Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Day 39: The lure of a cheap chair...

May 29: I woke up and hit the trail just before my usual 7:00am start time. I was anxious to get to the next reliable water source 7.2 miles ahead so I could ditch the horrid water that I picked up at Dado Canyon. And an early start meant more hiking in the relatively cooler morning temperatures.

The water source, as it turned out, was located a quarter-mile or so off trail down at the bottom of a steep canyon. Every step off trail was torture to a thru-hiker, but this part was significantly more difficult than the main trail had been. It made me doubt whether the off-trail jaunt was worth the effort. If I had enough water to get me to the next water source about a dozen miles away--I might have skipped this one. But I needed water, and grumbled all the way to the water.

Except.... it actually had a couple of pretty nice views before it descended steeply down to the water. Wow! It almost made it worth it.

And when I finally arrived, the water was definitely grade A water. Awesome, clear, clean spring water that ran into a cattle trough. I was the last to arrive, and Stry, Evenstar and Pez were already there. Evenstar took the brave option of leaving her pack at the junction with the main CDT and hoping no animals would get into it while she was gone, but I wasn't so brave and carried my pack the whole way. As did Pez and Stry.

The view from the top of the canyon's edge on the way to the water (located at the bottom of the canyon) was a nice surprise!

While sitting around chatting, somehow the conversation veered around languages and songs and Pez declaring that us Americans had some pretty odd and surprising lyrics such as Can't Hide Your Lyin' Ass by the Eagles. The rest of us were stumped for a bit, not sure what he was referring to until it hit me: "Do you mean Your Lyin' Eyes?" I asked, laughing. That's hilarious! Lyin' eyes, lyin' ass.... same thing, really, right? =) I think Pez was a little embarrassed by the mistake, but the rest of us loved it. Haven't we all heard the lyrics of various songs incorrectly over the years? I know I still hear Secret Asian Man rather than Secret Agent Man. In my head, there's still an Asian man running around playing a spy even though I've since learned the correct lyrics.

Anyhow, we all eventually filled up with water and continued on our way. Evenstar's pack turned out to be unmolested by animals when she returned. Stry walked quickly and pushed on ahead, planning a long day and was never to be seen again. Not by us, at least. I'm sure others met him.

Several hours later during the hottest part of the day, I took a long hour or two break in the shade of a few trees. It wasn't a great location, but I was pleased with the fact that it at least provided some shade even if there was nothing else particularly special about the location. The whole day had largely been along a flat, featureless plateau. Although not spectacular, at least it was flat and easy.

After my long, afternoon break, I put on my pack and pushed onward. I planned to cover nearly 21 miles today, just far enough to reach the next reliable water, and it wasn't going to get any closer with me sitting around all day.

But it was only about 15 minutes later when I reached the edge of the plateau at a commanding, breath-taking viewpoint. I had to stop to admire the view, already regretting that I "wasted" my break at the featureless landscape just 15 minutes earlier. Then I saw it: a small, rusty fold-up chair resting near the ledge overlooking the gorgeous view. Ah, crap. I couldn't walk by this without stopping. I had to use that chair. I had to sit. Just for a few minutes, though....

It was a lovely sit, and I wound up sitting there for about an hour. I couldn't help myself. What a view! What a comfortable chair to sit on! And it was even in a little bit of shade! I so wished I had taken my long break at this location instead of 15 minutes back.

I took this photo from the chair that sucked me in for an hour-long break just a mere 15 minutes after I had already taken a one tonearly two-hour break. How could I pass by this without a quality stop?!

I finally got myself moving again mostly because I realized that if I didn't move soon, I wouldn't arrive to my campsite until after dark. So reluctantly, I pushed onward.

The trail went a bit away from the edge of the plateau, obscuring the nice views for a few miles, before returning to the edge then plunging downward 2,000 feet to the base of the plateau. The views along this stretch were spectacular, and the setting sun added that alpine glow that makes almost everything look amazing.

I arrived at camp just before sunset. It wasn't dark yet, but it would be soon and it was definitely one of my latest arrivals in camp. Evenstar and Pez had arrived long before, both somehow missing the lousy chair with the amazing views and therefore not being distracted from it like I was. They knew they had passed me somewhere along the way since they stopped seeing my footprints on the trail, but I was hidden a bit behind the trees that provided the shade and they hadn't been curious enough to take the 20 steps off trail to admire the view like I did when I discovered it.

The water from Ojo Frio Spring was okay at best. It was covered in algae, but at least it hadn't looked recently used by cattle. Unlike previous springs, however, there was no pipe to catch water from before falling into the trough so we had to get water straight from the trough. We've had worse (like last night!), but it could have been a lot better.

Evenstar sits down at Ojo Frio Spring. This water was... okay. Not the worst on the trail, but not the best either.

This was also the last reliable water source on the trail for 28.8 miles, although Evenstar and Pez noticed a "seasonal" water source that was listed which appeared to be a water cache stocked by a trail angel. I had changed my Guthook settings so seasonal water sources didn't show up--generally speaking, they were all dry. So I didn't know about the water cache.

But I also hate to rely 100% on water caches because... sometimes they're dry. So I filtered 5 liters of water. I hoped there would be plenty of water ahead at the water cache and could drink more than 5 liters in the next 28.8 miles, but I shouldn't die from lack of water if the cache turned out to be empty either. Thirsty, but not dead!

After filtering the water, it was getting quite dark and I didn't have the energy to cook a dinner, so instead, I just ate a few Wheat Thins and Skittles for dinner.

And thus ended my 39th day on the trail.....

I wonder what happened to this hiker? Can't be good....

Lots of flat, easy terrain today.

This was the water earlier in the day, which was absolutely awesome except for the fact that it was located nearly a half-mile off trail at the bottom of a steep canyon.

It wasn't even so much the downhill to the water that was an annoyance. It was this climb back to the top of the canyon afterward that was really the big annoyance!

I don't know the real name of this mountain, but I started calling it The Nipple. =) Although I don't know its real name, I feel pretty good about guessing that it's an old rocky core of a long-dead volcano and the softer dirt around it eroded away. But.... I'm not a geologist, so don't quote me on that. It's just my guess. =)

Ojo Frio Spring is located just in front of the base of that mountain on the right. That's where we planned to camp tonight--near the spring there.

What a colorful little creature! I wonder what it is? I started seeing these everywhere after coming down off the plateau.


Anonymous said...

Eastern collared lizard per the "Seek" app which you should probably have on your phone

Lou Catozzi (PI Joe) said...

"...there's a bathroom on the right!"