So I've been thinking that my one and only post, "How the West was Won" about my trek was a little too much of a tease. People still ask me what i did? and where did you sleep?
I should write in more detail about "what happened" rather than "what i felt"
So I opened up my journal and picked a random day to write about. My page opened straight to day 37.
Day 37- Today, I woke up to a knock on my door. I rolled myself out of bed, and it was Natasha. "Hey whatsup dude! Why is it so blazing hot in here?!" Just then I realized it must have been over 100 degrees in my room- STOP. What am I talking about? I'll give you some context.
Starting in southern california, I hitch-hike my way up the coast into canada, through the British Columbian Mountains into Jasper and Banff. Then south into Montana, through Idaho, and currently, I am in Wyoming. I was in Yellowstone and It was my fourth day in Wyoming. Along the road, I met a few nice girls who work at the Park, one of them at the infamous "Old Faithful Inn". Getting a room here would involve calling 1+ year beforehand to reserve a spot, and about 400 bucks a night. And that's only for a bed and a window. Natasha of course hooked me up with a room and a lovely 3-day tour of Yellowstone. This happens to be the last day. And now back to the story...
"You ready to go?". "Yeah, let's go". So Natasha, Megan, and I drive just a couple miles down the road to a trailhead, and hike to a viewpoint of a sweet waterfall. Being a National Park, doing anything and everything NOT on the trail is a felony. Yet, Natasha said, "Welp, let's go get a closer look!, eh?".
So we tumble down the steep cliff to the riverside, take off our shoes, walk on in and get a closer look at the Gem. It was such a beautiful day and the beaming sun was right above the glorious waterfall. It was truly an amazing sight. After checking out some thawed out ice caves up on the hillsides, We return to the Inn to get lunch. As we pull into the Inn driveway, Old faithful is going off. I remember watching it go off twice last night. A remarkable sight leaves you thinking, "what is under me?". Anyway, we're sitting in the restaurant and our friend, Jenny is serving us. Jenny, Megan, and Natasha are all close friends from their hometown, Texas. Anyway, Lunch was a buffet, so I decide to eat SO much, that I wouldn't need to eat anything else all day. Food is a necessity after all...
After engorging myself in bison chili, rice pilaf, trout, BBQ chicken, salad, apple cobbler, huckleberry ice cream, and of course chocolate milk, I pack all my stuff in my old backpack, which I notice has a big rip in it, and walk out the front door. I walk down the steps down to the street. I walk past bison lounging on their dirt holes. I am back on my own. I am back into the wild. I am now, out of the safe zone. "Yellowstone is a magical place with lots of phenomenon I cannot yet explain." My favorite thermal feature is called, "The dragon's mouth". It is a hole on the side of a hill that breathes and screams and throws and bubbles water around. If you try to look in the cave, all you see is steam over black. It's so mysterious...
Once i orient myself, I look north by the road, and put my thumb out facing up and south. The first car to drive past was a little red truck. It pulls over in front of me. The lady sitting in the passenger seat has her arm out pointing towards the back yelling, "get in the back, we'll take you to west thumb!". So I throw my stuff in, and hop on in. Cruising through the beautiful trees and hills and steam from the features, I lay down and watch as I move according to the treetops and clouds. As the truck turns, the angle of the sun changes. Well anyway, they kick me out and keep heading south to Jackson as I head east towards Lake.
I'm at a good turnout sitting waiting. The rate of cars passing by is VERY slow. Only 10 cars past by over a 2 hour period. I was starting to look around for places I can huddle up and camp, When all around me are signs saying, "Danger! no wandering, harmful thermal features". And on the signs was a picture of man sinking into hot acidy liquid. Then I remembered all the stories I heard from Natasha and Jenny about people they knew burning their legs off just from walking off the trail a few feet. I continue to wait for a ride.
Eventually, A truck pulls over and again gives me the "get in the back" signal. Yes! I am moving once again! I sit with the random things in the back of the car. I look through the window to see who has picked me up. What?! A nice happy family consisting of a mom, a dad, and four girls ranging from age 6-12 ish. The family of six was all squeezed in their pickup truck having a good old time in The Park. When I looked inside, the youngest daughter was looking at me smiling in embarrassment. I thought it was kind of funny. I would assume their dad had picked up his fair share of hikers with them. They open up the bed window, and one of middle daughters said, "Is Lake OK?" "Yeah, sounds good". Lake was about 25 miles ahead. So I sit back and enjoy the beautiful ride. As we drive by the side of the Giant Yellowstone Lake, I remember driving this stretch of road a day before. Yellowstone is the biggest lake in such high elevation. 7,700 ft. i believe. Also, there are also features in the lake. This was discovered in the 20's when fishermen were fishing off the side of their boat in the lake. One man felt a bite and as he was pulling up his fish, the tugging stopped. Thinking the fish got away, he reels up his line to find a fully cooked fish on the end of his line.
