Rawlins Wyoming, mile 550
We are closing in now, passing miles and milestones alike. In Wyoming, marking mile 550 of this year’s hike (and, if you add together the sections we hiked in 2008 and 2009 we have now hiked more than 2,400 miles of the Continental Divide Trail with only a little over 300 left). We are closing in on the finish!
And it is with these goals in mind that we drive ourselves forward on some days. It’s not that there’s anything wrongwith the last section. But we did go through a transformation. We left the mountains behind (for now anyway) and dropped into barren, rolling countryside, filled sagebrush and sand and hard packed clay. And very little else. Oh the long mesas which stretch to the horizon, punctuated by the occasional and canyon are interesting in that desolate sort of way. But it is the absence of things that is most interesting. It is the lack of people, or man made objects that is fascinating. On the other hand there is a reason no one is out here. It’s pretty bleak. It’s mostly hot, mostly dry and mostly cattle country. And unlike the mountains which present a new “face” with every twisting, turning, switchback, the mesas and canyons all look pretty much the same with every step along the jeep road. So, closing in on a goal helps to keep the focus on moving forward.
Then there’s the wind. There’s nothing to stop the wind and it seems to want to get across the barren landscape as much as we do. So it blows hard. Fortunately, it was mostly at our backs. It was really only a concern when we saw Dorothy and Toto swirl by in the same gust.
But while wind was a mere nuisance; water was a main concern. First, the lack of it and then the poor quality of what we did find. We passed on filtering cow piss out of “muddy creek” to get to a “fenced in spring” that reeked of minerals and tasted like sulfur. Imagine drinking water from a “hot springs” that had cooled down to merely warm. But, with 24 waterless miles in front of us there was little to do bust stock up on the “sulfur water”. The irony was that in searching for our last drinking water, we were faced with a morning downpour which turned the hard packed clay jeep road into a muddy mess. Each step picked up gobs of goo and each footfall slid around unpredictably. Ah Water…love it or hate it.
Now it wasn’t allbad. There were Pronghorn Antelopes and Norther Harriers to amuse us (or more likely we were amusing them). And, after all, it was better still than the paved road walk which would have cut out 15 miles but which would also have stressed out the Achilles tendon, shins, heels, knees and other parts of the body and psyche.
And things are looking up. After Rawlins we enter the “Red Desert”, which the Chamber of Commerce notes is attractive to photographers for it’s stark beauty. And everyone knows that if it were “bleak” the chamber wouldn’t simply say “stark beauty.” And there are mountains ahead. We’re too far away now, but in another 100 or so miles we should get close enough to be able to see the ”Wind River Mountains”……time to pick them up, put them down, get some miles done and move ahead.
Next weekend, when we are in Landers WY, will be Labor day weekend, so we may not have access to the Internet. So, don’t worry if our next trip report takes a bit longer……