Monday, December 27, 2021

Day 32: Chasing Windmills

Day 32: I was surprised to wake up with a thick layer of condensation over everything. That hadn't been an issue before so I hadn't been expecting it, and now I spent part of the morning trying to dry off a bit.

The trail was slow-going at first, through a lava field that was difficult to follow--both to identify where the trail was actually located on the hard surface, and because the ground was so rough and tumble-like. I passed by several more small caves and sinkholes which weren't marked on my maps or had signs identifying them. It was annoyingly slow getting through, but admittedly some very cool and interesting terrain.

Through the lava fields, often times, the only sign of a trail were cairns holding up branches and logs like this. Then you had to search around to find the next one. Very slow going!

The trail didn't get easy again until reaching the Bonita-Zuni Alternate. The main, red-line path did a bit more zig-zagging, but the alternate, from what I read, seemed like a more pleasant option. The fact that it was a bit shorter was a nice perk but it was also a relatively small one. I don't think it was more than a few miles shorter overall.

Even the name of the alternate sounded nice: Bonita-Zuni. Bonita, for anyone who knows Spanish, means "pretty." I wasn't sure about the Zuni part, but it boded well overall.

The trail soon crossed Highway 53, and I stopped for a snack break at the trailhead there when Haiku and Prana snuck up on me. I was surprised since I thought they were ahead of me! When did I pass them? Where did I pass them?! Through the rough lava where the trail was so difficult to follow, it's entirely possible we could have taken different routes through it.

In any case, it was nice to see them again, and I walked with them for a few miles to the next water source.

The trail led up a beautiful valley along a quiet, gravel road. Our trail was no more, but the gravel road was a pleasant walk after the slow difficulty of the trail through the lava beds. The biggest issue was the strong wind tearing through the valley. Despite using the chin strap for my hat, it still got blown off in a particularly big gust that came up from behind me, then I had to chase my hat down as the wind rolled it down the road like a person doing cartwheels. 

I noticed that the Appalachian Trail pin that I had pinned to the hat had come off. I retraced my steps eventually finding the pin, but never finding the back that held it in place. I'd have to fix that later, but in the meantime, I wrapped up the pin so the sharp point wouldn't poke anything in my pack and put it safely in my pack.

We finally stopped for a break at the wind-powered water trough. The large windmill spun wildly in the wind, and it pulled lots of fresh, clear water into the trough. For fun, I decided to climb the windmill while Prana took photos of me hanging off the side, but I did have to be a little careful with the wind trying to blow me off.


Eventually, I pushed onward while Haiku and Prana rested a bit longer to eat lunch. 

The rest of the day's hike was uneventful. I stopped for a couple of other breaks, and Haiku and Prana caught up with me at the next water source perhaps a dozen miles further up the trail. Prana reported seeing two rattlesnakes today. I was a little jealous since I hadn't seen any and had only seen one on the entire trail so far. Lucky guy!

The trail veered down Zuni Canyon, a scenic canyon following another gravel road that was used more than the previous road. Now a vehicle would drive by every 15 minutes or so.

I set up camp behind some trees on a flat section adjacent to the road. It looked like a railroad used to go through here--the ground had that long, flat level look, but it wasn't a rail-to-trail system. It was more like the railroad had been abandoned and removed, then the rights-of-way were just left to the elements. Trees and bushes covered them, rock slides covered it in places, etc. I couldn't hike on it--not easily, at least, but it provided the occasional flat area where I could set up a campsite off the road and mostly hidden from it.

In camp, I saw that a hot spot on the top of my big toe had turned into a full-grown blister. Argh! It wasn't particularly large or problematic, though, just an annoyance, and I struggled to think of a fruit that started with D, eventually settling on the name Dragonfruit. Apple, Banana, Cantaloupe and now Dragonfruit. 

All-in-all, however, a pleasant day of hiking.

Now this is really good, quality water! Especially if you take it from the pipe before it enters the cattle trough.

Meet Dragonfruit, my newest blister. It was an easy pop! =)


Unknown said...

Great photos!

Unknown said...

Alternative fruit beginning with "D" - Date

Michael said...

Great photos? My favorite is that last one of a nice juicy fruit? /s