nothing but soft warm mucky marsh that did it’s best to separate us from our shoes.
My biggest concern was not losing the soles of my shoes as both shoes are ripping from the sides.
After a brief “shoe wash” in a clear stream, the trail entered one of Yellowstone’s geothermal areas.
Steam rose. Water bubbled and overflowed.
Some in orange, and others in sky blue pools. The air smelled of sulfur. As we walked along the delineated trail, our trekking poles now made a hollow sound as they struck the ground. It would just be our luck to strike the ground with one of our poles and have a geyser come shooting out. Fortunately that didn’t happen.
The trail fed back into a forested area and undulated from up to down, with one massive 1300 ft descent. Paul checked twice to make sure we were on the right trail as no way in hell were we going to retrace our steps…this time.
As we continued toward our campsite destination, we stepped aside for three sets of backpackers who were making their way to either Lewis or Shoshone Lake. We checked their shoes. Not wet or muddy. This was a good sign for us.
With mud and debris still floating around our still damp shoes, we took a break 4 miles our from our campsite to thoroughly rinse our shoes and socks.
Three hours later we crossed another marsh, this time atop a boardwalk. It was an easy day filled with variety.
We arrived at our assigned camp. We had it all to ourselves. We bathed in the Firehole Creek that meandered by our site. It was pleasantly on the warm side, and a brisk and sustained breeze kept the bugs at bay. We ate an “early” dinner and then retreated to the safety of our tent while hoards of mosquitos “paced” outside the fine mesh enclosure.
We watched as occasionally they’d poke their bloodthirsty needle noses between the fibers probing for our flesh and blood. Bastards!
Occasionally, at our age, we have to pee in the middle of the night. This gives us an opportunity to take in the night sky, as we are usually asleep even before the sun sets fully. This night in particular we witnessed the most amazing night sky we have ever seen in our lifetime. (I still haven’t figured out how to capture it with my camera on my phone). The night sky was awash with a field of distinct and bright white pixels of light. Stars shined like planets. The Big Dipper was more than big, it was MASSIVE! Stars bled into the horizon. It felt like the “ceiling” had been lowered on the sky. Within the Milky Way, were millions of tiny points of light, as opposed to the muddled swath of white light you can “normally” see in dark sky areas. We wish we had known about the meteor showers or to look for the Neowise comet that was streaking through the sky in early July. We would have sat outside our tent, with purpose, for much longer. As it is, we will now have to wait till 2062 to see the Halley’s comet… provided we’re still alive.