Leg 3a - McDermitt, NV to Denio Junction, NV

Just a quick mid leg update. After a beautiful day coming out of McDermitt, the radar showed a huge storm tracking in bringing along three days of snow and freezing temperatures. We raced from McDermitt putting up big miles and trying to get to Denio. If the weather was as bad as they predicted we wanted to be near a town. A day and a half away from Denio and we woke up to a snowy/ice covered ground. It didn’t let up for most of the morning and then by the afternoon it turned to rain, soaking out feet and my spirits a bit. Luckily we camped just a few miles from town and got in early the next day to warm up in the cafe at Denio Junction.

The owners there are incredible folks who went out of there way t accommodate us even though the hotel was fully booked and they could have easily turned a blind eye.

The weather held around for another day and a half and soon the Denio Junction cafe felt like home. I am definitely glad to get back on trail tomorrow morning but I will miss the place a bit. I think in total I ate 6 meals in that cafe and saw a little slice of what living in a town of 47 people is all about.

Now it’s time to find out how much snow the Pueblo mountains got. On to Fields!

Road walkin’

Road walkin’

Sunsets and cold nights

Sunsets and cold nights

Why I wanted a working filter so badly

Why I wanted a working filter so badly

Fall colors are coming

Fall colors are coming

Waking up at 5am to tick, tick, tick on your tent. Gotta love nautre’s alarm clock.

Waking up at 5am to tick, tick, tick on your tent. Gotta love nautre’s alarm clock.

Never once did I think I'd be using my umbrella to keep snow off me.

Never once did I think I'd be using my umbrella to keep snow off me.

This was the first time ever one trail I had actual iced coffee for breakfast. I gotta appreciate the beauty in that.

This was the first time ever one trail I had actual iced coffee for breakfast. I gotta appreciate the beauty in that.

Denio Junction. One heck of an amazing establishment. The owners Bud and Gerogina were flat out amazing. 6 out of 5 stars for how accommodating they were when the weather came in.

Denio Junction. One heck of an amazing establishment. The owners Bud and Gerogina were flat out amazing. 6 out of 5 stars for how accommodating they were when the weather came in.

Waking up to snow, we decided to take the day off to give time to it to melt.

Waking up to snow, we decided to take the day off to give time to it to melt.

Leg 2 - Rome, OR to McDermitt, NV

We met some very nice folks at Rome Sation, one of which was the former river ranger with the BLM on the Owyhee River and had an extensive knowledge about the next section of our route. He gave its some great tips for water sources and type of terrain we could expect.

The main attraction in this section is Louse Canyon, to put it extremely nonchalantly. In actuality, I was really a bit nervous for the canyon coming up. It's touted as one of the hardest sections on the trail and spoilers, it did not disappoint.

Our second day out of Rome we past three forks hot springs and crossed the Owyhee River late in the day. We had seen videos of hikers swimming across the raging river earlier this summer but now the water level was barely to our knees and very manageable. As we camped on the sandy river edge at the mouth of the canyon, I couldn't help but think about what Louse had waiting for us ahead.

We woke up early the next morning and quickly got to walking. The day was filled with some chill walking at first, then as time past the rocks we walked over got bigger and bigger with points of bushwacking in between. The canyon was still pretty wide as this point and the canyon walls fairly deep. We hit occasional pools of water, none of the swimming deep but still chill you to the bone, deep. By the end of the first day we had only done 13ish very tough miles. I don’t know if I've ever worked harder for ever step of a route. Here is an section from my diary that day, “tough day in the canyon. Saw a rattle snake and a dead, decomposing cow. Waist deep water.” And the sentence carried on as an incoherent scribble as I feel asleep with my pen in my hand.

