Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Desert Trail: Basin and Range Part 3

I started up Guzzler Canyon. Wide views of plains of sagebrush and basalt pillars that cliffed out an abrupt edge on high mesas. Soon, the storms rolled in. I sheltered under a small rocky alcove, crammed beneath a ledge using my backpack frame to keep my legs dry. I could see the curtains of rain imminently approaching and splattering the hillsides around me until the cell hit me. Then, a large cove under a big cliff with piles of wild horse shit. A hawk, maybe a falcon or a goshawk, squawked above me and swooped around me telling me the nest was nearby. I napped for a while under the weather seemed tame. Soon, up on the crest, another cell hit. This time a cave up high on a spur ridge would suffice. I sat crouched and huddled in the middle of the cave and had a Zen moment. A calm meditation absorbed me and I breathed. I felt the drips running down the lichen covered and gritty walls. I watched the tops of the crest as curtains of rain oozed across the curves. Slowly, the scene went by.

Small game traps, deer or coyote or bobcat, were spaced out up the drainage I ascended to towards the crest of the Sahwave Range. This day seemed different, clearer, still abundant storms but negotiable. I meandered on knobs with granite outcrops. The granite channelled drainages seamed up the steep range, horse trails ran gloriously up and down and across the range, and expansive views of all the playas and ranges around held me in no short of a gleeful fervor.

At the steppes of the Blue Wing Mountains, a horse at the bottom of a drainage, white speckled with a black-striped on face, ran away from me after some curious huffs and puffs. After the ensuing climb I crested the small range, a mirrored reflection in the playa a few thousand feet below brightly reflected the sun and sky on top of freshly dropped rainwater. I felt the cool wind hit my sweaty body. Flaky and angled rock covered in orange lichen angled out of the ground. The Blue Wing outcrops were like finned backs of dinosaurs or ruffled feathers of a bird on alert. Such a stark contrast to the Sahwave Range that was composed of granite and rocky outcrops. Then, I noticed the same horse from down below. We had a stare down, then he snorted and again ran away. I side-hilled a peak to regain the crest and to start a steep descent. I found him again, this time on the slopes. Being upwind as I was, I watched him roll in the dirt and take off on a short sprint, then trot on the rounded ridge in front of me, descend and disappear. Like that, a powerful interaction, then gone forever. Just how I like it. 

I felt pretty lucky I hadn’t got hit by a storm most of the day as I could see consistently roving cells move throughout the basins and ranges. At a spring I found water and in the narrow canyon watched a big cell dump water on the playa and the basin below. Lightning flashed and I could see the crooked electric shaft hit the playa. I watched the cell slowly creep and spill, floating and morphing with the wind. I figured to set up camp early after a big mileage day. I slowly hiked down the drainage taking my time so as to not walk into any stragglers of rain drops. I turned my ankle on a small rock. I was so mad, cursing at the sky or no where in particular. Just got whatever curses I needed to get out. I cannot describe the frustration I had at that moment. So, I found a sheltered spot and laid out my bedroll. Then, I looked for my tarp, the next thing to do before bed under a stormy sky. I rifled through my gear. My tarp wasn’t there. I must’ve left it at my lunch spot at Big Bank Spring. I retraced my memory and I couldn’t place it exactly. But at Big Bank Spring I had been in a hurry to pack up to avoid a storm and I must’ve not packed it. My routine has been broken because the tarp wasn’t in its usual place because of how wet it was. With the ankle providing me with fresh pain and light-headedness I became really confused, utterly befuddled by such an action and feeling. I have not done this before on trail, especially with such a crucial piece of gear. I spent the next half hour finding some sort of sheltered camp to no avail, for I was on the edge of a playa. Very low shrubs laid about before an expanse of caked dirt. I watched burros and wild horses, coyotes, and antelope all cross the playa as the huge storm floated west. The playa after the storm brought out the wildlife, as the horses and burros bucked and snorted, with the antelope sprinting and suddenly screeching to a halt, and the coyote, the interloper, surreptitiously sneaking across with hunched shoulders. An incredible sunset was on display with the tendrils of the storm brilliantly aglow in pink and orange. And I was so embarrassed, mad, frustrated, and confused. I laid down astride a low scraggly brush in a small sandy depression and rigged up my plastic ground sheet and slid my quilt into my trash compactor bag as another cell neared. Thunder grumbled and I felt so vulnerable and uncovered under the approaching ominous cloud. I could hear the rain coming. I felt a bit unnerved, even scared. 

