It was a peaceful night. The low temperature during the night was about 41 degrees Fahrenheit. Not too bad except when I had to get out of my sleeping bag in the middle of the night to pee. I didn’t really like the idea of having to wander out of my tent at night in bear country so I had a plastic jar with a screw on lid for my pee bottle. Peeing while kneeling in a little one person tent was a little more tricky than I had expected. It was difficult to see how full the bottle was so I was always nervous about overflowing the bottle.
We woke up about 7:30 AM to about 44 degrees Fahrenheit. I slept in long john’s and my sleeping bag is rated for 35 degrees Fahrenheit so it was a pretty comfortable night. Still a little chilly in the morning when changing clothes for the day.
This was the first night that we had hung food in bear country so I recall being anxious to go check on our food bags. I just imagined checking on food to see that a bear had somehow reached our bags and ate all of our food. We were only one day in so that wouldn’t have been life threatening, but would certainly have caused us to hike back out instead of continuing the trip. It was a good feeling to see them still hanging securely each morning. I looked around the cooking area and food poles, but I didn’t see any signs of animal tracks.
I had hot spots starting on my heel from the previous day so I taped them up. We ate breakfast and broke camp. We were on the trail at 9:00 AM. It looked like we would enjoy another day of great weather. It was about 8.39 miles to our next campsite.
About half of Day 2 was spent in very peaceful pine forests. I love the smell of pine. I was in heaven.
We continued to see animal tracks. I’m not a skilled tracker. However, based on reference pictures, I believe this first track is from a gray wolf. To untrained eyes like mine it’s hard to tell the difference between a gray wolf and a coyote track though. Either way, it was pretty cool to see tracks on the same trails that we were traveling.
This track is a little harder to make out, but is a bear track, most likely a Black Bear.
We periodically saw other signs of animals. In addition to scat, we saw downed and rotten tree logs ripped apart. These were most likely pulled apart by bears searching for the bugs inside.
We saw a lot of “hawk” or “falcon” types of birds. This picture was taken from a long distance and it is a little blurry after I digitally zoomed in on it. It could even be a Golden Eagle, but it’s hard for me to tell. While taking a lunch break overlooking Yellowstone Lake we saw a Bald Eagle. The camera wasn’t handy so we couldn’t get a picture of it. This and many other moments of natural beauty were apparently meant for just Zachary and I.
At the head of the Thorofare we saw many flocks of birds. The picture below is of a flock of cranes. We didn’t see any (non-human) mammals on day two, but the abundance of birds at the head of the Thorofare made me think of the “Land of the Lost” television show that I used to watch as a kid. It was awe inspiring to see so many cranes, geese, and hawks flying around.
Following are some shots taken from campsite 5E1. We got to camp about 3:45 PM. The site is on a little bluff
overlooking Beaverdam Creek and the Thorofare Valley at an elevation off 7,880 ft.
Our water source, Beaverdam Creek was past the campsite down a bit of a hill. After dropping most of our gear at the campsite we had to hike down and back up to collect and process water.
The campsite had a pretty nice cooking area setup. We had to come back down the campsite entrance trail about 150 yards to find a mediocre place to set the tents. We heard another hiking party singing songs, laughing and carrying on about sunset. We also saw a woman, probably with that group, walking by herself in the valley about a mile away without a pack. It seemed strange at the time. We never saw her come back towards their campsite.
She was the last human we would see until day 6.
The campsite faces South. The sunset was blocked by mountains, but the shadows and colors cast on the mountains as the sun went down were very pretty.
It got to a high of about 80 degrees Fahrenheit with very few clouds. We spent about the second half of Day 2 in the open without much shade. In Missouri 80 degrees is pretty comfortable, but in the mountains in areas with no shade, 80 feels a lot hotter. We felt like we were getting smoked at times.
Once we got to camp our daily routine was pretty much the same. We had a priority set for how we would do things.
First we had to unpack and hang our food on the food pole so that we could manage collection and processing of water without worrying about our food.
After that, water was most important. We would always find our water source and process water for re-hydrating, cooking dinner, cleaning dishes, taking a shower, and for breakfast the next morning. Processing our water usually took 30 to 45 minutes or so.
Cooking dinner was usually next and took about 30 minutes. With the exception of a few oatmeal breakfasts, dinner was the only hot meal we had all day. The Bear Creek pasta mixes we brought were really pretty good. One pack fed both Zach and I comfortably. After dinner we would clean up our bowls and sporks. We shared a cooking pot so we took turns cleaning it each day. Cleanup usually took another 30 minutes or so.
After dinner we would usually get our showers before it started getting too chilly. We brought a 10 liter shower bag with a shower head that we would hang from a tree. We even had a bottle of biodegradable nature friendly soap that we used for cleaning our cookware as well as for showers. It was actually pretty nice and refreshing to get a shower every day. We showered in our underwear so that sort of doubled as washing them. 🙂
After showering we would change into our “clean” clothes from the previous day. LOL!
After showers, we would gather all of our “smelly” stuff to hang for the night. We hung everything that had any sort of scent. The food is obvious, but we also hung our soap, chapstick, sunscreen, medicines, and bug spray.
We then would find an area to set our tents up for the night. This often took an hour or so to scout out a spot, set the tents up, and put our remaining gear in the tents.
After all of that, the Sun was usually setting. We would spend some time just chilling out before it got dark. The first two nights we did not have campfires and we were in our tents as it was getting dark.