Mile 2165 to 2188
We wake and pack up early. The sun is rising later and the canyons and trees are blocking satellite signals and sunlight, so it is very dark in every sense. Ixnay leaves first, in search of a good bathroom location. This section is very steep so small campsites like ours and privies are at a premium. During last evening several hikers stopped, clearly coveting our little spot, but lacking room were forced to move on. As we hike this morning we wonder how far they had to keep hiking to find a spot. From the looks of it they must have gone a long, long way.
We climb 1600 feet then give all that back plus more as we drop through the Wind River Experimental Forest. Kevin wonders what the experiment is all about, as it looks like a pretty normal forest to us. Our last chance for water is at Panther Creek. There are hordes loading up here, both northbounders and southbounders. We have each come down long steep 2,000 foot declines and glance at each other knowing what the other faces as a steep incline. “Poor suckers” we are all thinking.
The southbounders are all discussing the awesome trail magic they got at the forest service road. It is Sunday and the do-gooders are out in force serving hot meals and cold drinks. By the time we struggle straight up to Forest Service Road 68 the magic has gone tragic. Everything is put away. There is one car left, the back of which is loaded with ice chests, chairs and pop up tents. It may be better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all, but I am pretty darn sure it is NOT better to have craved and lost than to never have craved at all.
All day where there should be great views there is smokey haze. We are not sure which of the many fires has brought us this malaise. Southbounders who were at Trout Lake 3 days ago say they saw 500 firefighters arriving. Trout Lake is our next resupply stop in a few days. Ugh.
We setup at a dry camp on a ridge. There is a piped spring 5 miles ahead which we are warned will be our last water for over 10 miles. The next two lakes appearing on our maps are said to be completely dry. Frankly, I am thirsty right now just thinking about it. I fall asleep and dream of running water.