Friday, November 5, 2021

Day 10: Nasty water! Naked hikers!

April 30: The strong winds from the day before had died down by morning, but it didn't last. By afternoon, the strong winds would resume. It seemed a little baffling to me that there weren't more wind farms in New Mexico given how constant and regular the winds seemed to be, or maybe they just aren't located particularly near the trail.

I could still get service on my phone and got updates from Addie and Pez that they both planned to resume their hikes today, and I texted Addie to watch out for the naked hikers hiking southbound toward Lordsburg. There were no naked hikers, but I felt certain that looking for naked hikers on the trail would give her something to... not look forward to per se, but something to make her day a little more interesting.

I told Evenstar about the prank, just in case Addie texted her with questions about the naked hikers. "Just play along, I told her. They allegedly passed by our campsite at 7:00 this morning."

We spent the better part of an hour on our phones trying to figure out where the reroutes ahead were. I found information about reroutes frustratingly difficult to find. Authorities knew that there were hundreds of thru-hikers passing through--you'd think they would want to provide clear information about how to get around fire closures. We had heard of a closure somewhere between Lordsburg and Silver City, but even the walking directions for it appeared to use two different routes depending on whether one was walking southbound or northbound. And it referenced landmarks and roads that I couldn't find on my maps. Argh! And there was absolutely no information about water sources or campsites along the reroutes. It was very frustrating for us. But ultimately, it wasn't something that we had to figure out today. The reroutes wouldn't affect us for another day or two.

The morning started cool, but by afternoon, the higher temperatures had resumed. Perhaps not as high as it was south of Lordsburg since the trail ascended to 6600 feet (2000 m) above sea level and we left the largely desert areas into an area filled with oak trees rather than cactus. The trail became a bit rougher and steeper as well.

A few miles after leaving camp, I reached Engineer's Well, the first reliable water source since leaving Lordsburg and I definitely needed to pick up some more water by this point. It was a little disappointing to see a dead mouse floating in the water when I arrived there, however. Nothing ruins beautiful, cold water like a dead mouse floating in it.

Yum, dead mouse water. My favorite.

There was a float in the water which, when it went down, was supposed to release water from a pump into the tank, so I pushed the float down but no fresh water came. It appeared to be broken as far as I could tell--an enormous disappointment since it meant that the only water available for taking was the dead mouse water. Yum. I'll definitely be treating this water!

Somewhere during the morning, we passed the official 100-mile marker of the trail. Well, more of an unofficial marker. And there were two or three of them as different hikers created different unofficial markers. A hundred miles down! Just another 3,000 or so left to go....

One of the 100-mile markers on the trail

A few hours into the day's hike, I spotted a javelina on the trail ahead, and this one stopped on the trail long enough for me to get a recognizable photo of it. Yes!!! Evenstar was hiking not far behind me, probably not more than about 5 minutes behind me at the time, and she missed it completely.

Javelina on the trail!

Near where the trail crossed Highway 90, there was a nice, shady trailhead with a bunch of gallon-sized water bottles tied together. Evenstar and I stopped for a rest here, a long break since we had no plans to do more than about 15 miles. We had time for long breaks.

While there, we were passed by Eagle Eye and Sweat Tea, and later passed by Kaleidoscope who reported starting the trail just four days earlier. He was doing big miles every day so I doubted that I'd ever see him again. (And I never did.)

Evenstar eventually got up to keep hiking, but I lingered back for a bit longer to hide a letterbox. I wasn't more than about 10 minutes behind Evenstar when I finished up and started hiking down the gravel road to where it crosses Highway 90 when a car pulled off of the highway and stopped next to me. A woman sat behind the driver's seat and rolled down the passenger side window to talk to me.

Evenstar takes a break in the shade at the water cache.

She told me that she maintains the water cache here and has some McDonald's fries--fresh from the Lordsburg McDonald's, a cold Coke (from a can, not from McDonald's), and some tangerines if I was interested. 

"Well, sure!" I was interested.

She got out of the car and popped open the trunk where all the goodies were stashed. The trunk was mostly filled with full-gallon water containers, but she gave me a bag with the McDonald's fries, the Coke and a tangerine.

I went back to the trailhead to the shade and sat down to eat the fries and drink the Coke right then. The tangerine I put in my pack to eat later. That would be fine storing at room temperature. I wanted to eat the fries while they were still warm and drink the Coke while it was still cold. Those had to be consumed immediately. *nodding*

An hour or so later, I caught up with Evenstar and told her about the trail magic. "Fries! A cold Coke! It was wonderful!" I exclaimed.

She retorted that she got some pretty nice food at a taco truck at the last road crossing. The thing was, I knew there was no taco truck at the last road crossing. There weren't any road crossings since Highway 90. And I suddenly realized--she didn't believe me. She thought I was yanking her chain.

"You don't believe me, do you?" I asked.

"About as much as I believe there are naked hikers heading southbound. I know you're a prankster!"

That was fair. She wasn't wrong about my being somewhat of a prankster, but the trail magic was real and I had proof: trash.

The trail angel had driven off immediately after giving me the fries, Coke and tangerine, so I had to carry the trash including the McDonald's bag that the fries came in, the empty Coke can, and the still uneaten tangerine.

Proof! Proof that the trail magic was real!

I dropped my pack and pulled it all out, saying that I had planned to share the tangerine with her, but now.... maybe not. She didn't think it was real, after all. =)

She apologized for not believing me and wanted to eat the tangerine then and there. "You can't blame me for not believing you. After all, you did convince Addie to spend the whole day looking for naked hikers on the trail!"

"Well.... you do make an excellent point, and while I might joke about naked hikers, I'd never joke about something as serious as trail magic," I said with a straight face. "Even I have some standards." Okay, I might have had trouble keeping a straight face when I said that last part. =)

I peeled off the skin of the tangerine and handed half if over to Evenstar to enjoy, then we continued hiking.

At the end of the day, Evenstar and I camped near another water source, a solar-powered well, located a short bit off the main trail. I didn't go to the actual water since I carried plenty from the water cache, but Evenstar described the water as "chewy." It didn't sound appetizing.

And that was the end of our 10th day on the trail.....

I also enjoyed the break by the water cache! =)


Michael Merino said...

That's the problem with the occasional joke with a straight face. People don't know when you're serious vs. joking. I agree with Ryan. Trail magic is a serious subject; something you must never joke about (said with a straight face :-| )

Unknown said...

I LOVE the third from the bottom photo! (The one with the trees)


Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

Mmmmmm...chewy water!

Karolina said...

I understand Evenstar. I happened to not believe you at least on one occasion when we were hiking together in Scotland and you told me people were coming my direction while I was changing my pants! 😜