Zen On Dirt

CDT Day 63 – Winning the tailwind lottery into Rawlins

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The hikers have a saying: The trail will provide.

Today, the trail provided. 10-fold.

When we counted up the mileage to Rawlins, we came up with 45. Sure, it was mostly road miles, but if we had another windy day like we did yesterday, it could have proven to be a post-dark arrival. This would have all been okay if we were flush with food, which we weren’t.

Food is funny. You feel like you have way too much, until you realize you don’t have enough. There’s no middle ground of “I have just the right amount of food to have enough in case of a wind/weather/trail delay, but I’m not carrying a ridiculously large amount.

You always have plenty, until you don’t have enough.

Waking up, we had: 5 packets of oatmeal for breakfast, a handful of granola, a small wedge of cheese, 1/4 bag of fritos, 1/4 bag of Boulder chips, a pack of Skittles, some Happy Colas, and about 8 oz of trailmix. 45 miles…oi vei.


We were rolling by 6:30, hoping to beat the wind during our westward trek. The CDT heads west for several miles from the GDMBR before curving north, and then eventually trending back north east to rejoin the route right at the outskirts of Rawlins.

We started on faint and sandy two tracks, navigating by phone and doing a happy dance every time we saw a CDT marker, indicating we were on the right track. Winds stayed calm. We were averaging just under 7 mph. At this rate, we’d be in under 8 hours, in time to make it to the post office.


Two tracks turned into wider dirt roads and the wind started to gain force. We started heading north, the wind at our backs, carrying us along the aptly named Muddy Creek at warp speed.

Ding ding ding. You’ve hit the tailwind jackpot. Please enjoy the ride.

Pedaling was purely optional as the landscape wizzed by. We turned up the valley, heading north east. The wind howled. We barely pedaled up hills. Up and down and up, through the Bridger Pass area. 25 miles in, we stopped for a snack.

Scott pulled out the remains of a peanut butter bar that we’d eaten for lunch dessert our first day out. It was the best surprise ever. We finished off our cheese and chips and some of our trailmix. At this rate, we’d be in Rawlins for lunch!


We flew until the CDT turned off for a cross country section. Not liking the look of it, we continued to the GDMBR, 100 yards down the road. The two would parallel each other and we could hop on after the XC.

We saw Gar soon after getting on the GDMBR. He and his buddies, The Fellowship, had opted to stay on the GDMBR into Rawlins, saving them 15 miles of walking. I don’t blame them, one dirt road really is as good at the next, and when walking, shorter tends to be better. The road miles were killing them.

They were hurrying to get into Rawlins before 3 for an All-you-can-eat Thai buffet. Sounded perfect to us! It was 11:30, and with only 12 miles of road or trail to go, we liked our odds. The Fellowship…they’d be pushing it.

We got to our road to rejoin the CDT.

“Such a lovely paved road we’re on,” I said approaching it, “Such a nice tailwind to push us along. What boneheads we’re being for turning onto a dirt road that climbs to the top of a mesa only to come back down.”

“No trespassing! There’s a No Trespassing sign!” I said with delight halfway through the turn. Our cut over road passed by a drilling operation. I wasn’t particularly disappointed.


We continued on. 8 miles out, we found another road that would have taken us over to the official route. I felt guilty about skipping it for about 1/2 mile and then went back to enjoying our double digit speeds and easy cruising.

We made it to Rawlins in no time, secured a motel room, and made our way downtown to the Thai place. Sure enough, an amazing buffet. We ate until we couldn’t eat any more, then sat and digested, and ate another half a plate, just because we could.

It could have turned into a death march into town, instead, it was as close to a 45 mile nero day as possible.

We’re taking a zero day in Rawlins with a weather forecast calling for a shift in the winds. Maybe we’ll get blown across the Great Basin afterall!


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