Friday, July 23, 2010

Sweetwater River Crossing to Rawlins

Technically this post encompasses two days, but it was two of the hardest days so far. Thankfully the onslaught of mosquitoes had subsided as I packed up my tent for the ensuing 68 mile ride. An early start (8.30'ish) seemed to be fruitful as I found out that most of the ride would be relatively flat, and I quickly pumped out the first 10 miles. My joy quickly subsided as my rear wheel starting to slide beneath me, and it did not take long to see that this would be a very long day. No amount of duck tape (no it does not fix everything), patches, glue, plastic cement would cure this ailment. And I resorted to foot power. Exhausted and in pain, I followed the route for 20 miles, the sun had decided that the day was over and I camped on the side of the road. This stretch to Rawlin's lies within the Wyoming Basin, a desert sea in which water is hard to come by. I was not able to rely on any water source on the map and went to bed with less than half a water bottle full of water. I awoke even earlier the next morning, 30 miles from a reliable water source and knew that my plan for the day had to change. Thankfully Green Mountain to the north is aptly named "Green" Mountain due to the fact that it has trees in this barren landscape. I headed off route making all decision's based on the landscape and maps which did not show the topography. I was able to find a trickling stream and other sources of water, although I only filtered their water due to the dire circumstances. I added iodine for the first time due to my dislike for obvious location of the water. My only chance was to head for the saddle between Green Mountain and try to locate Jeffrey City. It was a hard and long uphill battle with no two track to guide me. As I reached the summit of Green Mountain I saw (what I thought was..) Route 287 in the distance and hoped that the nearby town was Jeffrey City. After pushing the bike for close to 20 miles I reached the flats to Jeffrey City, another undulating 10 miles put me on the outskirts of this seemingly populated oasis. I was quick to realize that this "oasis" thrived in the 1970's when there was a uranium boom in the area. The houses had boarded windows and the map's population of 1800 was more fitting for the amount of crickets. I was fortunate to meet a man named Otis who provided fresh water and guidance to the locals. With little strength and barely the ability to talk I sought the local motel for respite. After looking in some of the windows this was clearly not an option, and all that the local water hole would offer was a ham and cheese sandwich. Four cans of soda and "that" ham and cheese sandwich later, I struck up a conversation with Zack Larson who had driven out from Laramie for some photo opportunities. I had been planning to hitch a ride to Rawlin's the next morning, but Zach was an absolute life saver as he offered to get me to Rawlin's that night. By now the time was near 10pm and we had a 50 miles drive ahead of us. Zach's gas and Mountain Dew were on me, and so were my thanks as we headed to Rawlins.

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