Days 16-17. July 3rd-4th.
The Great Divide Basin.
Sooner Road to Atlantic City.
55 Miles. 37 Miles.
Variable Winds, cool temps.
In the 19th century Americans ventured west seeking riches, land, or religious freedom. Riding in wagons or pulling hand carts they traveled via historic routes such as The California Trail, Oregon Trail, and The Mormon Pioneer. For the past two days we’ve traversed segments of these historic trails and witnessed much of the same landscape they trudged through. This section, known as the Great Divide Basin is a 130 Mile stretch devoid of services with only a few water sources. Instead of flowing west to the Pacific Ocean or east to the Atlantic, any water that does fall flows into the basin where it evaporates. Divide riders and thru hikers know it as one of the emptiest and driest stretches along the entire route. In general, the riding is quite easy as the hard surface BLM road gently winds through the basin. Unless of course, a headwind is encountered.
Yesterday we had favorable winds in the morning but found ourselves battling a headwind for the final 15 Miles. Bahne is a Champ in the wind. Me, not so much. I grunt, curse, and hold back tears as I fight to make progress. If I were a frontierswoman my children would have perished in a hand drawn cart as I sobbed in the dust.
Fortunately, we had our trusty SAG wagon to hop in and speed in to “town”. But miles are never easy on the Divide and a rock took the life of a rear tire. We hobbled to Atlantic City on the spare doubtful we’d find anyone willing to fix a tire in this remote landscape on Independence Eve. Trail majic prevailed and Wild Bill-purveyor of custom knives and guns-easily fixed er’ up and had us rolling again. Hallelujah!
Independence Day was the last day with our support team-my pops and nephew. We are incredibly grateful they’ve aided us along the past week. Pleasant weather, combined with the sights of the basin provided the fixins for a grand day. What the basin lacks in modern amenities it makes up for in a one of a kind landscape. Herds of wild horses and antelope gallantly traverse the sage filled fields while Sage grouse flutter across the road. The sky dances between delicate and fierce steps as it reigns above us.
We rolled into Atlantic City thirsty for cold snacks only to be met with the sign “Sorry, we’re closed.” hanging at the entrance to the lone watering whole. Trail magic prevailed again, when the camp hosts showered us with the works for a good old fashioned Independence Day meal-hot dogs, baked beans, and fruit cocktail. Pops and Croix cooked us and two other Divide riders one last meal before driving east.
Tonight, The Grubstake came through and opened it’s doors to serve us some cold ones before the local firework shows. As I lay in my tent watching the different shows compete I’m grateful for the opportunity to ride across our great American landscape.