The Continental Divide Trail is a trail of extremes. In the past ten days we have traveled from mountains, to desert, and back into the thick of it in the Wind River Range again.
Here's a look at the geographic changes and unpredictable weather of the Wyoming section of the CDT.
We left Colorado and crossed into Wyoming. Mountains were abundant, but we descended more than we climbed. Shortly, almost as if looking over the edge of the Earth, the range descended into nothing but desert.
We found ourselves on the edge of the Great Basin.
What is the Great Basin? Well, it's a geological oddity (as far as I'm concerned) found along the Continental Divide where, essentially, the Divide splits into halves and makes a great big circle around a low lying area within. Hence, the name, "Great Basin". Rather than walking the circuitous route, the Continental Divide Trail takes hikers straight on through it. For much of the Great Basin portion of the CDT, you will travel, literally, straight through it.
Water sources are scarce and shade is almost nonexistent. A 50 mile stretch did occur without the sight of a single tree. However, we did find the water sources that did exist to be much cleaner and more reliable than we had anticipated.
If you haven't seen my latest video, click here to see (and hear) what it looks like to hike the Basin!
Not expecting any rainfall while traveling through the Basin, the trail went ahead and pulled another fast one on us.
We were met with a day of high winds, low temperatures, and steady rainfall. While we were scorched for the previous three days, suddenly we were doing everything in our power to stay warm. Dry was out of the question, at that point.
As quickly as the Great Basin appeared before us, it seemed to disappear as we suddenly climbed into the foothills of the Wind River Range.
Towering mountains, fields of wild flowers, and pristine alpine lakes became our home again. The Wind River Range is one of America's hidden gems, for certain. It isn't a national park and doesn't receive a ton of national recognition. But, there is no doubt that the Winds are one of the most spectacular ranges within the bounds of the United States.
So far we've had an amazing trek through the Wind River Mountains. I couldn't ask for more. Additionally, Analog, Wantsum, and I joined forces with another group of hikers, who I refer to as "The Maytals", Tootsie, Chimp, Spork, and Kipper. It's been great fun to hike with some new faces!
We came into Pinedale, Wyoming to resupply three days ago. And.... Here I am, still in Pinedale, WY. Unfortunately, a pretty serious storm system moved in just as we arrived in town and it seems to have no intention of going anywhere. As much as I'm itching to move forward, the entire week's forecast ranges from bad to really bad. Which, for most people, is an inconvenience, but for us, it is potentially dangerous. With 90 miles to make it from here to our next town, leaving now, or yesterday, would have meant hiking through low temperatures, high winds, rain, and much lightning. Not for one day, but potentially for days on end without opportunity to dry any clothing or equipment throughout the stretch. Hypothermic conditions, to say the least.
Once again, the Continental Divide has decided that She will be calling the shots out here.
We intend to hike out tomorrow morning. Anticipating a full day of stormy weather, but with the knowledge that it should taper off the following afternoon allowing us to dry out and continue onward.
But for now, it looks like another day of calorie loading and mediocre movies.