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MM 1782: Last night, I made it into Lander and parted ways with Ricardo. In the morning, I woke up before sunrise and hitched toward Big Sandy Lodge.

I got a ride to Lander Cutoff Rd. I didn’t expect to see a single car since the dirt road appeared to be in the middle of nowhere, yet a couple of guys pulled over before I even had time to set my bag down. They were two construction workers on their way to work in Pinedale, taking the scenic route.

They dropped me off at a junction and shortly after two women on their way to the trailhead gave me a lift the rest of the way. When asked if I would eventually do the AT, I said, “Yes, next year! I feel it will be the most challenging one for me because I’m not a fan of hiking in the cold rain and experiencing minimal views.” She goes, “Hiking in the east is like being stuck in someone’s armpit hair. Not in a bad way, you just can’t see anything.”

I made it to the Lodge and hung out with the owners, checked out the hiker box and started hiking north. I met a few southbounders along the way named Minty, Wanderer, Moose, Go Pro, Wing It, and Cache 2 (famously owned Cache 2 on the PCT and was adamant about keeping all the hikers hydrated).

For the night, I stopped at one of my favorite spots on trail yet: Sandpoint Lake. It was an island of sand, perfectly flat for camping with a pine tree right beside it so I could dry out all my clothes.