The “grocery store” in Austin doesn’t open until 8am. So we got to sleep in, take another shower (Rebecca loves showers) and pack up slowly. We’ve become experts at filling up water bottles in sinks that are too short or even in bath tubs (we have no shame any more). We pushed our strollers up the hill to where the grocery store was, and the day had started. The woman who owns the store saw us walking along US-50 and discussed the many cyclists and some pedestrians the town gets every year walking/biking along the highway. She says around late spring the town gets an influx of active transportation as people bike the Pony Express trail and across the country. Austin is also surrounded by a National Forest and the signs getting into town advertise enjoying nature while there, so there are lots of adventurers in town in the summer.
After picking up our few (limited) necessities (i.e. donuts), we pushed our way up the hill. Google suggested we take a “forest road” that’s shorter than the main highway but way steeper. We went with this option because there were no cars and no blind corners. It’s more exhausting to have to constantly listen for cars as you go around corners. On our way up the hill another local walked part way to chat with us (we couldn’t figure out if he was just a curious local or a reporter, but we gave him our business card anyway), then we started on the steep dirt forest road out of town.
By the time we got to the top we were both exhausted so we stopped to eat a couple of donuts (we eat a lot of donuts now…) and our bananas. The downhill on the highway seemed daunting as we could see the switchbacks on Google and could visibly see how steep it was, but we had no choice, so we started off again. We had taped Tim’s shin that morning (on his freshly shaven leg!) but the downhill made Rebecca realize she also was getting shin splints in her right leg, so halfway down we stopped (at a random picnic table, there are sometimes random blessings on the side of the road in the middle of Nevada) to tape her leg, and pee of course.
While in town, we were told there are nine peaks between Austin and Ely, so that first one was one down, quickly followed by a second. These were steep, windy roads, and we were glad we’d chosen to split Austin to Eureka into three days, because they were rough. On the way up to the second peak we found a license plate, and that’s what Tim has decided is his souvenir collection from the trip. One from each state (if we can find them). With the strollers we feel a little more free to carry things, so collecting stuff on the side of the road doesn’t seem too daunting (that might change when we get the packs back).
Two peaks down and we were finally in a valley. Also, taping shin splints really does help.
With our energy restored now that we were on flat ground, we pushed on! We had a campground in sight today and we knew there was just one more mountain in our way. Tim has decided that Highway 50 is his favorite road, with the strollers especially. This has nothing to do with the gorgeous views or up and downs of emotion, but rather because he can glance around and stop to pee without stepping off of the road. He almost got seen a couple of times, but Rebecca is convinced he drank more water just so he could enjoy the freedom of peeing on the side of the road more!
As we made our way toward our final mountain, we started to worry we were going to get rained on. But we bought rain gear before the trip, and we knew we’d be ready to use it. Luckily, when we stopped for second lunch it had only sprinkled on us, even though we could see some rain in the distance. A work truck (with an orange flag) stopped and the driver turned his truck around to check on us as we settled in to eat. When we told him we were walking across the country he didn’t seem like he believed us and looked like he had more questions but didn’t know how to ask them. As we packed up from eating the rain started and we put everything into garbage bags and threw on our rain gear. The rain and wind pelted us for about an hour as we struggled up the other side of the hill (luckily the lightning was far enough away to not seem threatening). The rain stopped but the wind kept coming (Nevada, so windy!!!). As we pushed on, laughing this time about the wind and in good spirits, a state trooper pulled over. It was the same guy who’d checked on us the past two days! We started calling him “our state trooper” because he kept reappearing. But, if you’re reading this, you definitely choose all the times we were in better spirits, if you’d been there when it was raining our faces would have said something other than “we’re doing great!”
Rebecca was slowing down compared to Tim as she limped on one painful foot and shin splints in the other leg so Tim stopped to take off his rain pants and she kept going, though we’ve never gotten too far apart. Luckily it gave both of us a chance to fully enjoy the sunset. As the sun set below the clouds the view on the hillside and the valley where we’d stopped to eat and the road was breathtaking. So far, this has been the best view on the trip!
Pictures and my description can’t do justice to everything we saw, so just try to imagine those pictures surrounding you as a warmish breeze blows by and you enjoy the fact that you just climbed a few mountains pushing a heavy stroller (and you’re almost at the top of the last one for the day).
That night we got into Hickison Petroglyph Park late, the sun had gone down and the sky was dark, but we had a safe, non-stealth campsite with a picnic table with a cover. We parked our strollers under the cover, ate at the picnic table and untaped our legs as we relaxed finally, settling into our evening. Maybe we’ll go look at the petroglyphs in the morning.
Today we walked through:
Rebecca: 66,612 steps
Tim: 61,423 steps
521 miles finished