Thursday, August 19
3:30 A.M. I awoke and decided to make an early day of it for today I would arrive in Thermopolis. After a four day walk from Cody - Thermopolis represented civilization with restaurants, groceries, laundromats, and motels. If I could get there earlier - all the better so I climbed out of a warm sleeping bag and made myself some coffee.
At this hour it was pitch black. The moon had set, the morning sounds had not yet begun, and I sat contentedly in the darkness listening to the stillness of the predawn day. Then faintly, I heard something. “Shhhhhh! What was that?” Something “out there” was rustling about in the sage and seemed to be coming closer to my little encampment. Whatever it was - it was coming steadily toward me as I sat with coffee and flashlight in hand.
Prepared for an “Ah Ha! Gottcha!” moment, I turned on my light and there in the beam was a skunk ten feet away and calmly closing the distance.
Shocked, I jumped back as quickly as possible and back peddled up the embankment upsetting my chair in the process. Now mind you, these early morning gymnastics were all performed with an awareness of the importance of not upsetting my guest. I can think of few things worse than for me or my cart to be sprayed by a skunk. Imagine the scene I would make coming in from the road looking bum-like and smelling like a dead skunk! My grandmother isn’t here to scrub me with tomato juice around back. I’d have to walk into some motel’s front door!
Well, to make a long story short, let me say he made himself at home sniffing and checking things out while I sat patiently in exile on the hill. After a while, unsure if the skunk was still in camp or close by, I ever so gingerly started to throw tiny pebbles downward hoping to roust him out but not so much as to scare the “dickens” out of him. With no response I gradually increased the size of the hefted rocks until satisfied my guest had departed. I then quickly packed my gear and got an early start on the day.