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Rawlins to Lander – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Rawlins to Lander Hike Overview

rawlins to lander hike on the continental divide trail 2018

In this section I’ve decided to push for my highest mileage day on the CDT, as well as an overall push to cover the next 126 mile in as little time possible. The desert is pretty flat here and elevation gain is not much of an issue. It’s a massively vast area to be walking through. Sage brush as far as the eye can see, and not much else except an occasional wild horse or pronghorn. Much of the beauty here is in the sky… wicked looking dark clouds and vivid sunsets are common. This is some wild country.

Tuesday July 24th – CDT Day 95

Packed everything up and left the hotel around 11am. Started walking to the post office so I could mail out my bounce box and a bus stopped to pick me up. There was no name on the side of it, assuming it was a city run bus. They charged no money, and I asked if she had a tip jar but she said no, and I insist. Okay then!

After the post office I ate lunch at Bucks Sports Bar & Grill. After that, I headed back on Trail. It was 1pm now.

It was a couple of miles of road walking to get out of town, then the trail takes a dirt road into the desert.

The next several miles were pretty flat, and mostly followed really faint old dirt roads or a faint trail.

I reached a spring, the first water source of this section. There was a solar pump here that pumped water into a well that I could draw from. Good quality water! The BLM had created this water source just for CDT hikers. Without it, it would be a 28 Mile carry.

Just beyond this water source I ran into several horses. Normally horses are fenced in, but these guys weren’t. And no saddles. Wild horses? I hear there are many in the basin.

I hiked a few more miles along the road before cutting back into the desert. The trail gets pretty hard to follow at this point. It’s pretty much open desert, so you just pick up bearing in stick with it.

I stopped to make camp around 8pm. I want to get up early tomorrow and push for a big mile day. Otherwise, I would have kept going for another hour. Either way, 22 miles for a half day is not bad.

I was planning on cowboy camping, but as it got darker more gnats or noseeums kept coming out. It was crazy, haven’t had this many bugs since twin Lakes in Colorado. They were driving me insane so I had to set up my tent. There were no rocks or sticks or anything near by and the ground was kind of hard, so it was tough to get the tent stakes in the ground.

While setting up my tent, several horses ran by camp. I also saw several pronghorn, and heard some coyotes howling nearby. So much Wildlife in the desert, unlike the mountains. Most people don’t realize how much wildlife there is here.

Miles – 22
Total Miles – 1544
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, rabbit, wild horses

Wednesday July 25 – CDT Day 96

I slept like crap last night. The delamination of my neo air mattress caused a huge bulge that prevents me from finding any comfortable position. There were a ton of bugs even at night. I could hear them buzzing just outside of the bug net, just inches from my ear. Large bugs were constantly hitting the tent as well. Then it got a little windy. It just was not a very good night for sleep.

When it was time to wake up I did not feel as refreshed as normal. It was going to be hard to go for a big mile day today it seemed. Nevertheless, I hit the trail just minutes before 7am, an early start for me.

The trail follows a lot of dirt roads this morning and all day really. There wasn’t a whole lot to see this morning. I saw lots of pronghorn but that’s pretty normal around here.

It was really hot this morning. By 8:30am, it already felt as hot as it was yesterday.

I reached bull Spring around 11am, having done 11 miles so far. Good water here but no shade. It can be hard to eat when sitting in very warm direct sun light, but I forced myself.

After lunch I had a bit of a hard time mentally. It was just so hot and I had to cover so many miles, and I was just not in the mood to do so. Hiking 12 to 14 hours a day has been wearing on me. I feel good physically, I’m just over walking all day long everyday. I’m not considering quitting at all, just acknowledging the mental challenge. I’m sure the lack of sleep last night brought this on too.

The day seemed a little better after I crested a high point. At least there was some sort of view in both directions.

It was a couple more miles downhill before I reached an electric well. Good water from this source. I ate dinner here and then moved on around 6:30pm.

