15 mi ::
577 mi ::
Warm, afternoon showers
Our current road gets easier to follow, then we turn onto an even better road. The wonderful wildflowers continue to blanket the meadows. The road is a little too good, and we miss a turn. It’s not until the terrain becomes completely baffling to me an hour later that I realize the mistake. Luckily it looks easy to take good roads back to our route.
Ann notices that there are lots of stands of dead, leafless aspen around. She wonders if it’s the result of tent caterpillars. Our road approaches a stand, and we start to see them. Then they start to cover the trees, the ground, the road, everything. Ann hears a whining noise at a cattle guard, and looks down to see the source of the noise. There are countless caterpillars in a seething mass underneath. It’s positively eerie.
Back on route, we turn onto another disappearing road, and are soon bushwhacking again. Dark clouds have built up, and we hear claps of thunder. We put on our rain gear when the rain comes. We have to do the rain dance a few times, putting on and taking off our gear.
At one point we hear an eerie noise and stop. It’s like a chorus of voices babbling incomprehensibly in the distance. It gets closer. I guess just before they appear what it is – sheep. We’re soon surrounded by sheep, a llama, and friendly sheep dogs. They flow around us. Whistling men leading horses follow with more wet dogs. One final panicked lamb rushes past, and they’re gone. I’ve had a similiar experience in the High Uinta mountains in Utah, but it’s a first for Ann. She’s amazed at the spectacle.
The sheep are a sign that we’ve managed to find the trail again. This is confirmed when we emerge again on our road. It rises up a meadowy basin over 10,000 feet high. We have our dinner again at a piped spring. There are mosquitos. We bust out the citronella for the first time.
We descend to another drainage, then start up Fifteen Springs Creek.
Having reached our fifteen-mile mark, Ann votes to stop early. She wants to relieve herself of always feeling like we have to maximize our mileage. I agree, even though I feel the pressure too. We really don’t always need to push so hard, and Ann helps me relax. It isn’t hard to pass the time until the big moon is rising.