Total Miles: 1306.2
Here we go again. After all of the trials and tribulations, we’re back at the beginning. Just shy of 3 months ago, we left the highway at Targhee Pass and headed north into an uncertain future. Returning late this morning to that same pass outside the town of West Yellowstone and under the same signs we've now taken pictures with on three separate occasions, it was finally time to turn the other direction and head south.
With three acts behind us of what has rapidly become a five act drama, coming full circle to this place has held a special place in my mind. Partly the significance of returning to where it all began, partly my excitement for spending time in both Yellowstone National Park and the Wind River Range, but also partly because Wyoming has been the missing piece in the very center of this puzzle. Once finished come the end of this month, we’ll have the entire trail from Canada to the southern border of Colorado—with the exception of Glacier National Park—completed. With a little luck and a more summery than wintry September, October will leave us with only New Mexico standing between us and the US/Mexico border.
It's also been another busy 36 hours just getting ourselves back to this point. After our friends Lynn and Paul had delivered us to our rental car in Kalispell, Montana, we spent the evening celebrating my 40th birthday and the following day resupplying, driving ourselves down to West Yellowstone, and squeezing in a celebration of our 10th wedding anniversary over dinner. It’s been a wonderful whirlwind, but one that has left us going to bed much later than we typically do and by the time we made it to Targhee Pass and took those first steps to the south, both our eyelids and bodies felt it catching up with us.
Fortunately, the trail was as gentle as could be, a rolling single track of packed dirt and pine needles. It even took me a few minutes to realize why this trail felt so comfortable, so different until it came to me—for the first time seemingly in weeks, the forest we now walked through was healthy, vibrant even. Although there wasn’t much in the way of views, having one more set of complicated travel logistics behind us made the simple act of making forward progress satisfaction enough.
When tomorrow comes and we step into Wyoming for the first time, I won't miss the Montana-Idaho border and its compulsory road walks. Terminating as it did at a dirt road, the pleasant trail of the afternoon resigned us to our fate of walking the rest of the day on what turned out to be an OHV (off-highway vehicle) superhighway. Made worse by the Labor Day weekend, every few minutes an OHV, ATV, or four-wheeler would come zipping past, kicking up a mini dust storm in its wake for good measure. It was for the best, really—having clean clothes for much longer just wouldn't have felt right.