Day Forty-three, Date Sunday, April 12, 2009 (Easter!)
Time in Saddle: 6:09
Distance for the Day: 43.24 miles: From Alpine To Rose Peak
Accumulated Trip Distance: 1693.5 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 8056’/,8183’ Highest: 9340’, Accumulated: 4603’
Speeds: Avg: 7.0 mph, Max: 42.1 mph
Weather: Below freezing, windy, snowing in the AM, clearing by late morning
I woke up warm and cozy, as people in the cabin began to rise and move around, getting more wood for the fires, and preparing breakfast. The weather outside was downright nasty: cold, breezy, and the occasional snow shower. Brrrr! I was told I could stay as long as I wanted, and that there was barbeque being slow-cooked since the previous day that would be served for lunch. A tempting offer, but I was also anxious to continue on. In the back of my mind, I knew that I may or may not have enough time to complete my trip around the U.S., and couldn’t rest in any one place for too long. I would wait, to see what the weather would do. In the meantime, I had a delicious hot breakfast, and chatted more with everyone. A couple of the parents set up an Easter Egg Hunt for the kids, and those are always fun to watch – a little odd due to all the snow, but still fun. At about 11am, I noted the sky was starting to break up, and knew from a previous forecast that the weather was supposed to clear for the next several days, so made the decision to leave. I thanked my hosts, who impressed upon me that I was welcome back any time. I can’t say how welcome I felt by everyone there, as though I were a member of the family. I have to say, I felt very touched. Spencer and his wife drove me back to the spot where they first picked me up, the mini-mart at Alpine. We said our final farewells, and I took off – up the wrong road.
(Bud[?], Spencer, or Chris – please email me so I have your contact info as well – I have the group picture I’d like to send you, and as mentioned in the abbreviated blog update which this will replace, my email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.)
I didn’t remember seeing TWO routes out of Alpine, but there was a *good* route, and a *bad* route. One was Hwy 180, the other was Hwy 666. Really. I of course took Hwy 666, and it was a very tough haul through the tops of the mountain range whose name I do not know. I took all day, climbed another thousand-plus feet from Alpine to well over 9000’, and only got 43-odd more miles forward. Up and down, and up, and up, and down, and up and up and up…you get the idea. I stoically plugged away, but it was tough, plain and simple. I finally did get over the highest peak, and began making some long, windy descents, but then would hit more long climbs. By the time dusk had arrived, I was looking for someplace to camp, and was winding up a mountainside, with a steep incline to my right, and steep decline on my left, and no end in sight. At one point, I thought I heard some crashing in the bushes, and distinctly heard a short growl. The stories of bears and mountain lions in the area I heard from the family I’d just left came to mind, and this kept my little legs a-pumping a bit harder. I finally found a break point where the road turned around a point, and I said “good enough!” It was actually pretty nice, with a good place to hang my hammock so I wouldn’t have to sleep on the snow-covered ground, and set up there (N33° 26’ 54.9” W109° 21’ 39.5”). Everything worked well, except my feet got a bit cold, again. I covered them with my jacket, and that helped. I have to remember to cover my feet a bit more in cold weather situations. I was just off the road by a few dozen yards, but this road got very little traffic, and so I was not disturbed by traffic noise the entire night.