I hiked out around 7:30 so as to make it to the Grubstake again when it opened for breakfast at 8. I missed a turn and ended up coming in by a completely different route that required ducking under some tall bushes, but it didn’t take any longer.
I arrived around 8:10, but it wasn’t open. A man showed up with some kegs and got the owner to open the door. But it was clear from his gruff perfunctory greeting, he wasn’t really open yet. I just sat at a picnic table out front getting caught up on my writing until the old woman from the night before showed up, and the delivery guy confirmed she was the server on whose presence opening up depended.
And she turned out to be really nice despite the late hour she had clearly stayed up until. I got some coffee and eventually one of the biggest breakfast burritos I’ve ever seen. It was packed with ham and cheese and hash browns and a variety of peppers with salsa verde on the side. And it didn’t even cost that much. Totally worth it. I finally hiked out again a little after 10 when my phone was nearly recharged, but not before downing one last cup of coffee and a can of root beer. I had a long walk across the open plain to confront on not a lot of sleep.
I wanted to get to the trail without backtracking through town, but the road that left to the southeast was a private road with no trespassing signs, so I went back to the other end of town and climbed out. That road met some kind of four lane dirt superhighway, which soon crossed the trail. But the official trail was not actually a trail. It was a series of markers along the plain with no track cut between them running parallel to the road for six miles. That is, basically the same route as the road but with added difficulty of poor footing. I tried it for maybe a hundred yards and then saw that it would be pointlessly annoying and went back to walking the road I’m sure the CDT used to follow before the useless diversion was added.
A couple of hours later, I crossed the Oregon Trail, just after which I turned off onto a road which the official trail joined and followed. After another couple of miles, it came to the edge of the gully through which flowed Rock Creek. It was the first easy access to shade I had had for hours (even though it was mostly cloudy and a fairly cool day), so I finally had good reason to stop for lunch. I took the side road down into the gully that brought me creekside after running off a small group of cows.
I spread out my ground cover on the grass between a tall willow bush and the creek and started preparing lunch. The cows soon reappeared on the opposite bank, seemingly unafraid as long as the creek was between us.
Within a mile or so of leaving that spot after lunch, the looming dark cloud finally caught up to me and started dropping on me, so I stopped to gear up for rain. It turned into a full on storm with serious lightning, but there is nowhere to hide on the open prairie, so I just kept hiking through it. The wind was blowing so hard that the raindrops were hitting as hard as hail. It kept raining enough to keep my Packa zipped up for another hour, even though the rain got pretty light. Even when it wasn’t really wet anymore, the wind was so intense I kept it on for the warmth.
Another cloud rolled in being another good bout of rain just as I saw Cliff and Lost’s tent on the horizon. I called out as I got close and Cliff poked his head out. They had stopped two miles before Atlantic City, skipped it entirely in a plan to do a thirty, stopped and pitched the tent when the thunderstorm rolled in, then committed to making up the miles by getting up early in the morning. I didn’t really believe they would since they had said they don’t like to get up early before, but I certainly didn’t end up getting up early enough the next morning to see them go by, so maybe they did.
I walked on in the rain and into the dark for another hour or so to get to Upper Mormon Spring. When I came to the place it was, I wandered off into the field towards it, but it got so pitted I had to back off and head toward the outskirts to find a clear flat spot to set up. It was dark enough to require my headlamp to do anything, but it was nice enough to stop raining for a few minutes while I got the tent up and everything inside. Another storm rolled in after I was inside and cooking supper in the vestibule.
I was up for another couple of hours, doing battle to get supper done and ready for bed without letting the horde of moths inside. They are very sly critters and even if you zip the flap shut except for enough space to slip your arm out, they will find their way through. They only got in a couple of times and I think I only killed two on accident.
It was nigh on eleven and pouring by the time I got to sleep. I noticed some water was getting in to my right where the wind was pushing the flap down and the inner tent stuck out from under the fly and tried to move things away from that corner, but I was mostly dry. I had to reposition my bear can under the other vestibule once where the wind was shaking water from the fly directly into my face. It was still pouring when I fell asleep.
Trail miles: 18.8
Distance to Rawlins: 94.7 miles