With second marathon roadwalk in a row, I arrived in Rawlins.
The storm last night was interesting. The wind continued to intensify overnight, and between 1 and 2 am, I had two different stakes get pulled out by the wind, and I had to go out to fix them. The distant lightning intensified, but was far enough away that I didn’t hear any thunder. The clouds stayed mostly to the north and east; to the south, I had a clear sky full of stars.
I’d set a 5 am alarm, to both get to town early, and also get more hiking in while the sun was still low in the sky. But for some reason, the (silent) alarm didn’t go off on my watch, and I couldn’t feel my phone vibrating, so I entirely slept through it, not waking up until 5:30. I was able to break camp quickly, and I started hiking by 6:30, only half an hour after sunrise.
It was cool and a little windy out, but with the sun rising quickly, it wouldn’t stay cool for very long.
I continued uphill on the aptly-named Bridger Pass Road, which climbed up to the top of a ridge nestled between two mountain valleys, passing over Bridger Pass. As passes go, it wasn’t very impressive, but it was a unique view, at least on the CDT.
The dirt road, winding through the arid chaparral landscape, was fairly monotonous, though the mountains on either side of the valley were interesting, striped with different colors of rocks and with the occasional craggy areas that sometimes looked like castles.
At least there was a sense of progress, as the mountains started to peel away, and a ridge in the distance, a large mesa, gradually grew closer. A few trucks passed by, kicking dust high into the air; the few that came towards me, I could see from miles away.
One of the trucks, heading in the same direction I was, was from the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. They gave me a small bottle of Gatorade. Shortly after that, I stopped for a break, now eight miles into today’s roadwalk, and considerably further still left to go.
My break wound up being a little long, and I missed getting “10 before 10” by two tenths of a mile.
The trail passed a one or two low-flowing creeks that looked like they’d be only good in an emergency. The only significant water today was in the Little Sage Reservoir, which seemed to be at a low water level, had lots of plants near the shore poking out above the water. It looked quite unappetizing. It wasn’t a problem for me, since I had enough water for the day, but it would have been problematic had I needed an additional day to get to Rawlins.
The trail reached a junction between Bridger Pass Road and a trail that turned off, going cross-country through scrub. My trail guide indicated there was a water cache that had been refilled yesterday at the intersection of Bridger Pass and a highway just ahead — Sage Creek Road, the paved road I was briefly on yesterday morning. It was time for a break, so I decided to go to the water cache and get some extra water.
While at the cache, a woman driving off the highway to go down the dirt road stopped to give me a bottle of an electrolyte drink. That was great, because the water from the cache tasted like it came out of a swimming pool. (Even still, I drank half a gallon from the cache.) The cache also had packets of salt, which would have been great if I didn’t have my own electrolyte mix.
Though I could take the highway the rest of the way to town, I was not really inclined to do even more roadwalk. However, the trail where it branched off looked rather indistinct, and eventually joined up with a series of dirt roads anyway. It was a choice between 13 miles of a bit of a bushwhack and more dirt roadwalk to join up with the highway closer to Rawlins, or 11 miles of paved roadwalk to get to that point. With that in mind, the choice was almost a no-brainer. Take the paved road to town, and I’ll get there probably an hour sooner.
The walk up the highway was no less monotonous than the the walk to the highway, but at least the somewhat-recently paved asphalt was a little bit softer than the dirt road. And while there was more traffic, it wasn’t too bad. Between the shoulder and people being friendly enough to give a wide berth, it wasn’t too dangerous. I stopped for a break after about six miles, on a cleared dirt flat between the highway and a fence to private property.
As I got closer to town, I started calling around to try and find a place to stay tonight and tomorrow — I needed a rest day since it’s been nearly two weeks since my last zero in Grand Lake. This was far difficult than I expected. Over the course of an hour, I called four different places. One of them had space tomorrow, but not tonight. Two of them didn’t even answer the phone. A fourth had space tonight (and tomorrow), but their guest laundry was broken and they only had a smoking room available.
I settled on two different places; the 1st Choice Rawlins for tonight, and Brickyard Inn for tomorrow. Brickyard was where I wanted to stay tonight, since they’re located a block away from the trail. The 1st Choice, with the smoking room, is on the other side of town, but at least it’s close to the Walmart, so I’ll be able to resupply easily tomorrow morning before I move hotels.
Nearing town, storm clouds gathered to the south. I tried to pick up the pace a bit, though practically, I was already going as fast as I could after a day of roadwalking.
The trek through southern Rawlins was interesting; it was a residential community with RVs on nearly every block. I saw a minivan drive by, with a mattress on its roof, and someone hanging out of the front passenger window holding the mattress in place. A few barking dogs asserted dominance from their yards, but did not approach. I stopped for a short break on a concrete bench next to a railroad tunnel. A guy with some sort of mental disorder approached and insisted on having a conversation; I humored him for a minute or so, but after second marathon roadwalk in a row, I was too tired to have a conversation with someone I could barely understand.
At the next block after the bench, I turned off the trail to head to my motel. I stopped at a combination doughnut and ice cream shop, which also served sandwiches. Twenty minutes to closing, they’d already closed their kitchen, but they still made me a sandwich.
By 5:30, “only” 11 hours after I started this morning, I got checked into my motel room. The attendant at the front desk was able to find me a non-smoking room.
There were a couple of fast-food restaurants around, but I wanted something a bit more substantial, and in getting to the motel, I’ve walked 28 miles today. This called for a pizza from Pizza Hut, delivered to my room. It arrived faster than I expected, and was quite good.
Tomorrow: Resupply, relocate, laundry, and more food.