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Thursday 26 May 2011

Day 17 - Craters of the Moon

Todays mileage: 37
Total mileage: 841
End point: Arco, ID

The majority of bathers in the hot spring left as it was getting dark. An hispanic family and an odd couple who had driven 70 miles just to bath there! Two college kids stayed very late, however, I suspect they were a bit high from there ridiculous laughter - good for them, but just remember when you are in a congressional hearing 30 years later, you never inhaled.. Now I didn't have a problem with this, but if you are going to stay late bring a friggin torch. Giant boulders and sharp pointed rocks do not combine well with stumbling. After several yelps from these goofballs I appeared outside my tent to shine some light for them, they were very thankful.

Shortly after they left the storm kicked it. I thought I was in a fairly protected hollow - I wasn't. The wind started gusting with driving rain pelting down. Odd rain drops splashed there way inside the tent. The root cause of my problems is that I don't have enough pegs, I always need to cut some corners which is fine if the weather is nice but not in this storm. I began thinking what would I do if the flysheet went and the tent collapsed - surely it would be time for 911. If I called 911 what service would I ask for?? Ambulence - claiming some sort of hypothermia, mountain resuce - that would be pathetic, police - a glorified taxi ride with sirens. None of these people would be impressed with my stupidity.  And what would I take? I'd have to abandon loads of stuff and how would I get back?

With these disaster thoughts I braved the storm, did some repegging and then shipped about 3 large lava boulders (ok, not boulders, but these were big rocks) on the weakest points of the tent. Got back in drenched but the tent felt a lot more stable. I then got back to an interrupted night of sleep. Waking up in the morning I realized I had been lucky, looking up the hill the snow line was just a few hundred feet up from me. I wasn't too lucky though as I had to go poop natural, I'll provide no more details except my experiences in africa assisted with this task.

I set up off another brutal hill, as I reached the top it started snowing on me! This must be the first time I have had snow in May. Next time this happens I want to be skiing in Chile. Fortunately the snow flurry lasted only a few minutes.

By this point I had entered Craters of the Moon National Monument. To my left I had mountains and on my right a massive lava field as far as the eye could see. It was fairly imposing. I pulled into the visitor centre to watch a short film on the monument. So what can I tell you? Well about 10,000 yrs ago there were massive eruptions, and 2,000 yrs some more baby eruptions. The lava came out of several volcanoes and massive cracks in the ground. The original emigrants heading west hated this lava field - getting carts or horses over it just really didn't work. In the 1920s Calvin Coolidge turned it into a national monument and now its a pretty unique place in North America. Having visited White Sands in NM this place almost feels like it should be the opposite sister monument; black and white.

I left the visiter centre and had about 20 miles to Arco. A gentle down slope with strong winds behind me (it switched around again from last night) meant I was crusing at 25 mph and the shoulder was pretty nice keeping me clear of trucks. I arrived in Arco - apparently it was the first town powered by nuclear energy, good claim to fame. Although I did think the UK busted out the first commercial nuclear pwer station, maybe these two claims aren't mutually exclusive. Given the storm last night, I'm in a motel, but this is deal of the centruy coming in at $38 including taxes - that is what I am talking about.

Planning a 70 mile epic tomorrow to get to Idaho Falls and then watch the Champions League Final over lunch on Saturday. I will ofcourse be supporting Barca, especially as I've been wearing a Barca top for about 50% of the trip. After this a little break from football until August. Hopefully Everton won't get thrashed by Arsenal which seems to happen every August.

That's enough for today, I've had a request for the photo of the Idaho Bell, I will unveil my bell on my rest day with some other wandering thoughts :)

1 comment:

  1. Just looked at the Google maps of your route today - looks bleak. On the plus side, you do go right past the Idaho National Laboratory, "The Department of Energy's lead nuclear R&D facility", so there's a nice place to stop for lunch...