Monday, December 30, 2019

Day 28: Herding Cattle

August 12: The rain had stopped during the night but the ground and vegetation were super wet and I decided to give my waterproof sock a try. I could check and see if they really were as waterproof as they claimed.

This culvert looked so hypnotic!

Most of the day was through a massive burn area. I was already in the burn area when I woke up having passed the last 5 miles or so yesterday going through it, and I'd walk another 15 miles through it today. With the lack of a canopy, the vegetation grew like crazy and my legs soon became soaking wet as they brushed against it.

But my feet.... they were also wet. I wasn't sure if the water on my feet actually came from the vegetation or if it was sweat from my feet trapped by the socks, but either way, it gave my feet a distinctly wet feeling. But they also stayed warm! They acted somewhat like a wet suit--it didn't keep my feet dry, but it did keep them warm. Which wasn't a bad thing, but I think they oversell the "waterproof" aspect of it. Maybe it was just this particular brand, but for that reason, I was disappointed. I really wanted genuinely waterproof socks.

Later in the day, after the rain dried out and the vegetation was dry, I changed into my dry non-waterproof socks which felt wonderful!

The first couple of miles of the day's hike had a lot of annoying blowdowns--not surprising in a burn area--but the rest of the day the trail was in generally good condition.

Lots of blowdowns the first couple of miles of the day.

And the long road walk I'd been following the last four days or so finally came to a definitive end when I reached the Kettle Crest Trail. It was an actual trail and, being in a burn area for most of the day and high on the crest of the mountain range, it provided wide open and expansive views. Wonderful, wonderful views!

Late in the afternoon, I reached a spring that several cattle had clearly made as a base of a operations. There was even a water trough to make it easier for them to access the spring water. Most of the cattle scattered upon my arrival, moving up or down the slope and away from me, but one cow with two calves made the unwise decision to walk further up the trail.

"No!" I shouted at it. "That's the way I'm going!"

Get off the stupid trail!

There wasn't really any way to go around it on the trail, so I just walked further up the trail. And the cow and calves moved further up the trail. And so I moved further up the trail. And they moved further up the trail.

"Get off the trail!" I shouted at the cattle, but it was no use. These animals are dumber than dirt.

This continued on and on and on....

At one point, the mama cow looked back and me and let loose a giant geyser of pee--as if it were marking its territory and dared me to pass the pee. (Fun fact: Did you know all mammals take, on average, 7 seconds to pee? True! Time yourself. Doesn't matter if it's a small animal or a giant elephant--they all take, on average, 7 seconds to pee.)

Of course, I didn't let the pee stop me from continuing on and the cattle continued to lead the way.

About ten minutes later, mama cow stopped and looked back at me malevolently--then did a giant poop on the trail. Really? It was like it was trying to discourage me from following it. Of course, I wasn't "following" it--I was following the trail but the stupid animal couldn't figure that out. And, of course, I didn't let that stop me--but oh my, it smelled bad! That cow had some problems. *nodding*

I shouted at the beast some more. "Just get off the damn trail! Step 20 feet down the hillside, I'll pass by and you'll never see me again!"

Nope, still the wrong way!
Mama cow continued to herd her calves ahead and I continued--unintentionally--herding mama cow further down the trail. I cussed at it. I yelled at it. It seemed it move slower and slower the further down the trail we went, as if it was getting tired. I couldn't blame it, really. This was probably the most exercise the cow had gotten in years, and it was a lot of weight that she was carrying down the trail.

At a couple of places, the trail came out on a steep slope that was largely bare of trees and vegetation and I started going off trail in the hope of going around it, but the cow found that suspicious enough to move further away on the trail until it was surrounded by trees again and thwarting my attempt to get around.

I cussed some more. Just get off the @%#$& trail!

This went on for 1.4 miles! ONE-POINT-FOUR miles!

For the love of all things holy, get of the freaking trail!

The herding ended when we reached another spring and there was a fork in the trail. One prong went past the spring and uphill while the other prong (the official PNT route) continued more-or-less straight on, and the cow went up past the spring and finally got off the trail.

That's also how I knew I herded the stupid cattle for exactly 1.4 miles--that was the distance my maps showed between the two springs and I picked the cattle up at the first spring and finally lost them at the second one.


This spring had been my goal for the day, but there was no way I would stop here. The area was littered with cow patties and besides the three I herded into the area, others had already made the area home. I needed to get away from these beasts if I wanted any rest tonight. So I filled up with water--there would be no more water on the trail for awhile--and pushed on looking for the first decent place I could stop to camp.

I found it nearly a mile further up the trail at an intersection with Old Stagecoach Road. There was a small fire ring previous campers had created, the views were decent, there was no evidence of cattle on the ground and I was far enough away from the spring that I hoped they wouldn't venture out to this location during the night.

And I set up camp.



The long road walk I followed for the last several days finally came to a definitive end when I reached the Kettle Crest Trail.






I finally ditched the cattle when it veered off trail at this spring, but I stopped only long enough to pick up water.

I had a visitor to my campsite!

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