The morning was slow-starting as I built log cabins of tape around my blisters, flossed the thread, squeezed again, and finally bandaged. “Ok. This doesn’t last that long,” I reminded myself. Just get through each day, and before I know it I won’t even realize I’m not thinking about my feet.
The yucca fields were quite pretty, and we wended toward the Little Burro mountains, the desert displaying both sides of its character, skeletons and unexpected blooms. When my spirits sank with pain I called my brother, and he brightened me up again, with goofy banter and absurd ideas, and plans to come intercept us in Pie Town.
We started up a canyon and trees appeared, some type of live oak maybe, and after a break in the fabulous deep shade of a rock wall we reached the engineer’s well, which seemed like it could not possibly have water due to no electrical mechanism to run the pump, but it did. Prana puzzled over this as we filtered 3 gallons of excellent water. Some kind of black and white songbird the size of a robin with an orange stripe on its wing trilled and trilled and trilled, and 4 other hikers trickled in. There was too much cow shit everywhere for a self-care break, so Prana and I headed up the trail to eat lunch. 2 miles was all my blisters could handle under the extra 10 pounds of water, and a perfect tree beckoned, spreading an umbrella of shade overlooking the gullies below and Lordsburg in the desert beyond. I rolled the cork balls against my knee and quad and hamstring and calf (as I have at almost every break today), and willed my cells to truck away all the edema. “I just have to get through each day,” I tell myself, and before I know it I won’t even notice I’m not changing every movement to accommodate my knee.
More winding through gullies, lovely with little clumps of granitic boulders and chunks of white quartz in the sand, and just as I was about to call for a break again, Prana froze in his tracks ahead. I heard voices from high on the hillside – two hikers who passed us at lunch- and put together they’ve been chased uphill by the pawing, posturing bull that has caught Prana’s attention. He and I bushwhacked far up and around, usually an enjoyed kind of hiking, but friction played hell as my feet slid in my shoes on the loose hillside. Prana convinced me to wait for a break until he found another fabulous shade tree, and at first I was pissy, as it’s hard enough to declare breaks when I need them, but did it prove worth it- the breeze raking the ridge was almost like air conditioning.
Small ridges and clumps of mountains filled every view to the horizons. At last we crested the Little Burros, and magically on the backside appeared a perfectly manicured single track trail. It wound down and around amongst twisted junipers, the ground now reddish sand, the Black Range looming in the distance. Stunning!
My stride shortened and slowed as I tried to figure out how to keep moving. Eventually I came upon Prana staring at the sway of branches of the first pine tree of the trail. We cooked dinner at its feet, debated camping, but carried on, all distances currently dictated by my feet, and how much they can tolerate in one day. Gah!
Our camp did end up below another pine, surrounded by cliff rose and juniper, in a coarse-sand wash, the almost-full moon beaming down.