I slept terribly, awakened by any sound. In the morning I learned it was the same for Prana, and we splurged our extra packet of coffee, as well as accepted some from the Burro Mountain public pot. This helped immensely. At least the sounds last night were never bears.
We packed up the tent and I shook my head in resignation. We’d discovered last night – incredibly or inevitably, I couldn’t decide- that the second net tent didn’t fit either. Not even close. The attachment hardware was correct, but the dimensions were way off. Looked like the end of the line for my Haven.
We chatted with the group over a gigantic pot of oatmeal, and after flossing and filling up 5 quarts of water, Prana and I struck out uphill, the only ones continuing on the trail rather than walking a road to town. A prescribed burn was coming up, and we’d heard of people receiving permission on a case by case basis to pass through the closed area if no active burning was scheduled that day. A high wind warning was in effect for the afternoon, so we crossed our fingers and tried to put ourselves in the way of luck. Plan B was to bushwhack around the perimeter of the closed area and simply pick up the trail on the north end, past the 4 closed miles, which still seemed better than extra pavement walking.
“You know what I wish?” said Prana. “What?”
“I wish I had showered.”
“Oh my god. Me too. Silver City seemed so close. But not showering at Burro Homestead was maybe the worst decision so far.”
“Yeah. Can’t make that mistake again.”
The trail continued through lovely pine and cliff rose and juniper forest, squeezed against rock outcroppings and hugged steep hillsides. After the first mile I realized I hadn’t lost sight of Prana; I also hadn’t felt a single revolt from my feet. Yes! 5 miles later we stopped for snacks, and I felt strong and hopeful. My body was breaking in.
Another 4 miles put us at the junction to the burn. We stopped for lunch just prior in the trees, and the wind whipped up as if on cue.
Now, our methodology for proceeding did not go quite like I expected. It is perhaps most diplomatic to leave it at this: when you share a double sleeping bag with your hiking partner, it dictates more drastic compromises than one would perhaps be willing to make otherwise.
Once we were stressfully but successfully on the far side of the burn area (which, in fact, turned out to be more than 4 miles wide) we collapsed sweaty, sodden, and sooty to suck down water and devour snacks. My leg ached and I rolled the magic cork balls up and down it. As hydration and sugar kicked in we were able to joke weakly and then laugh.
Three more miles and we were both happy to camp. The math revealed there was no benefit to going farther today, and we found a lovely spot among some junipers and pines and live oaks on the edge of a dry wash. We wrote out the answers to a questionnaire that my parents send every resupply, then I pulled the tape from my blisters to inspect them for the first time in days. Not bad… but gonna need some tough love in Silver City.
Though our mileage was not farther than what we’d been averaging, dispatching it so much more quickly left time to unwind in camp, wander around, watch branches wave in the wind. I caught up my journal and fell asleep early.