My latest straight from the wild Great Divide Basin, where we covered 120 miles the we being Brian and Selena a USA couple, that joined me on this section.
Some things we take for granted. Some things are a luxury. Others a necessity. The desert removes most of these things. I now know how fortunate I am to live in a Western country. Just simple things like being able to wash your hands, and turn on a tap are gone. Remove these things and you are out of your comfort zone for sure.
We met a guy where we got dropped off. The first thing I noticed was the bullets up his arm! He quickly showed us his gun. ' That's a nice one', I said. Probably the biggest handgun you could legally own, complete with telescopic sight and tripod. He was out hunting or scouting for elk he said. He gave us five beers and a big knife, that he said we could use! 'You guys carrying guns?' he asked.
One of my first thoughts as I scuttled along the sandy road with a rocky horizon in front of me was you could really die out here and no-one would know. Maybe not a pleasant thought; certainly a sobering one. However we were lucky, the temperature was low due to a cold front, meaning we would not have to carry so much water. The weight of the food in my pack hurt my shoulders, and the 10lb of water didn't help either.
On the second day, as I tried to hurry along a sandy road, I laughed at myself. I felt like a inefficient pathetic beetle scurrying along with my 'shell home' on my back. The wind was the only noise in this desolate landscape. This sand day gave only 22 miles, and we moaned about the pain in our feet that night. Having to carry water between sources was a requirement for this section. I guess we were lucky too that the sources were reliable and mostly free from cow pollution. YUK! Those damned smelly creatures. The section was completed successfully doing 28 and 33 mile days. Awesome, but quite painful by the night time, these amounted to 14 hour days excluding breaks. I was really glad to have some company on this section, and the last. I think that desolate place would have driven me nuts if I had been on my own.
So onwards we go, wondering if the snow will hold off in September. Some of the North CDT route has already had 8'' of snow.