We pried ourselves out of bed, lamenting our lack of sleep due to bugs, and kept ourselves motivated to get out of there so we didn’t have to deal with the swarm again. We felt terrible putting saddles on the horses who were terribly welted from bug bites, but consoled them with promises of less bugs tonight. We walked along the dry lake bed for the first mile or so. It was a phenomenon I found difficult to wrap my mind around. Growing up on the east coast, “dry” is not in existence, let alone an entire dry lake. The edge of this lake bed was hard and crusty with a salty white color. The horses could walk on it without any problem. But when we tried to go a little further out to cut off some of the little inlets and save miles, we found that it was still wet enough to have mud too deep for horses to walk through. Thus we cut back up on the hill and followed the straight road- all the way around the end of the lake. It’s too bad we couldn’t walk across- it would have saved us at least five miles.
While on this dirt road, Satchmo bolted at nothing (this seems to be his new trick and we are thankful to be off the paved roads so Richard can teach him that this is not acceptable behavior) and he jumped off the road into the sage and came inches from stepping on a rattlesnake! It slithered across the road, angrily rattling, then curled up in strike position and just sat there to challenge us. I had never seen a live rattlesnake before, so we watched it for a little bit, and of course I got some pictures!
The road was long, hot, and dry. The horses are starting to slow down and get tired. We need to rest them soon. We became even more grateful for Ted and Trevor’s water drops when we rode past a dead cow. They occasionally left us notes attached to signs on our path.It was pretty fun- like a scavenger hunt! They are really looking out for us.
We rode past a cool land feature called Sand Mountain. It was a large sand dune area surrounded by completely normal looking mountains. It was just there, with nothing like it around. Pretty neat to see. The camp we stopped at for the night was on a small pass about 700 feet above the valley floor. We chose this location because it had something we could tie the horses to- a chain link fence around a radio tower! It also served as a place to anchor a tarp to make shade for ourselves, as well as provided some shade for the horses in later afternoon. In our “boiled brain” state of mind after riding all day in the heat with no shade, we forgot one important safety consideration. Never camp on top of a summit, no matter how low, NEVER! Thunderstorms rolled through later that day and mainly skirted us, but we were affected by a tremendous wind storm. Richard hung on to the tent and I hung onto the tarp for dear life. The wind was whipping it so hard that it was dragging me and the 80 pound bale of hay it was tied to! Unfortunately, when the wind rushed in, our screens were not zipped on our tent, so we had about an eighth inch of dirt, grass, hay dust, and pebbles all over our stuff- including our fresh baked cookies that Ted gave us. Trust me, that did not stop us from eating them! But this felt like a warning- a slap on the hand if you will- to remind us not to make this mistake again no matter how fried our brains are, because the consequences can be much greater the higher up you are.