Monday, July 4, 2022

Day 114: 'Twas a Starry, Starry Day....

August 12: As the sun was rising over Lake of the Woods, I woke up and started eating breakfast. It was my usual morning routine, which included a bowl of granola cereal and some dried fruits, along with powdered milk fluffed up with cold water.

My view of Lake of the Woods while eating breakfast. Until...

I had my food bag spread out around me and was about halfway through breakfast when I noticed a dark blob behind some trees about 50 feet away that vaguely resembled a bear. It was hard to see behind the trees and didn't seem to move, however, so I wasn't entirely sure. Squinting didn't help me figure it out. So I finally shouted out, "Hey!" 

It stood up and turned its head to look at me--it was definitely a bear. I don't think it realized I was there until I called out to it. And there I was, just sitting there with food spread out all around me like I was part of a buffet. My bear spray was in easy reach, and I picked it up--just in case.

The bear went back down on all fours, however, then wandered off away from the lake shore and ,y camp. It was gone.

I never did get a clear enough look to identify what kind of bear it was. I was in grizzly country now. Theoretically, it could have been a grizzly. But there were still black bears around as well. Through all those trees and in the shade, however, I just couldn't see it well enough to be certain which had paid me a visit.

The rest of my breakfast was uneventful. I finished eating, then brushed my teeth and packed up camp. I was ready to hit the trail again!

Once I left the lake, the trail came out of the trees and through a series of cattle ranches. Overall, it was a pretty easy day of hiking and I crushed the miles quickly without even really trying hard. The day was sunny and warm, but fortunately not especially hot.

A couple of hours later, I reached an alternate route for the CDT which I decided to take based on the recommendations from Guthook comments. The alternate only lasted a few hours before it reconnected with the red-line CDT. It had wide-open views and far in the distance, I could see craggy peaks which I assumed were part of the Grand Tetons but didn't have any way of verifying.

Are those part of the Grand Tetons? I'm not really sure....

I must have passed the bulk of the south-bounders at this point as well. At the peak, I was seeing two or three dozen each day, but today I only saw a dozen or so. They were on the downswing now. I didn't run into any north-bounders the whole day, but I got regular updates of those who were ahead of me from the south-bounders.

Late in the afternoon, I passed a couple of south-bounders who commented on the clouds behind me. I hadn't noticed them since they were generally toward the south and I was hiking northward, but once they pointed it out to me, I was entranced by them!

They were long, wispy clouds that floated in the air, and looked freakishly unnatural. The south-bounders that drew my attention to them were named Gourmet and Zero Percent, and I asked them how long those had been up there. At least for an hour, they told me.

It almost looked like the clouds were painted onto the sky, and I commented that I thought they looked like something from a van Gogh painting. Like Starry Night, except in the day, which they agreed was a good description of the phenomena.

The wispy clouds entranced me! =)

We chatted for a few more minutes then continued on our separate ways. Every few minutes, I'd turn around to look behind me and see what was happening with the clouds. I took photos and videos, but annoyingly, they didn't seem to do the clouds justice. If I zoomed in close enough to see them in detail, you missed the wide-angle view of them. But if I zoomed out to get them all in the photo, you couldn't really see the detail. It was annoyingly frustrating that I couldn't capture what I could see with my own two eyes!

I was very glad I ran into those south-bounders who pointed out the spectacle behind me, though. For all I know, I might not have noticed the clouds at all before they vanished, and it really did feel like a special treat to see them.

I never really could get a satisfactory photo of the wispy clouds, though. =(

Late in the afternoon, I reached another alternate route for the CDT. This time, the alternate used to be the main red-line CDT, but in the past year the trail had been rerouted. The reroute was quite a bit longer, however, and crossed the highway leading into the next trail town further away so the ride into town would be longer.

That in itself didn't bother me, but reports from the south-bounders I met who stuck to the new red-line route reported it as being unfinished in parts and required cross-country travel or difficult to follow trails and urged everyone to use the old trail which was actually still marked with official CDT markers.

So that's what I did. This alternate would reconnect with the main red-line CDT another 20 or so miles away. It was a pretty substantial reroute as far as reroutes go.

Late in the day, the trail started getting back into trees again, and I pushed onward until I found a decent-sized clearing to camp in. Tonight was the Perseid meteor shower, and I wanted to be camped somewhere with a good view of it!

Back in cattle country!

There are some tiny white dots just to the left of the road where it crests the hill. Those are pronghorn antelope, but the started running away shortly after I took this photo.

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