Sunday, July 10, 2016

Day 26: FR 453 to Bear's Mouth

Within two miles we were out of the forest and back on a relatively open range scattered with pinyon pine trees and colorful wildflowers, including deep red Mexican hat, pale lavender lupine, bright red paintbrush, flowering yellow rabbit brush, and flowering yellow cacti ranging from pale pink to dark magenta. Our route followed a seldom traveled dirt road, which meant that water and cold drinks were readily available, courtesy of my father. And it was a good thing because the route was dry and the day was hot. Even my M&Ms, usually impervious to the heat, soon melted into a thick and creamy hot chocolate. 

Just before our route left the road and disappeared into a trail through pinyon forest, we heard a car behind us. Ranger Alvin works for the Mt. Taylor District of the Cibola National Forest, and is a strong supporter of the CDT. He gave us Gatorade and talked to us about future plans for the trail in this area. 

"When will the monsoons start?" is the question on everyone's minds here in New Mexico. New Mexico relies on its monsoon season for a significant portion of its water supply. We experienced a taste of the monsoon season at the end of June and early July, but since then the weather has been hot and dry, and fire danger is high. Ranger Alvin indicated that the monsoons should be back within a few days, and the persistent, strong winds we are experiencing today seem to support this. 

We followed the trail along a ridge, with views of a beautiful valley with wind carved buttes and rock formations. We reached 30 miles for the day as we began to descend, and found a sandy camp amidst the squat junipers and pinyon pines. 

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