After returning from a two night hike, all of us are in need of a good breakfast and clean laundry. Luckily for us, Pistol Pete’s Café (where waffles, jackalopes, and T-rex vie for attention) is right across the street from the Laundromat.
We also need to get the drill serviced, which is a difficult task in Buffalo, WY on a Sunday. Eventually, we find an Ace hardware store which advertises Stihl repair. Because the drill is a modified chain saw, they know how to tune it up, but even so, the diamond chip bit turns heads. Three employees look on as one carefully removes and replaces a broken screw.
Another tells us that he understands why we need to get the handle to stop shaking—he sells firewood and knows what it’s like to have your arms numb and your brain fried from gas fumes. At the end of the day, he says, “that’s what beer is for.”
We take his advice, and after spending the day sampling off of fire roads, we have a couple of beers ourselves.
The next day we hike into the mountains again. The forecast predicts a slight chance of rain, but as we climb higher we notice a huge purple cloud at our backs. Before long, there is thunder and lightening, and it starts to snow on the trail. Fishermen and riders hurry out, looking at us like we’re crazy.
Because of the snow, the thunder is muted—more like breaking metal than cosmic static. But the lightening is up close. We hide out under Taylor’s tarp, but not for long. At a brief break in the storm we book it to a sheltered campsite and listen to the snow falling on the outside of our tents.
Around five, the snow passes, melting as soon as the sun comes out. We take advantage of the good weather and hike to the Lost Twin Lakes, where there are supposed to be sites along the shore.
The lake is flat and clear at the base of a cliff, even though a frigid breeze blows down the mountain. Taylor points out trout swimming a few feet deep, but they look like they’re right at the surface. However, the dikes are less easy to see, and one site on Taylors map has been plainly mislabeled. There are signs everywhere that the neighboring rock has been cooked—gem quality crystals and strange formations—but the volcanic intrusions that caused the heating are nowhere to be seen. We do find and sample one site that is practically in a stream before heading back to camp.
That night, the temperature is 30 degrees at the base of the mountain, so it’s even colder at high altitude. I’m wearing all the clothes I’ve brought—hoping that six layers qualify as a parka.
The next day is my 23rd birthday, and I wake up to see a thin crust of snow on the ground. With the frosted pines surrounding our camp, I feel like I’m waking up on Christmas instead.
Hiking out, we sample three sites that are right next to each other, but the other sites on the map look suspicious. Taylor and Joe think they may have been re-heated, re-setting the magnetization and making them less helpful for Taylor’s research. Instead of flat octagonal crystals, these rocks are full of mica and a little bit too sparkly to be useful. Taylor calls the rock a Leverite—and quotes his advisor, David Evans: “Leave ‘er right there.”