CDT day 79: Wyoming is gentle and kind

July 22
Mileage: 28
1401.5 miles hiked

We wake at six under the gazebo. We were up late, telling stories, and now I feel groggy. But it’s a beautiful morning! Time to hike.

A big cup of earl grey tea from the gas station for the dirt roadwalk. Spark and Track Meat eat breakfast burritos from the hot bar. The elevation profile is cruiser today, and in 19 miles we’ll be in Wyoming. In fact, the elevation profile for the whole state of Wyoming is cruiser, compared to what we just did in Montana. I look at it while I walk. Yes! What even is this!

I think about Montana as the sun rises above the flat pine forest along the road. Montana: it was always hard. And it was never flat.

Wyoming, though. Wyoming! And have I told you that I’m feeling better every day?

We pass a hiker, sitting on the side of the road in a bit of shade smearing sunscreen on his face. He’s wearing faded running shorts and an even more faded t-shirt. A big floppy hat is pushed back on his greasy hair. His pack is tiny, and he’s walking northbound.

His name is John Z- actually, his trail name is Carrot, but he dropped it when he heard there was another Carrot on the trail. John Z started at the Mexican border on May 2, three days before us. He didn’t flip, and he didn’t take the low routes. He hiked through all the snow in Colorado, in spite of the avalanche risk. And now he’s here, at the Wyoming border- just one state left.

“I think you win,” I say. “I think you win the CDT 2015.”

“I haven’t seen anyone in a month and you caught me sitting down,” he says, sort of staring off into space. “I don’t ever take breaks.”

I tell him that he should keep the name Carrot. Carrots are obviously rare special individuals, and I would gladly share the name with him.

“You should be Fast Carrot,” I say.

We eat lunch at our one water source of the day, before camp- a spring in some flower-filled grass that we must follow an enchanted series of cairns to find. Then more walking, through the flat woods. We cross into yellowstone and the dirt road turns to singletrack. There is a sulphurous smell. And then- we’re in Wyoming! What an accomplishment! Two states down, and hopefully these final two will go more smoothly than the last.

Camp is at summit lake, a small unremarkable pewter-colored thing where the mosquitoes like to hang out. It starts to pour as we’re eating and before long we’re hiding in our tents. Old faithful village tomorrow.

Photos on instagram