Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The Divide

So what is this Divide that I keep referring to and for which this route is named? Assuming a drop of water does not evaporate or get absorbed into the ground, the Divide separates where water will end up. Water will end up either in the Pacific Ocean or the Atlantic Ocean (Gulf of Mexico) depending on what side the divide the water originates on. So far, I have crossed the Continental Divide 15 times and it's pretty neat to stand there and know that I'm standing at the watershed, that water one one side of me might flow into the Pacific via the Snake and Columbia Rivers and the other side will reach the Gulf of Mexico via the Missouri and Mississippi.

Encompassing most of Nevada, some of California and Utah, the Great Basin is one place where water doesn't drain into an ocean. It basically pools into lakes or evaporates. Another place is the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, where the Continental Divide splits and forms a "bowl". Water will form seasonal creeks and ponds but for the most part, it evaporates. And this was the place where I spent the weekend.

The Great Divide Basin was everything I expected and some I did not. I expected it to be lonely, dry and hot.

I was actually surprised at how unlonely I was in the basin. There were lots of animals-- rabbits, antelope and the marmot I saw making a beeline at me. It ended up diving into it's burrow, startled by me. Lots of birds also, small ones and large raptors. At the campsite I chose at A&M Reservoir, one of the few water sources in the Basin, there were a set of car campers, about 8 guys who pulled up on BMW touring bikes (you can see their camp in the photo below) and two Continental Divide Trail through hikers.

The Basin was dry, though you could see the effects of the recent Wyoming rains in puddles left behind. I got water at Diagnus Well (below), which technically isn't in the Basin yet, but it was the last water source until A&M Reservoir. We take fore granted things until they are scarce. I was transferring water from one bottle to another and, while trying to swat a bug from my foot, spilled half the bottle of water. What a tragedy. Fortunately, I still had plenty of water, but I knew I wasted a precious commodity.

As for hot, I lucked out. Temps barely reached the 90s, which is pretty good for the Divide Basin. But the wind. Oh the wind. Most of Saturday morning, I lucked out with a tail wind. The afternoon was a head and cross wind. When I got to A&M Reservoir, I felt like I could go further, but it would be directly into heavy winds. These were winds strong enough to blow my bike over while it was leaning against me. I waved the white flag and camped at the lake rather than fight the winds.

It took me a day and half to make the ride from Atlantic City to Rawlins. This was one of the parts I dreaded as I prepared for the ride. It was difficult and carrying extra water sure made me slower, but it was a surreal experience being in the desolate landscape.

Other Notes:

- Hulk got a new chain and some adjustments in Pinedale. I didn't mention it before, the chain broke on the bike near Lima, nearly a week ago. I fixed it and it made it over 400 miles to the first bike shop on the route since Butte, MT. Actually, it's a hardware store that has a bike repair area in the back. The guy working on the bike said he gets lots of Great Divide riders since there's not another shop until Steamboat Springs, CO.

- Dodged rain all day Friday. Didn't start riding until after 12:00 since it was pouring in Pinedale. Locals were apologizing to me, saying it never rains this much--- they're semi-arid! Made it about 20 miles and then saw a storm to my south as I was heading east. I pedaled hard and watched it pass through where I had been (below pic). Saw the same guy on the BMW that passed me on the Ashton-Flagg Ranch Rd 3 days before. Also, met John from southern Pennsylvania. Saw another storm from afar. Tried to pedal away from it too. I missed the middle of the storm, but the edge caught me. A third was gaining on me late in the day. I huddled in a Rest Stop for 45 minutes waiting for that one to pass.

- Had breakfast in Atlantic City on Saturday with a couple of re-enactors who were there for an event at South Pass City. They were from all over but knew one another. I was bummed I wasn't going to get to see them in action and the events at South Pass.

- Met two college buddies from MIT when I was heading into the Basin.

- Apparently, where I camped at A&M Reservoir is on the Continental Divide Trail as two through hikers came rolling in about 8:30. I gave one of them my bear spray as I was out of bear country.

- Had great Thai food in Rawlins. Anong's Thai. Highly recommended if you're ever in Rawlins.

- Rode through road construction this morning in southern Wyoming. I was afraid they were going to close the road, but I got up early enough to make it through most of it.

- Three Forks Ranch, which I rode by today, is ridiculous. It's like a mini Biltmore. Their main house is huge!

- Met these three guys from Spokane. They started 3 weeks ago in NM.

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