As we assumed, things didn’t let up the follow day either. All the guidebooks, blog posts and first hand hiker testimonial promised “fun” swimming sections in the canyon so we figured today would be the day. Again, a passage from my diary (fyi there are some expletives). “No idea how many miles we hiked in the canyon today (it was 8.5), don’t know, don’t care. Today was a s*** show, holy f*** this trail is hard. Woke up to rain, what a surprise. Bushwack, boulder climb, swim, repeat. Last swim section was the longest, we couldn't see the end from where we started. Got wacked in the head by willows repeatedly. Lost my sunglasses but luckily I went back and found them. The water was so cold, I struggled to keep my body temperature up. I had a stomach ache by the end of the day after shaking from cold for so long. Luckily everything in my pack stayed dry.” In the end we scrambled up to the canyon rim where our maps said we could walk the rim the rest of the way.

Hiking in a remote canyon is a new experience for me and I couldn’t help but contrast it to walking the canyon rim from just a few days before. I couldn’t decide which one I preferred… the rim gives you the entire possibility of the sky above. But with the vastness you can see all the storms that may or may not ever make it overhead. How many times did I fear the rain and lighting in the distance that never found me? Should I be worried and stressed from all of life's million problems that may never materialize?

But then I'm in the confines of the canyon. It has a tight grasp on my view above. Just a narrow little portal, wide enough to see what’s going on during that exact moment in time. Blue sky one second and a cloud the next. I worry, is this the only cloud or are there many more to follow? It starts to rain and I have no idea how long it may last because the canyon walls constrict my gaze. I can only see the conditions that are upon me at this very moment.

Is it better to see the entire sky or just the sliver of the moment you're living in?

The hike continues on.

Walking the rim, near the Owyhee Canyon overlook

Walking the rim, near the Owyhee Canyon overlook

My custom made tall gaiters for the hike. I wanted a pair that were two parts, a short goatee for all condition hiking and a quickly removable top portion for the heavy bushwacking sections.

My custom made tall gaiters for the hike. I wanted a pair that were two parts, a short goatee for all condition hiking and a quickly removable top portion for the heavy bushwacking sections.

Heading down to the Owyhee river

Heading down to the Owyhee river

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In the thick of it now.

In the thick of it now.

Camp on out first night in the canyon. Blouders on our right, willows and thorns on our left and water directly I front of us. That’s a problem for tomorrow Lindsay to figure out.

Camp on out first night in the canyon. Blouders on our right, willows and thorns on our left and water directly I front of us. That’s a problem for tomorrow Lindsay to figure out.

The dramatic canyon walls

The dramatic canyon walls

My phone didn’t come out much today, it was hidden away in multiple layers of a waterproof labyrinth.

My phone didn’t come out much today, it was hidden away in multiple layers of a waterproof labyrinth.

The water was seductive to look at but bone chilling cold.

The water was seductive to look at but bone chilling cold.

Hope they didn’t drop it when moving it in place. Saw a few water troughs like this.

Hope they didn’t drop it when moving it in place. Saw a few water troughs like this.

Sunset from camp

Sunset from camp

Another instance of ankle roulette, at least you can see where you put your feet this time. Cross country miles on this type of terrain is difficult because I feel the need to keep looking down but then I end up varying straying too far in one direction accidentally.

Another instance of ankle roulette, at least you can see where you put your feet this time. Cross country miles on this type of terrain is difficult because I feel the need to keep looking down but then I end up varying straying too far in one direction accidentally.

Natural arches

Natural arches

Sunset

Sunset

McDermitt, NV

McDermitt, NV

One final story I'll share from my journal from this section. After my Be Free water filter broke early on in the trip (I'm actually convinced it might have come that way from the factory) I called Katadyn customer service to get a new one shipped out. I made the call from Romw so it was a scheduled to arrive in McDermitt by the time we got there. As you might see where this story is going, it was not at the psot office when I arrived. A quick call back to Katadyn revealed it had been delivered to McDermitt but not to the post office, it went to some other address. Fair warning to other hikers the address on google maps for the post office might not be right so just send to general delivery and it should get there. Anyway, I was very panicked to say the least. I still wasn’t sure if I had giardia after drinking froma broken filter all during leg 1. Also the rep at katadyn said it was delivered via FedEx so I don’t i’m not sure if the p.o. would have accepted it anyway. Anyway, this led to a wild goose chase of trying to track down the filter which led me from the p.o. to the local high school, then seriffs office then the Chevron station which eliminated nearly half the buildings in town and I figured it was a lost cause. I went to go sulk by eating a burger and fries with Breakaway. Afterwords we went back to the Chevron station to get some more food and low and behold a FedEx driver is in there. A quick chat with her and she remembered delivering the packing to a house that had the listed address the day before. 5 minutes later she came walking back in the gas station/mini mart with the package!!! It was a roller coaster of a day for sure. Moral of the story is, if companies are going to deliver things to you on trail, make sure they list the one you give them, not the one they find online. Oh, and also, boy does the trail provide.

