Dyer and Riches: CDT Thru-Hikers


August 9, 2000—Day 101, 1780 Miles—Macks Inn, Idaho— Yellowstone! We expected grizzly bears, geothermal wonders, and fire-ravaged forest; we found it all except the great bear, who informed us of his presence with footprints and scat, but remained unseen. After over 1600 miles of travel on America's public lands we finally needed a permit to camp, but the process was smooth, friendly, and free!

Just after dawn we hiked across the Shoshone Geyser Basin. The steam from numerous hot pools and geysers clung to the chill morning air. The only sound was the bubbling of water. It was magical.

On our second day in Yellowstone we found a young family burying a huge pile of expensive freeze-dried dinners in a shallow pit. It seems that they were hiking for a week and had grossly overpacked. Despite signs at every trailhead warning against burying food, they had somehow decided this was the best course of action. After a short lecture about food disposal in bear country from Daniel, we happily took the food off their hands and feasted for the next three days on over 150 dollars-worth of luxury meals. We are still shaking our heads in disbelief!

After Yellowstone's lonesome backcountry, our stop at Old Faithful proved to be a shock. One moment we were alone on the trail, the next dodging cars on the busiest highway we have encountered on the trip so far. Old Faithful village was teeming with thousands of tourists. We loitered for three hours as we ate lunch and dried our gear, and we didn't see a single other hiker. Not one. Perhaps that explains the stares we received. We felt like visitors from another world.Half-an-hour after leaving the gift shops and restaurants of Old Faithful, solitude returned, and we climbed amid forest slowly regenerating after the huge fires of 1988.

Upon leaving Yellowstone we descended on logging roads through the sad and shattered Targhee National Forest, clearcut to the very brink of America's flagship park. Montana's fires were close now, and a grey haze hung in the air, turning the sky a malignant red at dusk. At Macks Inn, Idaho, we laid out our maps and plotted, unsure yet if we will have to change our route.


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