Friday, August 26, 2022

Day 137: The Great Western Loop

September 4: I woke up and hit the trail at around 7:00am--a pretty normal time for this time of year. Even this early in the morning, however, I could smell the scent of smoke in the air and see it on the horizon. Wildfires were still burning... somewhere....

The trail was largely uneventful once again. The trail went up and down and around.

The most interesting thing I came across was actually a person, a hiker heading southbound named Phish. He told me that he was hiking the Great Western Loop. He had started hiking in Arizona, traveled west to the Pacific Crest Trail, then north to the Pacific Northwest Trail, then east to the Continental Divide Trail and was now heading south to eventually reconnect with where he started in Arizona. He still had a couple of thousand miles of hiking before he'd finish. To say that the route was ambitious is more than an understatement. I'd never actually met anyone who had tried anything quite so ambitious.

We wound up chatting for about an hour or so, which surprised me, really--he still had a lot of hiking to do before he'd be finished. I think he had been pretty lonely on his hike, though, and I was happy to stop and chat for awhile. He might have even been lonelier than myself! I was also one of the few people who he had likely met that was familiar with most of the route he was hiking having done the PCT, PNT and AZT. The only pieces I won't have completed are the connecting routes from the AZT to the PCT and the AZT to the CDT. But I'd probably done about 95% of the route--over four different years, though, rather than one crazy year!

He was hoping to reach Silverton before the winter snows started but could bail from the red-line CDT as early as Steamboat Springs and head westward out of the high mountains if necessary. He seemed determined that he'd definitely finish this year--just that the precise route he would take would depend on when the snow started to fall.


I gave him some suggestions about the route south--including the fact that it was entirely possible to skip Butte and resupply in Whitehall if he was trying to speed things up. The free place to stay in Whitehall was a nice perk as well. He was really excited to hear about that, wanting to reach town for some sort of sports event that he wanted to watch live. I think I sold him on the idea. He asked a couple of times about the Internet--there had to be Internet for him to watch the event with his friends. Yes, there was Internet, I assured him.

It was a nice conversation, but eventually we continued on our own way. We both had miles we wanted to get done. Him more than I, but I had miles to do before the snow started flying as well!

Phish told me that there was trail magic not far ahead on the trail, so I was looking forward to that but I never did find any. Was it further up the trail? It didn't sound like it was particularly far away. Or maybe it had run its course and was no longer there? In any case, I wound up disappointed without any trail magic. =(

Near the end of the day, the route started following gravel roads again, which were remarkably busy with people, so I walked a few hundred feet off the route to find a more private place to camp away from the passing ATVs. Another day done!

That's me!! I'm foot traffic! =)

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