Date- August 27, 2019
Location- Side of highway
Elevation- 9,984 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 31.7 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 1,311.2 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 70s
Injuries- sore feet
Pain level- low
Wildlife encounters- Pronghorn, mule deer, sheep, sheep dogs, red fox
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 3
Hunger/craving- greasy food
I was up and hiking with the sun before 7 am, knocking out over 6 miles of road before getting back in the dirt (with a little over 25 miles to go).
Today was really rough for me. The reasons stem from yesterday. I hiked out of Rawlins with 4 liters of water, and there was minimal water along the highway. It was all stagnant and nasty. I decided not to get any from the road, and only drank about 2.5 liters all day (after being in the sun and on the road). This morning I awoke and drank close to a liter. Then, I sipped the rest during the next 13 miles to the upcoming water source. Basically, I made 4 liters last 43 miles over the course of a day and a half.
As a consequence, I was fairly dehydrated when I got to the small creek where I eventually drank 3 liters. I then drank another 2 liters within 5 miles of leaving that creek… followed by an additional 2 liters at the next one. Still, I only peed once all day. I could feel it. I was just out of it the whole day. Thankfully, at this stage of the hike (even when feeling drained) I can still put in tremendous work in reasonable time. Everyone out here can.
My goal was to get 31 miles to a highway going into the town of Encampment. As usual, I wanted to get there as close to 7 pm as possible. This way I’d have an hour to an hour and a half of daylight to hitch.
I took almost two hours worth of breaks throughout the day. I couldn’t really afford to give up that time, but I couldn’t help it. The need to drink and snack could not be ignored.
Early in the morning I got a text from Jetpack saying she had lost a sock off her pack, and to keep an eye out. I figured it was probably ripped off while walking around blow-downs; so, I kept my eyes open. By a little after noon, I found it lying on the side of the trail. It was in an area where you had to duck under a fallen tree. The sock had snagged on a tree and was ripped away from her pack. I took a picture of me wearing it – while talking to it like a sock puppet. Later, I sent the photo to her once I had service at the top of a climb.
I slogged along all day, going up a 3,000 ft climb. At one point I had to do some surgery on my left shoe. Something inside was coming apart and rubbing the side of my foot raw. It ended up being a bunched up piece of fabric that had torn loose. I had to cut it off completely. While it didn’t solve the problem 100% – it was good enough to continue hiking. I can’t wait for new shoes in about 80 miles.
The most exciting part of the day came about 26 miles in (near the top of a big climb) at nearly 11,000 feet. I was walking along the double track trail when I noticed a flock of sheep to my left. I didn’t see any dogs, so I kept going. Suddenly, a large white Newfoundland (I think) came charging out of the trees at me, barking angrily. I began to back up, and another one came out of the trees – also barking. I anxiously awaited a whistle or call from a gaucho… but it never came.
The first dog seemed like it was going to approach me. When I began moving backwards, then forward, and away to the right – it turned its attention to the flock. While still barking in my direction, both dogs began to herd the sheep away from me and further back into the trees. It was incredible! Their autonomy to do what they needed to do, without instruction, was amazing. I was anxiously impressed!
I continued on a couple hundred feet. There was a small trailer parked on the side of the track where the gaucho lived. I was startled once again to find a black border collie asleep in the shadows next to it. I gave a light whistle to wake it up, before giving it a wide berth as I walked around. It watched me closely the entire time, but didn’t get up. All crises averted!
I quickly knocked out the last 5ish miles to the highway, arriving at 7:05 pm and began to hitch… and hitch… and hitch. Well, more like just waiting. For more than two hours I sat on the side of the road. No exaggeration – it was after 9 pm and pitch black when I finally gave up. I needed to go east on the highway. During that span of time, not a single vehicle went by in that direction. Not one. Two drove by going west, but that was it. Two wrong-way vehicles in over 2 hours. However, two other hikers named Boot Scoot and Compass arrived around 8 pm and sat with me for close to an hour (of that almost two hours), before giving up and going to camp at the trailhead.
To our surprise while we were sitting there… a red fox walked right by us. It had a limp, but didn’t seem to mind our presence at all. The fox knew where it was going, as it marked its territory along the way. Reminded me of Katana.
There were two vault privys at this trailhead, so I decided to sleep in one. It’s exceptionally cold, and while I’d rate this privy 3 out of 5 stars, it will do. It’s clean, but a little cramped.
There’s a tiny bit of cell reception up here, so I’ve been in contact with Jetpack. She rented a cabin for the night and even got me a double cheeseburger and fries from a diner (before it closed). She did this in anticipation of my late arrival. That was very sweet of her, and that burger is all I’ve been able to think about. If she doesn’t eat it tonight, maybe I can get it in the morning.
I really hope I don’t have to wait long to get into town tomorrow…
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com