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[CDT-L] Trail notes - Atlantic City, WY to Rawlins, WY

Along the same line as the notes I put on the list for our route south of
Grants, NM these are my trail notes for the route we took across (or
rather around and then across) the Great Basin in Wyoming.  I only made
detailed notes like this for those sections which we considered "water
problems" and - of course - only for the routes that we took. If you're
gonna take a different route, you'll have a 'different' adventure.  :-)

If you get to Atlantic City (southbound), ask to see Andy Quinn's maps -
he left them there with his route and water sources marked on them.  We
left them there too.  If you get there northbound, it'll be too late for
them do help you.  :-)

For the most part we followed the BLM "designated" route so if you have
the BLM literature and the maps, it's not that hard to follow.  These are
the same notes that I sent to Ray Hanson (the BLM rep).  Still haven't
got the Cuba to Grants stuff together but when I do ya'll will get it.  

Walk softly in the sand,
Picked up CDT markers on the ridge south of Atlantic City.  Followed them
for a while then went back to the road that paralleled it 100 feet away. 
Reasons (this is a thruhikers viewpoint and not meant to impugn what's
been done) - 

1. The road is relatively level - the trail (as marked) has a lot more
elevation gain/loss through the gullies. 
2. Tromping through the sagebrush and briars with no treadway is SLOW by
comparison to road walking (1.5 mph vs 4 mph) 
3. Thruhikers are generally concerned with time, energy and efficiency. 
VERY few thruhikers will take the trail as marked when when there's no
clear treadway and it's paralleled by a road that they can see from the
trail.  I've found that the "Keep the trail entirely off the roads"
philosophy is espoused almost entirely by those who are NOT long distance
hikers. There's more to be said about this - later. 

Trail conditions - 
For the most part, the trail was well marked from Atlantic City to just
(a couple miles) before the A&M reservoir.  We understand that Ray Hanson
and volunteers went out after we passed through to mark the rest of the
trail through the Basin.

We lost the markers when the trail apparently left the road and crossed
into the Magpie Creek drainage.  We followed the route indicated on the
map - down the road along the ridge west of Magpie Creek and picked up
the markers again when we were headed east toward Brenton Springs at the
bottom of the ridge.  

East of Crooks Gap Road the 'road/trail' becomes an intermittent morass
of deep sand for several miles and we abandoned the road to walk in the
sagebrush.  Slow, but not as slow or as tiring as the soft, churned sand
of the 'road'.  Walking on that kind of surface, to put it mildly - sucks
swamp water.  Not good trail.  We also understand that there is no
alternative - this IS desert - and it's the nature of the land. 

The absolute worst part of this section, though was the road walk along
Route 287 into Rawlins.  That 15 miles is, very simply, an accident
waiting to happen.  Several years ago a young couple was killed on the
Pacific Crest Trail under conditions that were far less dangerous than
those which prevail on the Rawlins road walk.  In 1999, a hiker on the
Appalachian Trail was also hit by a car.  He wasn't killed, but he will
be a very long time healing.  The 15 miles north of Rawlins is along a
2-lane highway that's a main north-south route for fleets of 18-wheelers
- with a 1 ft shoulder.  Sooner or later, some thruhiker will die on that
road.  Who's gonna take the responsibility for that?  Who'll take the
heat for it?  A very high priority needs to be put on finding an
alternate route for this stretch.

One other comment on the route - the 'official' route from Bull Springs
to Route 287 adds several miles and a long bushwhack through a lot of
prickly pear.  We didn't take it.  That's already a 26+ mile waterless
section (we didn't consider Bull Springs to be a viable water source). 
Adding more miles - and waterless miles, at that - is simply
unacceptable.  Note that the Larsen Sheep Co. land is posted to say that
recreational users are welcome on their land (just west of Separation
Rim). They should be approached about a trail corridor.  There's also a
broken well along that jeep track that could be fixed as a water source. 

The 4 mile walk along Mineral-X Road passes a number of culverts that may
have water in them.  But they're also breeding pools for mosquitos.  One
of the worst concentrations of mosquitos that we encountered on the trail
was along this road.  

Water sources - 
Upper Mormon Spring is located about 100 yd NNW of a broken Oregon Trail
marker.  The spring is on the backside of a low rocky rise.  There are 2
small pools in the white rocks.  Good camping about 200 yards west of the

Haypress Reservoir is useable - but barely.  It's a muddy, cow-churned
mess.  The size of the suspended particulate matter makes it nearly
impossible to filter without destroying the filter element.  NEED to use
a coffee filter or similar prefilter here.  The same comment applies to
Bison-Basin Reservoir.  

There is a reservoir and piped spring east of Crooks Gap Road.  The piped
spring is great.  

The spring at Weasel Draw had water - it was a beautiful shade of green. 
We filtered 1 qt of water and kept moving.  

There was good useable water in Arapaho Creek and the lower end of Magpie
Creek (off the route as marked).  Nice camping if the cows aren't around.
 There's another nasty green spring  mile west of Magpie Creek.  

Brenton Springs was fenced, but a lot of cows apparently don't know that.
 The water was useable though if you go upstream in the enclosure

The A&M Reservoir was VERY low (at least 20 ft) and chock-full of visible
livestock as well as being very green.  

Best water source of all was the solar well about 6 miles south of A&M
Reservoir.  My question is - why is the solar panel oriented so the well
won't operate until late morning or early afternoon?  

Worst water source was Bull Springs.  There were 2 cattle skeletons and a
relatively fresh carcass feeding into the springs.  There is no way to
get acceptable water out of this area.  The smell alone precluded getting
close enough to the water - I nearly lost my lunch there.  The rabid
coyote was just an added incentive to leave the area quickly.  The BLM
told us the spring is on state land, so they aren't responsible for
improving it.   Ray Hanson didn't sound very optimistic that the state
would do anything. The cows are happy, so why worry about the hikers? 

There is no other viable water source between the solar well and Fish
Pond Spring (the spring 4 miles south of Mineral-X Road and  mile west
of Route 287).  This means a 26 mile waterless section between the solar
well and Fish Pond Spring.  Missing Fish Pond Spring (it's NOT obvious)
would add another 12 waterless miles.  To get to Fish Pond Spring, go
around the south end of the snow fence that starts north of milepost 11
on Route 287. Follow the jeep track west toward the ridge for about 
mile. The spring is the vertical drainage pipe in the middle of the
fenced enclosure beyond the (dry) reservoir.  The map has the location of
the spring correct, but it lies about the road locations.   

The spring near the junction of Mineral-X Road and Route 287 is NOT a
viable water source.  Dead willows line the channel and the water is
alkaline and probably toxic.  

Our filter clogged solid 3 days into this section.  The filter was less
than 3 weeks old at the time.  We used both the filter (with a coffee
filter) and iodine. The water still smelled and tasted like cow dung. 
But we were grateful to get it.  

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