Square Top Mountain and the Green River snaking through the valley were even more beautiful at sunrise than they were at sunset. Waking up did not happen quickly, but instead we took our time embracing how breathtaking the view out of our tent was. Reluctant to leave the Winds, we hiked towards the Green River trailhead, every so often looking behind us at Square Top. We ran into some weekend hikers and were excited to give them some pointers on where to go and a little envious that we could not spend more time here. We joked about spending the rest of the summer exploring the Winds but a small bit of truth rested within.
Today, thru-hiking broke our hearts, not for reason of the adventure, the exploration of beautiful places, untouched places, or even in lieu of the wild lifestyle. No, our hearts broke because we had fallen in love with the Wind River Range, but we had to keep heading North. That is the tough part about thru-hiking; you have to keep going. You get more of a sampling of different places than really getting to know the curve of the river or the sharpness of the mountains. To get to Canada, you have to keep going. There are times when we are convinced thru-hiking is not for us. In those moments, we want to spend more time in one place straying from the infamous red line leading us North. We ask ourselves: are we really free or does this red line on a map bind us to the earth? Thru-hiking is not for everyone, and today it was not for us, but we kept going.
Once at the trailhead, we entered back into the world of sagebrush and no shade. How quickly the landscape changed, and how bummed we were. We began our climb up and over Gunsight Pass which climbed steadily into a steeper climb. Once over the top, we descended down into islands of trees in meadows of sagebrush.
A small red fox ran onto trail as curious of us as we were of him. He ran up onto a hill where he proceeded to stalk and pounce on a prairie dog. He would be eating well tonight.
We crossed over large meadows before heading into a more wooded area. There we saw large bear tracks and piles of scat. We began talking to each other so that we would not startle anything by walking silently. As we stepped off trail to go around a downed log, we saw large claw marks six feet up on a tree. This sight was a little unnerving and led us to hike faster and talk louder. Back down in a meadow we could see three large sandhill cranes. As we approached they lifted off from the ground and flew away honking their almost robotic honk.
Once we got to the road, we did not expect anyone to be driving by at this hour, but sure enough as soon as we sat down to begin making dinner, a truck drove up. The driver and his son were scouting out places to watch the eclipse. We checked our maps to see if we could offer any options, and at the end of the conversation, he offered to give us a ride into Pinedale. This seemed to be a great chance to make it up to Jackson the following day! Rob and Mason were such a pleasure to get to know. Garbelly and Rob shared hunting stories and came to the same conclusions when it came to hunting ethics. The sun had set by the time we arrived back on the Main Street of Pinedale. We exchanged contact information and some pictures from the trail. Rob handed Garbelly a folded up bill and said that he wanted to get our dinner. We were in awe and overcome with gratitude. It is just amazing to share a moment or two of our passing lives with others. Thank you so much, Rob and Mason. You guys reminded us why we are out here and helped us find the beauty once more in the art of thru-hiking.
Garbelly & Critter
A Haiku on Deet:
The day the Deet leaked,
Burning a hole through the week.
That was a bad day.