Here I am sitting in the Hoosier Motel listening to Peter talking about destroying nearly two hundred thousand dollars of equipment as he wondered why I was not using my Newton to keep this journal. We are sitting here in this room in Cooke City getting ready for the backpacking trip we have been anticipating for the last day and a half (longer if you consider when we first decided to come here months ago). An d in my case I am glad I am here at all since two day ago I was not sure I would come after seriously scalding myself at The Ark. But the injury though painful is not enough to stop me and the doc at the ER confirmed that for me.
We spent a day and a half in Bozeman, Montana schmoozing, looking at new gear, checking out the world headquarter of Backpacking Light and generally enjoying the company of fellow hikers. Saturday morning we visited Prolite Gear and had a great time talking with Craig and buying gear. Thank you Craig for coming in special for us and letting us buy high quality stuff that we'll certainly use this week. After spending the later part of the morning and early afternoon at Backpacking Light HQ sorting out our stuff and again enjoying each oher's company on a fine sunny, sixty degree day we piled into the minivan and Peter's car Claire around 2pm. We would spend the next 3 hours driving through Montana and northernmost Yellowstone past Mammoth hot springs, sprawling river valleys full of conifers and bight yellow aspen, buffalo herds, sheep, and no doubt some black bear. Of course there were also people watching the animals and enjoying the splendor. But we did not stop. We rolled on through and out of the park into Cooke City. After a huge meal at a nice place with a lovely Czech waitress (Susannah) we returned to the hotel taking too long to get finally packed and ready for bed. Bedtime is fast approaching and we are just about set and itching to hit the trail. Who knows maybe the lovely weather will hold and the storm clouds will pass without dropping their loads upon us. That would be wonderful even if it is unrealistic.
It is raining out, the third or fourth time today though this time it does not seem like it will stop. We are at Copeland lake and I am huddled under my Henry Shires Virga Tarptent wishing it was higher. Wishing I guess it was a Stephenson 2R. It is still light out and probably won’t get dark for another 40 minutes to an hour. I guess it is just past 7pm. Everyone else is in their tents (A Stephenson 2X and I think an old Walrus) or under their tarp (a new Gossamer Gear Spin Shelter) too.
We got on the trail around 8:25 am with overcast though not terribly threatening skies, temperature was probably not more than 45°F. Maybe 20 minutes into the hike it began to drizzle and on went the rain gear. We were still all together at this time and that would last for another hour or so before the group A trio broke away from the group B quartet. We strolled through he pine and fir forest along good trail sometimes chatting but mostly just enjoying the scenery which here was primarily forest dotted with bogs and lakes. The Hiking is not that bad here though the ascents do take it out of me. I am in poor shape. Still I marched on and enjoyed myself. The views were modest but that was no surprise given the overcast skies. The drizzle gave way to dry weather and it was truly good hiking weather.
We enjoyed a break at Widewater Lake. And later at the next lake down, Big Moose Lake I guess, where we saw four whitetail deer run by. Birds twittered now and then and we relaxed into the day (now as I look at the map at home I wonder if it wasn’t Rock Island Lake and then Widewater Lake). Then Big Moose Lake came. We had been doing pretty well. Things were loose, maybe too loose for Peter as the burrito from last night worked its way out of him, and we were having fun. At Big Moose Lake the trail crosses the lake. You have to ford the lake. That is what the map shows and hat is what the trail does. Right across. Peter waded on through while the rest of us tried to find a better, less wet, route. We did, mostly, but we still had to wade a bit I should have taken my socks off. The wade through the lake inlet went without incident and soon we were back on trail walking with pools in our shoes. The day’s weather was not getting better but it was not getting worse either.
Afternoon wore on and we dipped into Wyoming with a hint of sun and distance thunder. Soon we found ourselves n mountain meadow and we decided to take a short cut of sorts and save some of the dog leg we were doing. We marched on and up towards Copeland Lake now less than a mile away as the GPS (crow) flies. The thunder got closer and a storm was going to strike. It did with rain and then hail. We really wanted to reach Copeland Lake and get under shelter, but before we climbed the last hill and saw the lake the storm abated a mere drizzle and then nothing. We searched for the ideal site to set up. Figured out the huge canvas tent of the horse-packers was not it, bet they have great food and comforts, and settled on a hill just a couple dozen feet above the lake. It was a bit past 4:30 PM when we settled on the site. The sun was making an attempt to peek out and we were happy for that.
We did not beat the current rain before finishing dinner. Scurrying to take off down jackets and put on rain jackets we ate quickly and hoisted our food to safety. Now we hunker down in our shelters and hope that we stay dry. I bet Bob and Peter will fare far better than Dave and I. A nice, if in some respects short, day (I have no trouble believing we took 2 hours in breaks. The one break where we pondered our shortcut probably lasted far longer than any of us would have guessed).