I hiked a few more miles before the menacing skies above could no longer be ignored. I wanted to cover a few more miles since it was not even 8pm yet, but there’s no way I was going to avoid the rain.

I stopped at the first flat and clear spot I could find. I could see rain in the distance, so I hurried as I set up my tent. Just in time too, as soon as I got it up it started pouring. I jumped inside with minimal collateral damage.

After a short downpour, the rain stopped and I could see a very vibrant orange glow outside my tent. I ventured out and was rewarded with the best sunset I’ve seen on the CDT yet. Just spectacular. There was even some lightning in the sunset clouds. Man, I wish I could have captured that in a photo.

The rain came back as the sunset wrapped up and I was banished to my silnylon prison. Time for bed, hope I can sleep better on this ghetto air mattress tonight.

Miles – 31
Total Miles – 1575
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, Jack rabbit, wild horses, Prairie dog, horned lizard

Thursday July 26th – CDT Day 97

My tent was soaking wet this morning both from the rain and condensation inside. I got up at 6am and started hiking at 7.

I hiked about an hour before reaching a solid water source, a pipe fed from a spring. I stopped here to fill up with 4 liters since the next water source is 28 miles away. Well, the next decent water source, one without cow shit floating in it.

Today I’m planning on putting some big miles in. I made a conscious effort to walk faster and did my best to maintain this pace. This morning especially, many of the dirt roads were soft sand which slowed me down a bit.

It got hot very quickly today. There was also more climbing then the day before. Today was already a little bit more scenic than yesterday with a few more views from high points.

I took lunch around noon under an actual shade tree. I stopped to think about it, and I don’t think I’ve come across one in over 100 miles now. I was tempted to stay much longer but I kept this break to about 25 minutes. I’ve hiked 14 miles today at this point.

The rest of this afternoon was actually a decent amount of ups and downs along Ridge lines, although nothing like in the mountains. Nice, but hot!

I took a short break around 4pm. I was hoping to find some shade, but nothing in sight. I just sat down in the middle of the trail and drank some water. It was too hot to really want to eat anything since I was sitting in direct sunlight. So I skipped meal time here even though I really needed it.

Another 6 miles down the trail I reached a water cache. There were two insulated boxes in an enclosed fenced area. I open the first box, all of the gallon water jugs for empty. I opened the second box and there were two full gallon jugs. Woohoo! I’m drinking water tonight! 32 miles hiked today so far, just after 6pm at this point.

Nice walking this evening. At one point there was a wild horse running through the field, with a rising full moon in the sky and a sunset-lit storm cloud also in the background. My wide angle lens was too wide for the right shot though.

Hiked to 9:45pm tonight, stopping at 40 miles for the day. This is shatters my old record of 34. I watched a distant lightning storm play out in the distance as I ate dinner under a full moon. Not a bad way to end a really really long day.

Miles – 40
Total Miles – 1615
Rain – sprinkles
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, wild horses

Friday July 27 – CDT Day 98

Was really sore today after hiking 40 miles yesterday. Only got 7 hrs sleep. Started hiking around 7:45.

Slightly Rolling hills, open fields everywhere. Vast and barren.

The Continental Divide Trail follows the Oregon Trail and the California Trail in this section. Being here really makes you think back to all those people who traveled this route in the olden days. 

Today was a blur. A challenge. Tough. Everything hurts. I just pressed on in zombie mode.

Stopped for a break under a bridge over the Sweetwater River. Nice river, green grass and very scenic. Hiked 18 miles so far and have another 17 to go.

It was a really long walk down this dirt road after lunch. It was really hot, but at least now I could see the wind river range in the distance. The road seemed to lead right to it, so the mountains got bigger with every step.

My legs, knees and feet were shot. Every step was painful. I stopped around 5pm to put some new insoles in my shoes, as I just remembered I brought them for this purpose. My feet felt a little better, but the rest of my body was still hurting.

I saw a nice shade tree along the road around 6pm, so I had to stop and escape the sun. First shade since the Sweetwater River at lunch. This felt amazing, but not enough to overcome my extreme exhaustion.

