We left Driggs to go to Victor, where we’d hoped to have breakfast at Scratch, a restaurant that seemed to have fresh, farm to table style food. However, the information that we’d researched for the IBT Town Guide was wrong and the restaurant was not open for breakfast on Thursdays – only Friday through Sunday! That was a big disappointment. We’ll have to update the info in the town guide for next time.
In the end, we went all the way to Pinedale before finding a sit-down Café, The Wrangler’s Café. It was fine…I was really hungry by then. Jackson would have been closer, but Yeti really did not want to stop there. It does have tons of traffic; we just hit the outskirts of town so avoided most of it.
About 12 miles east of Pinedale, you head off towards the mountains on several good and wide packed gravel roads. It’s dry, desert country with the mountains looming in the distance – a stark beauty. The ride to Big Sandy was more and more remote and beautiful. Desert colors are dusty greys, purples, sage green, yellow and brown. The final 9 miles are on a much narrower gravel road, so you have to watch it on corners. The way was well-signed and we found the lodge easily.
Big Sandy Lodge, which Yeti and I both skipped on our CDT trip, was great. It’s rustic but not a dusty old camp; the cabins are simple, but nice and clean and lighted by kerosene lamps. They give off a nice mellow light. Showers and toilets are in a clean bathhouse not too far from our cabin. The main lodge has the dining room and a lounge and both have big fireplaces.
The lodge sits by Mud Lake, a small lake with dramatic views of the Winds for a backdrop. The lodge provides a row boat that you can take out. We didn’t do that, but did take a short walk. Otherwise, we lounged around reading (we’d arrived pretty early in the afternoon). Around 5pm it got a bit dark and rained very briefly and lightly, no lightning or thunder. Shortly after, the clouds blew off and the sun reappeared.
As we were relaxing, a Mercedes camper pulled into the spot right next to us. It was Shroomer, a long-distance hiker, and his wife Katie!!! Small world in the hiker community. It turns out Shroomer knows Julianne Baker (Yellowstone); he’d met her on the PCT. He is an avid mushroom collector, hence the trail name. He’d picked pounds of porcini mushrooms and spent the afternoon slicing them and laying them out on the picnic table to dry! Yeti and I had a great time talking to him and Katie. They’d already had a nine day backpack and came in for a night for showers and food. Hiker paradise at Big Sandy Lodge.
One of the owners, Natasha, was very nice and a great cook. She made and served dinner at 6pm in buffet style. It was delicious. A thru-hiker would go nuts. I’m sure Shroomer and Katie had a great time eating here — I know I did and my appetite was not revved up the way it would be when thru-hiking. The menu included meatloaf (regular and gluten free for Shroomer and Katie), scalloped potatoes, carrots, summer squash and peas, cornbread, and peach cobbler for dessert. The potatoes and cobbler were baked in cast iron skillets. It was the best peach cobbler I’d ever tasted … I had two helpings!
We sat at dinner talking to those two for a long time. Two other people had been expected, but it turns out they arrived really late and missed dinner – their loss. We met them next day.
I slept well here. The cabin was snug, the light by kerosene lamp was cozy. It was not great for reading, so Yeti and I used headlamps for a bit while we read ourselves to sleep. Very quiet, peaceful night.