CDT day 78: in everything beautiful there is something strange

July 21
Mileage: zero

I wake up at four a.m. again, and can’t fall back asleep. Why? It’s frosty and dark in the campground, and then there’s a little light and I get up to walk to the showerhouse, barefoot in the dirt and realize that I’m been bleeding all over myself. Ah, that’s why I woke up. Surprisingly, it’s not that hard to clean blood out of neon-yellow running shorts- even if all you have is some shampoo that someone left. Who knew?

We’re hitching to West Yellowstone today- I have a resupply box there, although it would’ve been way easier just to resupply at Sawtell Mountain Resort, where the Mack’s Inn alternate crosses the highway. They’ve got an awesome grocery store, and the campground has deleriously wonderful showers. I guess this is what happens when you don’t do research before a trail…

It takes us almost two hours to hitch the 20 miles to West Yellowstone, which is a crowded tourist village of overpriced burger joints and useless outdoor stores. Our kindly ride drops me off at the post office… where they tell me that they’ve sent my general delivery package back returned to sender, as it was unclaimed. Unclaimed? I sent it two weeks ago. Don’t hikers mail packages here every year? Luckily it was just food, and there’s a big grocery store here. But what if it was gear I needed, or this was a town without a store? I’ve heard of trail town post offices being finicky about the amount of time they hold packages, but this is the first time it’s happened to me. Luckily the grocery store has an awesome gluten-free selection, and I find gf brownies, gf bagels, and gf chocolate rice chex, which is amazing! I get salami and mayo packets for the bagels and pick up some wavy lays. I have leftover instant beans and dried vegetables for dinner. It’s only 40 miles to Old Faithful village. I’m set!

It takes us a long time to get our backcountry camping permits for Yellowstone. We have to meet with a ranger in her office, and the ranger is hella grumpy- I guess I would be too if I worked here, with all the crowds? The ranger says we have to hang not only our food and smellables at night, but our packs and clothes too. Say what? We watch a silly video about hiking in the “back country” (don’t feed the animals, bears are not for cuddling etc) and then we are finally free. It’s late afternoon and we’re starving and, miraculously, there is a taco bus. Adorable/screaming children swarm around us while we wait for our food. We watch the storclouds move in as we eat so many tacos. We gotta get out of here!

A nice nineteen year-old mormon girl picks us up just as the rain begins to fall, and drives us all the way back to Sawtell resort. Thanks, mormon god! The young woman is about to go on a mission in San Francisco, and is incredibly enthused about everything in life. Sometimes I wish life was that simple- be mormon, here’s a bunch of answers, happiness forever. But nah. what’s the quote?

I can barely conceive of a type of beauty in which there is no Melancholy.
– Charles Baudelaire


In everything beautiful there is something strange.
-Constantine Manos

Or one of my favorites-

When you’re a kid, they tell you it’s all… grow up. Get a job. Get married. Get a house. Have a kid, and that’s it. But the truth is, the world is so much stranger than that. It’s so much darker. And so much madder. And so much better.
-Dr Who

It’s coming down hard now and we duck under the gazebo in the park, watching the rain thunder down in the long evening light. It’s so peaceful here, it’s good to be back. West Yellowstone was crowded and loud but here at this nowhere road crossing in the rain there is room to breathe, and watch the weather and contemplate the nature of life. Soon we’ll walk to the convenience store across the street to drink rootbeer and play magic but for now we stand, watching the rain blow sideways. A boy who looks to be about twelve emerges from the subway, climbs a light-pole, and starts dancing on the pole in the rain, as though it was a stripper pole. He throws his hair back, and swings his hips back and forth. He’s wearing glasses, and laughing. The light above the mountains turns fire-pink and the rain falls down harder.

Photos on instagram