Mogollon Rim Trail day 18: wild horses


Mileage: 24

239.5 miles hiked

We’re drifting off when the wild horses return. Thundering, clomping, snorting. Muffy claps again and they thunder off. A minute later they’re back. They’re eating the grass on the bit of flat land where we’re camped. It must be extra good grass. They circle the tent and monch the grass, ripping it from the earth. They clomp their hooves and snort and slurp. We close the vestibules of the tent.

“They’re so loud!” Says Muffy. “It’s like they’re on top of us!”

I google will a wild horse step on me. I google what does it mean when a horse snorts.

“Horses will go out of their way to avoid stepping on uneven surfaces, unless they’ve been specifically trained to trample,” I read to Muffy. “Snorting is indicative of pleasure and relaxation.”

“I’m so scared,” says Muffy. “And hungry.” She rustles in her food bag, startes eating oreos dipped in peanut butter in the dark. She puts the peanut butter away, curls up on her neo air, and one minute later she’s asleep. I scoot down in my sleeping bag, which is damp already from condensation coming in from the lake, and try to sleep too. It works.

I dream I’m trying to pilot a small boat through deep water in a flooded forest but the boat is sinking. I take a shit in the boat, and get poop all over me. I stop at target to buy sandals, but I’m wearing furry blue animal slippers. I can’t be seen in target wearing these, I think. But I really need to buy sandals!

The horses are gone in the morning. Condensation is frozen to the inside of our tent. I heat water for tea from the comfort of my sleeping bag, wondering how in the hell I ever hiked without a stove. I’ll tell you something- mine and Muffy’s morning routine while hiking takes an hour and a half. We wake around 5:30- naturally, because we fall asleep between 8 and 9- fuck alarms! And here are the things we do while still in our sleeping bags: I make tea and Muffy makes instant coffee, I have granola in protein powder “milk” and Muffy has hot oatmeal with peanut butter, we brush our teeth, tape our blisters, rebraid our hair, repack our food bags, purify water, deflate and pack away our neo airs. There’s also a lot of staring out into the woods while drinking my tea, and then there’s packing everything up, pooping, and putting on sunscreen, and at 7 it’s time to hike.

We could try and be faster in the mornings if we wanted to. But we don’t want to.

Today is gentle forest service roads and faded jeep tracks through the ponderosa forest, both burned and intact. Just that, all day long. A dream really. We mix it up by creating some cross country alternate shortcuts, hiking off route over saddles and valleys, weaving through stands of baby ponderosas and stepping over downed logs, following horse trails, feeling wild and free.

Now and then we’re on a particularly well graded dirt road and ATVs come zipping buy, throwing up columns of dust, hunters with rifles or elderley couples, almost all of them with small confederate flags on their vehicles. They wave at us. I wonder what they would do if we weren’t white? It’s best not to linger here.

Water today is two wildlife guzzlers- water catchments that fill large underground containers, with a part that’s open to the air for animals to drink. The first one is surrounded in wild horses that thunder away when we approach- they were monching a pile of rocks next to the water, maybe for minerals? The guzzlers have horse hair in them and algae, but are mostly clear as long as you put your bottles all the way under and don’t catch anything that’s on the surface. We also find a few running streams on our cross country alternates, bonus water in this magic wet spring.

Camp is in the tall ponderosas near another catchment tank, this one aboveground, the size of a small cabin and with a spigot on the side. We’re so hungry we eat all our dinners and oreos and chocolate too. In the distance we hear gunshots, the sound of ATVs. But we’re safe here, away from it all, in this space where our two legs can take us.

Are yall reading Muffy’s blog? She’s blogging every day too, at And she’s a really great writer!! She’s posting her blogs as the fundraiser goes up too, so you get two for the price of one 🤓 Check out her blog posts here.

I’m using these blog posts to help raise money for Francis, an El Salvadoran refugee who is raising funds for an asylum appeal. You can view his fundraiser here.

Francis’ fundraiser is currently at $2,900- day 19 from the MRT will go up on this blog when his fundraiser reaches $3,000 Let’s help Francis get the support he needs! Click here to check it out. And thank you! 😀