Two songs kept going through my head today.
As we’d dip our bottles into Last Chance Creek and its alkaline waters: “Drink it like you mean it” by Corb Lund.
Drink it like you mean it, like the serious people do
If you’re down and broken hearted and you’ve got good reason to
Drink it like you mean it to the bottom of the glass
With resolve and strong intention, drink it right down to the last
We ain’t gonna nurse nor sip, we’re gonna get some past our lips
There ain’t gonna be no trace of irony
We ain’t gonna nudge nor wink, nor smirk nor smile nor blink
You gotta drink it like you mean it here with me
As we stepped and slid amid the muddy goo of Last Chance Creek: “Slip sliddin’ away” by Simon and Garfunkel.
Slip slidin’ away
Slip slidin’ away
You know the nearer your destination
The more you’re slip slidin’ away
Cool morning at the bottom of Navajo, we hiked out of the drainage via Surprise Valley and the rolling Burning Hills. Warmer up top and pretty red hills dotted with the green of pinyon, juniper, sage, and Mormon tea.
In the morning and evening this landscape is soft, gentle, and beautiful. On a hot afternoon, I imagine I’d have a different impression. Timing can be so important.
Walking along a short stretch of road we watch the jackrabbits lope in the sage and squirrels zip across the path in front of us. Such lovely walking!!
After yesterday’s canyons we have full appreciation for how pleasant and easy it is to meander down to and through Reese Canyon. Nice sandstone walls about 50-80 feet tall and honeycomb formations. Walking doesn’t require concentration. Flowers to admire. Good footing, not sandy, not slippy.
A cotton tail runs out in front of us across the wash. A minute later we flush an owl from a juniper and it flies ahead of us until we reach the canyon end. It would perch, camouflaged along canyon walls 200 meters or so ahead until we’d flush it again.
At Reese’s confluence with Last Chance Creek there is an old cowboy trailer and corral. Fun to poke into and imagine its hayday.
Then up the red canyon of Last Chance Creek. Flowing water, less alkaline than the waters of Rogers Canyon, but still alkaline. Since we didn’t have any other options we drank from the creek (always treating of course), no reasonable way to avoid alkaline water. Just grateful to have water. Drink it like you mean it.
At first a broad wash bottom with mostly firm sand, Last Chance Canyon felt like we were walking on a beach! A beautiful beach with the occasional cottonwood and red walls with seams of yellow and black.
But soon the cobbles got muddy and the travel got more challenging, particularly for Gabriel as his knee started to bother him. Our progress slowed. It made for a slow afternoon. We had about 16-17 miles of Last Chance, it felt like we were walking in slow motion.
Many bends later the canyon narrowed and we found some late afternoon shade. Gabriel elevated his knee and rested. I did stretches. The rest did the knee good! And we felt we could make it to the end of this canyon.
More mud walking that coated our shoes and pant legs and dust devil gusts. We laughed, you’d think after 6,000 miles of long distance hiking, we’d know how to walk. But we kept slip slidin away.
Abundant lupine blooms on the side of the wash and amazing light on the canyon features were the sweet parts of the last miles of Last Chance Creek.
At last at the confluence of Paradise Canyon and Escalante Canyon we looked for a place to camp. With the wind gusting at times, we opted to crouch under a juniper tree to cowboy. Of course the cows had already given their stamp of approval to the spot.
Pre-CDT, we would have been repulsed. But we’re hard to phase these days.
One of my fondest memories of the CDT was while hiking with Roadrunner. A half day out of Lordsburg we’d stopped to take a break in the shade. He joined us. Seeing as how the other shady spots were full of old cowpies, he just slid them over with his trekking poles and sat down on the ground. If a newly retired exec could adjust to the trail just 90 miles in, I could do the same. Ever since then, when needed we move the cowpies out of the way and think of Roadrunner.
We had a nice night out of the wind.
Day 26: 23.9 miles; 379.3 miles total. Navajo Canyon branch that goes up to Surprise Valley to edge of Paradise Canyon.
GPS: not needed; people sighted: the camp o fellow Hayduker Runaway; roads: a few miles and jeep tracks in the canyon washes.