Hanging above our tent was a mosaic of wispy clouds and blue bird sky. The morning was cold, which was expected from camping right next to a river. We got moving eager to get to town when all of a sudden our past three days in constant heat and sunshine seemed like distant memories. The clouds had taken over and a cold drizzle of rain began falling. On one of the blistering hot days this cool down would have been warranted, but today we went from complaining about the heat to complaining about being cold. Now we really wanted to get to town.
We had camped right by the Sweetwater River, which the water ended up making Garbelly and D=rt briefly sick even after filtering and treating. We were pleasantly surprised when we were preparing to forge and were greeted by a bridge. No wet feet this morning, at least not from a river crossing. We continued on the trail which went back and forth between narrow trail to two-track. When we reached the highway we stuck our thumbs out and waited for a willing car to pull over. Because of the rain, we did not stop in South Pass City, we would have to come back on our way back to trail. We did not pass Go so we did not collect $200.
As we waited at the highway, the rain began falling harder and the air grew colder. A black Subaru pulled over and the friendliest face and cutest pup appeared at the window. With the biggest smile on her face, she yelled, "what are you crazy kids doing?!" We hopped in and out of the cold rain. After introducing ourselves and finding out she was a teacher from Colorado, we were off to Lander! She was easily one of the friendliest people we have ever come across. She dropped us off right outside of the Chinese buffet. We wobbled inside and immediately were presented with a stack of plates and an invite to enjoy the buffet.
After lunch, the four of us headed towards the Frontier Motel where we split a room. The room was recently renovated, and we were rather surprised at how clean and comfortable the room was! Our internet investigation did not do the actual room justice.
For dinner, we walked down to Lander Bar for pizza that we had been craving since we met up with Wild Bill and he gave us his leftovers from this exact restaurant.
We ran into Winter and met the family that had taken him in, his Lander trail angel. She was a beautiful blond with a flower tiara in her hair and glitter painted over her eyelids like eyeshadow. A long sequin cape wrapped around her giving her the appearance of floating as she moved around the restaurant. She loved picking up hikers even though her husband was not on the same page. However, he was out of town for the week so as she explained when she saw Winter on the side of the highway her brakes screeched to a stop and she ordered him to jump in. She was amazing and her energy lit up the patio. Winter sat quietly next to her, but with the sweetest little smile on his face. We could tell how grateful he was.
After dinner, we headed to grab ice cream, a Liam and Kate favorite, and then headed back to the hotel to get some well deserved sleep. We had made it through the basin. Sleep, take it easy on me.
The next day was without hesitation a zero. The morning started out with breakfast at the Middle Fork then a visit to the Wild Iris Gear shop. Next came a long sit session at the Crux coffee shop with a lunch break to see the new Spider-Man movie with D=rt at the local theater. Then back to the coffeeshop to continue sitting. Garbelly ran over to the NOLS office to pick up our new tent that had arrived from Big Agnes. Tent in hand we headed to the grocery store to grab dinner to make once we got to the city park.
Among the many awesome things about Lander, their city park is open to free camping. There is always a bit of a concern about city camping, not to mention, free, city camping but so far we have only been pleasantly surprised. We walked away from Downtown eventually arriving at the front of the park. A group of kids were playing on the playground. Tents were already being set up throughout the grassy area of the park. We met back up with Liam and Kate and found a flat area to set up our tents. We took our brand new tent out of its bag and began setting it up. It was as easy to set up as our previous tent but the new features were evident. We started playing around and exploring all the changes, being the gear nerds that we are. Finally, starving, we sat down with the group to eat a dinner of tortellinis, crackers and cheese, and fruit. Zero day complete.
Garbelly & Critter