Day 19: Wild Horse Canyon Road to the ridge above The Narrows, ~26.6 miles, ~363 miles total
It is so lovely to wake up to pinyon pines and juniper. This morning we opted to stay on the off trail, less road walking route. One of the many aspects of the CDT that I love is that there is no ONE way to go. Choose your own adventure.
Starting along a road for a mile or so. Not so bad as antelope jackrabbits speedily run ahead of us, desert cottontails hop about, prairie dogs scurry from one burrow entrance to the next.
Rolling in and out of arroyos we gradually make our way up the canyon. Gabriel takes great pleasure in navigating and says he’s having fun. We listen to Voyageur’s stories.
I’m glad to be off a road, but somewhat dissapointed with myself when I realize I missed the chance to cut over to the route that goes to the Dittert site with Anasazi mounds. Sigh. We can’t do it all. And really, 12 miles of easy cross country walking much better for my body than 12 miles of road walling.
Early afternoon and we were walking in Sand Canyon. Aptly named. Sandstone cliffs 100 feet high and sand underfoot. We hike by old homesteads tucked into these canyons. Many are from the Great Depression when people attempted to settle the area. A hard place to make a living. They weren’t able to stick.
Seeing these collapsing cabins has me constantly wondering. What was the landscape like 100 years ago? 800 years ago? Longer, even. And what will it be like in another 100-200 years? From what I understand of forests and rangeland in general, fire supression, intensive
grazing, and water diversions have surely altered the landscape. People have been here a long time but was it always this dusty and denude?
Case in point, as we hiked out of Sand and Cebolla Canyons to the North Pasture we could see a haze of dust in the air. Twenty mph sustained winds and gusts up to 40 mph were blowing dust so brown and thick, at times, we couldn’t see the windmill we were walking to. We stayed away from the barbed wire fence so as not to stumble into it in the gusts. Sand in our ears and eyes. Hoof broken cracked bare ground below us.
We reached the windmill. While broken, it had water in the trough. Green cow water. We are grateful for it. Afterall, it means we are hiking the CDT.
Water for the next miles collected we hiked on through North Pasture. The gusting winds were more fun as we walked away from the fence (away from sharp and rusty poky bits) and into sagebrush range (less sand in the eyes). It was enjoyable to brace against the wind… for a few miles. However, after not stopping for several hours it was a little less enjoyable. To keep my spirits up, I waved to passing cars. All of them waved back! Motivating!
At last, near camp time, we made it to the Narrows Rim Trail. Up sandstone steps and ledges to a wonderous rock garden. We could see El Malpais below and the setting sun gave a glow to the pines, rock and cactus. What great timing!
We camped amid a sandy boulder garden. The winds gave us a few challenges to pitch the tent but we got it up. Sand everywhere inside, but at least not in our food.
When the gusts were less frequent I was even able to call my mom for Mother’s Day. I usually prefer to stay unplugged while hiking, but happy to make the exception tonight.