The Great Divide Basin is an area in Southern Wyoming where the continental divide actually splits in two. Rain that falls within this split stays in the basin; too bad it never rains. The whole area is a high altitude desert (7000 feet) and is dramatically different than the mountainous Northwest. Rolling plains of sage and scrub brush extend for miles on end. Two words describe the whole region: hot and boring.
By the end of the first day, I was wondering what I was going to do to keep myself occupied. The second day I was ready to shoot myself. You can only count so many marker posts and pronghorn. The “trail” turned out to be 120 miles of jeep roads. Some of the sections were over 10 miles where the track could be drawn on the map with a ruler. With plains so vast an hour of hiking seemed to make no progress.
As with all deserts, the lack of water was a pain. When we did come across water sources they were often no more than cow ponds. On our third day out of town we found ourselves gently climbing a ridge on tread that was shifting sand. In the 90+ degree heat I began to get overheated and feeling sick. When we finally crested the ridge, there was a small gas pipeline shed which created the only shaded spot for miles. I laid there for half an hour before continuing. I didn’t feel normal however for several more miles when I got to dunk myself in a resivoir. The cool water was worth the 50 leeches covering my feet. That evening we stopped at a solar well and cooked dinner. After dinner we put on our headlamps and hiked for 3 more hours in the cooler night air. I don’t think we missed any views.
I don’t want to make it all seem horrible. There were a few bright spots:
- Cowboy camping under the stars. A big perk of hiking in the least populous state is the lack of light pollution. The Milly Way was very visible.
- Seeing wild horses and pronghorn.
With our race through this section we’ve hiked just short of 200 miles in the last week. This brings our total distance to almost 1300 miles. We’re taking a couple of days off here then leaving. Our next stop will be in Colorado where we will be over half way to Mexico.