Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Loneliest Road in America

Tuesday October 12th The next couple of days were spent making our way alongside Highway US50, which follows the line of old Overland/Pony Express trail here. It has been branded as the  'Loneliest Road in America' rather misleadingly judging by semis roaring past at regular intervals.  But there was also a good earth track running virtually all the way alongside the road...
 Only about a mile and a half further on, we came not only to the ruins of the former Cold Springs telegraph station...
 ...but of the Overland Stage station, and an interpretative site for the elusive Cold Springs Pony Express station. But it appeared that the station ruins were a mile and a half walk along a track to the east, and we regretfully decided we could not leave the horses to spare an hour walking into the sage brush.

Watering Mo in Rock Creek - we had to sneak onto private land through a nearby Montana gate.
This was the last accessible clean natural water supply we were to encounter for over eighty miles, although we were able to top up the water tank at Middlegate station five miles further along the road.
Another example of the quaint American hobby of displaying old shoes on fence posts and trees, this time a shoe tree just before Middlegate....
 The story goes that it was the result of a lovers' tiff after a newly married couple camped beneath the tree and got into an argument.  When the wife threatened to walk off the husband retorted by telling her she could walk barefoot and threw her shoes up into the tree,  He then drove off to drown his sorrows at the nearby bar at Middlegate.  However the story had a romantic ending when the bartender persuaded him to return. The couple reconciled and lived happily ever after!  Unfortunately this is not the original tree, which was cut down by vandals in 2010, but shoes seem to have quickly sprouted on this nearby tree.
There is a Trails West marker for Middlegate station here, but in fact the exact location is not known.

Middlegate (which I visited with Mike and Bonnie in September) became a two horse town when we rode in to camp behind the motel/restaurant/bar, which seems to be the place to be in this neck of the woods or should it be sage brush.
 It may be the only establishment in this isolated location, but it serves good food and drink, and that evening the place was jam-packed with a variety of individuals including thirty geology students who were camping in tents at the side, and Brett Bramble, a young man walking across America in aid of drug awareness.  Tragically his young sister died of an overdose.  Just discovered that he finished successfully and here is a link to his facebook page and article
Wednesday October 13th At Drumm Summit on the loneliest road looking back across the Stingaree valley towards Middlegate.
Shortly after this the horses were given the shock of their lives when two low-flying fighter jets came screaming through the pass and over our heads. Luckily they were tied up but the Topgun fighters certainly took my breath away.  It was a sobering warning that we were just about to enter the restricted training grounds of the Fallon Naval Air Station in Dixie Valley, the Topgun School having been moved here from San Diego in 1996.
We tramped rapidly for ten miles across the Dixie Valley towards the Sand Springs Range, nervously scanning the skies for Tom Cruise and friends....
 ...I was glad to have my eagle-eyed cousin with me, but happily the only military aircraft that came anywhere near us were helicopters....
 There had been warnings of bad weather preceded by high winds coming in, so we found a sheltered spot behind a bank on the other side of the Sand Springs Range rather than descend to the more open Salt Wells Basin..

1 comment:

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