Monday, August 23
I was up at 4:30 and the storm had long since passed. As I had camped rather close to the road I wanted to get away before daylight and the possibility of another encounter with the Wyoming State Patrol. I only have seen them in metropolitan regions for they seem to leave the rural roads alone. Therefore, people seem to drive only one of two speeds - fast and “get out of my way!”
As I walked into another beautiful day I entered a zone with a sign saying, “Road Construction Next 12 Miles” and started to be concerned. I had been warned by a WYDOT worker that they force hikers and bikers to take rides from pilot cars through construction areas - its a state safety law. With traffic coming toward me clumped into clusters all the signs were there that I had a problem ahead.
The first ten miles of the road construction contained no workers or machinery - only a new layer of jet-black asphalt covering the highway. This combination of black asphalt with the previous night’s storm allowed for a rare opportunity of showing the numerous, numerous, coyote tracks. In the West, the choice of dirt seems to be, “Dust or Mud?” for there is a light gray dirt everywhere. Due to the rain, the coyote paws were covered with gray mud and they had left tracks all over the new asphalt during the night. No wonder they rank #5 on my unofficial “Dead on the Road” species. They seem to investigate (and probably eat) every roadkill and use the highway as a personal pathway. This rare glimpse was indeed a treat.
No doubt about it - trouble ahead. I could see the highway worker stopping traffic to wait for a pilot car to guide them through. What to do now? It is important for me to walk every step of the distance and I cannot possibly take a ride. What would you do?
Approaching the flagger I did some fast talking and politely declined his offer for the pilot car to transport me and my stuff across the two miles of construction ahead. I told him (a good offense is better than a good defense) that I would be careful, stick to the side, and stay out of the way. Basically - I kept going. One mile into the process I was met by a press gang of highway workers in a truck telling me I had to get in and take the ride - its the law! I had had time to think this through and was prepared to offer a compromise. They could put my cart into their pick-up truck and I would hop the fence and walk parallel to the road outside of the roadway zone. They thought this over and said it would work for them, so I soon found myself wandering fields and gullies watching out for prickly pears and rattlesnakes. Though unusual, it provided a win-win situation.
The rest of the day was rather lonely - as previously stated, cars zooming by do not tend to stop. Just as I hit bottom - hot and tired - a woman stopped and gave me a big jug of iced tea and $15. This small act of kindness instantly recharged my batteries and all was right again with the world.
Coyotes are #5? What can be the first four?