August 10th, 2019
Atlantic City, 1 mile south of mm 1272 to mm 1301
Distance in miles: 30
I’m so cozy in the cabin bed, I don’t want to leave. I wish I had many more hours to sleep in. There just aren’t enough hours in the day. Breakfast is at 7 am, whereupon I wolf down at least 6 pancakes and some eggs, sausage, fruit, coffee and orange juice. Basically I consume everything they set out in front of me. Only a few pancakes remain, and to be fair, they are smallish, so my count isn’t as impressive as it sounds. It’s great to eat so much before setting out on this next section.
I take another short shower, finishing up what I started before the hot water ran out the night before. That’s one of the few downfalls of this place…they have way too small of a hot water tank. And the wifi is somewhat limited…not surprisingly in such a remote area. I haven’t seen any other parts of the town but after wasting a bunch of time trying (unsuccessfully) to upload blogs, I just need to hit the trail. I depart at 1110 and promptly run into Rain Skirt, the SOBO Spanish hiker. He’s just coming in so I tell him about Wild Bill’s place. He has bad shin splints so hopefully a soak in the hot tube will do him good.
I’m so excited to see how fast I can do this section. I leave many hours after Boo Boo, who left at 0530 am, so he makes a good rabbit to try to catch. He is likewise trying catch his friends so it’s unlikely that I’ll see him. I have left late but wonder if it’s still possible to do a 30? I will try. I follow the road all the way down to the Sweetwater River, a distance of about 10 miles. The trail parallels the road but comments warn that there is no trail, just a sagebrush bushwhack…no thank you. The road is so fast, I make it to the bridge by 1:50 pm. I’m maintaining a 4 mph pace and it feels great!
The trail departs the main road and follows a network of small jeep trails for the remainder of the day. Some small sections are a bit rocky but they are soft and smooth for the most part. Any sort of hills are gradual. It’s the easiest walking and the miles just flow into a tapestry of unique and inspiring images. I also see more wildlife out here in the sagebrush wilderness than I do in the mountains. I had no idea just how beautiful it was. At a few points, I’m even moved to tears.
Here are just a few of the images, woven together as I see them: pronghorn spring across the hills, grasshoppers dance in the breeze, a kestrel hovers in search of prey, vultures glide on the currents, horny toads scurry across the path, wild horses stand as sentinels on the tops of hills, sage grouse burst from their concealed spots, thunder rumbles in the distance, soft rain kisses my shoulders now and again, clouds put on a spectacular show, cows are just everywhere doing cow things, a few springs bubble from prehistoric outcrops, a rainbow slices the sky, footprints stretch out in front of me, the wind blows, sunset, the moon.This landscape is anything but boring, in fact, it may just be one of my favorite places yet. I stop for a short break about 20 miles in, then for dinner at a spring at 25 miles. I could just camp here but the evening is too beautiful to give up on yet. I want to walk some more just to be a part of the magical transition of day and night.All day I have been dodging the bigger storms, watching the dark rain slide by. I don’t mind the light rain, as it serves to cool me off. The weather has been so perfect all day, keeping the scorching sun at bay, overcast with a slight breeze. But as I leave the spring, I can see that I am lined up to go through a pretty big squall. The wind suddenly stiffens and the heavier rain begins. I begin to doubt my decision to keep moving.
Luckily the squall skirts me to the side and it passes quickly. I’m heading east so I follow it as it moves into the distance. The setting sun reflects a brilliant pink off the highest boils of cloud. What a miraculous thing to see the passage of time in this way. The footsteps have all been wiped clean by the rain and I feel like I’m the only person around for many miles…I probably am.At last, I reach 30 miles just in time to find a nice protected spot in a dry wash. I set up quickly and am asleep in no time. A few strange sounds permeate the darkness, mostly coyotes and cows. It’s so peaceful.