Saturday, June 18, 2016

Day 4: NM 113 to Lordsburg, NM

A pink glow slowly creeps down the western mountains as the giant fireball of the sun rises in the east. The morning is cool and crisp. With another forecast for temperatures in the low 100s, we are up hiking before the sun. 

The trail passed over rolling ranch land covered with desert grasses, creosote, cactus, and other hardy plants. Fields of bones, bleached white from the sun, hint at the predators hiding in the hills. Cows graze peacefully, and a small band of horses nursed newborn foals. Antelopes and jackrabbits bound into the hills at our approach. And though we cannot see them now, we know that tarantulas are burrowed into the many small holes in the ground covered with thick webs. 

We spent much of the morning climbing over or sliding under barbed wire fences.  In the Data Book, the word "gate" seems to be a euphemism for a fence you must pass, whether by clamoring over, crawling under, or shimmying in between the wires. 

We scuttled underneath the shade of a wizened old oak to eat lunch. Overhead, several grassy nests adorned its branches. 

Once again, I took on a hostile desert plant and lost. A long spine punctured the sole of my shoe into my heel. I found several other spines and thorns likewise deeply imbedded in the soles of my shoes, slowly working their way through to my feet. 

Despite carrying a large load of water, we began to run low by early afternoon. We were excited to discover a rusty old water tank with two spigots, one running water through a pipe to an old tractor tire that served as a watering trough, and the other we used to fill our bottles. We never climbed up to see what floaters or decaying animals might be flavoring our water. We were just grateful to have it. Some things are better left unknown.

By mid afternoon, the heat became almost unbearable. Heat bore down from above and radiated up from the rocky ground. We guzzled down water the temperature of coffee, but it did nothing to quench our thirst. We stop briefly, but the rocks along the trail are too hot to sit on. When the rancher who works this land drives by, I stand to talk with him to avoid getting burned. He tells us more about the plants and animals here, and his love for ranching the wide open spaces of the New Mexico desert. 

One foot in front of the other, we slowly made our way to Lordsburg, our desert oasis. We reached the trailhead completely parched and exhausted. 

1 comment:

  1. Joan and I had those exact same thoughts about those "gates" that don't open.