Because the wind died at nightfall and it was a cool night in the desert, so I woke to water dripping on my face at the first alarm. I pulled out my towel to wipe the condensation off, but it had collected again by the third alarm. I wiped it again and slowly got up. I think I was back on trail by 7:30. My schedule was successfully shifting earlier.
Not much interesting to say about the terrain in the basin. Same old same old. A bit of a dry stretch, but not even as close to as dry as New Mexico. Wind levels were similar to New Mexico during the day. It was a clear day all day and slightly warmer but never uncomfortably hot.
I missed a turn just before my second morning break and didn’t catch it until 1.5 miles and a while herd of cows later. The easiest route back seemed to be to just go back the way I came, so there’s an extra 3 miles for nothing.
What followed was the biggest, longest climb of the day. There were actual trees all along it, but they disappeared near the top. At lunchtime, I saw one lone tree way up the hill and off-trail, and decided to spend the extra effort to eat in the shade. It ended up being a pretty nice spot in a tiny ravine below the tree. I actually got cold by the end of lunch from the wind being channeled up the ravine. And there were a number of curious ants on me and my stuff. Still worth it not to be sitting in the sun again.
I took off at an angle cross-country to meet the trail ahead rather than backtrack to where I left it, and right where I stepped back onto it was Lost Keys hiding under an umbrella. Turns out Cliff (whom she named James) had gotten sick the day before and they hadn’t pounded out the miles after all. He wasn’t there though, just his pack. I didn’t ask where he was.
I went ahead and hiked without stopping another five plus miles to the vicinity of Crooks Creek (namely, to Crooks Gap a half mile north of the trail). There was a clear running stream and a couple of large grassy campsites beside the road, so I started making dinner, filtering water, and setting up my tent. Turned out there was more traffic than I would have expected on this remote road, but whatever. I didn’t want to hike any further.
I climbed into my tent at 8 with a completely full water bag and enough water in my bottle for breakfast. There was some noisy traffic later after dark, but I was too sleepy to be bothered.
Trail miles: 18.3
Distance to Rawlins: 55.9 miles