First, happy belated birthday Mom. There were no phones at 13,000 feet when I was boulder-hopping across glacial moraines on the Divide in the northern half of the Winds, so I didn't call. Please accept my apologies.
Anyway, I'm in Lander now. Here's the skinny: after 5 nights in Yellowstone on a made-up route that had some very cool parts (ridges, canyons, bison) I reconnected with the official CDT at Two Ocean Pass. The next day I got to Dubois, WY. Hitching took forever, but I finally got a ride from Matt Carpenter, a guy that horse-packed the entire trail a couple years ago starting at Canada in April and raised something like $8 million for the Make a Wish Foundation. (Google him, or try something like diamondc.wyoming.com?). Yes, starting southbound in April is nuts, and yes, taking 16 horses over some of these high passes is nuts, but this guy puts Jeremiah Johnson to shame. I entered the Winds and did two absolutely amazing high-route alternates--walking the Divide from Union Peak to Tourist Creek, and going over Knapsack Col into the Titcomb Basin (my vote for the most beautiful place on the planet.) The Winds are totally spectacular. The high routes were spectacular. Seeing a Wilderness area with lots of other people doing the same thing I'm doing (backpacking, duh) even after Labor Day was spectacular.
You know what else is spectacular? That I've been headed south for a month now, and I have had only one day that I hiked no new trail. (The day from Two Ocean Pass to Brooks Lake Lodge/the road to Dubois.) Yet I'm still on the CDT. There's just so many alternates and way too much cool stuff for just one trail. I'm headed back into the Red Desert now, and I'm guessing that one or two of the next couple days will be exactly the same trail as I covered northbound, but it will be great that it's not 105 degrees out.
Of course I am the last southbound hiker, but all is well. My route from Butte didn't put me ahead of Andrew Skurka, and I'm probably still a couple weeks behind Francis Tapon, but no worries. I'm giving myself goals to make the southbound hike have panache (or insert your preferred cheesy french-sounding word there, aplomb might also work.) First I made up a route through Glacier that included the Floral Park traverse, then I made up a (second) new route through the Bob Marshall, then I took a 30-year old alternate from Butte that nobody does anymore and added my own route through Yellowstone, then I followed the Divide and crossed glaciers at 13,000+ feet in the Winds. So life is good. The rest of Wyoming doesn't hold much potential for spectacularity, but Colorado has lots. I'd like to do the Rocky Mountain National Park loop, but I doubt I'll be able to convince myself to hike a 30-mile loop. Mostly I'll just be sure to do any high routes I avoided nobo, including the Silverthone-Copper Mountain non-bike-trail route.
Oh, and if I could get someone to mail me postcards every Monday morning with a summary of VA Tech, Cal, and Ohio State's football games from that week (and the Redskins as soon as the NFL gets started), as well as their standing in the AP poll, I would love that person forever and ever. Every mail drop from here to Pie Town, NM should go as scheduled (except for my being 2 weeks ahead of schedule). Elisa Barber, you sent me cookies; I am madly in love with you. However, the fact that you addressed them simply to "Garry" is truly ridiculous. Thank goodness for the postal miracle that got them to me.