Saturday, September 04, 2004
15 Miles by 9 a.m.!
What a miserable night. Just as I started journaling, rain started falling. I slipped my bag into my bivy and pulled my tarp out over the sage on either side of my head. The plan did not work no matter how long I avoided the conclusion. My bag was getting wet through the bivy and the wind was catching my tarp. Moving headlights catching the flapping tarp and swaying sage made the whole situation even more pathetic. It was time to put up the tarp because the rain was not fleeting. I did the best I could and fell into a restless sleep.
My first alarm went off at 3 AM, the second at 3:30. I counted on my fingers the 5 hours I'd need to walk to get to Rawlins and see what hour I would arrive each time the alarm went off. Not wanting to miss the Saturday PO hours and then have to wait until Tuesday to get my boxes, I soon found the motivation to get my morning going. I said to myself, "It's raining. You are going to have to deal with it. The miles are not going to walk themselves. You are going to have to deal with the mud and the tarp at some point."
As soon as I was packed up enough to need to get out from under my blue mask, I got out from under it. The rain let up considerably within a minute. Until I took action, I wasn't getting any slack.
The tractor-trailer that had pulled up during the night was gone. I was in the dark, and traffic on the highway was almost nonexistent. By 4:15AM, I was walking. I had tied my Photon light to the back of my pack, had my Aurora headlamp on my head and walked facing traffic.
Headlights were blinding, especially high beams that allowed them to see me better, but allowed me to see nothing. I'd walk on the shoulder as far from the road as I could when trucks and cars came toward me. The camber of the shoulder varied wildly. Sometimes, because of my headlight blindness, I'd just stop until the vehicle passed. Once I found myself stopped in blindness. When the truck passed, I saw that I had a snow plow reflector post right in front of me. One more step, and I would have smashed into it.
At 5AM, the rain started to really come down. Seeing the rain backlit by headlights as it fell in waves onto the layer of water on the road added to the intensity of walk. Big tractor-trailers would add their own motion to the light and water dance.
Dawn came slowly, and the rain never really stopped until about 8. The heaviest rain came at 7. The wind and water soaked me. I just plodded along, amused by the stuff I was seeing on the side of the road. I nabbed a network cable from the side of 287. Other road walkers had created sculptures with road junk on posts.
As I was walking past the barbed-wire fences on either side of the two-lane road, I couldn't help but think of Matthew Shepherd, who was left to die less than 100 miles from here on a roadside fence like these. It was a dark morning.
As I approached town, I crossed the highway to read an information sign. I learned there's a color called Rawlins Red, the color used for the Brooklyn Bridge that originally came from the rock in the area. They called the mines paint mines.
Soon after that the Welcome to Rawlins sign greeted me. I still had a long walk through town to get to hotel row and the Best Motel. I checked at 9AM and headed to the PO in a cab. I knew I had lots of boxes and didn't want to carry them the six blocks back to the hotel.
As we pulled up to the PO, I saw thru-hiker-looking people. I soon learned they were Tim, Andrea & Merlin. Merlin was finishing a long CDT section, and headed to the train at that moment. Tim and Andrea were biking the Divide.
They'd run into Apple Pie & Spur at Sweetwater Bridge, and Apple Pie & Spur asked them to pick up their boxes. I looked, and sure enough they had all of their boxes. They mentioned that they were wondering how they'd get them all back to the Best Hotel. I said, "In the cab I have waiting." I could see the relief in their faces.
I got my boxes and brought everything back to my room. Tim and Andrea went on to explore town. On the ride back I pressed the driver for information about the town.
Back in the room, I piled boxes according to person, then had him drop me at Cappy's, the good breakfast place. I had a plate with hash browns on the bottom, eggs over medium in the middle and decent green chili over the top. Yum.
Rawlins has two main businesses, the railroad and the penitentiary. Some sort of oil boom brought some other source of income to Rawlins, but that's pretty much over from what I can tell.
Laundry was next. Some of the washers and dryers were for greasers, those with greasy clothes. I did some overdue mending while waiting for my clothes. My down bag, which is not supposed to go in the dryer, went in the dryer on low. It had been so wet in the past few weeks that I wanted to revive it. It was fluffy and wonderful after a couple of quarters.
My time on the phone revealed that the town was virtually shut down for the Labor Day weekend. Aspen House was my choice for dinner because it was open and had a decent-looking menu. The other nice place was closed for the long weekend. The lamb was yummy.
I watched, and enjoyed, Intolerable Cruelty on HBO and stayed up way too late.