Saturday, August 24, 2013
Day 68 - Fishes and loaves in the desert
Gangles and I were in a 25mi stretch of desert just past Brenton to Bull Springs. There is one water source, the A&M reservoir, maintained by an oil company. It was gleaming blue in the desert as we approached, and it was all I could do to not just run straight at it.
Turns out, there were two trucks parked there. And not only was there enough water to form a small lake, there was fish! We met a spunky young lady (she just turned 5) named Ruby, who was very curious about what we were doing in the desert. She told us not to drink out of the lake because, as she whispered, "fish pee in there!" But we really had no choice. This was the only on trail water for the next 15mi. I tied Ruby's sneakers for her, and then she showed off her blazing speed, running around the lake. She insisted on helping us dip water from the lake. And, she introduced us to her father Jose, her sister Xitlally, and their neighbors, Dave, Laurie and Fernando.
Dave was having the best luck fishing for rainbows while using his powerbait. Fernando is usually the luckiest fisherman, but his worms were not carrying the day. And Jose had an impressive chain of fish, too.
Jose kindly invited us to lunch. Lunch would be an understatement. More like a feast. He and Xitlally had grilled homemade burgers, hot dogs and seasoned fish. Plus, he kept insisting we take a few ice cold Cokes.
Gangles and I were wandering across the Great Divide Basin in search of water. And we found a magic moment of great people, great food and something we'll remember for a long time. Laurie was wise and knowing about the desert, showing us photos of an eagle she had seen, and telling us which animals to watch for in this section. Jose, Dave and Fernando were hilarious together, with their well-honed comedy routine. Xitlally was mysterious, but cooks a mean burger. And Ruby was so bright, funny and energetic. True trail angels. And though the food was delicious, we more enjoyed the conversation--learning about where everyone was from, the nearby towns of Wamsutter and Bairoil, and just goofing and cracking jokes. Thruhiking is a 24/7 obsession, always thinking of making miles. To finish a trail, it is like a job, punching a clock and getting in the hours. When we took a few hours off to chat with Wamsutter's finest, it felt like a true weekend. So, thank you, Jose, Dave, Laurie, Fernando, Xitlally and Ruby for the terrific afternoon.
When we finally left them in peace to fish, Gangles and I pushed on. The sky was increasingly overcast, and we were eventually hit for a riotous thunderstorm for the last hour before we reached Bull Springs. One lightning strike was so close that I checked my hands for singe marks.
Bull Springs is an unusual spring--it was some kind of camera pointed at the spring. As I was bumbling around in the dusky light, I think I set the camera off. So, someone somewhere monitoring a low res photo of me bumping my head on a solar panel.
Oh, and forgot to mention, this morning. After leaving that icky enclosed spring with the animal bones, we walked a few miles to the next spring, which had... bocce! Someone, I think Wired, hiked out a bocce set and left it at the spring Gangles and I had to play a couple of rounds, ad we're pretty well-matched. We split the games evenly.
Off to bed, tomorrow's a big push into Rawlins.
Mileage: 26mi from an enclosed spring past Brenton to Bull Springs