Day 22, 15 miles
It was a cozy night under my tree. Not too cold for being at almost 8000 feet.
We continue our cross country section following the treed ridge down. We’re trying to avoid dropping in the drainage since it has some snow in it. Maneuvering around the trees is a bit of a challenge with their long branches sticking out sideways but we manage. Eventually we do drop down to the drainage and I pick up a liter of snowmelt water from a puddle.
We soon leave the drainage and head for a dirt road. Walking the road is nice and easy and the views over in the distance towards the red and white rocks are pretty cool. It’s fairly cloudy so the walk isn’t too hot. Below is a view back toward my Ellen.
We’re aiming for water and a lunch break at the Tarantula 1 water trough but to our surprise it’s totally dry. I’m thankful for my liter of snow water now!
Somehow there is a cell signal here and it’s strong enough to catch up on some email and messages. It’s strange sitting on a dry concrete cow tank in the middle of nowhere sorting through email.
We continue on our easy road walk and hope that the next cow tank will have water. It’s supposed to be solar powered. It turns out the beautiful solar panels are just sitting there and no water is being pumped. The cows are gone and so is the water. This is a major bummer. I’m so glad it’s a cool day and I still have water.
We soon have another cross country section and this one is easy at first but very challenging at some point. We have to go down steeply to a wash in a giant canyon. The problem is that there is a rock maneuver where you have to bridge a gap down with your leg and it’s quite the reach for me. Zach does it first and puts his pack down in between the crack so if he falls he’ll land on his pack. When he’s down he removes the pack, lowers mine and then it’s my turn. I’m trying to figure out how to do it but it’s further than I’m comfortable with and I hesitate. Zack offers to help me and puts himself in a position where I can put my one foot on his quad and then quickly hop on to the rock. I hang on to some hand holds and take him up on his offer. Safety over ego in this instance. Thanks Zach!!
The descent down all the way to the bottom is no piece of cake either but totally manageable. It’s crumbly rock and clay but with the use of trekking poles we both make it down safely.
Then it’s a wash walk for a bit followed by cross country over the weirdest landscape I’ve ever hiked in. Badlands with some odd formations and canyons. We go up and down some ridges and crumbly slopes and eventually end up in a small drainage. This one is muddy and alkaline and my shoes are covered in mud by the end of it. We finally climb out when it’s getting a bit overgrown and wet and find a sweet spot to camp. A large tree is protecting us from the impending rain and the nice duff will hopefully keep us warm. Zach has his tent set up on one side of the tree and I’m on the other. Unfortunately the water here is orange so I’m still making do with what water I have left. As I’m writing this it’s really started to rain and I put my cup outside. Maybe it’ll collect some water overnight?