Sunday, January 9, 2022

Day 38: Dado Canyon

May 28: I woke up and hit the trail a little before 7:00am. I was a bit surprised how warm it was given our elevation at just over 10,000 feet and it didn't bode well for the rest of the day. It was gonna be hot!

The day's hike was generally uneventful. The trail followed easy, gravel roads for pretty much the entire day with a small exception that led us to American Canyon Spring. It would be our only decent water for the day, so we filled up with tons of heavy water. The spring water came from a hose directly out of the ground, looking so clean and cold, so I didn't bother to treat it. I love nice, cold spring water. =)

The water coming from that pipe at American Canyon Spring was delicious!

The trail also generally headed downhill all day, coming off of Mount Taylor and our high elevation. But like I said before, it was an easy day of hiking and the roads sloped downhill gradually--definitely a nice change from yesterday's brutal climb to the top of Mount Taylor!

I had stopped for a break when Pez caught up with me--which came as something of a surprise since I had assumed he was ahead of me. Evenstar and I had passed him with our detour up Mount Taylor that he avoided because his knee was still hurting. We figured between him being ahead of us and taking the "easy" route, he'd still be ahead of us. I guess the "easy" route wasn't as easy as we had assumed. Or maybe the pain in Pez's knee was worse than we had thought. Or maybe he just slept in late. Much later than we had. =) I'm not sure, but whatever the reason, we managed to pass him while doing the alternate up Mount Taylor.

But he caught up with us late in the day and it was nice to be together again since we hadn't seen him since leaving Grants.

As the morning passed and the afternoon marched on, the sun grew hotter and hotter. And as the elevation of the trail dropped, not only did temperatures soar, but the trees slowly disappeared into almost nothing. There would be no protection from the brutal sun throughout the afternoon.

Late in the day, we finally reached Dado Canyon and a watering hole. Guthook comments suggested it was barely more than a mud pit, but it was the best option available for miles to come. And when we arrived, we were not disappointed.

 Pez poses at Dado Canyon. You can't see it in the photo, but there's a small, muddy watering hole at the bottom of the cliffs just behind Pez.

The canyon itself was gorgeous! Rocky canyon walls outlined a scenic, green valley. But the water was as promised: a quickly drying muddy mess full of dead bugs. I was basically out of water and needed it anyhow and probably spent the better part of an hour trying to filter the water. It was frustrating since the filter clogged often and needed to be backwashed regularly. Once, a still living bug crawled out of my filter when I took off the bag to refill it with more water for treatment.

It was even difficult just to reach the water without stepping into shoe-sucking mud. I really didn't want to drink this water, even after treating it, but sometimes you just have to take what you can get. Evenstar had carried enough water from American Canyon Spring to not have to refill, and I envied her for that. Throughout the day, she probably envied my lighter pack for not carrying as much water, but now it was payback! =)

I did spot what I thought were mountain lion tracks in the mud near the water. The prints looked like large paws of a cat, and I couldn't imagine anything else that might have made them, so I kept my eyes open for a mountain lion but never saw any. I'm not particularly adept at recognizing animal prints, though, so perhaps it was something else I just didn't know about.

What kind of animal do you think made this print?

I had no doubt, however, that animals often came here for water. It was the only water for miles around. I definitely had no plans to camp in the valley near the water--that would just be asking for trouble. 

While collecting water, another hiker named Stry (short for Stryder) showed up, so we chatted for a bit and I invited him up to join Evenstar, Pez and myself for dinner. They were already near the treeline on the far side of the canyon and easily visible from the trail. He wasn't thru-hiking the trail, though, but planned to do a "short" 400-mile stretch of the trail.

Stry was also obviously black, which still--sadly--surprises me when I see a black person on the trail. Thru-hikers, as a whole, aren't particularly diverse in that sense, but it makes me happy whenever I see more diversity. I think the situation has improved over the years, though. By the end of the trail, I'd actually cross paths with a few black people. And several others which appeared to have Asian and Latino decent. White people still made up a huge majority of hikers, but the ratios have seemed to improve over the past 18 years that I've been thru-hiking. Progress is slow, however.

Anyhow, Stry joined us for dinner and the four of us enjoyed chatting the evening away. Pez and Stry decided to camp closer to the trail and out of the trees, so they eventually left shortly after the sun set. Evenstar and I set up camp in the trees, though.

Thus ended another day on the trail. I wasn't looking forward to tomorrow, however, as tomorrow was expected to be even hotter than today. Dry and hot--it might be a rough day.

"Is this the right way?"

During the hottest part of the day, there weren't many trees to provide shade!


Mary said...

This was posted at 8pm Sunday night instead of 5am Monday morning! Is the schedule changing from MWF?

Ryan said...

That's not the plan.... I am in Europe, though. Maybe it's posting local time for me? Nothing on my posting page suggested that it would start posting European times instead of Pacific. I'm not sure if this is just an accident on my part or a timezone issue. The thing is... 5am Monday Pacific time is 2pm Monday European time, so if it were strictly a timezone problem, the date is still messed up. On the other hand, 5am European time is 8:00pm Sunday Pacific time--which makes me think it's a timezone issue.

I might have to adjust the times my posts go live for all the posts I've written since getting here. *sigh*

Michael said...

Maybe it's just the shadows, but it looks like a human footprint to me. :-)