I didn’t feel disencumbered by my ineptitude, rather I felt at a loss, an unexplainable action of losing an absolute need by an action unfathomable before. Fuck, maybe I’m getting old. But the whole thing made me think of ‘home.’ I don’t know how to put it. I’m from Los Angeles, live in Colorado, but I dwell in the wilds wherever I set my shelter up. That’s ‘home.’ And I left it by accident, abandoned my home without thinking, rushing and not taking care. Even though I’m only with my ‘home’ 5-7 months out of the year, it is all I got.

I hardly slept that night, so worried about getting wet or being unprotected from a thunderstorm. I kept popping up and looking around. Throughout the night the constant braying of the burros laughed in the empty space. That’s what it felt like: space. Floating there in the bottom of an enormous sea, completely vulnerable to whatever rams into me, I, not an equal force. I could not provide any push back. I had to take it, come to grips with my pain and heart ache, my disappointment, my disbelief. And the burros braying through the night made me laugh. They sounded ridiculous and the brayings sounded like the burros were under the same insanity and pain as I, only funnier. I would laugh, then playfully tell them to shut up. Some would get near me unawares of my clandestine bedroll at the shoreline of the playa. Towards the wee part of the morning I heard a couple of them trotting on the playa floor not far from me, their clopping hoof prints thudding across caked mud, their brays quite loud. Wild and untamed, usually solitary, the burros still have a banded instinct. They playfully fought, tussled with each other. I, for the first time on this trail, felt lonely. I packed up under dark skies, the moon trying to make an appearance. My aim to get to town a bit early to situate myself with another shelter, the most important piece of gear. I couldn’t be at risk this vulnerably unsafe. I needed to solve my problem. I walked out into the dark playa, the extreme faint glow of dawn creeping up, and took a bearing and simply split apart the blackness.

The grueling 3500ft climb up to Kumiva Peak only fueled my anger. I needed this punishment and each step only expelled the anger and disbelief further out of me. My ankle felt a bit stiff, swollen, but it felt better with movement. I moved swiftly. I knew I needed to push to avoid any afternoon thunderstorms if I wanted to get to town at a reasonable hour. I sweated profusely amid incredibly humid monsoonal air. Salt lines caked my shirt, my face, and my hat. Through the weaving jeep track of the Selenites I pushed until I got to the small town of Empire in which I immediately hitched to Gerlach. I got a new home on order for the next stop, some 180m away. This left me 5 nights with nary a shelter.

What I’ve called shelter: an alcove, a cave, ledges of rock, washes, under the canopy of a guzzler. But HOME? The rock out on the edge of the playa, watching the giant thundercells explode with lightning, I could feel the whir of electricity, the darkness of nature. I tucked my bedding under the awning of the large rock , a small overhang actually. Although my feet breached the length of the awning, and despite my height, I am proficient at being small when I have to. I scoured for this type of rock, a huge boulder strewn from the slopes high above, residing in the flats near the playa shoreline, for 15 minutes. The weather was tumbling, the wind a bit violent, and the clouds too stout. I tucked all my gear under the awning and in the nook where the rock met the ground. I tried to close my eyes with some calming nerve but I could see roaming thunderheads creeping in from the southwest. Lightning flickered in the distance and thunder grumbled like a hungry stomach. Fortunately for me, the rock that was my home that night situated just perfectly against the oncoming whipping wind. I had some sort of quiet from the wind but my eyes could see the storms unless I turned to the inside of the rock. My heart raced as the storms neared. Lightning electrified the air and gave off an exhalation as a sound, like a mute person whispering. The thunder became deafening overhead and I dug my head deeper into my quilt while squinching up my body to get smaller and more compact. I watched the playa light up brilliantly. From pitch black to a bright purple light. Things were getting scary. Suddenly I heard another grumble, like the thunder kept continuing. A night train came steaming along, a bright light leading the way. What a brave soul with the violence in the air. I imagined him a ghostly figure, a skeletal face with a goofy conductor hat, riding the electric night rails. Rain pummeled me and I could here a drip drop drip drop in half seconds. The ground thwacked with huge pelterings of water. In the wake of these storms I rolled over and extended my legs. A few stars came out.

