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CDT: Targhee National Forest (Bannock Pass to Macks Inn)

July 25

I had breakfast in town before the Mountain View Motel’s owner drove Roaring Lion and I back to the trail. I felt better after my zero but not as energetic as I hoped. The hiking was fairly easy, traversing both wooded sections and meadows on the divide. An afternoon rainstorm almost convinced us to stop early, but we mustarded some strength and pushed on for a few more miles into evening.

Looking back into the valley where I-15 runs
Every family has a black sheep, even sheep families

July 26

I had a long day trying to keep on schedule, possibly enabling me to hike the Henrys Lake route. The morning was relatively easy terrain, but the afternoon grew harder as the trail once again climbed high along the divide. As I was still hiking even as sunset approached though, I found myself in a beautiful meadow with many wild flowers and a sinking sun illuminating them with a fiery glow.

As I set up camp for the night one my tent poles broke. Duct tape did not hold, and I had to use rope to jury-rig my tent to stand. Hopefully rain would not fall tonight, because my tent was not even close to water tight. This mishap forced my route choice though, as I had to go into Macks Inn, get a ride to West Yellowstone, and hope an adequate outfitter was there to find a repair kit or replacement for my injured tent pole.

I’m not sure what experiments they perform on sheep, perhaps forming a mutant super race? Amazing what our tax dollars get spent on.
High country meadows and hills
Meadows with flowers in the evening sunlight

July 27 — Sawtelle Inn

Thankfully the night stayed dry. I felt alright to attempt the long march around Henrys Lake, but my crippled tent forced me into town. The bushwhack along Roaring Hills Creek made me wish I had done the long hike too. Occasionally some small bits of tread appeared, but for several hours I mostly scrambled along the river. It was not the bushwhack from hell but still had its share of less than fun spots. From there a climb without a trail in sight led me out of the valley and to a gravel road for an easy walk the rest of the way to Sawtelle Inn.

Duct tape and expensive hose clams from the gas station made an adequate sleeve repair kit for my wounded tent pole, so I did not have to go into West Yellowstone. I would call my tent’s manufacturer in the morning to hopefully order a replacement pole. At least being forced into civilization was a much more relaxing experience, with lounging around in a hot tub, eating, and reading instead of hiking long hours through the mountains. I especially appreciated the convenience when a short, but nasty afternoon thunderstorm rolled through. Ah, the blessings of solid walls.

I don’t think this taco truck could actually move anymore, but they had great food!
When one of your tent poles break, and you can’t find an official repair kit, duct tape and pipe clamps can make an adequate substitute

July 28 — Macks Inn

With two days to cover about thirty miles I took a relaxed morning, ate an awesome lunch from a taco truck, and spent time in the library before making the couple mile stroll to Macks Inn. There, despite the reality of having to camp at Summit Lake in Yellowstone the next night suggesting I do otherwise, I decided to absorb some culture at Macks Inn Playhouse — a dinner theater. Unfortunately it started at six and did not let out until after nine at night. This schedule resulted in my hiking only about three miles today, leaving upwards of thirty for tomorrow.

I spent the afternoon sitting on the grass next to Henrys Fork, reading, and watching families on vacation enjoy the river on all types of unproved watercraft. Seeing parents my own age with their kids living the normal life, while I was in the middle of my CDT hike, was a bit surreal. They were living life the right way, having an even greater adventure with creating a family, while I hiked alone through the woods. My life leads elsewhere though, so I make the most I can playing second fiddle on my travels.

The dinner theater at Macks Inn Playhouse was a great time, with a delicious, filling meal beforehand and a very funny play afterwards. The work was a spoof titled Home School Musical 2, which the owner wrote exclusively for this theater. The bit of culture was worth it, but unfortunately ended late. Despite being after 9 p.m., I set off along the dark road out of town, needing to cover a few miles and reach a legitimate spot to camp. By a little after ten I was falling asleep while walking and had already hit National Forest land, so I cowboy camped near the road in the woods.

Macks Inn Playhouse had a dinner theater, with great food and a funny play. Quite the culture experience for a hiker.