Day 24: junction of 193 & 501 to Ojo del Dado, ~26 miles, ~442 miles total
Back home, a good weather weekend often means a flurry of emails go out about organizing a trip for the upcoming dates; sometimes a trip gets moved to/or planned for a Friday.
Today included a tall peak that could tempt our friends back home based on prominence. But they may not have wanted the rest of the day, post-summit. Our Cascades endeavors often entail bushwacking, brush bashing, 3rd and 4th class conditions, summit stays of 15 minutes, the day ending with a road walk back to the cars by headlamp. Equating to great trips. But somehow I don’t think we could have convinced them that summiting a 11,301 foot extinct volcano would be as fun. Maybe.
Hike on Friday, 5/16
Climb up 11,301′ Mt. Taylor via dirt trail. See patches of snow and views to Albuquerque, Arizona, and Colorado. Enjoy breakfast on the summit.
Descend trail for a mile. Then gently descend on dirt forest roads for another 23 miles of road.
Stop at one good clean spring for water (American Spring). Observe the somewhat feral horse wandering around the trough and broken fence. Get some water. Hike on to a tank with okay water. Pick up a liter each. Wrongly assume that you can get better water a few miles later (darn the water report becoming out of date in a few days time). Hike to the next tank and find it dry.
Hike on, uncertain whether it’ll take 9 miles or 18 miles to get to the next water. Know that you have less than two liters of water as you enter the warmer grasslands and woodlands of Antelope Flats. Keep hiking steadily, not knowing which of the next three sources will have water.
Grab two liters of silty, smelly, poor excuse for water from a trodden, shallow cattle tank. Hope you don’t have to drink it. Hike on three plus miles.
7:30 reach Ojo del Dado. A small gorge with clearish water no longer fenced off from cattle. Feel grateful. Descend what should be a fun rock scramble, but less so on tired feet to water. Get shoes covered in cow poo water. Stumble out of gorge. Camp after dusk. Filter water.
Contemplate the modern convenience that most people in the United States can regularly walk less than 100 feet to a faucet from which potable water flows. Do not take this for granted.
Finish dinner. Hydrated. Fed. About to rest. Feel grateful that the CDT isn’t too tamed yet.