After some assessment I found myself pretty dry. The playa rock provided me with a good home. The morning of the playa crossing, the flats had stayed relatively dry from the night before. The playa had a bit of stick to the surface, more stick than give, so the walking was fairly easy. As the sun rose higher the mud baked harder and the walking became incredibly easy. Straight line bee line, the miles flew. Two cells off to the west moved threateningly and menacingly. I gulped a bit feeling so exposed and vulnerable, for the crossing was roughly 15m. But those two eluded the expanse of the Black Rock Playa. Then, an encroaching storm from miles away slowly took form. I could see the storm being slowed by Kumiva Peak and the rest of the Selenites. The range provided me with an obstruction. However, as soon as the storm hit the playa the sucker really began to move. I started to kick up the heels a bit and constantly checked over my shoulder the direction and closeness of the storm. The rate of speed was astonishing. My hiking really fast turned to a trot, and as the storm ferociously gobbled up the playa then the trot turned into running. I ran to the shoreline of the playa to find any type of cover, for nearly an hour. Out in the playa I was a sitting duck waiting to be potentially struck by lightening. Plus the surface would become terrible to walk on and I would get terribly drenched in the process. The wind howled from behind me kicking up dust devils in wind-throws weaving through tall desert shrubs. Low hanging clouds beneath the cap of the storm hung low as the forefront of the storm like tentacles reaching out to grab me. I kept running, jumping and striding over small gullies, burrowing through softer sand, and lunging around shrubs. I kept at it as the storm reached down. I made the shore as long phantoms of blowsand blurred my vision. The sky darkened and the ribbons of sand howled, whistled as they zoomed on by. Eventually I found a gully and put on my fleece and rain jacket. Rain began and I took off for the rocks under Black Rock Point. I found a large volcanic rock angled enough and leeward of the wind to tuck myself and my pack slightly under. I sat with uncomfortable pokey rocks stabbing my ass. I crouched and hugged my knees, my backpack sheltering my legs. Then, I napped. I fell asleep under the maddening sky.

I don’t know, the wake of the storm left an aftermath on me mentally. My adrenaline had been so high. Now I ambled through leftover puddles of rain, wet sand outlined where the water moved, and I could still feel the huge storm as it moved away, yawning a wake of dizziness, a maelstrom of confusion. My legs stiffened up as I accumulated over 40m that day. I laid down ready for the next big day under more favorable skies.

