"Never trust a guy in a car who says the road is flat, or it's all downhill, or it's not very far. Remember, he as several hundred horses under him and you have two legs"
Aug 31 14.4 miles to Boulder, WY (private campground)
Semi rest day, since we had to split the distance for the next two days. Slept in, grocery shopped (had to buy-and carry-groceries for 7 days, as our next opportunity will be Rawlins, past the Great Divide Basin), went out for lunch and easy coast to the next town. Jon worked on the bikes a bit. Camped next to a Llama farm, which fascinated Afton. Saw an Osprey sitting near a nest, which we believe had chicks in it. It seems very late, so I wonder if it's a second brood.
Sep 1 38.1 miles to Little Sandy Creek (dispersed camping site)
Early this morning outside Boulder, we saw small complex of buildings fenced in, maybe 5 buildings on an acre with two cars parked outside, which said "USAF Pinedale Seismic Research Facility Det 489 AFTAC Boulder WY". Someone back in Pinedale had said it was the Air Force listening for underground nuclear weapons. Can anyone of my Air Force connections fill us in? Anyway, it's nowhere near anything and wouldn't be fun to be stationed there for three years.
Met another CD rider, Spence from Madison, WI. He did the first part to Helena with his girlfriend and is now traveling on his own. Moving at a slightly faster rate than us. He had heard about "the people with the dogs" and was anxious to take our photo and had promised to email it to various people he had met. I guess we're famous. Anyway, we visited awhile and actually met up again the next day and rode together awhile. Since then, we see bike tracks now and then and assume it is him.
We are traveling along the Lander cut-off of the Oregon Trail, a shortcut developed by a guy named Lander which cut 200 miles off the Oregon Trail. There are markers at every point the Oregon Trail crosses the road. In fact, we camped right next to some old wagon ruts on the edge of the stream, and I can imagine the pioneers over 100 years ago camping there, cooking dinner and washing clothes in the creek, just as we have.
The land is wide open--you can see forever--I feel like I could yell and no one would hear me, just the Pronghorns.
But the big news--we hit 1000 miles today. The entire trail is about 2500. Our mileage will differ, as we go off route to campgrounds and shop, but we are making progress.
Sep 2 33.4 miles to Willow Creek dispersed camping site just past South Pass, WY
We've had really cold weather the last two nights. Some folks said it was supposed to be down to 27. We had heavy frost on our bikes. Hard to crawl out of the tent. But the sun warms things up fast.
More great views and miles and miles of nothing. Crossed the CD three times today (crossings 7, 8, and 9). Actually rode along the top of the divide for 1.5 miles and could look down on either side. The last crossing was the South Pass crossing which was important to the Oregon Trail, Mormon Trail, and Pony Express. The town of South Pass, near there, is a restored mining town. Unfortunately we got there too late to tour it. We'll come back some day. But they were nice enough to let us fill up out water bottles there, and pointed out a nice creek near there that we could camp at.
I was flying down a rather steep hill when I hit some bumps at the bottom, and Afton slid out of the trailer and got her foot stuck in my spokes. She was screaming and I couldn't do anything but hold the bike still until Jon could run back and free her. She took off running, so I guess she's ok.
Sep 3 35.3 miles to somewhere in the middle of the Great Basin
We had camped only a few miles from Atlantic City last night, which had a restaurant, so we decided to go there for breakfast. Unfortunately, they were not open for b-fast, so we had to cook our oatmeal anyway. In fact, Atlantic City looked as old as South Pass, only not restored. The only activity we saw was two old timers sitting in the general store, waiting for the town to die. Not a good way to start a long hard day. By noon, we got to the Sweetwater River "the only reliable water source for 69 miles". Filtered water and filled up all of our bottles and extra bladders. So with the extra weight, we headed into the desert. Not much traffic. Steep up and downs. Dry, quiet, bland. An occasional antelope. Because of the delays, we pushed on with few stops. Minimized our water intake. Same constant scenery, sparse sagebrush and brown grasses. Much washboard road--going up a hill is like riding a boat in the swell--up one side, down the other, up, down, up down. Going down is like riding a bucking bronco-not that I've every ridden one-but we bounce out of the saddle and flop back down, strain to hold onto the handlebars, our cheeks shake and our eyeballs roll and the bike seems to want to go wherever it wants. We let the dogs run loose all day, since we rarely saw a car.
We pulled off into the sage to camp. Just us and the night wind and the wide open skies. I felt kind of like the proverbial cowboy, sleeping next to a campfire, his head on a rock, with his horse and dog next to him. Only we have a tent and a fleece jacket for a pillow, and no campfire. We do have the dogs. And we are alone in the wilderness and no one but God knows where we are.
Sep 4 46.5 miles to dispersed camping site at A&M reservoir.
Today was much like yesterday. No water, dry, all the same. All we could think about was--speed, distance, and keep going. Our water was running low and we didn't know for sure if the A&M reservoir would have water. It was a long, hard day, and I have to admit that a few "words" were spoken. But the reservoir was full when we got there and we were able to drink our fill and recover from two hard days. One more day and we would be out of this long, hard basin.
Sep 5 55.7 miles to Rawlins, WY (motel)
Today was much better, maybe even enjoyable. Our frame of mind was much better, as well. We were in shouting distance of civilization and had long ago decided to get a motel, and later decided we also needed a day off to R&R. The first 14 miles were dirt, but mostly downhill. We stopped at an old log cabin that looked like it had been lived in by a hermit. It was patched with tin, burlap, whatever he could find. It looks like the cattle had been using it lately.
Both dogs long ago learned to stand in the trailer with their back feet and put their front feet up on our back rack. They look like they are surfing. We don't really like them doing it because they are not as stable. I have a trunk rack on my back rack--it is kind of the size and shape of a loaf of bread. In fact, that is what we keep in it-bread and PB and other stuff for lunch. However today Afton (the little imp) figured out how to crawl completely onto my back rack and curl up on top of the trunk rack. I can't imagine how she can balance on such a little space. I can't look around and see her, but Jon got some good pics before we yelled at her. That is not safe at all, because if I go down, she goes flying. Maybe we should have just got child seats and put them in those! And imagine what happened to the loaf of bread she was sitting on!
The last 42 miles were on pavement, with a few small hills, but some nice flats too. We saw a couple herds of wild horses. The last 15 miles into Rawlins, we joined up with the Trans Am trail again. After going over a CD crossing (#11 elevation 7174), we had a 9 mile coast down to the city. What a rush it is to coast along at 14 or so miles per hour, without any effort, just turning the cranks now and then to prevent lactic acid buildup in the legs. That's what biking is all about. Motel, shower and pizza and we felt great.