I woke to a world of moisture. There hadn’t been much rain, but the temperature plunge brought on a ton of condensation, especially as I was situated between two water sources in the long shadow of a mountain. I could hear the muffled tinkling of my 6am alarm through the hood of my bag as I fought toward consciousness.
I didn’t mind that I slept late. I wasn’t even in a hurry to pack up. It was after 8 by the time I left camp and the sun still hadn’t reached me. The chill breezes did, though. It was one of those “keep the jacket on until the last possible moment” situations.
The first thing I did out of camp was step up on a log that rolled on wet ground, slip off, and fall, banging both shins directly into the wood. A very Tarkovsky way to start the day.
The climb up to Targhee Divide was really fast and easy. Just a bunch of switchbacks on a gentle grade. I was at the top before I knew it, in the sun and gusting wind. A mile or so later, I was on the divide, 10000 feet above sea level for the first time this year.
I walked out along the ridge toward Targhee Peak a little bit. I considered dropping my pack and climbing it. It seemed rather close and not too high. But the heavy cold winds were trying desperately to toss me off the ridge and anyway I wanted to get some miles done.
A few miles down into the bowl behind the ridges, I stopped at one of the forks of Targhee Creek for lunch and water collection. While I was there, I was joined by three mountain bikers and their dog. They lived nearby, and were riding that day the same bit I was hiking, but northbound. They lived near enough that they would be able to drive home by the end of the day.
From there I had to cross a bit of a valley to the Lionhead Ridge. While diverting from the trail to briefly visit a stand of trees, I stepped over a snag, dragging my knee along a sharp end of a branch, and causing enough bleeding to call for a bandage.
It fell off when I stopped most of the way up the climb to the top of the ridge for a snack break, but the wound had clotted by then. This climb seemed a lot steeper and longer than the one in the morning even though it was shorter by miles. It was just later in the day and warmer.
Actually, it was perfect hiking weather all day, especially once it warmed up. Sunny, temperate, and much better visibility than usual. This became especially apparent once I came up onto the ridgeline, which is the actual Continental Divide and the Ida./Mont. border. I could just barely see around 50 miles in every direction from the high points and could not stop taking panoramas of it all. Even the Tetons were faintly visible, though perhaps not so much they would show up in pictures.
The only complaint I had was the wind. The ridge was pretty exposed and the wind was gusting hard enough to knock me off my footing and peel back the brim of my hat at times. I hadn’t gotten such a pummeling since Piegan Pass in Glacier. It was pretty cold too.
I was especially worried about the biker I passed going up just before I stopped for dinner. He had gear strapped all over the bike and was actually planning to spend the night out in the range somewhere. But it seemed like some of that stuff might catch the wind really well on those switchbacks.
Even behind a row of trees, the wind was taking all the extra heat out of me while I sat and cooked dinner. I was glad to finish and get back in the sun as I continued down the ridge. The wind got less powerful as I descended too.
Finally, around 7:30, I spotted a little plateau down a snowmobile track off the trail. I was close enough to the road to hear the traffic and didn’t really want to be any closer. It seemed like a perfect place to spend the night.
Soon I was in my tent, getting ready for bed as some guy came down the hill yelling “Heyo!” every 5 seconds and being answered by 3 or 4 echos. I wanted to yell back “Shut up! The bears heard you the first ten times!” but figured he’d be gone down the hill soon enough anyway.
So, yeah, a short, easy, beautiful day way up high. Easily the best views since Glacier.
Trail miles: 15.8
Distance to West Yellowstone: 1.8 miles
One reply on “Day 93: Targhee Divide/Creek/Pass”
Beautiful vistas and that last shadow picture of you is really cool. It reminds me of some movie that I can’t seem to name.