With -10 degrees it has been a rather frosty night which I mainly attribute to the altitude of roughly 2000m. On the flip side the warmth of the sun also seems to reach me earlier. By 8AM it's already way above freezing.
Today, I will take it easy. It's my first proper off-road day since ages [so any thoughts about milage are a complete waste of time]. 120km of unknown terrain. It's a bit of a detour but I am hoping for some great remote riding.
"Why do you want to go this way? There is nothing out there!" I occasionally hear when I meet people on the road or discuss my route ideas with others. I always wonder why they ask and answer the question at the same time...
The first few miles are still very well rideable. A huge valley with nothing but grey bushes, dry sandy landscape, blue cloudless sky, complete silence. Except for the bumpy road there is not a single sign of civilization. After passing a long abandoned railway track the road deteriorates more and more into a single trail. I basically encounter three different kinds of conditions. Sandy; overgrown with sticky bushes or a very hard, bumpy clay-like surface. All make for very slow progress, but that's fine.
Seems like a long time ago since anybody was using these trails. It reminds me of my adventures in the Chilcotins with one clear distinction. I am not riding through forest. I am riding through a huge open valley = I see where I am going [actually from the place I got up this morning I would have been able to see the place where I will sleep tonight. crazy! ].
I see a lot of animal traces and also a immense amounts of poo, old and fresh. Looks like cattle to me. I wonder how they would find water out here.
After a few more miles, I finally spot a few cows in the distance. Let's see how they are doing. While I get closer, they look less and less like cattle.
It's a herd of about 15 wild horses, Mustangs. White, brown, black, yellowish ones. They are beautiful and majestic. Unfortunately they start running away from me as I get closer. They disappear in a dust cloud but in the silence I can still hear the thunder-like sound of their hooves. The sound of sheer [horse] power to me. At least they are running in the same direction as I have to go.
About an hour later I catch up with them. I climbed up a bit on the side of the valley and I can see them from above. Now they are about 60, spread out in three groups. I decide to call it a day here. It is supposed to be an easy day. The sun will be above the horizon for another 20 minutes. Time for a proper camping experience [I cannot remember when I last pitched my tent before sunset].
Final scene of the day from top to bottom: Cloudless, dark blue sky with first bright stars - sky behind the mountains glooming orange after sunset - black mountains - wide, dark valley below - a herd of 20 wild horses grasing about 300m ahead of me [dinner I suppose] - potatoe mash with bacon 50cm ahead of me [dinner]. Good night!