The skies looked ominous in the morning. Low puffy clouds slammed into Big Pahute Peak. Shit, I thought. These storms had been giving me a fit for a few weeks now. Either the storms put pressure on me to push harder or faster, or exert stress on me in finding shelter or cover, or force me to look at a detour to avoid extreme conditions. What this does is put a bearing on how I feel about this whole thing. Am I doing the route justified? Am I playing this right? Making the right choice? I took a go for the low saddle on the crest to give the storm some time to move on. It didn’t, and I really felt a bit defeated. The conditions and the exposure made it insensible to go up that way. So, I backtracked and cut across the basin to Box Canyon. Since 530am I had been in my rain gear. By 1000am I found a guzzler in the canyon. I was hot and sweaty, while the cool humid air gave me a chill. The rain suddenly came down harder and I found cover under the guzzler. I put my feet up on the tank and cleared out the mice shit to curl up. I fell asleep and woke up about an hour and a half later shivering. The rain had stopped, so I pushed on. The canyon boxed up and narrowed with large basalt blocks choking the gorge. As tedious as the going was only made the rain more annoying. The boulders were slick and the moving was agonizingly slow. I stopped for a second to take a breath and look around, to get my mind and heart out of the defeated state. Up in an underhang perched in a cave an owl stood guard. A stalwart of the narrows, this raptor looked at me stoically, not even a single movement, so much so the owl seemed fake. I squinted to look closer, his eyes piercing my eyes. I wondered if the owl had ever seen a human before. Probably not. I acknowledged the sign and took time and caution the rest of the way up and over the canyon. 

Soon, I was in High Rock Canyon. The landscape didn’t feel basin and range anymore. The scenery felt like a very high desert. Change was happening. The lake with the same name quacked with ducks, coots and sandpipers. I slogged through the mud. It must have poured heavily up here. Murky puddles littered small depressions and filled up ruts in the jeep track. I was now following the Lassen-Applegate Trail, an old branch of the California Trail where pioneers and homesteaders made their way to central Oregon. These ruts were ancient. All from folks trying to find a home. Is this why I do this? To walk until I find that home? To find a place thousands of miles away on foot, to settle and homestead, to endure the hardships and gift of nature? Bah, I shooed the thought from my head. The air remained cold as I slipped and slogged my way through the mud. In the evening, the sun finally appeared. I gauged the sun to give me about 20 minutes of warmth. I cannot express how happy I was to see the sun. I stopped to let the sun blind me for a bit. I blinked and that psychedelic blur fell behind my eyelids. I became entranced and found myself grinning wide, from ear to ear. I simply consumed and enjoyed the absorption of the warmth. The sun fell behind the mesa. I crested a small rise in the muddy road. To my surprise, I saw an earthen hut replete with stone blocks and a mud and straw roof. I got closer and saw the hut was 3-sided. Turns out the hut was a garage, Fox’s garage, from a homestead in the 1910’s. The timing couldn’t have been better. I found shelter, another home for the night. I set up my bedroll and laid down and noticed the moon casted light through the windowless window frame. The angle of light bemused my curios brain. I enacted dumb finger puppets and giggled a bit to myself. I felt very grateful to have a home again. 

If only for a night. She asks, ‘Now, where do you call home?’

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Desert Trail: Basin and Range Part 2

Up Sphinx Canyon I found the sculpted rock that the canyon was named after, on a slope dappled with sage, only I thought the sphinxed rock resembled more a defiant fist cursing some sky god. Further up splintered and flaky rock shingled from steep slopes. Cones highlighted the ridge lines around the deep and narrow canyon. No shortage of colors either. Hoodoos and pinnacles poked up on crumbly cliffs. The narrow channel had a trickle of water slowly flowing down the drainage. The canyon meandered in close corridors and chutes between flatter surfaces where the walls would be barricaded by a large old juniper trunk, which at some point careened down this canyon and got pinned in awkward bends. The sand and grit and flaky rock piled up behind the choked trunk. Lichen shimmered in what little light shone, orange and green fuzzy bumps on sheer cliffs that accentuated the walls. This was entertaining, negotiating the tricky falls and chutes and bends in the narrows, climbing over loose cliffs and benches. Toward the top the land leveled out and the howling wind subdued. It was cold and I had already been layered up. I took a gander back and saw fast moving stratus clouds floating like a blob across the sky. I sauntered on and found a solitary boot print , molded in mud, rather smallish. I wondered who had been here before. A hunter, a hiker, either way, I hadn’t seen a footprint in some time.

