The big news of the day: We caught Sunset.
And we got root beer and ice cream in South Pass City.
And we rode some amazing trail.
Camped high on a mesa, we were up before the sun peaked over the horizon, moving just a few minutes after it made its full brilliance seen. Let’s go get Sunset! The day started with a frolicking descent through beautiful, grassy fields lit up by golden light. Yeah! This is the way to travel!
We kept waiting for the 2-track to drop off the mesa but it kept finding more ridges to follow. It felt like high alpine riding, tundra, but we were deep in the desert. The Great Basin where water doesn’t flow to the Atlantic or the Pacific.
We saw antelope, more wild horses, lizards, and cows. Lots of cows. We got to Weasel Springs to fill up on water. Surely, Sunset wouldn’t have made it past here last night, we’ll get him in the next 10 miles. We climbed, we descended, we oohed and ahhed our surroundings, but one thing we didn’t see was Sunset, only his footprints.
We T’ed into the Tour Divide route just a few miles shy of the Sweetwater River, following it north, amazed at how big the road felt after our previous 90 miles on 2-tracks.
We crossed the river and the CDT split off. We took it, knowing that it would turn into cross country eventually and we’d be back on the road. Until it turned into the sage, it was more lovely 2-track. Then back to the road. Based on the fact that we’d seen no footprints on our side excursion, we deduced that all the hikers were just putting their heads down and getting out of the Basin on the road.
We gave up on catching Sunset.
We opted to roll into Atlantic City even though we knew that everything was closed. Maybe, just maybe, Sunset would be there and he’d talk them into opening for us. If anyone could do it, it was Sunset.
Lo and behold, there on the porch of the Merc sat our ghost.
“‘Bout time you guys got here!” he said.
Good to see you too, Sunset. It’d been a while since Pie Town. As it turned out, he had left Rawlins Wednesday evening, not Friday evening as Chimp had led us to believe. We felt a little better about taking so long to catch him.
While he hadn’t managed to get the Merc to open up, somehow he had a small bowl of strawberries in front of him. Something tells me he didn’t haul them across the Basin, but he wasn’t talking.
He did tell us that they sold ice cream in the gift shop in South Pass City, just four miles down the road.
“We’ll see you there!”
Sure enough, the little gift shop hooked us up with two root beers a piece and a Klondike ice cream bar. We ran into two GDMBR tourers headed south. They each ate an ice cream and shared a single root beer. We didn’t understand…but I guess they weren’t coming from getting cooked in the Basin.
They’d quit their jobs in Vancouver in exchange for traveling. With no set timeline, they were taking their time, taking alternates, and finding all sorts of cool stuff along the GDMBR.
We filled up on water, dropped some lube into my front derailleur cable housing (It’d stopped shifting completely earlier in the morning, which was pretty awesome), chatted with the other bike tourists some more, and eventually bade farewell to Sunset and headed up the trail.
We climbed on a road for a while that turned progressively rougher and rougher and then turned into single track. That continued to climb fairly nicely and then it was time to go down.
I’ve learned to temper my expectations for CDT singletrack. This stretch blew all expectations out of the water. Beautifully built, flowing trail that went on for miles and miles and miles and miles. And then some more. The ups were ridable, the downhills ripped. We felt very, very, very lucky.
It started getting late as we pressed on, the goal being the road that would take us back to the GDMBR and then into Pinedale. The weather looks crap starting tomorrow afternoon, so the closer we could get, the better.
We called it quits as soon as we hit the road, just shy of 8pm. We’re camped in a lovely little grove of aspens, the tarp is set up so that it won’t rain, and we’re about 60 miles out from Pinedale. Here’s to hoping the storm takes its time getting here tomorrow. I don’t do rain. Or at least, I don’t do it gracefully.