Wildlife and Bugs
- CDT Miles: 1,638-1,660.2 (22.2)
- Total Hiked: 783.1
- Elevation Range: 6,785-7,830
Twas a bit of a sleepless night. Or more specifically for me, there were a few hours in the night that were sleepless when the wind decided to pick up and gust my tent flaps back and forth. Cheer and Snickers both had it too and Snickers even collapsed his tent in fear that it’d be taken down by force. We had some condensation too upon waking up.
Other than all that, the sun was shining through the cloud layers and we got up and moving in good spirits, albeit somewhat tired. As we started our trek “on time” like yesterday at approximately 6:22am, it was cold and windy and we were each bundled up slightly. I dunned my wind pants, fleece, new Carhartt hat that I may have stolen from my brother, “waterproof” gloves for warmth, and eventually I added my raincoat too.
Our journey on the double track continued with a gentle climb. A bit of some mega hills as we liked to call them. I said before, this whole basin seems to be pretty mellow hiking. We’re putting in some 20-mile days since just getting back on, which still seems like a lot, but I bet the folks that make it through Colorado will do some 30-40 mile days here (if the heat doesn’t slow them too much)!
The whole day we’d see antelope hanging out in the wide openness. And, after cresting the high point early on the morning, we came over the ridge to see a bull elk. Very cool! Couldn’t really tell, but I’d guess a 3 by 3 if that’s even a thing or maybe a 4 by 4? My videos just shows it as a small speck running away, but it felt decently close when we first popped over the ridge and saw it laying down. Later on, I’d see two hop over a fence off in the distance.
The terrain was pretty much the same as we’ve been experiencing out here in the basin and didn’t really show signs of changing anytime soon.
Such a big area. We ended up seeing two birds we called dessert grouse that were big and hanging right by the road. And, there was an awesome jackrabbit that zoomed along side and around us, just kicking those legs and speeding off into the distance. The three of us just watched in amazement. We also saw two different big groups of antelope, each with about 15 or so in number.
I know these are all way off views. That’s usually how it went though. We’d see Pronghorn just milling about way out there and sometimes they’d feel spooked and take off. Other times, they’d just keep doing their thing. it was almost constant that you could see some somewhere. Around this spot we took a break for breakfast overlooking the spot we termed antelope valley.
Little flowers hiding throughout all this.
After breakfast, we distanced a bit again. I opted to do some audiobooking.
Cows were quite prevalent throughout too and we found some particularly active ones here at our next water source. Kinda seemed like two bulls having a disagreement over some ladies. Just cow stuff, you know.
Water was really good here too, flowing nicely from the pipe.
More pretty flowers. I liked these ones and they’d be quite prevalent going forward.
After the cold morning, it got hot. Our nemesis the wind, we realized had also been our friend. Once halted, the lack of a breeze made us feel like we were roasting a bit.
At lunch, we tried to hide under some sage brush and get out of the sun as best we could. We had stopped at another flowing pipe spring with the cows. Cheer and Snickers wet their bandanas and buffs too to help cool down. While hanging, we set out our rain flys to dry the condensation from this morning and actually saw our first other hiker out here too, Mercury.
Mercury stopped by at the water and we chatted for a bit before he continued ahead. Turns out he went into the San Juans about a day ahead of me and ended up cruising through all the way here! Had to be something like 25 miles/day average including resupply days and with the high elevation stuff. Wowsers.
Towards the end of day, we were tiring fast, and turned at the junction above to start hiking upward at a gentle grade. Compared to what we’d been in thus far, this was a somewhat closed valley and out of nowhere a buzzing noise seemed to take over. I first thought it was grasshoppers, but would eventually see some cicada carcasses. Pretty loud they were.
We soon spotted a tree! Hadn’t seen such a thing in a long time. And underneath that tree we found a guy resting in it’s shade with the trail name of Kermit. He was hiking a section going south, but talked of bailing out and taking a trip to the Bahamas. Seemed like a nice plan to me 🙂
We trudged ahead to yet another water source, which we needed to reach before making camp. The area was fenced in and signs were posted for no camping near the spring. Cheer and Snickers scouted some areas outside the fence for tenting and then we all ventured in to find a place to collect from. It took a bit of wandering through tall grass and bushes til we found a little cascade that allowed us to get our bottles underneath. All seemed well, until… Snickers called out saying he had a tick on his leg. And then another!
We had heard rumors of ticks being bad in the basin from other hikers and comments on the app, but I was quite skeptical. This sage brush stuff didn’t look like tick habitat to me. This tall grass by the water did however and it got us all on edge. Cheer and me were a tad more concerned than Snickers since he has more experience with them hiking out east. Going forward, tick checks and worry over them would be a pretty constant thing for us.
Once again we tried to tent where there was wind block. Even though it wasn’t windy at the time of setting up, it seemed the winds pick up overnight out here.
After setting up my area, I went in search of a dinner spot for us to gather free of grasses where ticks might try and ambush. What I found was a mule deer that appeared to have just two antlers (almost looked like in velvet?). It bounced away…
We did find a spot to eat. Dinners for me this week included ramen bombs (ramen noodles with some instant mashed potatoes to thicken it up and added tuna/chicken), Pasta Roni, and one Backpacker Pantry meal. The latter is a treat that I gave myself. It’s sometimes nice to pay the big bucks for these dried meals and the lasagna variety I devoured tonight didn’t disappoint. I believe Cheer had some chili and Snickers opted for a ramen noodle dish.
Song of the Day
“No Hard Feelings” – The Avett Brothers