The evening of hiking became fun while moving along in the Gabbs Valley Range. Up a drainage to a pine laden pass, down a canyon, and so forth just following horse track which used the most efficient way through the wash and the sagebrush by using the contours of low benches that curved the wash. I was grooving. I walked to damn near dark and finally up my shelter and braced myself for a cold night. I was expecting a cold morning.

And it was. Temps were in the mid-30s and I put on extra layers to stay comfortable. The horse trail fun continued through the Gabbs. I walked bundled up until I reached the turn off to Painted Rock Spring, which was off trail about a mile and a half. The spring flowed strongly and the large willows showed the reliability of this water source. However, the small creek smelled like a port-a-potty and seemed to be a favorite of the cattle and horse in the area. As with the day before, I walked under low clouds all day with sprinklings peppering me throughout. The wind was incessant and cold. I looked around and the tinges of green on the hillsides and the vast emptiness, nary a sign of human influence and I thought, ‘Yea, this is all mine.'

Across Gabbs Flat, I stepped on gravelly, compacted terraces of rock splinters and volcanic shavings uniquely placed, moved, and eroded over time. Quite simply a mosaic of petrography. A long sandy crossing of Gabbs Valley ensued. Big and wide, lonesome, an enormous empty, an iconic Great Basin scene, picaresque in grandness, all the while traipsing beneath Fissure Ridge and the Monte Cristo Range, two small and abrupt hogbacks signifying fault lines and fissures in the basin floor: the middle of no where, I found it.

I woke up to the sweet fragrant smell of sagebrush after the night of rain. Such solitude in the Sinkavata Hills——peaceful, remote, isolated...wonderful. The desolate hills had not been grazed by cows in a while, for the grass grew wild and tall. No sign of human existence or influence, only the animal trace of antelope and jackrabbit with tiny pellet poop, scrape marks on the floor, and tiny paths maneuvering through the brush. 

My specificity: isolation, remoteness, lonesomeness. Because that’s what I know. This is entertaining to me. This isolation is empowering me to be self-indulgent, even reflective. Being this remote has a thirsty madness associated with it. That idea of not conforming to what I am capable of, the good-head-on-his-shoulder thing, money, or exerting my intelligence and leadership. Fuck that. My potential is in the invisible, not industry, or social structure, but in the forgotten, the ignorance of being; I just want to understand my experience, the knowledge of my steps, my own path, and not the laid out cookie cutter version of what is popular culture or even what is cool-underground. I live in the basins, everywhere, every range around the depressions, the sinkholes. I thrive in not knowing what I have scholastically learned and how I have not applied that. There has been nothing that has been laid out in front of me that I have followed. I forge my own way, I go by instinct, by gut, wandering with intent. 

I come back to that notion. I am aware I am the antihero. Bah, it’s all shit. Too deep, too much of an equation with no constant and no answer, nothing steady, just all shit, fart and your mom jokes. I just keep finding remnants, scars that show what once was. But I want that equation and answer, what will be. The augury of my own mortality and the next phase of my life, it is what is provoking me. But I must be honest with myself: the desert is my evocator.

The Stillwater Range may be the highlight of the whole Desert Trail. I can’t describe that day with heavy detail, like I am wont to do. Too much feeling and exhilarations. But I’ll make a feeble attempt. 

