I didn’t fall into the canyon for the night…the walls held for another day. As dawn broke I watched birds float above the abyss.
I wasn’t in a hurry to go, so I finished the book I had started on the hike, Timothy Egan’s Lasso the Wind. I think it was published around 2000, and there would be much to add to his survey of the “new west” if he were to do a part two. I enjoyed it immensely and it was incredibly depressing at the same time.
I headed off for a short stint on dirt roads, and the rest of the morning I hiked cross country across a vast expanse of golden bunch grass. Two cows watch me go. I wonder if this is a new grazing area because most of the public land where cows are allowed are quite simply hammered. This was different, and the walking was quite pleasant.
By late morning I faced my last big obstacle: Jordan Creek and the canyon that contained it. Several hundred feet of steep basalt walls stood between me and the end of this section, so I walked to the end where the map directed me, trusting there was a way down. And there was.
I picked my way down the steep slope, crossing the shallow creek carefully. Hikers had warned of rattle snakes in the tall grasses, so I thrashed the thick brush with my hiking poles, no snakes! In fact I haven’t seen any rattle snakes on this whole trip.
And then up. Up the other steep side. Ooofta.
I got to the top and flopped down sweaty and exhausted on my tyvek for a short lunch break. Rome was calling, and at only 4.5 miles away, it was a siren call of food and a long shower.
I got plenty of wondering looks as I walked the last 2 miles to the store on the side of the highway, and one guy who had pulled over in his semi had plenty of questions. He had no idea what the slow, lazy river that passes through Rome was capable of just a short distance away. In fact many of the people I meet out here have never been to Leslie Gulch or any of the other stunning landscapes within this area.
The rest of the afternoon was like any afternoon in civilization, and not what I came here for.
It was an incredible week, and I will do what I can to make sure this area doesn’t get drilled, extracted, exploited, or loved to death.