Mink Creek(1959.1) to Surprise Creek CG(1979.5)
Total Miles: 1735.7
Elevation: 7,500 feet
I’m really digging this stretch. Mainly because I’ve gotten to sleep in the last two mornings and I’ve gotten to camp early the last two days as well. It still took me over an hour to leave camp this morning. The extra camp chores in the morning and st night are already getting old. I can’t premix my breakfast shake at night, it has to be done in the morning due to grizzly precautions. I can tell a difference in the taste. The instant coffee in the mix doesn’t rehydrate very well in cold water. It really needs to sit for awhile. Oh well, it still gets the job done. It just isn’t quite as tasty. I almost lost all of my cordage this morning. When I was getting my bear bag down it got hung up in the tree. It took me about twenty minutes of pulling and a few choice curse words and it finally popped free. Loosing that cordage could have been disastrous, I really need to be more careful next time.
Last nights bear hang
As soon as I left camp I had to walk through a crazy amount of overgrown willow. I could. Arely even tell where the trail went. I started calling out my version of “Hey bear”. I think hey bear is boring, so I call out “Hodor”. I find that much more amusing. The overgrown willow thickets didn’t last too long, thankfully. A few short miles after leaving camp I had another wet stream crossing. I have done the math, it has been 203.5 miles of hiking since I last had a day where my feet stayed dry. That is roughly nine days of wet feet. I sure am tired of walking in wet socks and shoes all day.
Wet feet again
Just after crossing the river I saw some bear prints and poop. I made sure to keep up my Hodoring and my situational awareness was ramped up. I came into an area that looked like a grizzly might inhabit and I saw something large move. I immediately froze! It was a big dark shape, but it had a giant rack of antlers. Since bears don’t have antlers I relaxed. It was a big moose and as I watched it graze among the willows another, even bigger moose came out. I watched them for several minutes before they noticed me and ran away.
I was a little surprised that with all of my Hodoring the moose didn’t seem aware of my presence. Hopefully grizzly bears have better hearing. I really don’t want to surprise one.
After hiking six miles I crossed into Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is one of three National Parks that I get to hike through, but the only one I’ve never been to before. The others are Glacier, which I visited in 2014 and Rocky Mountain, which I went to last summer.
Crossing another park off of my bucket list
Just after crossing into the park I found a little backcountry ranger cabin. Since I had a short day I took an hour long break. I sat on the front porch and ate a few snacks. I only had fifteen more miles to hike for the day. While I was eating my Famous Amos cookies a mule deer walked right in front of me. It was so close and had absolutely no fear of me.
I decided to hike the remaining fifteen miles as quickly as I could. I had a few things I wanted to get done in camp. The top of my list was washing my socks. I’m not sure I’ll have time to do laundry when I get to Old Faithful Village so I’m trying to keep my clean socks clean for the next stretch. The remaining miles went by quickly. I took very few breaks because of the biting flies. I’m more than over having to deal with them. I had several more wet stream and river crossings to contend with. They were all very minor occurrences.
I saw a few groups of backpackers heading south. I’m always surprised by how big their packs are. How much stuff do you really need for a six day trip? I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they were carrying a kitchen sink. One group of three warned me that I was getting ready to hit a dry desolate area that went on forever. The lady in the group also warned me about an atrociously bad muddy area. I had looked at my map thoroughly at the ranger cabin. I didn’t see more than a three mile dry stretch. The area they were talking about was about two and a half miles with no water. There were also plenty of trees around. Just goes to show you that different people have different experiences. They should try hiking in the Great Basin if they really want to see dry and desolate. The muddy stretch the lady was talking about was fifteen feet of mud that was very easy to walk around. Yup, different points of view.
Dry and desolate
Notice the river on the left side of the picture. I’m not an expert, but I find it hard to describe something as dry and desolate when there is a river a few hundred yards away. A short time later I made it to my assigned campsite. I’m not sure what I expected, but this did not meet expectations. I could hardly find one flat spot to set up my tent. This area is supposed to hold eight tents. I don’t see how. Although it is worth the $3/night fee for the bear hanging pole. It was nice not to have to search for a perfect tree. Plus there was a fire ring, with some good sized tree branches for fire wood. I quickly hung my food, set up my tent, and went down to the creek. There was a nice swimming hole, so I waded out and took a hobo bath. I also washed my socks, shorts, and sports bra. I set everything out in the sun to dry. While my clothes were drying I started to fix my tent. I noticed last night that I had a lot of tiny tears in it. Since I have a cuben fiber tent that is not an issue. I have cuben fiber tape for just that reason. It took me a long time to find all of the holes, but twenty patches later and it was done. Most of the holes were very small. After almost 4,500 miles the wear and tear on some of the seams was too great. It has rained on me several times this trip and water never made it inside of my tent. I probably could have made it to Canada without repairing it, but I had extra time on my hands, so I figured why not.
By the time I finally finished with my tent my clothes were dry. I got my food down from the bear pole and started dinner. The mosquitos were atrocious, so I started a fire. I put some geeen stuff on so it would really smoke. That seemed to keep the insects away. Dinner consisted of beef ramen, Korean bbq pork jerky, flaming hot Cheetos, lemonade, snickers, and one of my moms world famous turtle brownies. After eating I went down to the creek for more water to put out the fire with. While I was down there I saw another deer. On my way back I startled an owl. It flew right at me. I have never seen an owl up close like that before.
“The true adventurer goes forth aimless and I calculating to meet and greet unknown fate.”
- O. Henry