456.2 miles hiked
The night is warm, filled with rain and a few mosquitoes, the temporary zipper fix I did in Alpine isn’t working so I resign myself to sewing my tent door shut with dental floss and only have to climb over Muffy once in the night to pee. In the morning a small verdant canyon takes us to good tread which carries us up, to open ponderosa forest, where the tread disappears. Open ponderosa forest is some of the easiest walking, though, so no matter. By and by the oaks crowd in and the going slows again, branches grabbing at me as I push my way through. I reach a ridge and sit in the dirt in the shade, resting. Muffy joins me and we sit, letting ourselves cool. It’s hot today. The cold weather has passed, now it’s warm. It’s always something, in the nature. I take indoors for granted in my regular life, the dim rooms where we hide. I hike and am reminded of how wild it is, to just experience the weather as it comes.
A bit of tread, again, down a saddle through the prickly pears. We drop off the saddle, making for the canyon below, and the tread disappears. Weaving through the cacti, digging our feet into the dirt.
At the bottom of the slope we find a slickrock wash with a few warm pools. We travel down the wash on the rocks to an old cabin. The cabin looks to be kept up by hunters and horsepackers, the corrugated metal siding has been lovingly repaired, the wooden door is solidly shut.
Inside the cabin are two old twin bedsteads, a table and a cabinet of canned goods.
I have a backpacker’s pantry meal I don’t want so I leave it in the cabinet and take a can of peaches and a can of beanie weenies. It seems like a fair trade.
Muffy and I sit in the hot, dappled shade of a huge sycamore tree that must draw water from deep in the ground and swat at flies. Nearby are the stone ruins of another cabin, just a single stone wall standing sentry next to the wash. The can of peaches is one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.
We rouse ourselves eventually, pack up and make our way down Auger canyon, of which we know nothing about, except that it’s probably passable. It is- there are pools, a few of them thigh deep, but the water is cool and clear and feels great on my legs, which feel like they’re on fire from brushing against the grass. Pants! I should’ve warn pants on this hike. Really, on any hike that involves a lot of cross country, I should wear pants. I didn’t used to have many contact allergies, but now it’s like my skin is looking for any excuse to break out in hives. So it goes.
The going in Auger canyon is slow for us, about 1mph, and that combined with our long lunch break wilted in the heat means we won’t get many miles today. That’s alright, though. It’s not always straightforward, moving across the surface of the earth. Sometimes there are a lot of objects in the way. The incredible thing is that we’re able to move forward at all. The amazing all terrain capabilities of legs- it’s really quite something.
A path up slickrock takes us out of the canyon and our route follows ancient cairns around other drainages, weaving through the dry yellow grass and among the cat claw. Foxtrails embed themselves in my shoes, which maybe bothers me more than anything. I pick out what I can but there are always more. I try to practice letting go. We drop down into Little Blue Creek, which we’ll follow for the rest of the day. We’re exhausted and we take a short break on the sand, and then haul ourselves up again. More creekbed walking, hopping from rock to rock, wading through pools, making our way around obstacles. Here we go.
We slosh through the water in some narrows, stop to shake the rocks out of our shoes. The sky curdles, suddenly we’re in a thunderstorm. The thunder echoes off the rock walls of the canyon and warm rain falls.
There are small, secret caves and copses of trees, their roots washed bare from floods. We find a campsite in a patch of sand just before dusk, and pile rocks onto the stakes of our shelter to hold it. We boil water for our dinners and talk about the many small indignities of hiking; accidentally sitting down next to a half decomposed animal leg, tiny leeches in your water bottle, stepping in fresh cow diarrhea. Using your filthy fingers to try and squeeze a splinter from your leg but only pus comes out. The sand that works its way into blisters. Everything that happens on your period.