Waking up at first light when it’s freezing is becoming our norm, and it’s not fun, but it’s not bad. We got up and pulled our stuff into our packs and dragged the strollers out of the bush toward the road where we rearranged to make our day efficient. We had our sights set on Middlegate Station today. We said there’s 111 miles of nothing between Fallon and Austin, but it’s not quite true. There’s a gas station/bar/motel/campground about 51 miles in, and we were looking forward to setting up the tent early and maybe sleeping in. Sanctioned camping. But we had to make a little over 25 miles today before we got there! The morning sun was gorgeous rising over the desert and it felt like it’d be a good day.
Nevada is great in that the landscape keeps changing but is predictable. Along Highway 50 there are peaks and then long valleys where you can see forever and relax a bit. Today was nothing but that.
We pushed our way up a hill moaning the whole time that we’d thought Nevada was supposed to be flat and boring. The shoulder was at least mostly big enough where we didn’t have to depend solely on our ears to hop off the road before a car came whizzing around the corner, but the rumble strip was a little closer today. Rebecca preferred to leave one wheel in the sand to avoid the rumble and Tim preferred to let one wheel hop along on the rumble strip to avoid the sand. Both options are a little annoying, but the only safe options while going around corners!
As we got close to the top, we saw dust poofing up from over the hill and were excited to see what we’ve grown to call dust storms (mini twisters of dust) through the next valley. What we saw when we crested the top was even better.
When we got to the peak we saw planes flying over head and spent the next 8 miles watching the B-19 bombers test bomb to the right of us and fly low in formations. We got our own free air show unexpectedly!
We got to the end of the valley where a completely unrelated historic marker was and stopped for lunch. The historic markers along Highway 50 seem to be random excuses to stop every 10-15 miles. But they do provide a nice flat spot for us to take a break. We couldn’t quite see the bombing range from where we sat, but we’d watched for two hours and the occasional plane was still visible. Besides, it’s easier to pee when you think the pilots can’t see you crouching on the side of the road. Someone was pulled off in the historic marker site when we arrived and they looked more confused about our situation than was maybe warranted (maybe, do people walk through the desert with strollers often?) but we smiled and layed out our towels for a nice peanut butter and honey break.
As we were packing up to leave we saw an unusual site. Over the horizon was a tiny dot, not quite the width of a car, but much slower than a motorcycle. As the little dot grew larger, we got the idea it may be a bicyclist. This was, after all, US-50, the former route of the Pony Express, and one of the few ways across Nevada. When it was confirmed a cyclist was coming up the hill toward us, we excitedly (maybe too excitedly) ran out to stop her so we could talk to her! It turns out she’s from London and biking across America to a wedding in New York City (talk about an epic journey to a wedding!) We told her we were headed to Middlegate which has a motel and restaurant and she agreed to meet us there, after we took some pictures of course. Our first cyclist across America, and she was a great one!
If you want to read her blog, and hear about chips instead of fries and other Britishisms, her blog is michelacossusa.wordpress.com she’s a good inspiration that it’s possible to do this even if you’re trying to do it as light as possible! We discussed the differences between biking and walking (the hill we complained about earlier almost destroyed her motivation to continue but the downhills seem better on a bike…) and planned to continue the discussion once we made to it Middlegate that evening.
So we headed off and practically ran toward Middlegate (it was 12-13 more miles, so not really). We climbed another hill, dropped through a shorter, but still flat valley and slowly winded down the road to the small gas station that served as a stopping point to weary travelers during the western migration and Oregon Trail times.
We pulled into Middlegate and parked our strollers at the horse tie off location before going in to enjoy a burger and fries while we discussed the hardships and beauty of the route with Michel. She kept saying it and we agree that it was great to finally meet someone else doing the trip, even if it is by a different mode. We hope she’s just the first of many! And we were able to set our tent up by seven and relax and write a blog post, something we seem to never have time for!
Today we walked through:
Rebecca: 59050 steps
Tim: 54863 steps
431 miles finished