CDT Day 96: The Great Divide Basin

Rawlins to Bull Springs: 28.4 miles

Total miles: 1423.5

I woke up to Garrett opening up the curtains in our dark hotel room, and the bright 6AM light filled the room. I went into hiker mode to get myself moving, putting my hiking clothes on and packing up my bag, hoping my appetite would make an appearance. I didn’t have to wait too long, and soon enough I joined Garrett down in the breakfast room for mini-veggie omelettes and pancakes with walnuts and bananas.

We headed back up to the room, and by 7:30am we were on our way out of town and back into the wide open expanse of the dry Great Divide Basin. On our day off I had consulted our maps and water reports, and charted out the water available to us over the next 120 miles. The water looked to be more frequent than we anticipated, but if we wanted to camp by water tonight we had to walk over 28 miles to get to Bull Springs (or stop after 13). A short day wasn’t an option, and since our pace has quickened on the flat desert roads and trails, we felt confident we’d make the springs by dinner.

The first 13.4 miles flew by, taking us on a mixture of paved roads, dirt roads, and trail. We somehow lost the trail for a bit, as the trail goes through a checkerboard of public and private land with markings being sparse at time, but it didn’t set us back any. We made it to Fish Pond Spring by noon, filtered out water, then wandered over to some trees nearby to escape the sun. It was the first shade we had seen all day, and we took full advantage of it for one whole hour.

From there, it was 16 miles to Bull Springs. While the desert was as hot and dry as could be expected, it was surprisingly beautiful and peaceful. The flat ground treated me well, and I was able to walk faster than I have in weeks. We even managed to find a bit of shade twice throughout the afternoon, and were grateful for every ounce of coverage from the sun.

Walking through the basin was also a return to cow country. We saw so many cows, it’s surprising we didn’t take any pictures of them this day, but they just became a part of the landscape. We eventually made it to the springs a little after 8pm, and got to work filtering water for that night and the next day, and making our dinners. Despite filtering out water, it still had a distinct mineral/mushroom taste to it. Our filters will take out anything that could harm us, but not necessarily the taste. We had no choice to drink it, but I couldn’t wait for our next source 15 miles into the next day, and hoped it would be better!