Burning Calves, Ravens and The Red Desert

Rawlins Reunion: around the table left to right, Burning Calves, Dassie, AJ (Mudslide), Whisper, Bling, Papa Raven, Mama Raven, Catwater

In Rawlins, the Days Inn accepts hiker resupply boxes and offers a very low room rate that includes breakfast. I prefer not sending resupply to post offices because you have less flexibility about the time of day and day of the week to get your box. To thank a motel for this service, I usually try and stay there a night. Plus other hikers tend to stay at the cheapest places and so I get to see them. Burning Calves and I wound up in the breakfast room at the Days Inn, not knowing we were both there.. I was going to move hotels because when they couldn’t fix the TV in my room, they moved me to a room with a good TV but broken AC. The hotel staff were all so nice that I felt bad for moving. I asked BC if she wanted to share a room, and it wound up being really fun getting to know her better. She had to return to Germany in a few days to her job as a teacher. I want to visit her there!

I got word from the Ravens that they had to take an extra day on the trail out of Steamboat–8 days total, think of the food weight–but were in Rawlins. Reunion! BC, Dassie, AJ, the 4 Ravens and I all had a great dinner together. The Ravens said they needed a zero, so I immediately decided to stay another night in Rawlins so as to hike out with them for a stretch, and convinced Burning Calves to do the same. I’ve been so lonely on the trail, I’ve only camped with other hikers once in over a month of hiking.

7/30 Hiked out with the Ravens and BC after breakfast. It was mostly roads and paved highway, treeless, dry and quite beautiful. We made about 24 trail miles and camped in the scrub. A difficulty with hiking with other people is that there is no possibility of a private pee. You can walk out a ways after telling people to look elsewhere, or sometimes you can find a little dip or rise to hide in. I’m not particularly modest, plus I hike in a skirt which helps, but I still need to be aware so as not to offend or embarrass my companions. This “bathroom” situation is of course a frequent topic for hiker discussion, and at the dinner table the night before hiking out, the 8 of us shared a lot of stories about hikers habits. It’s hilarious.

7/31 After about 20 miles, BC had to leave us on a road that would take her to Baroil and on to the highway where she’d hitch back to Rawlins to catch a bus to Denver airport. I will have to visit her in Frankfurt! The Ravens and I continued on, finding tentsites in a bit of sand not too covered with sagebrush and sticker bushes of various kinds. It is so good to have company.

Fun times in Wyoming
Mama Raven
Bling in the lead as usual, the kid is fast!

8/1 A long day. Since there are no trees, there is no shade and it gets really hot, especially trudging uphill with 3 liters of water. I struggled but survived, trying so very hard not to slow down the Ravens or make them feel they had to camp before the planned 25 miles. For the second time this stretch, and contrary to my usual routine, we stopped and cooked dinner and then continued on. It works like magic, fueling the last couple hours of hiking till dark. I’ve always just waited to eat till I camp because it seems like wasting time to unpack the stove and food and repack. But it works.  I can hike till dark with good physical and mental energy and the cooler evening is very pleasant.  So we made it up the last steep climb and pitched tents in the wind on the flattest and barest place we could find, the dirt road that is the CDT.  It was a dreadful, windy, tent flapping night. I used earplugs to try and sleep and had to get up a couple of times to reset the tent stakes. No trees, no rocks, no way to block the wind out here. But I do love Wyoming so far, the bones of the land are visible, the ridges and rock outcrops, the folds and bluffs, you can see for miles. Cows and antelope pop up and either stare or sproing, and I just feel like I’m able to breathe and see. I guess it’s this sense of space and stretch through the vastness of the open country. I like it.

8/2 Another windy day, another 25 miles. Wild horses again, we are all ecstatic when we see them. They are so graceful and free. Antelope, cows and horses: because the country is so open, we see animals constantly. We camped in another windy, unprotected spot, there’s really no other choice. Tonight though I could hear the cheerful voices of Bling and Whisper in their tent, just being kids. I love the sound.  I’ve missed it.

8/3 Woohoo, not only did we make it to Atlantic City, a mile off trail, but we were treated like guests, not customers, at Wild Bill’s Guns where we rented cabins for the night.  Bill and Carmela’s cabins are clean and new, electricity and water are in the separate bathroom.  They invited us onto their porch for lemonade and cookies and recommended the Grubstake for dinner.  Another very hiker friendly place.  Back at Bill’s, we got got chocolate cake and ice cream.  Yes, I’m obsessed with food on the trail.

8/4 Bill cooked breakfast–Mama Raven claimed they were the best pancakes ever and my coffee cup was never empty.

My firstborn turns 34 today. Happy Birthday Glen!

After breakfast we hiked the road a few miles to the ghost town of South Pass City and picked up our resupply boxes from the visitor center before exploring the park.  I saw legendary, speed-record holding, Anish’s signature 2 names ahead of my own in the CDT Hiker register, cool, she must be hiking SOBO.  The town is restored and the interiors are arranged to look as though the inhabitants have just stepped away from the table in the middle of a meal.  It’s really well done and unlike any historical site I’ve visited.  We walked on towards Highway 28, taking a short cut that turned into a long cut when we came to a fence that promised trespassers would be shot and survivors would be shot twice.  Seen this sign before, still not funny. Go, Wyoming.

Wildebeests at a watering hole
Antelope run away, cows look stupefied
South Pass City

We walked up the pavement and crossed at the proper spot.  I had been torn all day, actually for weeks, trying to figure out how to best be in the solar eclipse zone, hiking, where to try to finish this year’s hike, and the complicated logistics of transport, including from the trail to an airport to get home to Alaska.  Plus, it was hot and 120 miles in 5 days had sapped my wasted legs of energy.  I still am annoyed by my general indecisiveness on this hike.  So I’d been yakking to Mama about the fact that I’d be resupplying in a town they needed to bypass (Pinedale) and they’d be ahead of me from then on, and that I was thinking about trying to hitch into Lander for no reason other than I didn’t feel like walking today.  Hopefully it wasn’t a big surprise to the Ravens when I didn’t catch up to them.  I simply stopped, turned around and walked back to the highway.  I might be notorious in my other life for fading from a party without saying goodbye, a little idiosyncrasy of mine, a kind of no-fuss decisiveness.  I gave myself half an hour of trying, if no ride, I’d continue up the trail.  I stuck out my thumb at the 70 MPH traffic and a pickup stopped within a minute.  The old guy asked if I’d mind riding in the back of the truck. “Is it legal in Wyoming?” I asked.  “I think so,” he said and we grinned. Then I hopped in and had the time of my life for the 25 mile ride.  No second guessing my decision.  What a great way to see the scenery!  The last time I rode in the back of a pickup, I was 25, living on the Big Island and a bunch of us rode in the back of Billy Hopkins’ truck down to Waipio Valley for the day.

Ha!  To be continued…

5 thoughts on “Burning Calves, Ravens and The Red Desert

  1. I’m learning…that sometimes I can plan and plan and have an idea of how something should go, but it’s learning to be okay when the journey takes you down and different path…because that was how it was supposed to go anyway. You are amazing my friend and so enjoy reading your blog and how utterly different it’s been than the PCT.

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