The Great Basin

Go where you think you want to go
Do everything you were sent here for
Fire at will if you hear that call
Touch your hand to the wall at night
Promises.
Words. -I. MacKaye

Howdy, pardners! We have reached the boom bust town of Rawlins, WY. We started this stretch from the historically epic South Pass City. Strolling through this abandoned ghost town conjured up images of gunfights over rightful possession of horses, cowboys being thrown out of saloons, and pioneers finding passage via the Oregon Trail. Unfortunately, as it sits now you won’t see authentic cowboys but rather Japanese tourists wearing oversized cowboy hats, tattered brochures in kiosks scattering the road and tumbleweeds sailing across the street’s boundary. I was looking forward to the 120 mile walk across the Great Basin as a respite from the stormy and torrential Wind River Mountains. However by day two, the record triple digit heat began taking effect. Unlike the Southern California desert on the PCT there is not even a semblance of shade. Worse yet was the deteriorating water situation. Most of the “drinkable” water had to be filtered and retrieved from defecatory bovine puddles. It doesn’t matter how many times one runs this water ordure through a Sawyer Squeeze filter the taste of feces never goes away. Steady discovered that Peach Tea flavoring was the best palliative in obtunding the taste of this water. I had Wyler’s Lemonade that did a considerably less effective job. In fact the taste of lemonade for me may have been permanently and irrevocably ruined by its newly discovered correlation to fecal coliform. There was a surprisingly abundant supply of wildlife in these harsh environs. We saw herds of bounding antelope, sage grouse ambuscades, hundreds of insouciant cows, and heard the canorous call of Canus latrans every dusk and dawn. The most beautiful time in the desert for me was in the cool evenings when the angry sun finally decided to settle behind the horizon. The constellation-stuffed, night sky was the clearest and brightest that I have seen on this trip. I saw tons of shooting stars, satellites, and galaxy clusters. There were so many stars I could imaginarily draw the lines in the constellation like some gigantic, connect-the-dots painting. I was strongly reminded why I like this state. I have always enjoyed Wyoming not for the things here but for the things omitted. There are not undulating car horns, suffocating crowds of people, cacophonous traffic, or the cloying pablum that plagues most cities. These desolate landscapes have always indulged my sense of self-reflection and space. Out here I feel like I have room to think. The highlights of the desert came on the third day when we reached Brenton Spring and the only tree in the 120 mile trek. We spent the entire afternoon drinking water, talking, and napping. We also met an ultra fast, first time thru-hiker named Raffle. He was attempting to hike the entire basin in 3 days. We spent a couple of hours exchanging hiking stories. I couldn’t imagine starting with the CDT as my first thru-hike but he was doing better than me and well on his way to finishing his goal on the Day of The Dead in Mexico November 1st. The basin is also home to a great deal of oil and gas production. We saw these tireless workers in their heavy coveralls toiling in the hot summer. I may have been hot and uncomfortable in my running shorts and short-sleeved t-shirt but they had to be flat-out miserable in their attire. Most of these workers were also very friendly and more than one offered us water and asked if we were doing ok. They must think we are absolutely nuts to choose to walk through such an arid and harsh place. I think the same of them working out here but at least they are making copious amounts of money doing what they do.

Tonight and tomorrow we are spending some zero days in the culturally necrotizing town of Rawlins. My mother has been extremely kind to come and put us up in a motel to rest our tired soles. We plan on catching up with some missing calories and strenuously working out our air conditioner. Next weekend we will be meeting up with my fellow band mates for a cookout up on Battle Pass. The walk south will become a little more serious after that but until then I am going to enjoy this last gasp of summer.

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Categories: CDT, Desert, hiking, long distance hiking, thru-hiking, trails, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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