Throughout the night the stars grew brighter, the air crisper, and the calls of the coyotes in the valley grew lonelier as all the sounds of the desert quieted down. We woke up minutes before the light from the dawn sun bent around the horizon.
From the warmth of our sleeping bags, we deflated our sleeping pads and rolled them up into their stuff sacks. Laying back down we grabbed our hiking clothes and shimmied them on in our bags. Next, we reached for our socks, two days used and caked in a blend of sand and dirt. They had dried over night allowing some of the sand to fall off, most of it though would just become part of the sock until we have the chance to do laundry. The sun was a little bit higher now but still below the mountains, and all that was surrounding us were still shadows.
We went through our morning routines of brushing our teeth, drinking lots of water, refilling our bottles from our water bladders, grabbing snacks for the day and stuffing them into our waist belt pockets, putting sunscreen on, putting Glide on, and finally eating breakfast. Once everything was packed up, we threw our packs on our backs and started walking. For how flexible you have to be out here for anything that may happen, there are routines.
We walked down from the bald and into a valley along a dirt road winding through a cluster of rolling hills. The sun was rising higher and was then right above the hill where we slept. It was the golden hour and appropriately everything that was just masked in shadows was now flooded with golden light. About 3 miles in, we reached the top of a saddle looking down into more desert plains below. We could see two hikers weaving their way through the brush, and we started our descent. Walking through the brush, we caught up to the hikers and went past them into taller bushes and very sandy sediment. It was red sand, and as always, it coated our shoes and socks.
We hiked our way towards our fourth water cache snaking through valley to plain to hill to eventually a road crossing. Past the cache and after we refilled our water and changed out our socks, we walked a long stretch through flat, desert farmland decorated with bleached cow bones and giant skulls. Navigation got tricky in some of these parts due tall brush hiding the signs from view. These miles seem to be endless. The sun was growing hotter and shade was becoming harder to find.
Around 12:30pm, the trail provided us with the most perfect Juniper tree and the coolest shade. Best of all it was not too far off of trail. Our steps got quicker almost turned to a run. We headed straight for the shade and when we got there we gave it the snake/critter check before plopping down and throwing our shoes and socks off. We sat there until 3:00pm.
The lunch menu was no different than the days before, flour tortilla with peanut butter. We rehydrated and even added electrolyte tablets to our water. The day was hot but we wanted to add at least 7 more miles to our day. So we packed up, and we put our shoes back on and started walking into the blazing sun. The trail signs led us through more ranches and had us hoping over rusty barbed wire fences or finding holes in them to limbo through to the other side.
Garbelly and Thor veered off of trail at the sight of a group of horses in an adjacent field then proceeded to call them and then pet them. M.E. kept her feet moving in the direction of the trail with her mind set on camp. To everyone's relief, we were headed in the direction of Pyramid Peak.
As we got closer, we started feeling the weight of the day, but a pep was out back in our steps with yet another change of scenery. This time we were leaving flat ranch land and entering hills with boulders of volcanic rock. We found camp here. We had the view of Pyramid peak in front of us, hills behind us, and a view of the outskirts Lordsburg in the valley below. The "hiker hobble" was in full force.
We set up our tent among small bushes off of the trail, made dinner, got ready for bed, and then laid down where our only view was of the stars above us. The sound of burrowing owls surrounded us, and like that we were asleep.
Cheers to the trail and all those trailing thoughts.
Garbelly & ME
Don't let the algae fool you, that's some of the best desert water we have seen so far.
Photo by Thor (Taylor Thornton)