CDT Day 68: some dirt road to Atlantic City – Hello Desert Camp to Spice is Alive Camp
Miles hiked: 22.3
Total miles: 1183.3
A mad dash in the morning and a chill afternoon in Atlantic City. Today’s hiking was overshadowed by SpiceRack’s incredible story of tragic timing and bad luck. Though far from having a happy ending, there are plenty of positives to be thankful for. Plenty of great people too. Through generous donations and a slapdash gear shopping spree, Spice is ready to keep hiking south.
5am was the earliest that I could even consider hiking so I was on trail at 5:07am, moving fast to stay warm through the desert scrub. My world was limited to a small red glow for the first hour or so until the horizon cast enough light to make me look foolish still wearing my headlamp. Only one hunter saw me that way though. The desert was still sleeping.
My mind was running over time trying to comprehend what I had learned from Spice yesterday. Could a pack really get stolen? What will it take to get her up and running again? The miles flew by. 13.5 miles by 10am. Out into the flat desert on a dirt road. Nothing around except for a few trees and the distant horizon.
As the day heated up I became grateful for my early start. It was going to be a hot one for sure. I gazed ahead at the open desert, my road clearly visible many miles away. This is my life now. I miss the mountains. No breaks. I felt an intense urgency to reach Atlantic City, though realistically there wasn’t much I could offer Spice except my support. A cool snow fence distracted me briefly before crossing Hwy 28. Three miles to South Pass City. Seven to Atlantic City.
A bushwhack and a duck under barbed wire. Into the historic town. The few employees all knew my name somehow and seemed to be expecting me. “No the pack hasn’t turned up.” Damn. I stuffed a few handfuls of almonds into my mouth then left for the roadwalk to AC.
The labor day crowds made the dirt road feel like a scene out of the Mad Max. Countless ATVs and four wheel somethingorothers trailed long clouds of dust as they buzzed too or from who knows where. Dusty and dry walking. Spice jumped up from the first porch I encountered in Atlantic City. Goodness, I was happy to see her.
She showed me to our small cabin at Wild Bill’s bed and breakfast, then regaled me with her tale. She got sick about an hour after I left her two days ago, and had an ordeal just to make it to the next trailhead. A couple of hitches later the next day, she ended up at the dirt road split to South Pass City and Atlantic City. She hid her pack in the sagebrush and walked the half mile to South Pass to pick up our resupply boxes. When she returned 20 minutes later, her pack was gone. Fortunately, she was carrying her wallet and phone, but everything else was gone besides her sunbrella and a water bottle. She was too delirious with sickness to give it much attention.
She made it to Atlantic City and a warm bed where she could collapse for the evening. By the time I showed up, everyone all the way to Lander knew to keep an eye out for the pack, and Spice had been outfitted with some gear from the 90’s. It’s heavy and smells like cat pee, but is in great condition and is super stylish. It will be enough to keep hiking south to Rawlins. These events are allowing the kindness of complete strangers to shine.
So that’s the short of it. Quite a story, I think. We’re in Atlantic City for the night, maybe hiking out to tackle the Wyoming basin tomorrow evening. Spice’s attitude in the face of this bucket load of adversity is inspiring. Terribly sick, pack stolen. In the day and a half it took me to reach her, she is upbeat and ready to go. Incredible. It sucks and she knows it, but these problems have solutions, she reminds me. We can figure them out on the way.