We woke to an eerie feeling. We couldn’t figure out what it was at first. Then we realized- there was no sound. Not a bug buzzing, not a bird chirping, no wind, no running water, no cars, no planes, even the horses were asleep. We lay there holding our breath listening intently for anything- any sound at all. Nothing. Nothing. Nothing. Dead quite. I’ve heard quiet before- but this was different. This was silence like I’ve never experienced. It was almost spooky, yet really neat. I couldn’t imagine a person coming out here from New York City- they would freak out over the silence alone!
The valley we rode across to day was more vast than anything we had experienced through all of Nevada and Utah! It was so BIG. Open and Vast. You could see nearly forever. There were rows and rows of cliffs to our left, huge Henry Mountains and the “Little Rockies” in front of us far off in the distance, and nothing but forever to our right and back. There was one problem with that. The distance of ‘forever’- was a field filled with weeds- Ragweed. I am deathly allergic to ragweed. Even with an allergy pill, I nearly sneezed myself right off my horse. There was so much pollen- in the air, on the horses’ noses, on the road- that it made me sick. I was miserable in every way that allergies can make a person….. times 10. I’ve been blessed with reduced pollen allergies since I moved to Wyoming as I had pretty bad allergies growing up in Connecticut. But this was awful like I’ve never experienced. I vowed in between sneezes to eradicate ragweed on whatever property we settle down on!
Today was an all around weird day. There were no signs of human life out there. It felt kind of lonely actually. It made us miss people we love. We had a strange-black-flying-missile-type-bug zoom around us rather threateningly. It was huge and black with orange wings and long tentacle things sticking out both in front and in back. We had no idea what it was and were a bit concerned about how aggressive it acted! We learned later that it was a Tarantula Wasp. They are nasty enough to eat tarantulas! Glad it didn’t bite anyone or we might have had another rodeo on our hands! At one point, we crossed the only water we would see on our 25 mile day- a shallow creek. I was glad to see it was clear water and running. The horses drank enthusiastically after their days of red clay water. They probably had sore throats too. So I filled my empty Nalgene bottle with clear water, used the UV light purifier on it, then took a big gulp of fresh water. BLAAAAAAGGGGHHHH! YUUUUUCCCKKKK! AAAA! I spit and spit again. This creek wasn’t flowing- there were so many tadpoles in it that it just looked like the water was moving. It tasted like stagnant FROG! Yuck! It made me appreciate our clay water! Then, after we left that creek, we had yet another weird experience. I small finch like bird decided to follow us. It would fly up to the front horse, watch us pass, then fly to catch up to the front horse again. It followed us like this for nearly a half mile! Maybe even the animals are lonely out here!
The sun was nearly down when we came to a sign pointing us towards Starr Springs Campground. It took us a whole day to ride across that vast open area to the Henry Mountains that were in front of us. We felt like an Alaskan stepping into New York City when 2 guys on four wheelers drove by after we had seen no human life for nearly 3 days. It was strangely shocking to our brains. Then we were faced with a big disappointment. The campground where we planned to stay was blocked by a cattle guard- with a locked gate- and wood fence. We weren’t about to saw through it, though at that hour, I was tempted! The next camping spot with water was 3 miles away- another hour. We’d get there in the dark. I was hungry, tired, and cranky- and so were the horses. The prospect of going 10 more feet was maddening, let alone 3 more miles. Then we were rescued- by the four wheeler guys. When they drove back by and we were still standing there looking bewildered and bedraggled, they decided to find out what we were all about. Then they promptly brought us a whole cooler full of water for the horses, two beers, and set about finding any wood that would work to get us and the horses across the cattle guard. An hour later, we made it across the cattle guard, an invention I have come to despise- especially after a long day, and they led us by flashlight to an empty campsite next to theirs. We were the only ones in the place. We held the horses in the dark while they ate in a lush meadow, then were spoiled by our new friends with a succulent meal of lamb chops cooked over their campfire. We decided we weren’t going anywhere in the morning, somehow stayed awake until 1:30 in the morning talking, and slept like rocks.