Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Day 118: A Pleasant Surprise Encounter!

August 16: Because I expected to enter Yellowstone NP tomorrow, I had a strict schedule that I needed to follow. Until I entered the park, I could still camp whenever or wherever I liked, but through the park, I had to camp at pre-selected campsites on designated nights. But while there was some leeway with where I could camp tonight, I was in no particular rush. If I hiked too hard or too fast, I'd wind up having to do an annoyingly short day of hiking tomorrow. So I tried to find a place about halfway between where I woke up this morning and where I had to camp tomorrow night as my destination for the day--which meant a little less than 20 miles. And they looked to be relatively easy miles.

So I was in no rush, and therefore decided to sleep in and not get hiking until about 7:30am. 

A couple of miles further up the trail, there was a side path that led to a waterfall that other hikers reported as being well worth a visit. With a short, easy day ahead, I figured I'd take the 1/2-mile off-trail route to the waterfall in a slot canyon.

The waterfall was gorgeous, and I was happy to have made the detour. Well worth it. A tree had fallen across the slot canyon providing a bridge across the slot canyon that, allegedly, another hiker left a comment on Guthook implying that he had crossed it.

'Twas a gorgeous waterfall!

Looking at the fallen log, I thought that was a stupidly insane thing to do. The log looked slick and sketchy, with limbs protruding that could easily cause a slip or a fall--and from this height, a fall would have certainly been deadly. Just thinking about someone actually trying to cross there sent shivers down my spine. Theoretically, it could work as a shortcut, but so totally not worth the risk!

Anyhow, I took photos, then returned back to the main trail and continued the day's adventures.

Allegedly, one hiker crossed the slot canyon on this log. Keep in mind that there's probably a 100-foot drop below it. Insanity! Assuming the claim is actually true....

The sky was extremely smoky the whole day. Wherever the wildfires were burning, they were definitely causing a lot of smoke. I couldn't imagine it was good for my health breathing the air, but I continued doing so despite the smoke since I felt my health would take an even worse turn if I stopped breathing it completely.

Early in the afternoon, I noticed some bear prints on the trail. They seemed rather large and impressive, and I followed them for a mile or two along the trail. It seems that bears like to go hiking too! The tracks went in the same direction I was heading, though, so I knew there was a bear ahead. Somewhere. Hopefully not hiding behind a tree and ready to attack the next hiker that happened by. But I had my bear spray ready! Eventually the bear prints left the trail and I never saw any bears. Not today, at least.

In the early afternoon, I reached a creek crossing just as two southbound thru-hikers arrived on the far side. I waited a bit on my side of the river for them to cross first, which they did, then we chatted for a few minutes. When I introduced myself as Green Tortuga, the girl said she had heard that name before. Really? I couldn't imagine why. I assumed one of the northbounders ahead of me must have mentioned me at some point, but I couldn't imagine why, and she couldn't quite remember where she heard it from either.

While chatting, two more southbounders arrived at the creek and started crossing to our side when one of them, halfway across, looked up at me, and said, "Is that you, Green Tortuga?"

What?! Another person knows me? What is happening here?!

"It's me, Chuckles!"

Ooooh! He was wearing a strange hat that I didn't recognize, but as soon as he said his name and that gravelly voice, all the pieces snapped into place. "Chuckles!" And I took a closer look at the figure just behind him crossing the creek. "And that must be Little Red!" And it was!

I first met them while thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail in 2015, and they hosted me for a few days in Denver before I started my Colorado Trail thru-hike a couple of years later. I knew they were hiking southbound on the CDT, but I hadn't heard from them in over a month and had no idea precisely where they were or if we had somehow passed each other without knowing it. (For instance, if we had taken different alternate paths or somehow crossed paths in a trail town without actually running into each other.)

So we had a happy and fun mini-reunion. The other hikers that I didn't know had heard my name from Chuckles and Little Red who knew I was also hiking northbound and could possibly run into at some point. We chatted for about 15 minutes, catching up and telling some stories. Blueberry may have come up in the conversation as well because it's hard not to talk about him. =)


I pose with Chuckles and Little Red in a scene that would undoubtedly make Blueberry jealous! =)

But it was still too early in the day for us to stop to camp for the night, and we eventually continued on in our separate directions. I was a little disappointed that it didn't work out that we could camp together for a night, though. It would have been fun sharing more stories with them.

In any case, I pressed onward, eventually setting up camp in the afternoon with nothing else exciting to report.

I followed these bear prints for the better part of a mile!

Beaver dam!

No comments: