We got wheels up from Monticello a little later than we expected but heck, that’s just how it goes sometimes. Our first bit of dirt road is Lewis road. How appropriate, my traveling companion and navigator is Lew!
We wind through a grid like system of county dirt roads that make up the boundaries of fields of hay, sunflowers and canola as we diligently follow our navigational roll chart. After about 30 miles, we stop to check out a dilapidated log home structure to take pictures. No more than a few minutes later, the elderly gentleman owner of the property stopped by to chat with us. “Where are you fellas headed?” he asked. “North Carolina via dirt roads” we gleefully replied. “Sounds like fun” he says. We ask about the log cabin and he tells us that it was built by Cash Neely around 1915 or so and proceeds to tell us that Cash was the original white homesteader in the area that is now referred to Neely Valley. He gives us a few tips on where to camp and we part company. I cannot help but to think that the one of the main reasons I love to travel is the people I meet along the way and what they bring to my enjoyment of the moment.
Soon we cross the Utah/Colorado border and drop down into the Dolores River drainage. We spot an idyllic camp next to the river but forge on as it is too early for us to camp as we must make 200 miles before days end. We see the high country that we are about to tackle. We start to climb and the pinion/juniper gives way to pines and aspen. At this time of the year the aspen are just starting to turn color and show their red and golden quivering leaves. Accentuated by the sun lowering on the horizon, they provide a surreal backdrop. We paused on our climb of Osphir Pass to allow downhill travelers passage to only be recognized by Vladamir and Nick from the Expedition Portal who are on a two week hiatus from Oregon. We chat, exchange travel notes and head off wishing each other safe passage.
We are 160+ miles into the TAT and we are starting to lose daylight. We find a convenient camp at the base of the Corkscrew Gulch trail and make dinner: Caribou Chili I have made in advance and a great bottle of Shiraz. We hit the hay in the Habitat only to be disturbed by light rainfall in the middle of the night. We are dry and snug and quickly fall back into a deep slumber….