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CDT WY Section 4

Day 121: Rawlins

It wasn’t nearly as cold on this morning and I got on the trail before 6:30 without ever losing feeling in my fingers. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just the morning that was hotter than the previous day.

So I had a good mile done before sunrise, even though I yet again missed a not obvious turn right off the bat and had to cut across country to regain the trail.

By the second mile, it was a pretty straight section of road at that same southeasterly angle I had spent the previous day at. 5 miles later, I crossed the pavement of county road 63 and joined a barely visible trail diverging from it at a slightly different southeasterly angle to before. I took a morning break within earshot of the road and all the traffic of it, but because the trail was at a diverging angle, I eventually got a solid half-mile away. This was when the trail started climbing the hilly rise toward the road.

Right before the road, the visible track disappeared. The whole trail all morning was on a 60 foot wide public easement, which meant losing the trail by too much was the same as trespassing. When the track disappeared, I had to look for cairns with markers (that usually broke or fell from the constant and intense desert wind) or just track my position relative to the trail via GPS.

After a brief stint walking alongside the highway, the trail left the road again to climb up onto the hills adjacent to the highway. I could have just walked the highway all the way into town, but not only is that against my principles but it is also dangerous. I went up the hill to the trackless cross country redline route.

Most of the markers up here have blown down. They really ought to make them out of something stiffer than fiberglass. Thick wooden posts properly buried. So I got off track a few times. About a mile into this stretch, I stopped for lunch on a small rock ledge. The wind was pummeling me. There was no level spot to set my bear can. After putting the chicken on the first tortilla, I temporarily let go of the bear can to clean my knife and it instantly tipped over and spilled the chicken in a bush. I rescued 80% of it and ate it anyway. And I managed not to lose any trash to the wind.

An hour after lunch, I reached Fish Pond Spring, a solar well the only water source between Bull Springs and Rawlins, built with hikers in mind. There was plenty of water and I needed it. I stopped for an hour to filter it. Even filtered, it tasted awful. Later, I would be mixing in everything I carried that claimed to contain vitamin C in attempt to mask the water’s taste.

The trail from the spring went straight up the side of a powerfully windswept hill that kept me in mind of Windy’s origin story hiking in England. On the other side of the hill, I passed a copse of trees that seemed intentionally planted as a wind barrier, though I can’t imagine how noisy camping there would be.

Just past here, I joined a road crossing someone’s ranch. I took one last break on a small rock a few miles in just past a small herd of cows. It was 6pm and I needed to energize for the last 6.5 miles into Rawlins, a big push, but I didn’t want to take the time to cook a full dinner.

Aside from one small cross country section near a quarry warehouse storage ground thing, it was flat roads all the way back to the highway, then another 3 miles on the side of the highway and its bypass into the Rawlins City Center. I passed the time with phone calls home and arrived at the Econo Lodge around 8:30. I checked in, dropped my stuff, and immediately went out to Walmart to grab a few things. Mainly Hot Pockets and root beer, since I had a microwave and fridge in the room. That would be dinner.

But also a small cake to celebrate having half the trail complete. Adding up what I hiked in New Mexico and the distance to the northern border, minus the section of Montana I skipped for the fires, I passed the halfway point somewhere in the desert 80 miles before.

And then I stayed up way too late…

Trail miles: 28.5

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