CDT day 80: old faithful village overwhelm

July 23
Mileage: 22
1423.5 miles hiked

Old Faithful village is a bit of a nightmare. Even on a Wednesday in the rain the crowds are so thick that I feel like I’m at some sort of sporting event- hundreds of clean people in bright clothing clustered along the boardwalk around the main geysers, waiting for them to erupt. People jostling for things, people going in and out of doors. It rained hard all night last night and then we hiked here this morning in the cold rain- I just want someplace warm and dry to explode my pack and maybe get an overpriced sandwich or something. But these people. Walking fanned out in slow motion down the boardwalk, slowing our progress. After the first few geysers, which are like cool jewel-colored portals to another world, I can’t even enjoy them anymore. I just need to get away from the crowds.

There’s a big fancy lodge and we post up in the lobby, after consuming lots of expensive food in the cafeteria and table-diving even more. For some reason I can’t manage to get anything done- the internet on my phone won’t work, even though it says it has 4G, so I can’t check my email or upload blogs, and the post office here, much like the one in West Yellowstone, has sent my package return to sender after fifteen days. We do manage to dry our stuff, spreading it in the grass behind the lodge in the warm sun that has just come out. Spark overhears some people talking about us-

Did you see those mountain people? To come into a nice place like this and smell that B.O.!

The people here are decked out in gortex jackets and quick-dry zip-off pants, and this is a national park with a thousand miles of trails, but they seem never to have heard of a thing called backpacking. They stare at us with open hostility. We gotta get out of here!

Since my box was sent away I end up doing my entire resupply at the small general store, where there is very little that I can eat and everything costs at least double what it should. I end up with mostly chips and granola, plus some jerky. Time passes at a dizzying rate and by the time we hike out it’s 3 p.m. We only have eleven miles to go, to our designated campsite at a lake. The trail here is completely flat and before I know it I’m sitting on the shores of such lake, eating chips and watching Track Meat wade out into the water. The clouds are light and fluffy and there’s a moose in the meadow behind us. In 90 miles we’ll be in Dubois, which is supposed to be a perfect hiker town.

Photos on instagram