Sunrise in the hills

The wind blew pretty hard all night, I know because the damn foot pain woke me up a few too many times, as much as I need a good sleep to recover the pain is preventing it.  Each night I wake within a pain like a knife Beijing shoved into the side of my foot, its so bad that Vicodin’s, THC/CDB cookies, Tylenol PM or anything else I am trying is not working to relieve my pain.

We rolled out of camp and along some very nice dirt roads until the sun came and bathed the earth in its light.  The weather really changed with yesterdays front and it feels like fall is here to stay, it was well into the morning before I took off my extra layers of clothing.

We stopped at Colvin Lake to fill up our water, the map showed us going over Albert Rim and a mainly dry day for us.  As we were approaching the water we saw numerous pronghorn in a large herd we stopped and observed them,  like us they too needed that precious water to survive the day.  They moved slowly along the tree line and never saw us as we slowly made our way to the water source they had just left.

Juniper berries, perfect for some bathtub gin

The water source was less than ideal, it was basically an oversized cattle tank with slick and deep mud surrounding it.  The water was a putrid brown and the telltale sign of cows fouling it was all about.  We sat on the shore eating our snacks, drying the previous nights’ condensation from our quilts and reading about Abert Rim.  Swept Away volunteered to take off her shoes and wade into the muck to get water for all of us.  With CNOC bags in hand, she waded in, filling bag after bag with the water.  We all hoped we would find something better to avoid drinking this batch.  With a full load of water and many miles to go to make our goal for the day, we loaded up and headed out.

Aspens and ponderosa pines, a rare treat on this hike

After the water we started walking through some aspens and pine trees it was magical to be in a little bit of woods after so many miles in sagebrush. As we popped out to a clearing we saw there were many miles of cross-country to get us to Abert Rim.  The three of us were not feeling that so we looked at a map saw a road alternate to walk and debated what to do.  I sent Virgo a text to see if he had may insight with no response we went the road option.  About 2 miles down the road we came to a clear and wonderful spring.  We all decided to upgrade our water, so as we sat there filling bottles I heard form Virgo who said, “if it’s clear go see the rim it’s spectacular”…with that we walked the road to a point that got us as close to the rim as possible and then we set off cross country.

Salty making her way cross country on Abert Rim

For the next few miles, we walked across ankle busting lava rocks covered in grass.  The sagebrush came in patches and we pushed through.  As I approached the rim I looked back and the girls were a ways back, I figured I’d wait for them at the overlook I spotted.  As I walked up to the edge my jaw dropped.  As far as I could see to my right a huge expansive rim sat perched over the desert.  Abert Rim is the largest fault escarpments in North America.  Far below I could see ranches and across the expanse the other side of the escarpment. 

Salty soon caught up and a few minutes later Swept Away came and joined us.  Swept Away told me to hold out my hand and in it, she placed an obsidian spear point with the tip broken off.  I sat there staring at the ancient object imaging a young warrior who decided to enjoy the view like we were doing and work on his kit. 

Abert Rim

Abert Rim is the largest fault escarpment in North America

Me along Abert Rim

 

We enjoyed some lunch and a must needed break and decided to keep along the rim.  For the next couple of miles, this cross country kicked our ass.  Why I understand the trail designers wanting us to see the rim, I had to constantly look down to not trip or roll my ankle on the lava rocks we had to maneuver through, so instead of seeing amazing rim views, I saw my feet.  Eventually, the rim started to get too brushy to navigate so we picked a straight line back the road and headed that way…

Back on the road and life was grand, the road was wide and well maintained.  We walked along it through Ponderosa Pine and Aspens Trees, chatting away about life.  As we continued on the landscape just kept getting better and better, nothing but trees, and shade.  We eventually came to the start of the Fremont National Recreation Trail.  This well-maintained trail was a big change from the regularly scheduled hikes along this trail. 

A large ponderosa pine

As we started on the trail we noticed first how well maintained and soft the ground was, it was an actual trail.  After a few minutes, we also noted how well marked the trail was, every 30-50 yards there was a trail marker on a tree indicating we were still on course.  As the miles started to tick off we all got lost in our minds.  The trail took us through the forest and for the first time on this hike we were able to turn our brains off and just walk taking it all in, no need to navigate, no constant checking of a bearing, nothing but trees, and the afternoon light of a forest.  It was like being on a hiking vacation from my hiking vacation.

A forested canyon along the Fremont Trail

We came to a small stream in the woods about an hour before sunset, we all took the time to fill our bottles for the evening and as we started to walk away, the cold air quickly overtook the three of us.  We continued walking and hit a dirt road.  As the trail was leaving the road I took a look at the map, we were on a flat bench of terrain but the map showed we had to start climbing for a long way.  The sun was well below the horizon and it would be completely dark in few minutes so we decided to make camp.

Trail markers made for some very relaxed hiking

We walked off the road and into the woods, there was a giant pile of cut trees in the area we were camping in.  The forest here like so many in the western US are being infested with bark bottle which kills off young trees.  The Fremont National Forest is clearly getting ahead of this by cutting out sick trees and piling them up to be burned in the winter once the snow arrives. 

The fall colors are just stunning along this hike

We tucked ourselves under some trees for the night, each of us picking a few we thought would help keep the moon from shining in our faces and waking us during the night.  Our 23rd night in a row of cowboy camping under the stars!   We sat around doing the evening routine of washing and eating, it was downright cold though so I took few minutes to heat up water for Salty and me to each wash with, Swept Away did the same with her stove.

As we were getting ready to turn in for the night we talked about our game plan for Lakeview the next day…we had to go about 19 miles to the road to town, being tight on time we discussed how quickly we should try to get in and out of town for our resupply.  Swept Away was lobbying for a shower, our last one being nearly 2 weeks and over 300 miles ago, and we decided if there was a shower option we would take it, as long as it it didn’t cost us precious time.  So with dreams of town food, showers, and a resupply we all faded off to sleep.