Amid the silence, suddenly I hear a trickle of water—a spring or a stream. I can't see it, but it sounds like it's down in the deep gulley alongside the road, down where I'd land if I drove off the edge of the road.
A stream is running in the gully to the left of the wire fence, probably fed by Horse Thief Springs
As I follow the bend in the road, I notice a cabin down in the gulley. I must be at Horse Thief Springs at Tecopa Pass. I ride on a little further to stop for a Clif bar, slug a lot of water and take a few photos.
I decide not to take the time to explore the area around the cabin, even though I'd like to, because it's already late afternoon.
Since I've made it this far, I figure that I might as well try to reach Tecopa Hot Springs by dark. I still have another 20 miles or so to go, much of which will be downhill.
I seem to remember from my maps that there is another summit a bit higher and a bit beyond Tecopa Pass here, so I'm expecting a little more uphill riding yet.
The cows barely look at me as I stop and take photos; I'm insulted
There's still no sign of cars or humans around here. However, just beyond Tecopa Pass, the road passes through cow-grazing land—with cows. The cows look at me lazily as I trudge along past them, and I can't get them to smile for the camera.
The road keeps rising and I'm tired now. I'm still enjoying this beautful country up here immensely, but at 43 miles, I've reached that point where I'm starting to run more on endorphins than on real energy.
Finally, the inevitable happens. I reach a spot on the road where I simply can't maintain enough traction in the gravel to continue in an uphill direction with the 10-ton bike.
It's not ultra-steep here by any means, but the heavy load on my bike seriously impairs my ability to ride in places that would merely be a bit challenging without it.
This heavily gravelled slope is just steep enough that I have to get off the bike and drag it up the hill
I drag the bike a little, and try to get back on, but I just can't get started again. After a few rounds of this, accept reality. I take off my helmet and put on my headband, and resign myself to walking and dragging the bike for a while—a short while, hopefully.
After a third of a mile or so of walking and dragging the bike, the road turns behind a hill, and I might be at the top now. I'm not sure, and I don't want to get too excited in case it is not.
The road is almost level at this point.