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[cdt-l] The Great Basin in April...



My friend Dave and I decided to spend a weekend in the Great Basin hiking this
last weekend.  We decided to head out from Bison Basin Road, south of Sweetwater
Junction, about 55 miles or so east of South Pass.

Those of you who have hiked in this area will remember the absolute lack of trees
and preponderance of sagebrush and cowpies.  There were no cows, but a heard of
24 wild horses we spent some time watching.  Fascinating to see herd behaviors.

The CDT through here has carsonite posts and the it is near impossible to get
lost.  Driving in from the South Pass side the trail was visible because there
were posts.  From the book's description (it was the guide with the color
pictures and maps) we were expecting to be befuddled if not constantly, then
regularly.  We were not.  Whoever put up these carsonite posts did an excellent
job.

What got us was the wind.  It blew a steady 30 knots with gusts to 40.  I've
hiked in wind, but not like that.  On top of that it was 45 degrees and cloudy
much of the time.  Wind Chills down into the teens.

The faint two tracks the guidebook talked about were not faint.  We walked on
well-defined 4-wheel drive roads the whole time.  The scenary was spectacular,
unending sagebrush dotted hills criss-crossed by dirt roads, some of which had to
be unused for 50 years or more.

We got about ten miles in before my out of shape body and the wind combined to
have us pitch camp.  This was a very deliberate process because any untended item
would be blown immediately into Nebraska.  I had a clip flashlight and my friend
the smaller version of the flashlight, the one man tent.  Both stood up to the
winds with a minimum of flapping.

Lots of water in the creekbeds and snowbanks.  There is probably another three or
four weeks for some of these lee hill banks to be there before melting out.  Then
its cowpie infested drinking water.  And some of these pies are years and years
old.  Last years layered on top of the previous years on ad nauseum.

The overall experience was tempered by cold/wind.  The wind, (said as Kurtz said,
"The horror, the horror" at the end of Lord Jim, I think it was...)

Jeffrey Olson
Laramie, Wyoming...