Saturday, September 26, 2009

Day Two Hundred-three, 090919 - Big Horn Nat'l Forest

Day Two Hundred-three, Date Saturday, September 19, 2009
Time in Saddle: 6:55
Distance for the Day: 56.07 miles From Gillette To Big Horn Nat’l Forest
Accumulated Trip Distance: 10,202 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 3965’/6917’, Highest: 6923’ Accumulated: 4449’
Speeds: Avg: 8.1 mph, Max: 33.2 mph
Weather: 46°
Expenditures: $17

Woke up at 5:50am and got up at 6am, broke down and ready to roll by 6:36am; totally clear all around, beautiful Venus, munched a little for breakfast, and took off at 6:42am; stopped at a rest stop and met Cha Cha, a retired Korean man, who is traveling the world on his Harley Davidson motorcycle! We admired each others’ rigs, and he kept telling me, “You’re the *real* Man!” and grabbed, squeezed and shook my thigh – hah! He was a real fun and funny guy, and had a lot of high spirit in him. I reached the town of Buffalo at 12:30pm, which was just before the Big Horn Nat’l Forest mountain range, on my route. I went to the tiny Visitor Center, where I got good advice from the lady there on how to shorten my route to Yellowstone a bit. I noticed a basket of used novels, and brought in my Stephen King book to add to the collection. She told me I could pick up a novel from the local library for free, because they’re not significant or long-lasting enough to actually keep track of. For a change, I got a Fuze drink at the local mini-mart ($2) – but didn’t like it that much. I then made my way, with difficulty, to the town library. (They’d moved it, but forgot to tell Street Atlas. I went down a big hill to the old location, where a sign there said it was at a new location, back up that big hill – I hate that.) Once there, I perused the choices and picked up “The Harbinger,” just some page-turner by an author I’d never heard of. But, hey – free book!

At 1:41pm I was getting ready, stocking up on supplies before leaving for the (ulp!) highest mountain pass I’ve hit since Hwy 666 in Arizona – the Powder Horn Pass in the Big Horn Nat’l Forest at 9,666’ ASL (there’s that ‘666’ reference, again – I swear I didn’t make it up – it’s in the picture).
Went over to the library to check the weather, the forecast called for 40% chance of rain tomorrow – light during the morning, heavier during the day – thought about staying in Buffalo to wait out the weather, but wasn’t sure I’d be able to get wi-fi on Sunday, ditzed around town, spent $15 more for more food/drinks; wanted to get it over with, so left; headed up at 3:40pm stopped several times up the road now 5:17pm, I corrected my elevation using Google Earth so was at about 4700’ ASL in Buffalo, and made it to 6234’ so far, today; would like to get to at least 7000’ or more, today, which would leave only 2666’ left to go, which wouldn’t be too horrible for tomorrow; N44 19.394’ W106 53.439’ Found an open-air, drive-up interpretive display in its own parking area for the Big Horn Nat’l Forest – a paved circle with a sidewalk for the information boards;this was a nice clean spot, and I wasn’t sure there would be anything up ahead, so I set up my tent, there. A father and son arrived in a small truck and parked. They were in camouflage outfits, and the father had a wicked-looking compound bow. They were going bow hunting, and left me alone. One other car swung around the circle after dark, but they didn’t even slow down, and left. That was it. It was a perfectly clear night, and I was set up and inside by 7pm. I read, munched, and drank my soda until it got dark, around 7:30pm, and then went to sleep, or at least started to. I heard this rustling noise coming from my trike, and at first couldn’t figure out what it was. Wind? I’d left my tent fly off, and the stars were blazing away, but this rustling noise kept happening. I wondered if it could be mice getting at my trailmix. Finally, I couldn’t stand it anymore, and at around midnight, I got up and out, checked my bag of trailmix, and sure enough, it had been chewed through. I never saw or heard the mice, but knew that they’d been there. At first, I grabbed the bag, wrapped it up in a couple of spare shopping bags (of which, I always try to keep a few), and brought it into the tent with me. Then I had two thoughts: what if they have lice, or fleas, and left some on the bag; and, what if they decide to try to chew a hole through my tent to get to the food? I got up again, and stuck the bag into one of the trike’s driving handles. I seemed to keep hearing rustles going on, but it might have been my imagination, as they didn’t bother that trailmix again, that night. The air was calm and somewhat cool, but the stars were just aglitter – a vast expanse of familiar constellations, shining brightly and easily traced (no light pollution or haze to hide the fainter stars) and the Milky Way was just gorgeous! Oh, I had one *other* thought poking at my brain just before I fell asleep: should I now just toss that whole bag away, or was it still safe to eat? Find out tomorrow, what I decided.

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