Walking twenty-seven miles of road through flat New Mexico desert is a perfect time to listen to the book The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. Like the story, our desert, too, appears old and wise. Our desert has a language of its own, one that through our journey we have begun to understand. We learn from the animals just as we learn from their absence. The wind teaches us about persistence, and the sun teaches us about impermanence. Our days are no longer linear. Here, time is circular. That wonderfully pleasant hour of crisp morning air and the energizing warmth of the waking sun do not last. Soon the sun intensifies, but as we circle back around we are once again thankful for the morning. The days allow us to meditate, and the nights allow us to drift away. We experience moments of euphoria, while other moments are weighted down with sadness. The desert cannot be experienced through a single emotion.
Life here is beautiful. The plants and the animals that commit to life in the desert are stubborn and tough. However, death is inescapable. Whether it is the hawk hunting for the prairie dog, or the gopher snake stalking the jack rabbit, or the irresistible dryness, life does not tread lightly, but instead with purpose and pride.
Our journey began in the desert. The desert has tested us time and time again, but our dream remains here traveling along this path North.
As we walk this road today, we have the words of Santiago, his finding true love, his personal legend, and the search for his treasure as background to our own quest and our own love. The desert is a magical place. As we hear about Santiago's signs, or omens, we experience our own. Just when the road started to discourage us, a couple from Wyoming pulled to the shoulder of the road offering us Spicy Hot V8's and an apple. The trail provides. Just as we were feeling good about the day and the remaining miles ahead, another car pulls over and the experience made us uncomfortable as all heck. We have learned that the ebb and flow of balance out here explains these good and bad moments.
After 26 miles of a hard road walk, we arrived at the Narrows Rim Trailhead. We left the road and climbed up a sandstone trail. The sun rested lower in the sky, and we hiked for about a mile before sitting down on top of the ridge line to make dinner. We were 500 feet above fields of lava that reached towards the horizon, and the sun was right in front us. We were eating dinner when down the trail with his spoon in his mouth walks Thor! We had stopped for dinner only a couple of yards away from camp, so we grabbed our things and scurried up the trail. We set up our tent in a depression in the rock, and we were shielded from the wind.
The sun began to set as we sat on the edge of the bluff. We did not move until the sun had disappeared below the horizon taking the day's light with it. It was a beautiful sunset after a tough day.
Cheers to balances, the good and the bad!
Garbelly & Critter
(Attention Thru Hikers) We found great water, but it is on a ten minute timer. Don't worry if it turns off before your get water! Just wait. This pump is about 8 miles up the road from John and Anzi's home.