The troughs in East Lee Canyon spilled over with fresh water. The hills were alive with Spring, vibrant with green on the brush and a sheeny red on the long grass, after a week of soggy storms. At an innocuous saddle I attained the crest proper and began the huffing and puffing climb of Mt. Lincoln. Drenched in sweat I hiked into the cloud layer smothering the crest line. This was the theme all day: dodging storm cells at the jagged crest, sweating profusely and exerting tremendous effort, steep ups and steep downs on trail-less ridge lines, constantly weaving in thick forests of pine and juniper, with afforded wide, sweeping and endless views. Descending into Poco Canyon I found the creek flowing with spring water. I slurped the chilly water up. I then found the ruins of a cabin. Nearby was a grave under a large boulder. A picture frame laid upright leaning against the boulder with the glass broken and the picture crustily stuck to the backing of the frame from periods of rain, then the drying of pieces from the crazy sun. The picture showed a man and his wife, probably from the ‘60s, smiling big. I continue to find remnants everywhere out here. Later that day, after close to 30m up high on the crest, exhausted and stumbling along, what was left of the sunset gleamed in a brilliant reflection on the western edge of the Carson Sink thousands of feet below. A mirrored surface of freshly filled lake beds from the recent downpours showed 2 suns, the horizon in distinct from my vantage point. Amazed by this sight, I realized even further how indiscernible the horizon was to the west. I looked to the east. In the next basin, purple shadows of the Stillwater Range loomed long and jagged on the basin floor. In the alkali flat, miles away, I could see a perfect reflection of the clouds and sky above on the surface. Everything merely blended together. I was confused by this, and I don’t mean for that to sound confusing. This phenomenon, I’m not sure what it is, but I’m willing to bet there’s not very many places on Earth where it can happen. I could see all around me towering storm cells with curtains of rain reaching the basin floors seemingly walking along, floating and vacuuming up terrain, like giant jelly fish roaming the sea beds, the feeders of the bottom, blending in with the backdrop of the sky and smearing the cumulonimbus clouds almost resembling a soggy and over boiled cauliflower. This dreamy panorama, I could gaze at forever.

I laid down that night and instantly fell asleep only to nearly sleep through a storm that pummeled my tarp. In the morning, the rain still pitter-pattered my tarp and I laid in my quilt comfortably snug. I got ready about an hour later than usual. I looked forward to the last 12m or so on the crest before heading down to the basin floor. But I knew I had to move quickly with all the roving storms. I moved through thick forests as the rain streamed from the cell above. Thunder grumbled and the rain fell harder. Ironically enough, I was low on drinking water. The ground was completely saturated and left the hiking a bit more tougher than usual underfoot. So, I bailed down a canyon as the rain pelted me. I moved even quicker essentially trying to out run the storm or at least find some cover. I found water at the mouth of the canyon. A fouled and tainted pond stunk up the air. A sulphuric smell rang my nose as I filled a couple liters. I left on horse trails heading north to reconnect with the route. The storms were bigger this day, as I kept looking back up towards the crest. I missed it up there. Nevertheless, clouds sat on the shoulders as looming premonitions. 

I found another water source. This time water flowed out of a pipe from a well into a trough. The water looked clear and didn’t have a smell, so I dumped out one of my liters of the crappy water from the previous source. I tasted it. I couldn’t hack it as the water was undrinkable, too salty and alkaline, and I spit out the swill I attempted, my body violently reacting to it. I kept a liter full of it, just in case. I began the Carson Sink crossing beneath large sand dunes cloaked in thorny, green brush. The sky darkened around me as I walked into a strong headwind. I felt pretty protected because of the dunes, however, the dunes did block my view of any storms creeping in. Usually, those basin storms move fleetingly and move through an area at an astounding speed. They bring in wind and drop water quickly, then leave. Easy as that. You could even time or out-walk or wait out a storm as you can see then coming from miles away. But something felt off. Like the tides were being sucked in, the way the wind was blowing, as if a vacuum was sucking the air out of the basin. I kept looking over my shoulder keeping an eye on things. Utterly exposed in the depression I was in, I had to keep an eye on things. Something seemed bigger this day. I had noticed lightening flickering in the distance throughout the morning. And this concerned me. 

