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CDT: Medicine Bow National Forest (Rawlins to Battle Pass)

August 17 — Water Water Everywhere, But Not a Drop to Drink

After a much better night’s sleep I continued on the gravel road, with my newly loaded podcasts keeping me company. South of Rawlins had a decent amount of groundwater, although none of it was drinkable, containing enough salt and minerals to have just come from the ocean. Although not the best idea, since I already had a lot of food in my pack I did not tank up with a lot of water leaving Rawlins. Therefore I ran out of water early in the day and had a very long stretch with nothing to drink. Passing ponds that I knew were undrinkable just antagonized me. I even took a detour to a marked solar well, and although I could hear water in the bottom, the pump would not bring any liquid the surface. I saw one car the whole day, which stopped to ask what I was doing, and also generously offered water. I would have survived without it, but the liquid made the trip much better. I would have to carry the bottle for the next hundred miles but would pay that price, even if I was very tempted just to add my container to the litany of discarded bottles and beer cans along the road.

By evening I reached Muddy Creek, a good water source, and was thankful for the refreshment. I do not think spaces between water sources are as large going forward, but I would still be more careful about the amount of water I carry until Colorado.

Wild horses running around the Basin
A snake next to the road. Hopefully it wasn’t poisonous.
The sun setting over the Great Basin

August 18 — A Day of Changes

The daily marched progressed typically, winding through jeep tracks in a flat, arid landscape. As the day wore on though, the terrain transformed into undulations that seemed more like foothills, with things that looked like mountains in the distance. By evening I saw and even touched these tall wooden things with leaves — trees! My first time back in the forest since The Winds, close to 200 miles ago. Of course I would no longer be able to blaze over gravel roads but would instead have to earn my miles up and down along single track.

I could notice the days getting shorter. I used to be able to hike until nine at night if so desired without a problem. Now by 8:30 I needed to be settled and by nine it was dark. Of course if I started hiking at a decent hour, hopefully I was in camp well before then anyway.

A horned toad

August 19

The change of scenery back to forest and trails was great, with more visually stimulating surroundings to occupy my mind. The trail was also back to being on a ridgeline following the physical divide for many stretches. The trail still used some ATV trails, and even a short stretch of paved road, but I was happy to be out of the vast plains of Wyoming. Although not yet mountainous, the forested terrain was much hillier than the plains, so I had to find my climbing legs. A nice little warm up before the real mountains resume in Colorado.

It was nice that they provided parking for the CDT near Battle Pass, but unfortunately my car was a thousand miles away in Indiana.