September 5, 2019, day 1
Lake Owyhee State Park to North Sheepshead Spring, ~10 miles
Friends of the Owyhee ED Tim Davis picked us up this morning and took us to the eastern terminus of the ODT. Tim grew up in the area and recognizes how special and spectacular the Owyhee country is. He also saw opportunities for ranchers, recreational enthusiasts, and conservationists to come to the table to share knowledge and use science for improving and sustaining this place for a variety of needs and interests. Also, ranchers, conservationists, and recreation enthusiasts can be one in the same. Sometimes I think we need less labels and talk of “they” and more conversations over coffee about why we all care.
It was a beautiful drive out to the TH. Already, I think one could add at least 20 more miles to the ODT through such fantastic country!
After taking our obligatory pictures at the terminus and getting our things in order Gabriel and I set out. Umbrellas up within 10 minutes. Today the high was supposed to be around 93, likely the warmest day of the trip. It felt darn warm by 10 am.
This first day is all about acclimatizing to 5-days of gear in our packs, walking all day, the more arid conditions, extra water for said conditions, etc. We took it easy, breaking in every smidgen of shade and using our umbrellas where there wasn’t any. We drip and glisten with sweat. I kinda think instead of drinking a liter of water, I should just pour down my back, because that’s where it seems to end up. Every hour, we take salt tabs. Day one in more arid hiking conditions is always and adjustment.
After gaining the grassy uplands via a road we set off cross-country through bunchgrass and lava rock hillsides, sometimes finding cattle trails to make the walking easier. The rabbitbrush is starting to flower and turn the hills bright yellow. Already we’ve watched pronghorn zoom across the grasslands ahead of us. Speeding along then stopping to watch. So curious. Always alert. Oh, how I love being in pronghorn country!
By late afternoon we made it to Rookie Canyon Spring and met our first cattle of the trail. The three angus amigos were very polite and let us fill up on cold delicious water from their trough. I suspect I’ll have to stop counting cows here in a day or so, cause the herds could be bigger.
As we headed over to Sheepshead Mountain we noticed the blue and black clouds and rain cells to the West, but moving our way. We dropped off the ridge as thunder started to roll across the land. We went down as low in terrain as we could near a spring and with a tractor tire pond. A rain cell burst over us a few minutes after we found a place to camp.
We’re using our Black Diamond mega mid for this trip, so we were able to set up our tent over our gear pretty quickly; keeping us from getting drenched and our gear dry. Turns out, it’s hot, then it’s damp here in the desert.
Allgood said it rained only one day of his ODT hike last year, I wonder if this is “it” for the rain for us.