Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Day 100: Leaving Rawlins

July 29: It was finally time to leave Rawlins. Forecasted temperatures were still hot, but finally peaked yesterday and would now descend. For a few days, at least.

Mural near the post office

I wanted an early start, but I couldn't start too early since I needed to drop by the post office to mail some items ahead. My laptop with a few miscellaneous items would be bounced ahead to Pinedale, but I also mailed a number of items to my mom's house that I no longer needed, which included my first journal of the trail. I have to admit, of all the things I mailed, this was the item that worried me the most. It was priceless! It had all of the details I would need to write these blogs (up through yesterday)! If it got lost or damaged in the mail.... *shaking head* But what was the alternative? To carry it? Out in the wilderness, that wasn't necessarily a safe bet either. A rain storm and a failed Ziplock could turn it into complete mush. What if a squirrel nibbled on it during the night? So I decided to risk sending it to my mom. To be fair, the post office had never lost any of my packages. It just took them forever to finally get it to me at times. Time, fortunately, wasn't of the essence in this case.

Anyhow, the post office didn't open until 8:00am, so I had a couple of hours to kill which I used to pack up, eat breakfast and take a shower.

There was no particularly compelling reason for me to walk to the post office a couple of miles away. I'd done the walk a few times already: When I first came into town, when I mailed a food drop to myself up the trail two days ago, and I even went by it yesterday on my way to the prison museum. I didn't mind walking then since it was only a couple of miles and I liked to stretch my legs, but today I had real miles to do! No sense wasting them by walking to the post office! And I didn't have to, because I had the number for a service that could give rides to hikers around town for something like 50 cents.

I tried calling the number a couple of time but never got anyone to answer. *sigh*

So I wound up walking to the post office. If I realized I'd be walking, I would have left earlier and got there right when the post office opened. As it was, I wound up arriving about a half hour after that.

Anyhow, I got my packages mailed off, then jumped back on the trail and followed it out of town.

The first few miles were awful, following alongside a busy, paved highway, so I was happy when the trail veered off onto gravel roads. Yes, beautiful gravel roads!

And the rest of the day's hike was more of the same terrain that I had before: flat, easy walking along gravel roads.

Temperatures were still miserably hot, even in the morning. I did, however, get to drink ice cold water all morning long because I had thought to freeze my water bottles in the mini-fridge of my hotel room during the night. By 1:00pm, however, the last of the frozen water had melted and the cool, tasty water started warming up into something less pleasant. I knew it wouldn't last forever, but it was a still a sad moment when I checked my water bottle and couldn't spot ice floating it in anymore.

Early in the afternoon, I came across a few trees along the trail. I'm not sure how they got there, or why they were there, but it had been the only shade I saw all day so I couldn't just walk past it! Nope, I had to stop for a rest. After checking the surrounding ground for cow poop, of course, because that was absolutely everywhere, I stopped for a break. 

I don't know how these trees got here, but I wasn't going to walk past the only shade I saw all day without taking a good, long break! =)

While resting in the shade, I saw a couple of figures coming up the trail behind me. When I first spotted them, I couldn't tell who they were. They were too far away to identify, but I wasn't in any particular rush either and was happy to wait around under the tree to find out who they were. My goal for the day had been to cover at least 10 to 15 miles out of town, and I'd been making very good time along the easy terrain. Despite my late start out of town, I was still on schedule.

And about 15 or 20 minutes later, Bugs and Sweet Tooth arrived at the trees. They took a short break there, but wouldn't linger anywhere near as long as I did in the shade. Remembering how excited they were about the temporary tattoos I provided back in New Mexico, I offered them some new ones which they were happy to take. These turned out much better than the ones before. The transfer process from those New Mexico tats just didn't turn out well.

They continued onward, and I eventually followed not far behind.

We caught up with each other again a few miles later at Fish Spring Pond, the only reliable water source we'd be passing for the day according to Guthook. That was where I discovered I had lost a water bottle. Noooo! It wasn't the end of the world--I had plenty of other receptacles to carry water--but I did like that bottle. It must have fallen out when the trail passed through a barbed-wire fence and I crawled under it. It's the only place I could think of where it might have come out of my pack, and I knew I had it back at the shade trees so it had to have fallen out somewhere within those last few miles.

I was not, however, going to go back to retrieve it. Nope. It was too far back.

Fish Spring Pond was the only reliable water source we'd pass all day.