I pressed on through the evening. About 8 miles to go. I staggered my way through South pass city, a very small community with a mining history. Not much going on here.

The trail was spotty after leaving South pass city. Only 2 miles to hwy 28, where I’ll hitch into Lander. The landscape is really changing now. Random rock outcroppings among rolling hills. Cool.

I reached hwy 28 around 8:45pm, very little light left. Almost no traffic heeding east to Lander. The vehicles that did pass ignored me. I tried to hitch until 9:30 is giving up. It was dark and it just wasn’t gonna happen tonight. I was really disappointed, was looking forward to a hotel bed and shower tonight. Crushing.

I retreated to a patch of trees along the highway. They were actually a thick stand of willows with tons of mosquitos, but I was so exhausted it didn’t matter. I set up camp here and passed out immediately.

This was one of the hardest days on trail for me and possibly my lowest point on the CDT. Glad it’s over and now it’s time to rest up for the winds.

Miles – 35
Total Miles – 1650
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – pronghorn, wild horses, horned lizard

Saturday July 28th – CDT Day 99 (zero day)

I woke up to sprinkles on my tent. Light, but enough to soak the tent. Packed up and headed back to to the highway to resume hitching.

I had much better luck this morning, getting a ride in 20 minutes. My ride dropped me off at the oxbow restaurant in Lander. Breakfast was good and much needed. I remember eating here for breakfast before my Wind River Range Traverse back in 2014.

I contacted Hopeful, the CDT hiker who agreed to hike the winds with me, to see what he was up to. It turns out he is staying with a woman who he met in the airport. She also loaned him her minivan to get around town in, so he picked me up. Nice! Katie, who I’d met in Chama, was also staying at the house and looking to hike the winds with us. Even better!

Back at the house, I immediately took a shower. This felt so good! It was a really nice house with an amazing yard that was well landscaped. There was a pool, hot tub and even a volley ball net. What a great place to stay!

Next we went out to run our town errands. We first stopped at the bulk food store next to NOLS. This was a cool place, they had garbage cans on wheels full of food like trail mix, dried fruit and sesame sticks.

We also popped into NOLS to check the place out. Got a tour of the building and played on this swing they had in one of the gear rooms. Talked to a girl who just back back from a NOLS trip she they summited Gannett peak, Wyoming state high point. It’s in the winds right where we’ll be hiking, so we got a little Intel on the snow conditions. Good thing we have micro spikes!

Went to the post office next, then an outfitter, then lunch at the dairy king. Home of the cheese wheel! It’s a burger battered and deep fried, perfect thru hiker food.

Went to the grocery store and bought food for the next week, then back to the house.

Spent the afternoon in the pool and hot tub. Very relaxing and just what I needed after such a brutal stretch of trail.

Later that evening, we drove about 10 minutes down the road to sinks canyon state park. There’s a river that flows into a mountain and comes out further down the road in another spot. It was a lot cooler in person than it sounds. Great way to spend an hour and see something awesome.

More hot tub this evening before bed. We stayed up until 1am though, so I didn’t get to catch up on sleep like I hoped.

2 Responses

  1. Reading your blog has become part of my morning routine – loving it.
    What was the Osprey (it was an Osprey pack right?) customer service like out of interest?
    I would have been really annoyed as i’m sure you were with that situation…. Wasting a day- forking out on a new pack which turned out to be wrong, faff etc…

    January 7, 2019 at 12:40 pm

    • SeekingLost

      Aww thank you! Actually, I ordered the new Osprey pack through a small company in Georgia called Going Gear so I never had to deal with Osprey’s customer service. I’m glad you reminded me of that, because they sent me a $50 credit for my trouble that I still need to use… Woohoo, shopping spree! It was definitely a frustrating situation… 3 zeros when I planned on one. I spent way more than $50 to stay those two extra days but you know what, it’s all water under the bridge at this point šŸ™‚

      January 8, 2019 at 12:00 pm

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