Day 80 – Howing Coyotes and Antelopes who want to fight

I bet when Ben Stiller or Tom Cruise walk across the country, their air-mattresses don’t leak air. For this trip, I would prefer to be of smaller stature instead of240  lbs (after losing 35 lbs). I just think it would be easier…

Although I had given up and stopped worrying about the mattress, I continued waking up thinking I could hear the mattress leaking air. It wasn’t until about 3:45 am that I stayed wake to listen and think about it. At 3:47 am, I realized it wasn’t the mattress. It was a frigging pack of Coyotes that were howling constantly nearby. Sleep was no longer on the agenda at this point. My alarm did go off at 4am while I was packing my stuff though.

My tent, tarp and Runabout were caked in mud from last night. With the ground still wet outside, there wasn’t much I could do. In the dark, I packed everything back up and began walking before 5am. As I have said many times during the early days of my trip, I love walking at dawn. Cool temperatures, beautiful sky, peering eyes from the nocturnal animals seeking an early breakfast (me).  Lucky for me, today’s animals were more scared of me…kind of.

It appears that today’s 30+ mile stretch of road is filled with migrating Antelope. Not just a few, but easily observed over 1000 of the buggers throughout the day. The last thing they expect to see at 5am is some dude pushing a baby stroller along the highway. I can’t count how many packs of 5-10 that I scared the crap out of all morning. Want to know how high they can jump? I’ll tell you…it’s frigging HIGH! 🙂

At one point walking along the road, I heard a Crow going “caw, caw, caw” (sp?). I couldn’t see the nasty bird though. Turns out the noise, was coming from a huge Antelope about 50-yards away. This time, I wasn’t scaring this dude though. He kept lowering his head and scraping his hoof to the ground. Oh oh… I have seen the TV Shows where animals fight back, and this appeared to be ripe for prime-time coverage! All I could think of was that his prong-horned, white-butted creature was about to charge! In my head, I visualized several scenarios on how I use my Runabout to fend the scoundrel off!  Wasn’t necessary though, he eventually (slowly) walked the other direction, and we both got away with our dignity. Whew!

Today was my first glimpse of the Big Horn mountain range. Awesome! This was my first sight of real mountains on my journey. I’m sure the excitement will soon go away as I’m cursing their ascent and descent!

While not on my map, I passed through the little town of Leiter. And when I say Little, I mean, a single building that housed the post-office, general store and cafe. Cafe?! Yeah, a little slice of civilization would be nice! I stopped in and i arrived just after a couple of farmers sat down. Long story short; the food was great and the service lousy. I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way! 🙂  The owner doesn’t get many customers in there and she had to work by default. The place used to belong to her Mom and Sister, who both had recently passed away. So now, in addition to running a farm 35 miles away, she runs the restaurant daily.

One of many Methane stations seen during the day.

 

She mentioned that the placed has a little bar in back, but that isn’t busy anymore. I guess the place was booming over the last few years when the Methane mines were being built. The guys would work all day and proceed to drink all night. This of course lead to LOTS of DUI’s in company vehicles. The company now has GPS installed in all the trucks and monitor whether or not…they spend their evenings in Leiter. Ugh…now they don’t.

The last nine miles of today’s walk was straight, overcast and filled with some beautiful farm/ranch land. Many of the farms had markers indicating that they had been around since the 1800’s.

Final destination was the little town of Clearmont, which had the only services between Gillette and Sheridan. I was able to throw my tent directly next to the town’s convenience store/park. The weather was perfect, the store owners were friendly, and ultimately it was a good end to a long day… 

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