August 9th, 2019
Mm 1240.6 to Atlantic City, 0.9 miles south of mm 1272
Distance in miles: 31
I couldn’t get to sleep last night. Somehow a 30 mile day with over 7000′ vertical ascent wasn’t tiring enough. Or maybe I was just too excited about how awesome the day was. The cows also kept coming by, mooing and clacking their feet. I worry about animals not seeing my tent at night and running into it. But surely they can smell me?
It was hot and dry when I went to bed but the morning brings wet, cold air. I hoped for a dry tent for once but it is not to be. Everything is covered in a layer of dew and it is really cold. I am on the trail early and in the first 10 minutes, I encounter a day hiker with 2 dogs. They both start barking and charging me and I have to wait for him to grab one by the collar, which he acknowledges is not friendly. It lunges and growls at me as I walk by nervously. Why is this dog on a public trail, let alone off leash, when it’s so aggressive? It would be ironic if I walked for a month and a half around grizzlies only to get attacked by a dog.
The guy reports just seeing a moose, same one the other 2 hikers saw last night no doubt, but I don’t see it anywhere. Could it be that 2 unleashed dogs chased it away? I’m grumpy that this inconsiderate dog owner disturbed my peaceful morning, not to mention wildlife viewing. It’s not the best start but he is the last hiker I see all day.
I visit a campground along the way, taking advantage of some toilet magic. The cost is having wet feet, since I have to cross a stream to get to it. But the trail is pretty mellow for the rest of the day, despite lots of blowdowns, and my feet are dry again by noon. There is only one 1000′ climb, spread over 4 miles, so it’s an easy grade. It is the last of the foothills of the Winds range.
The lack of any northbound footprints makes me suspect there is a road walk alternate and I check my other maps to see that there is, indeed. But I am happy walking up in the cool mountains for a little while longer. It will be many miles of road-walking through the basin shortly enough.
As I come down from the last climb, the trail joins a road and thus the road-walk begins. The trees start to disappear and the endless sagebrush prairie takes over. I am transitioning from the mountains to the Great Basin, a section of the trail that is over 200 miles long, mostly flat, open prairie. I guess the Rockies just didn’t grow in this half of Wyoming.
All day I follow Boo Boo’s footprints, which makes navigating the turns on the road network easy. I can tell that he is only a couple hours ahead of me. And I figure Relentless is only a few behind. As a round a corner on one of the roads, I see a juvenile black bear sitting in the road. It tears off as soon as it sees me. Well, there you have it: I walked over 1,000 miles through grizzly country and only saw bears on the first and last days, all of which were black bears.
I get to South Pass City by 3 pm and pick up my box, as well as 2 for Relentless. I get a pepsi at the small store (which is about all they have), dry my tent, and charge some electronics. The place is a restored mining town, all the buildings belonging to a museum of sorts. There are also a few residential houses and I read that this is one of the oldest continuously occupied towns in Wyoming. It grew up as a result of the gold rush.It’s been a long day and I pushed hard to arrive before the store closed. But there is no place to stay or eat. I plan to move on 4 more miles to Atlantic City where there are restaurants and cabins for rent. I wait until 5 pm to see if Relentless shows then cram all my stuff and his into my pack. I came out of the Winds with a lot of extra food and with more resupply, I have way too much. Since my pack is so heavy, I walk the road that goes directly to Atlantic City instead of the trail, which skirts the town about a mile to the north.A car stops to offer me a ride along the way but I decline. I arrive just after 6 pm and quickly decide on renting a $60 cabin. It’s pricey but includes everything I desperately need in one place: shower, laundry, evening desert, breakfast, and loaner clothes for the HOT TUB! Relentless arrives just after I take a shower and I give him his stuff, plus some of mine. He already walked the basin and is going to hang out for a few days while I walk it. He’ll hold onto any stuff I won’t need for the 115 miles stretch to Rawlins.
I get all my chores done in record time, eat a free breakfast backpacker meal I found in the hikerbox for dinner, go for a soak in the tub, then have brownies and ice cream, provided by the wonderful hosts Bill and Carmella. I settle into the dark cabin (it doesn’t have electricity) with enthusiasm, the first place I’ve had to myself in a long time. Relentless is saving money by camping in a nearby cow pasture.