On the 130th anniversary, I recreated part of the journey of the first person to cycle around the world on a bicycle. Taking it one day at a time. View the archive.

Not eaten by cougars

By Stuart Lowe on

I didn't sleep all that soundly. No surprise there. In the early hours I heard noises from animals that I first decided were dingos, remembered that I wasn't in Australia so decided must be coyotes. They didn't approach my tent. The barbed wire fence may have helped.

Although I'd been awake for some time I waited for the sun to hit the walls of my tent before emerging. I had a "protein" bar and some trail mix then left the overnight condensation to dry on my tent as I went to retrieve my bike from half way up the hillside. Having a vantage point from the bottom, and not being so exhausted, I realised I didn't have to ford the Humboldt again as there was a handy railroad bridge to the left that I could use. If only I'd seen it the day before. My shoes were still sodden from the night before but at least I didn't get wetter.

As I followed the bank of the Humboldt around to the base of the hill I saw a shape by the water. I froze. I didn't have my glasses on. Was it a cougar? It didn't move. Perhaps it was just a rock. I gingerly crept forward. It moved! It plopped into the water and I saw its tail. It was a beaver! I've never seen one in real life so this was a treat. I also must have waded through its territory last night.

On recovering my bike I also found my waterproof jacket and trousers that had separated from me in my rough descent the day before. Bringing a bike down a steep, rough, sage brush covered hillside is not easy. At least it didn't have the pannier bags on it.

Once down I packed my tent, clambered up and over the railroad line and found a little service road that I presumed must head out of this valley. I followed it. There were some sections of loose rocks and some patches of the awful sticky mud like yesterday but at least it was on the flat. I may have freaked out a herd of cows at one point who clearly didn't know what to make of a bicycle even if it was on the other side of a fence from them. I did get to see a horned toad on the track. Strangely exciting given that Stevens had seen some near Winnemucca.

Horned toad

After two miles the road headed up over a hill to Palisade ranch. After Stevens' description I half expected billboard advertisements to be everywhere but those had long gone. I dunked my bike in the Humboldt to remove the awful mud/rock/sand combination that had covered it over the past 24 hours. Then I had a mile or two of paved road and a stunning view of snow capped mountains beyond.


Eight miles later I reached Carlin. I knew it was Carlin because there was a huge white "C" up on the hillside next to it. I trundled into town and straight into the supermarket where I bought $40 of food and gorged on Swedish Fish - not actual fish but sugar filled goodness to bring my energy levels back up. It turned out the motel in Carlin had no room at the inn and my only option was the posh Carlin Inn by the freeway. On seeing my sorry state, the lady at the reception reduced the room rate to $85 for me. One of my most expensive nights of the trip. I ate. I had a bath. I washed my clothes in the bath. I watched some rubbish TV. I slept.