Then, a cell coming from the southeast suddenly grew in size. I kept gazing at the moving wavy curtains of rain falling from the heavens and drenching the terrain. From miles away I could see this. But the curtains kept getting bigger and bigger until  a mountain of a cloud, bigger than the whole Stillwater Range developed, billowing down from the thunderhead and bulging forth from the front. The mass wasn’t just up but everywhere and the mass became the entire sky from ground level to heavens. I thought it was the tendrils of a massive roving thunderstorm, but I was astonished at how fast it gobbled up the landscape, devouring everything in its way. Really, I hadn’t seen anything like this or this big. I became concerned because I didn’t have much coverage being out on the edges of an enormous dry lake bed, a depression where every channel funnels into. I thought I had a couple minutes when massive blob just about barreled right on top of me. I took cover in a wash that was more like a deep ditch, under a tall bank and a large sage that grew right above it. I braced for cover expecting to get drenched. The air went silent. I waited. Then...sand! Sand whipped all around me, swirling everywhere, the wind howled and raced through in vicious gusts, the volume and roar of the wind became deafening, the sky darkened. I put my head between my knees, cinched my hoodies tighter and lowered my bill of my cap lower to keep the sand out. Sand still pecked at my sunglasses blowing in from tiny crevices. I was ecstatic! I couldn’t believe what I had been observing from a distance that came up on me so fast, astonished by the enveloping darkness around me. I also knew the gravity of the situation. I knew that this sandstorm meant a vicious storm was next, the precursor to something wicked. About 10 minutes went by. Sand drifted up around my shoes and back. Then, things went quiet, dead quiet. I could see the billowing wave of sand move to the northwest away from me eerily silently. A big drop fell. Then another. Suddenly, the sky opened up and rain just fell. Thunder clapped insanely loudly directly above me. I kept my nerve, just focusing on breathing. I knew I had to endure this. After about 15 minutes into this lightning flashed. I hunkered down and dug my heels in the sand in the ditch. A half hour went by, and I tried to set up my shelter to no avail. The only option I had was to plant my shelter in the sandy wash but the wind prevented me from any such feeble feat. So, I wrapped my plastic ground sheet around me for an extra barrier and waited at least another hour, perhaps even more. I kneeled crouched down in my position focusing on my breathing and watching the horizon to see the darkened sky move west. Slowly, the silhouette of the next range over came into view. I got up and walked on.

The most damage from the storm was further from me. I had been luckily enough on the outer edge of the storm. I found milky mud puddles around small dry lake beds, the once caked mud tiles now soggy and sticky with clunky dirt, the remnants of a storm, the ashes of water, in the wake of wind. The air became redolent of salt, almost like a coast line, like everything had been pickled. I was cold so I moved without stopping feeling the dampness through my clothes. Eventually, I arrived at Wildhorse Spring. The spring situated under dunes tucked up in sage hillsides. The dunes looked saturated and a gloomy appearance marked the beauty and isolation of a desert spring. I found a gouged out pocket of water with tall grass chutes growing out. I wedged in close enough to get the clearest of water. Sulphur rang in the air as I disturbed the still water. I nearly gagged it was so strong. I still filled up 3L worth as I had nearly 25m to town. After two gnarly days I was happy to lay down early. 

On top of Wildhorse Peak I looked back at the Stillwater Ridge skylining the expansive Carson Sink. To the west and north the Desert Trail wended its way towards Oregon. I squeezed my nostrils and muscled down a swig of rotten egg water. The Carson Sink has the most wretched of water I’ve ever tasted, most vile. I had already dumped out 2L of the fart water. I kept one liter but as I looked down in the valley below and saw the potential for water I took the muscled sip, then dumped the bottle. Maybe a half liter was all I could tolerate or else I would vomit. The empty bottle still reeked of sulphur. I twisted the cap and went along the ridge until I dived off and scampered down Horsehead Canyon.

Halfway down the canyon I noticed the rock change. I was shocked to find granite narrows and chutes after not seeing this type of rock in a long while. Tiny crevices on large cleaved slabs of granite were filled with water. I slurped up some of the fresh rainwater, practically guzzled the puddles. Further down I even found a small rill within the narrow channel of normally dry falls. I even filled a liter. I felt happy. A few hours later, taking a piss off the side of the highway about to walk into Lovelock, Nevada, that familiar and retched fart smell wafted up. I was pissing out that rotten egg tainted water.

Guess the joke is on me.