While filling up with water, Captain Jack and Twain caught up with us. Twain had found a water bottle along the way... Yes! Trail mail! I got my water bottle back! =) To thank him, I pulled out my temporary tats and offered him one. I also gave one to Captain Jack since they were out. Seemed kind of rude not to share with everyone.

They all had stopped for a break, but I was inclined to keep pushing on. I'd already had a long break under the shade trees. I didn't need another long break in the sun. I had little doubt that they'd catch up with me later anyhow. They definitely hiked faster than I did.

The trail went cross-country for a bit before veering back onto the paved highway for another mile or so. It was the same highway that I followed out of Rawlins, and in hindsight, I wondered why I didn't just hitch a ride back into town for the night. That would have been brilliant! *slapping self* I could have slackpacked this whole section! Had an extra day of real food in town. And an extra evening to watch YouTube videos online. Then just hitch back again in the morning. I really wished I had thought of that sooner.

I could still hitch back into town, but it seemed pointless now. I already carried my fully-loaded pack here, so I already missed the slackpacking opportunity. And I already mailed my laptop ahead so that wasn't around to use anymore either. And if I went into town and bought food at a restaurant, that would just leave more unused food in my pack to carry. Nope. I missed my opportunity. That would have been the smart thing to do. (Although, I suppose, I did save money by not spending an extra day in town.)

Late in the afternoon, dark and ugly clouds rolled in, and I could hear thunder rolling around in them. I found that a little disturbing since I was walking around on a highly exposed flat area with absolutely nowhere to go for protection. When Bugs and Sweet Tooth caught up with me, I tried to keep up with them, at least for a little bit. At least if lightning struck one of us, there would be someone around to help. As long as we weren't hiking too close together!

Thunderstorms are approaching. That's Bugs and Sweet Tooth ahead on the trail, and just seconds after taking this photo I saw a flash of lightning reach out of the clouds ahead and strike the mountains in the distance. Very dramatic!

I pushed onward, much further than I originally planned, wanting to take advantage of the cooler evening temperatures, so it wasn't until about 8:30pm that I finally stopped for the day after covering nearly 25 miles! I definitely flew way past my goal for the day!

With the dark, angry clouds still looming, I set up my tarp the best I could. There wasn't really much to attach it to, however. I typically liked to attach at least one end to a tree, but that was impossible out here. A solid attachment point was even more important when it was windy, and it was definitely super windy.

So I wound up setting the foot-end of the tarp directly on the ground and propping up the head-end with my trekking pole, just letting the tarp sag over my bottom half. It wasn't ideal, but I'd live. Well, at least so long as the lightning didn't strike me. But at least I had a pretty low profile to the ground! The highest point was where my trekking pole held up the tarp, and I deliberately kept it low due to the high winds and threat of lightning so it only poked up about two feet from the ground.

But like I said, it wasn't a great setup. There just wasn't much to work with out here. A thick forest would have been particularly welcome at the moment!

I skipped making dinner since I set up camp so late, and it would have been difficult to cook under such a low-hanging tarp anyhow. That's okay, though, since I wasn't feeling particularly hungry either. I ate a few snacks for dinner and that was plenty.

Behind me, I could see a couple of other hikers setting up their tents maybe a half-mile away. I assumed it must be Bugs and Sweet Tooth since they had been right behind me, but I wouldn't find out later that it was actually Captain Jack and Twain. Bugs and Sweet Tooth actually stopped to camp even before that.

Anyhow... thus ended my 100th day since starting the trail. Progress was still being made!

The trail followed this busy highway out of Rawlins for a few miles. Bleh!

This is what most of the terrain today consisted of.

I was already excited about seeing the trail heading toward those trees in the distance. Could there be shade? I hoped for shade! I prayed for shade!

And yes! There was shade! Beautiful, glorious shade! =)

Sweet Tooth follows the waymarkers that marked the cross-country section of today's hike.

That's Fish Spring Pond in the distance. The hiker in the lower corner of the photo is either Sweet Tooth or Bugs, but I don't remember which and I can't tell by looking at the photo.

At this point, I was mentally kicking myself for not having thought to slackpack the whole day and hitch back into Rawlins for the night there!

I did see one rattlesnake today!

Storm clouds can sure look dramatic from a distance! But the lightning was a big concern along this very exposed terrain with nowhere to hide!

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