Miles Hiked: 11.4
Total Milage: 866.6
Location: Lazy Acres Campground, Encampment Wyoming
Last night I didn’t sleep well at all. I haven’t been sleeping well for the past three nights which is really frustrating for me. I planned to wake up at 5:30 am but since I was already awake, I made some hot chai tea around five. I started to hear some voices and got very excited because I thought it was Hummingbird and Jenga! I was really confused when I saw two different hikers but I recognized then as some other thru hikers I met in Chama. Their names were Flash and Soars. Right after they passed and said hi, Jenga and Hummingbird came along right behind them. I was so happy that everyone woke up so early and was already hiking! 12 pack and I ended up packing up as fast as we could to join in right behind them. We were all on the trail before 6am.
The trail continued to be almost completely covered in snow for the rest of the day. There were a few dry patches here and there but not much. The first three miles were the hardest. The temperature didn’t drop below freezing last night so all the snow below 10k feet was still very soft and we were all post holing. It was so exhausting. When we found another dry spot after lots of uphill climbing we took a break to eat some food and make snow cones. The sun was beating down on us and it was very hot. I taped up my feet because I have some blister hot spots that have been bothering me for several days.
After the break we continued hiking through wide open fields of snow. We were now above 10k feet and having a little bit easier of a time walking on top of the snow. Now we could move about 2.5 miles per hour instead of one mile per hour. The snow was absolutely blinding with the sun reflecting off of it. I had my sunglasses on all day because it hurt to take them off. I’m thinking about getting a nicer pair because of how much time I’m about to be spending in the snow. My current pair I got for free from a hiker box and they are pretty scratched up. Navigating in the snow is really hard because you can’t see a trail. Ocasionally I would see an old melted our foot print here and there but for the most part we were all making fresh tracks. Around 11am we reached the summit of Bridger Peak and hung out for a while to enjoy the views before our downhill descent to the highway.
The decent was a lot easier than I thought it would be, I mostly just sloshed lots of snow around and tried not to slip and fall. All of us took turns falling down in the slipper snow all day. When we reached the highway Soars and Flash had been there trying to hitch into town for an hour but they only saw four cars. We all ended up hanging out on the side of the not so busy highway for about 3-4 hours before a Riverside local picked us up. We were so desperate we tried calling a campground and hotel in town to see if they knew of anyone we could pay to come pick us up and bring us back. No luck with that. Dan, who ended up picking us up originally drove by twice in an SUV with his dog and wife. When they saw we were there for such a long time he let us know he would be back with his pick up truck to come get us. Dan came to get us around 3:30 and drove us about 15 minutes in to town. Hummingbird and I got to sit inside the truck and we chatted with him about the area and the trail. He dropped us off at Lazy Acres Campground and gave us all the information about town that we needed to know. Thank you Dan!
When we got to the campground we checked in and immediately went to get food. First we went to the small grocery store to see if they had enough food for us to resupply. They did! I was very surprised because we heard that we would probably have to hitch to the next town over to find a grocery store with enough food. I really did not want to stand on the side of the road for any longer today and waste time getting back to the trail tomorrow. Obviously hitching is not easy around here. After grabbing my resupply, we all went across the street to the Bear Trap cafe where I got a burger and salad for lunch. I was absolutely hungry.
We ended up camping at Lazy Acres for $12 per person. It was right next to the grocery store and restraunt and the Encampment River was on the property. A perfect spot! At the campground we met Shawn Cheshire. She is a blind lady in the middle of a 3,900 mile bike ride across America. When she finishes she will be the first blind person to complete a coast to coast road biking tour! She has an amazing crew of people guiding her, running support and filming a documentary. We ended up hanging out with all of them for the rest of the night. One of the people who came to join her crew for a week is ab AT thru hiker. His name is Ari aka Ziploc and he finished the AT in 2006. He was absolutely ecstatic to see thru hikers. We spent all night talking to him about trail things. He bought us a beer at the bar across the street and offered to drive us back to the trail in the morning. He said he would have to do it before 7am which was so perfect! We kind of needed to be on the trail as early as possible to have the best chance at traveling on top of the snow. I was so happy we had a ride arranged and Ari was great to hang out with. If you’re interested in following along Shawn’s incredible journey I will include a picture of her information.
When we went to the Bear Trap cafe across the street for Beer with Ari and Shawn’s crew, they had a live music event which was really fun. We all left around 9pm to go to bed. Us hikers have a long 20 mile day in the snow ahead of us and Shawn and Ari have a 70+ mile day of riding a bike up and down a mountain pass. 8pm is considered midnight for us. The live music across the street ended up playing until 11pm. All of us were hanging out in the laundry room because we were grumpy about not getting sleep. The music was so loud and we couldn’t believe how late it continued. I didn’t sleep well for another night.