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CDT WY Section 4

Day 118: Crooks Mountain West

When my first alarm went off at 4am, there was a storm passing over. I went back to sleep It was still raining when my 5am alarm went off. I went back to sleep. When the 6am alarm went off, it seemed the rain had finally let up, though I was still very sleepy and just wanted to sleep in some more. The cow sounds and coyote-like whines around indicated the rest of the world was already up and going. I was clearly going to be the last to rise.

I forced myself to start packing, though I certainly wasn’t moving at speed. My down jacket saw soaking wet on one side and I had to mop up some water from my mattress, but most everything else was dry. Just about the time I had the tent halfway down, another storm cloud started opening up on me and my gear. I did my best to cover things up, including myself, but many things, especially my pack, ended up put up wet. I left my pack covered on the ground while I ran over to the spring to grab some water to hike out with and the rain had mostly already stopped by the time I got back, as if it wasn’t already too late.

I hiked out under an immensely heavy pack, partly from all the extra water I was carrying. I had my Packa on but unzipped, and it didn’t wind up raining again. Like Oklahoma, the wind came whipping down the plain all day, but it apparently took all the rain clouds with it.

A couple of hours later, I stopped for a morning break next to a trail rock formation, which I used to gravity filter the water I had grabbed. With there being zero trees around, it was my only option besides standing with an arm in the air for half an hour to get that water filtered. It was also the only source of shade.

I took advantage of the break and the clearing weather to set everything that was wet–the tent, the ground cloth, tge pack, the Packa, the down jacket–out in the sun to dry. This was very effective for lightening my load. I also lightened my load in other ways, though some readers wouldn’t like to hear details about the difficulty of holding open a doggie bag and stuffing toilet paper inside while the wind constantly whips by at 20 mph. Suffice it to say I don’t seem to be sick at all anymore. Stopping use of that protein powder seems to have resolved it.

It never got too hot all day, but other than that, the area I’m walking through feels quite a lot like a variation on southern New Mexico. A lot of the fauna is the same–cows, pronghorns, horned lizards–and the rolling hills with very few trees is familiar. I do see a lot more water than I saw down south and I think more birds too. I saw a blue heron the previous day at the creek where I ate lunch, and I saw a ton of quail around on this day.

Speaking of water, one of the only two people I saw this day was a woman sitting at an enclosed spring with a number of dogs right after I left from aforementioned 1.5 hour break spot. I didn’t approach her or talk to her, but a number of her dogs started to come for me.

I had lunch on a rock in a draw in direct sunlight. There was no shade to be found anywhere. Even less than in most of New Mexico.

I found a tiny bit of shade next to another dry creek cast by a scrubby creosote bush, so I took a break there.

I stopped at a well-stocked water cache for supper. There were big wooden chests full of water bottles. These made great seats, and decent wind blocks for my stove. I left with a full belly and a full water bag.

Hiking up the next section, I was accosted by a man in an ATV asking about the girl with the dogs from before (which is how I learned her sex). He had the strangest speech impediment and a dog that would not shut up, but he seemed worried about her, and I could give him no further information. I finally got out of that conversation, and he tokens the ATV around and went back the way he came.

As I hiked on, the wind that had been blowing all day very rapidly let up. Within a couple of hours, the prairie ease completely still.

I stopped just after sunset on top of a hill. There weren’t any good campsites around, so I was just looking for a spot where nothing was growing and the rocks were small enough not to pop my mattress or poke me in the back. There was enough residual light not to have to get out my headlamp until I was in the tent and making final preparations for sleep. I turned in for good a little after 10 and did not wake until my alarm.

Trail miles: 20.4

Distance to Rawlins: 74.3 miles

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