Miles: 23.6

Camp: My CDT mile 1757.7

I let myself sleep in a little this morning knowing I would only regret it later. It didn’t matter in that comfy hotel bed, in that warm room where I could make coffee and watch the Olympics. I ate my leftover sandwich for breakfast and made a cup of strong coffee while watching fencing. Fencing looks like a lot of fun. I want to try that sometime.

I was so relaxed this morning that I didn’t want to hurry. The only problem is that the mileage for this next section is pretty specific. You need a permit to camp within the boundary of Yellowstone, so hikers camp at the border and hike 27 miles to the Ranger Station to get a permit once in the park. It leaves 49 miles between 2 days to get to that position at the border. The more I hike today, the better off I’ll be tomorrow. 

I left the hotel having had bad communication with Limey. We never made a plan and he had not responded to my message about my plans…so I figured I would run into him on trail and started hitchhiking. Within 5 minutes, a very shiny SUV that had already passed me came back around to pick me up. A nice older couple drove me the 6 miles up the road and I was on my way. I ran into Dragon immediately, so we started walking together. He had the same plan to get to the border tomorrow night. 

We walked together and apart all day, taking a couple of breaks together. I am finally trying out the metatarsal pad and had to fuss with it quite a bit. I was using it wrong to start and that only intensified the neuroma causing me to be doubled over in pain. Funny enough, I ran into Rip and Michael (from way back in New Mexico!) who were now southbounding because they had skipped the snow in Colorado. Rip has a lot of experience with neuromas and showed me how to use the pad properly which helped immediately. I was actually at the point where I was going to give in and quit the whole trail because of the pain and sweet Rip came and saved the day. The only problem is that I fussed with it too much and now all of the adhesive has worn off. I have some stuff I can use, but I need to find some time to let the adhesive set when my shoes aren’t wet. We are in a heavy river crossing area, so dry shoes are not going to be the norm for a while. I’ll figure this out yet!
Dragon and I stopped for dinner in an open field 5 miles before the end of the day. We sat and ate and then he hiked out just before me. I was listening to a podcast of an interview with Neil Young when I saw Dragon stopped ahead. I knew immediately what he was going to say.

“Guess what I just saw?” He asked.

“How big was it?” Was my first reaction.

“My size.” (He isn’t much bigger than I am).

We then walked right by each other and told loud jokes, sang songs and yelled silly things into the trees. Not a mile later a black bear cub was sitting in the middle of the trail. We yelled at it and into the woods in case it’s mom was about. Bear country indeed! I’m so so thankful for Dragon right now. I want Limey to catch up so we can all keep the bears at bay as a team. I want all of the people back. I want us all to be together and safe. It’s exciting and scary at once.

Dragon and I are camped in a burn zone (not ideal, but there is no wind and it was getting dark). We had to stop in order to have time to hang our food and the terrain doesn’t look any better up ahead. We hung our food in counter balance, a new method for me, but seems effective. There was exactly one decent branch for us to use here, so we had to share. I want to get an early start for the 26 miles we need to do tomorrow, so for now it is goodnight.

Dinner: mac and cheese with tuna and bacon