Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Day 94: Cheshire Cat

July 23: I meant to get another early 6:00am start, but it sounded like a light sprinkle started at around 5:00am so I slept in a bit later. After a half hour of laying around, though, I started wondering if it was an actual sprinkle or just tree snot. I poked my head out to check, but I wasn't entirely sure. The rain had definitely stopped for the time being, however, so I finally got up and started doing my morning rituals and eventually had everything packed up and ready to go at precisely 6:38am and hit the trail.

I hadn't realized it by looking at my maps, but the trail ahead went through lots of very wet meadows which were completely soaked from the rain during the night. Particularly the grass hanging off both sides of the trail soaked my feet in minutes. In hindsight, I wished I had put on my waterproof socks. It would have been a lot more comfortable the first several hours this morning.

Although the rain had stopped, the skies still looked dark and moody and could potentially start raining again at any moment.

A few hours into the day's hike, I wound up at the trailhead near Highway 70. From here, a lot of hikers hitch a ride into the small town of Encampment, but when I checked online, it didn't have a real grocery store so I couldn't see the point. Perhaps if I had mailed food to myself at the post office, but I hadn't. In any case, it seemed like too much trouble to go into a town with such limited services so I decided to skip it.

But I didn't make it through the trailhead without being stopped, however, by the Cheshire Cat. He was hiking parts of the trail and had been doing trail magic for hikers along the way. I'd seen his name in registers and had assumed he was just a regular old thru-hiker, but that definitely turned out not to be the case as he had his own vehicle. I'm not precisely sure how much of the trail he was hiking, but I got the impression he had done large sections of it, including in previous years.

Most notable was his custom-painted vehicle, a psychedelic machine with the Cheshire Cat painted on it. He was just pulling up as I reached the trailhead, but he had spent the night there the night before but left for a short period of time that morning to do some grocery shopping and get his vehicle cleaned. He gave me an apple and a huge, gooey cinnamon roll that I was happy to help consume. =)

Cheshire Cat offered me an apple an enormous, gooey cinnamon roll. =)

He also told me that Reality Check had set up her tent by the toilets (why the toilets?!) last night and apparently was happy to have survived the night saying that the thunderstorm was one of the worst she had ever experienced and it was absolutely terrifying. It sounded like they were much more exposed to the lightning than where my campsite was. Except for the one lightning strike that was especially close, none of the others worried me too much. Cheshire Cat's description sounded like it was much worse here, though.

Anyhow, after chatting for a half hour or so, I picked up my bag and continued onward. The trail followed along Highway 70 for a quarter-mile or so before diving back into the woods. I was grateful that the road was was so short!

Well, I still followed some gravel roads, but those weren't so bad or busy.

The trail was a little easier overall today than yesterday, but it still had a lot more ups and downs than I wanted or expected.

Later in the afternoon, the skies cleared a bit, which brightened my mood. It's easier to be happy on the trail when it's sunny and chilly than dank and cold. Despite the sun coming out, it never really got warm.

I didn't run into any thru-hikers all day, though. The second day in the row I didn't see any, although today I did pass two day hikers late in the afternoon who were out for a short hike.

I finally stopped for the day near where the trail crossed a gravel road. I had started looking for a place to camp a couple of miles earlier but the trail ran through a logging area where everything was really torn up and exposed. Near one particular dirt road that the trail crossed, however, it was unlogged and there were small pockets of ground without logging debris where I could sleep.

The trail passed through a lot of logged areas late in the day.

It wasn't a great location, kind of in a flattish spot on the side of a hill, but looking at topo maps ahead, it looked like the trail would head up a hillside to an exposed ridge and follow on or near that for several miles. I was becoming a bit desperate to find a place to camp so I made do with this location. It was better than the last few miles I had passed through, and it was likely the best I'd find for the next several miles.

There were a few bugs around to be bothersome so I went ahead and set up my bug net again. If I hadn't had it, the bugs wouldn't have been particularly problematic, but since I had it, I figured I may as well use it. This time, I didn't install my tarp over it since there was no rain in the forecast this time.

And thus ended another long day.....

And what could possibly be in this strange box?

It was a hiker box! Nothing that I really needed or wanted, however, but I did sign the register. Which also let me know about how far everyone was ahead of me, but of course could tell me nothing about how far people were behind me.

Evidence that Pez was still ahead of me somewhere, and that this was old enough that several hikers had contributed to the game. (Pez just started the tic-tac-toe grid with just the first X. All the others were added by passing hikers.)  X now has a clear path to victory! O can block once, but the next X move should be a win if the hikers behind me play it right. This was the most complete board I ever found along the trail. Usually they only had one or two markers in them.

The afternoon cleared up nicely!

I had no idea which hiker did this drawing on the trail.

Oh, good grief! That insect is HUGE!!!! Where did this mutant bug come from?!


Kristin aka Trekkie Gal said...

I love Google Lens. I used it on your photo of the insect, and it immediately told me that it was a White-spotted Sawyer or Spruce Sawyer.

Ryan said...

That sounds like a very interesting app! I might have to download it.... =)