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Colter - Desert Trail Journal - 2012

Entry 76 of 102
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City: Fairbanks
State: Alaska
Begins: Mar 1, 2012
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Sun, Jun 10th, 2012
Start: North of Riverside
End: Near Highway 20
Trip Distance: 1,454.0

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 712
Journal Visits: 78,529
Guestbook Views: 6,808
Guestbook Entrys: 83

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Bighorn Rams

Bighorns and Mesas

Yesterday I walked bundled up most of the day. It's been running cold in general. Today was milder and sunny so I walked in shirt sleeves most of the day.

When I crested the first major ridge Warm Springs Reservoir lay below me. Looking back to the SW was a snowy Steens Mountain. To the north was more snow on the Blue Mountains, now maybe two days away. I was surprised to see so much snow there. It has been running unseasonably cool and a considerable amount of new snow has fallen in recent weeks. Still, the trend is melting and I don't expect significant snow problems ahead.

Most of today's walking was cross country through grass and sage. Cheat grass seeds working their way through my running shoes and into my socks was an annoyance at times.

There were rim-rocked mesas to walk along today so the scenery was very nice.

At one point I saw a black animal up ahead. With my monocular I could see the black was the shady side of a coyote. He was standing in tall grass, apparently looking and listening. Occasionally he'd pounce. When I was a few hundred yards away he saw me. With my pack he didn't recognize what I was and came loping my way, likely hoping for a fawn he could catch. I sat down behind some sage and he came surprisingly close before scenting me and running, joined by another coyote unseen until now.

As I neared a reservoir several animals were moving along a fence line. I sat down to watch (people are of course less recognizable as people when sitting.) I was very surprised to see they were bighorn rams, eight of them! One turned and jumped the fence with ease. One by one the following rams did the same. They fed closer until they were about 100' away. Two of them did some head-butting. It was really fun watching them. They finally got spooked and started running but stopped when I said aloud "where are you guys going?" Its interesting how often whistling or talking like that will make animals pause.

It's now 7:30 pm, about an hour before sunset. To the west across a few miles of desert and green irrigated fields, 3 hours walking away, I can see Drewsey. In that tiny town is a cafe with a huge cheeseburger that had my name on it. The cafe closes in 30 minutes and is closed tomorrow. For supper tonight instead is cold cereal. But it's calm and warm and I pick up my next food cache in the morning. That cheeseburger a week down the trail is going to taste even better when I get there.

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