The family dropped me of at the fishing bridge just east of lake. Jumping our of the truck and throwing my heavy pack back onto my back. I take a deep breath, and start to walk again. Then, the little girl from the car stopped me, and said, "I made something for you"...
"Oh! Thank You! ... *look down* ... Sandy!". I got two things today, what a surprise!
Well anyway, laughing at the cuteness overload, I begin to walk away again. It was starting to get a little late in the day, but I decide to keep moving. I walk and walk and walk looking for a turnout. Looking ahead, there doesn't seem to be one for a while, or at least a couple of miles. So i just throw out my thumb anyways, and the first car I see stops in the middle of the road and offers me a ride. Two guys in their 30's are going to Cody. They went to the park to climb Mt. Washburn, the tallest mountain in the park. They were very interesting people. Both were wearing camo hats, they must be hunters. Montana plates, they probably have moved around a lot not having a good steady job, low on money, explaining their old rusty car. Things were a mess in the backseat with old trash wrappers and beer cans lying around, they must be single. I know this type of people. But... Wait... "I'm a B" playing on the radio?.. I have no good explanation.
We drove the Beautiful Shoshone Forest and the scenery was just unreal! Towering red pinnacles all lined up cubed perfectly. Everything was so baren and dead, yet the cliffs were so alive. It looked like a movie set. It was like someone picked up a piece of the Colorado Plateau and set it here.
I asked if they'd heard of Cedar Mountain Climbing, and one of the guys was familiar with the bouldering scene pretty well. So they dropped me off at the BLM gate and gave me pretty bad directions to the main area. It went something like, "yuh, so yer just gonna walk up this dirt road right up here, right? And um uh, yuh ya just walk on up about a mal or so, and you'll see a dirt plateau. Right thar, yuh, it's right thar".
So I walk up the hill on the dirt road seeing a sign saying "Bureau of Land Management. No fireworks." That also means everything else is legal.
His directions made no sense to me, so I walk until I see a nice flat spot I could camp. I see a trail going to the left that looks flat, and it opens up to a nice plateau full of beautiful golden limestone boulders with strange tufas and features. I find an old firepit at the base of a boulder with a large tall black stain drifting up the wall. This must be a party place for high schoolers, because I also found an old torn up wool sleeping bag, a red nylon adidas handbag, a knife, and some skewers. Jackpot! The sun had been down for a while now, It was a matter of a few minutes until It got dark. So I climb around on the boulders until it got dark. The rock is absolutely bullet strong. Tiny little fingers would stick out of the rock, and when I grabbed one climbing, thinking it would break, I put no weight on it, but it didn't seem to break; I throw more and more weight on the little twig-like limestone feature until just about all my body weight was pressing down on it. WOW! strong rock. I like this place. Yet no water..
Dry as a bone. A very dead bone. I had about 2 liters of water with me. I guess that will have to do for now. With my light, I find firewood, mostly which was old sagebrush roots. I start heating up some water from the fire to make some oatmeal. While eating, I decide to throw all of the wood onto the fire to make it huge! The experience was unreal. Now I have had many fires bigger than this on my trip, but none smelled as nice. None gave me the "just me" feeling as this one did. I felt like rambo sitting by the fire, except I wasn't holding a gun. Ah, the smell of sagebrush is my favorite! It reminds me of fire dancing with my best friends in the creekbeds of the foothills under the Grand Tetons. We shrieked like girls from the sound of the Moose and Bears in the distance. I sing as loud as I could. There must have been no one for miles around. Looking up, I see the usual Wyoming skylight. Amazing. Billions of twinkling, bubbling stars all spinning around makes me dizzy and pathetic, but nice. It was a lot warmer here than Yellowstone. Must have been about 60 degrees out. It was beautiful.
I had not set up my tent, nor sleeping bag, nor anything really. Being a warm night, I am so tired; I lay my head down near the fire. We both drift away into sleep...