Day 27, 28, 29 and 30 Print
Written by Bill Wagner   
Thursday, 29 July 2010 13:12
Day 27--80 Miles 

Day 28--88 Miles

Day 29--46 Miles

Day 30--Today--ZERO MILES!

Ahh where to begin? Yeah, it's been a few days since my mail drop in Pinedale, a few days of riding in the extreme conditions of The Great Basin and a few days of building up my confidence and fortitude that I can accomplish what felt like almost anything. Good God, Good Gracious and Good Heavens that Basin was hot, news flash! Of course I knew it would be but sometimes we underestimate things in our attempts at denial! But I got through it, as did countless many before me as will many after. The map describes The Basin as a..."an Unusual and Curious accident of geography. About 100 miles wide and 50 long. Within this expanse of terrain rain and snowmelt travel neither east toward the Atlantic nor West toward the Pacific. Rather, they drain internally within the basin, quickly evaporating or flowing into temporary lakes,whose waters also evaporate or soak into the thirsty ground...". And to add a little extra spice to the experience it added "As you climb steep out of Atlantic City be sure to notice the few trees around, those will be the last you'll see for the next three days!

OK, so the only thing I really got out of that was 'Thirsty' & 'Evaporate'. You want to talk about dry, WOW, this is the place. It makes a potato chip look like a soggy sponge! And it really could have been much worse. How the original pioneers crossed this thing way back in the day is the ultimate testimony of a human beings spirit or persistence. At least I knew, well, sort of, where some of the water might be. Which, out there, literally makes all the difference. Once you commit to going in, baby you be in! To make matters a little more challenging for me was the untimeliness that my odometer battery decided to, as they say in the South, "up and die" or "up and quit". Yep, about an hour before the end of Day 27 it just died! And you might guess that the "towns" listed on the map were really more of a decoration than anything. The 'stores' the map listed either didn't exist or they chose the only day I passed through to be closed. I tell you, the irony was thick as molasses. The place along this whole journey that really had me a bit worried was this darn Basin, and now I didn't have any ability to know how far or soon the next ANYTHING would be. And as God would have it, all is well. There was a critical place 26 miles in that had a pipe coming out of the ground with water flowing from it that you basically HAD to find and 'camel up' if you were to reasonably make it through without major dehydration that I did find, slowly, with a lot of begging and pleading. Which really made that day quite manageable with water. Sure I had to carry two gallons but it was all gone by the end of the day. Again, what in the he'll did the pioneers do?! They all make me look pretty puny in comparison.

I slept at the A&M reservoir one night and met a few CDT thru-hikers and that was a real treat. It was also great fun to 'run with the Antelopes' as they sometimes would run ahead of you in a herd as I biked along. I'm certain there will be stretches in NM that are hot and dry but now I'll at least know where I am thanks to a new battery!

The highlight of coming out of the oven was stumbling upon Grandma's Cafe'. I needn't tell you how thrilled I was that she was open..."I usually open around 5 and close up around 3, unless it's real busy, then I call my daughter up and she helps out a bit. Those are all my grandchildren on the wall. The second one is a self-portrait since I told him I didn't have a picture of him. Most of the biker's are pretty good, except the ones that come in and start to eat their sandwich in here. I tell them there's a picnic table out back for that. One even took off his shoes and said his feet were hot, I told him to put his shoes back on. In the winter I'll burn up a whole log each day in the fireplace, the wind can be a lot. You watch out for rattlesnakes as you head to Rawlins, they're out there you know!"

So here I am in Rawlins, taking a much needed day off to catch up with the site and my sleep. Got in yesterday afternoon and laid down for a nap around 4 and got up this morning at 5! I also had to go to the bike shop to true my rear wheel and hopefully get a new small front chain ring as The Basin chipped off one of the teeth. But, as typical, it was a small shop so hopefully I can get it fixed in Steamboat Springs as I'll be there in a few days.

All of it adds up to the adventure. Feeling utterly exhausted out in the vast nothingness of The Basin and not knowing if I'll make it to 'somewhere on the map' until my water runs out was a scary thing. But I believe that's part of the magic of it all. To truly feel scared and powerless and ask for help is a humbling and also beautiful thing. There are no guarantees of course, but it does feel precious to almost be in tears and come upon that place the map had promised would be there, eventually. All that after feeling 12 miles back I was certain I didn't have another pedal stroke left in me. Maybe I didn't? Maybe it was something else, someone else? That's the real prize.

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