Cheers to clean water in a world filled with cow pie swamps.

Leg 1 - Lake Owyhee State Park to Rome, OR

We started the hike from Indian Creek Campground out on the peninsula. The amazing Ellen and her pup Tucker gave us a ride out to the starting point. Thanks Ellen!!!

After saying goodbye we headed straight into a cross country section. We had a chance to skip it in favor of taking a road but wanted to get our feet wet with hiking through brush and sage. One of the first creeks we crossed had some poison ivy but we managed to stay clear of it.

One of the highlights of the day was hiking through Painted Canyon and doing some rock scrambling. The colors of the rock were magnificent and we had the place all to ourselves. Didn’t look like this canyon had seen much traffic probably due to its fairly remote location.

We camped at a primitive road crossing the first night and saw some car campers with a 4x4 rig that had the same idea to camp there. They invited us over for a fresh cooked dinner which warmed my belly and meant I had double dinner that first night!

Day 2 was just the first of many days that would totally kick my butt. This trail, I’m slowly figuring out, is much different that the others I’ve hiked. It’s incredibly tough on gear on my body with no plush, cushy trail to follow. Within the first few days my shirt started to rip apart, my cold soak food canister cracked, my water filter broke, my shoes were torn up and just hiking in shorts probably wasn’t going to cut it- temps out here are cold.

As the day progressed, the route reconnected with the Owyhee Reservoir and the red line on our map told us to walk around the perimeter. Sounds simple in theory but standing in our way mainly, was a giant rock outcropping that gave us two options: scramble up to some game trails and go over it or get to swimmin’. After some deliberation and Breakaway testing out the water, we chose the later. We repacked our belongings as best as possible, synched our packs tight (there was no current and th packs gave us some buoyancy) and swim, scooted, climbed, trashed doggie paddled our way around. The only casualty was some trail mix I left in my hip pocket but I'm ok with that.

That evening led us to a brushy canyon and around 6 the rain started to drizzle. By 7 we were in a bit of a predicament, a highly vegetated area with steep terrain, the rain pouring down and the sun bidding us adieu which meant dropping temps were closing in. With some quick thinking, Breakaway suggested we escape the brush by climbing above a rock outcropping and there just happened to be a little bench for us to quickly set up camp.

The next days went by with on and off rain and mixture of cross country and primitive road walking.

Our last cross country miles into Rome gave us one of our biggest bushwacking challenges yet- scampering down one side of the canyon, crossing Jordan Creek and wrestling 7 foot, 500 gram cattails on the way back up. Breakaway did alot of the heavy lifting pushing all his bodyweight on them to forge a path. I honestly felt as if I were in a carnival funhouse where the floor vibrates a d shakes to disrupt your balance. It was another case of what I like to call ankle roulette. One step might be on firm ground while the next sinks 6 inches into the bog while the next you catch a rock and turns your ankle 45 degrees.

I was very excited to get to Rome.

The start

The start

One of the first of many barbed wire fences

One of the first of many barbed wire fences

Me

Me

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Some cool rock formations right off the bat.

Some cool rock formations right off the bat.

Some cross country

Some cross country

A random water truck in the desert, unfortunately it was dry as a bone.

A random water truck in the desert, unfortunately it was dry as a bone.

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The 7' beasts themselves

The 7' beasts themselves

If all roads lead here, why did the ODT send us cross country?

If all roads lead here, why did the ODT send us cross country?