Monday, July 23, 2018

Day 99- New Routines and a New Hiking Partner

Sunday July 22, 2018
Dubois, WY(1915.2) to North of S. Buffalo Fork(1934.7) 19.5 Miles
Total Miles: 1690.9 
Elevation: 8,600 feet

I was still really tired when Hannibal woke me up this morning. As usual I stayed up way too late trying to accomplish a few last minute things. One of these days I’ll learn to be more efficient with my time in town. I completely forgot that it was my birthday until Hannibal and I were sitting at a coffee shop and he wished me a happy birthday. The General stayed at the hotel to get cleaned up while Hannibal and I got coffee. We had a quick bite to eat before returning to our room. We finished loading up the car and were out the door by eight. Mom and Dad dropped me off on the side of the road where they picked me up two days ago. I was more than a little sad to say goodbye. I enjoyed our time together and wished it could have been longer. Knowing that they had a long drive to South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore I didn’t draw out the goodbyes. I started hiking north while they drove back towards Dubois to continue their road trip. If they would have waited two minutes they could have given two hikers a ride into town. I saw two guys coming down the trail, but it was too late, my parents were gone. I didn’t have the heart to tell the hikers that if they would have been just a little bit faster they would have had a ride. 

Hannibal and The General 

The day started off just like the other day ended. It only took about twenty minutes before I stepped in a giant mud hole. The trail was overgrown and try friends, the mosquitos and biting flies were back. It was a good thing that it only lasted for a few miles. After that I walked on a gravel road until I got to Brooks Lake Lodge. The campground had a privy and trash cans. I didn’t have any trash, so I ate a snack just so I could throw away the garbage. The privy was the nicest one I have ever used. It had a small table full of brochures and an air freshener. I do enjoy having reading material while I go to the bathroom. 

Awesome privy

For the next three days I only have to average 20.5 miles. I decided to lounge by the lake for awhile. I took almost an hour and just hung out. It was a nice change of pace. Once I left Brooks Lake the trail was great for awhile. I followed a horse trail for several miles. It was nicely maintained and very well graded. 

Horse trail

After a few miles I hit a good sized stream. There was no dry way across. I decided to take off my socks and shoes to cross. I just wasn’t ready to hike in soaking wet shoes for the rest of the day. I had just managed to get my feet dry at the lake. 

Wet crossing, but I stayed dry

I am now officially in grizzly bear country. As a result my hiking routine has greatly changed. I don’t feel comfortable hiking with my headphones on anymore. I tried listening to a podcast on my phones speakers. The noise should have been a good bear repellent, but listening to anything without headphones drains my battery quickly. When I saw how much my battery had gone down after just a few hours I turned it off. Anytime the wind was in my face, I walked by a loud water source, or right brush I made a lot of noise. Usually I just called out, “Hey bear”, or I talked to myself. As long as I’m making noise I shouldn’t startle any bears. They should hear me coming and run away. I did startle something. I heard and saw something big go running through the woods, but I couldn’t tell what it was. Based on the prints I saw in the muddy sections of trail, it was probably an elk or deer. 

Mentally I was having a tough day. The trail hasn’t been that interesting lately and without music, audiobooks, or a podcast for distraction the miles dragged on forever. I also had theee river and stream crossing to deal with. The first was just annoying because I had to get my feet wet. The second was a quick moving, ice cold stream. It wasn’t too difficult I just had to be careful. The third was a full fledged river crossing. The water was deep, cold, and very fast. It didn’t take long until it was up to my waist. I had to keep three points of contact at all times. I almost lost my footing once. It really wasn’t too dangerous, but it also wasn’t too safe. Just last night Hannibal and I talked about swift moving river crossings. He couldn’t believe that we hike across such things. 

Wet fast moving creek crossing

Dry stream crossing

Fast moving and deep. The Buffalo River

I made it to camp by 6:30. I was glad that I got in early. My end of day routine is completely different for grizzly country. I got my tent, sleeping bag, and sleeping pad out. Then I took everything else away from my sleeping area. I found a tree to hang my food in and got my bear bag line started. Then I took my food well away from my tent to cook. In effect I made a large triangle, with my sleeping area, food prep area, and food storage area being about 100 yards apart. After dinner I changed into clothes that have never been eaten in. I took my food, hiking clothes that I ate dinner in, and anything that smells and hung it from my bear bag line. My new routine took close to two hours. I know that it is just a matter of time and practice before this will go smoother, but oh man everything took forever. 

Now I would like to introduce my new hiking partner. We have committed to hiking together until Canada. While on trail we will go and do everything together. In town we will be in the same room, but other than that we will do our own thing. I’ll probably get tired of him after Yellowstone National Park, but a commitment is a commitment. I have decided to call him, Bear Mace Windu, or just Mace Windu for short. 

My new partner ;-) 

Mace and I will go everywhere on trail together. While hiking he is attached to my shoulder strap. While walking around in camp he will be in my hand or pocket. It doesn’t do any good to carry bear spray, but not have it accessible. Tonight for instance, I was getting ready to cook dinner when I heard something cracking through the woods nearby. I couldn’t see whatever it was, but it sounded huge. I called out my HeyBear and it ran away, but I had Mace Windu 
in my hand and ready to spray. I keep trying to tell myself that it was just an elk. I said it over and over again until I almost believe it. Laying here in my tent, typing my blog, Mace Windu is next to me with my headlamp wrapped around him. Constant vigilance! 

“Life seems to be a process of replacing one anxiety with another and substituting one desire for another--which is not to say that we should never strive to overcome any of our anxieties or fulfil any of our desires, but rather to suggest that we should perhaps build into our strivings an awareness of the way our goals promise us a respite and a resolution that they cannot, by definition, deliver.”
- Alain de Botton


  1. Love the new hiking partner!!! I carry one similar on the A.T., mainly for the 2 legged variety!!

  2. I told dad when he told me new hiking partner that I thought it was your can of bear spray. Yeah for me, I guessed right. We hated to say goodbye, too. We looked and didn’t see any hikers coming. Sorry, we weren’t there to give them a ride. Stay alert and you will be fine. Hope days ahead are better. LU

  3. Another great saying at the end of your blog. I was hoping your new friend was another Turtle - maybe tomorrow. Happy you had some time with your folks.

  4. Hi Yoda. Glad to see your hiking the CDT to finish up your Triple Crown. I'm especially happy that your taking extra precautions hiking through grizzly county. Too bad your up in Wyoming. My girlfriend and I will be up in Durango for vacation and I would have done some trail magic for you. Keep on, hiking on!

    1. Jason, glad you are reading Yoda blog, again. Yondering where you were. Maybe, another, when will Yoda finished this year. 😊 The General.

    2. Hello there General. I have been meaning to post for sometime now. I read about your road trip. I'm jealous! I have been wanting to do that trip for awhile now. Maybe next year I will take two weeks and do that for vacation. I don't know if I will be able to pull off a third win this year!

  5. Hope you never need to use your trusty new friend! Glad you’re taking precautions and enjoy the beautiful country!