Mogollon Rim Trail day 5: cat claw makes an appearance, tinajas save the day


Mileage: 13

63 miles hiked

It’s so comfortable in Caity’s loft under the sloping roof with the skylight letting in the night air that we sleep until 7 a.m.; by the time we’re up, caffeinated, have eaten breakfast and hitched a ride back to the trail it’s 9. Then I have to sit in the shade next to the trail for a half hour and post my blogs; by the time I’m really hiking it’s closer to 10. A couple with a dog approaches me while I’m sitting there and the man peppers me with questions- where am I going? How long am I out for? Where did I sleep last night? I’m p tired of strangers (always older men) asking me these questions when I’m hiking. Like hello do we know each other? No? Then why the fuck are you asking me where I slept last night? I mumble something about not wanting to answer his questions and he stomps of angrily, muttering insults under his breath. He’s angry that I won’t tell him where I slept last night. Literally angry. These mans and their intrusive, entitled questions!

I’m irritated now. Sometimes when I’m hiking things get stuck in my head and rattle around in there like a marble in a shoebox. There’s no hole in the shoebox, no way for the marble to get out. It’s a beautiful clear day, soft yellow sun and blue sky, red dirt, red rocks. But I’m pissed.

We reach Oak creek, which we worried might be high, but it’s not- it’s clear and knee deep, languid in the eddies behind the boulders. We cross and squat on the opposite bank, filling our water bottles. It’s so beautiful here. I remember to look for poison ivy, and there it is- everywhere along the bank. At least I think? I’m still not totally sure how to tell it from other “leaves of three” plants. I need to do more googling.

Right after Oak creek our route climbs steeply up to the top of Schnebly hill. The trail is rocky and dusty but easy to follow, and I’ve eaten a bunch of caffienated clif shot bloks, and I push myself up the trail until endorphins flood my system and finally my mood shifts and I feel better. The sun! The view! An adventure with my love! A good steep climb is the best attitude adjuster that I know.

The view from the top of Schnebly hill is just as good as I remember it, from the winter I spent here three years ago, when I would run on Schnebly hill road. Looking out at the castles of redrock rising from huge cow patties of redrock brings back all sorts of fond memories; the small apartment I rented here that came with an overstuffed leather sofa, the mornings spent sunk into that leather sofa in the light from the window, working on The Sunset Route. Running up Schnebly hill over and over, because when I find a run I like I stop seeing the point in doing any others. Planning for the Hayduke.

Muffy is equally as into the view from the top of Schnebly hill.

“I’ve never seen anything like it!” She exclaims. I love doing things with Muffy. I love how excited she gets.

Our route follows the rim of Schnebly hill on rocky, rutted trail that looks to be used by cows more than people. The view never leaves us, subtly changes angles as we travel. I listen to Enya, pretend I’m on another planet where everyone lives in redrock castles. We’d planned to eat lunch at a silty cattle pond- had resigned ourselves to a day of drinking from silty cattle ponds- but oh, glorious wet winter and spring, we find pools of standing water in a dry streambed next to the trail, and have lunch there instead. It’s a late lunch, and 3 p.m. by the time we pack up.

Now comes the moment of reckoning. We’d planned to camp at mile 17, the final cattle pond before a dry stretch. But between here and there is a steep descent off Schnebly hill, down to the rim of Woods canyon. We know nothing about this descent. Will it be clear trail? Rocky? Overgrown? It’ll probably be fine, we decide. No need to pack extra water for dry camping.

It is not fine. Face high chapparal on one side, cat claw on the other. The chapparal scratches but does not stab so we lean into it to avoid the cat claw as we push our way down the steep, overgrown trail. We’re both being scratched and grabbed at but it’s worse for Muffy- she’s already covered in scrapes from her fall on the rocks, and now she’s being scratched where she’s already wounded. The trail opens up and then plunges back into chapparal, again and again. We’re going less than 1mph. Below us is Woods canyon, a breathtaking crack in the earth. We inch our way down to its rim, cursing.

After over an hour of misery we are dumped into more open, less brushy country. Cairns lead us along the redrock slabs. The light is growing long and we realize we might not make it to our cattle tank- we might be dry camping without enough water to cook dinner. Which would be fine, but kind of thirsty. I look hopefully into every drainage we cross, but there’s nothing. And then, just before dusk- the glint of pools! A streambed delivers!

The water is yellow and clear and cold. Earth broth. My favorite thing. There is nowhere to pitch a tent- the ground here seems to be slabs of tilted rock or else, thick chapparal- but some poking around reveals a nice cowboy camping spot, perfectly flat and open. A handful of mosquitoes appear as we’re cooking dinner, and I wonder if we’d be able to set up the tent if we needed to. It only takes a single mosquito to drive me crazy at night. And this is more like twenty mosquitoes, maybe more. Nah, I figure. It’ll be fine.

Thank you to everyone who helped support Wendy’s asylum appeal!πŸ˜€πŸ˜€πŸ˜€Since Wendy has raised the $ needed for her lawyer, I’ll be directing people to the fundraiser for Francis, an El Salvadoran refugee who is also raising funds for an asylum appeal. You can view his fundraiser here.

Both Wendy and Francis’ fundraisers were sent to me by Carmen Smith-Estrada- Carmen works with Mariposas Sin Fronteras, a small org out of Tucson that supports folks released from immigration detention. Carmen is working closely with both Wendy and Francis.

Francis’ fundraiser is currently at $960- day 6 from the MRT will go up on this blog when the fundraiser reaches $1200. Let’s help Francis get the support he needs! Click here to check it out!