Continuing southwest through the desert between Cuba and Grants, I passed a wonderful oasis of water, and spent one last night under the stars before bad weather blows in.
it was a bit warmer last night than it had been recently, despite of the wind. Between that and the dryness of the desert, my tent and sleeping bag were both dry, which started me off in a good mood this morning.
Continuing along the cliff from yesterday, the views to the east remained excellent, though it did seem a bit hazy far off in the distance.
This morning, I ran into a doppelgänger! I came across two guys out running the trail northbound. One of them, like me, had long hair in a ponytail, and a long beard tied up with bands. They took a picture of the two of us, but I forgot to get one for myself!
A bit later, the trail turned away from the edge of the mesa, turning west for a little while, and then resuming a southwesterly course.
The views from the mesa were great. I wished I’d have been able to have them as intended, as a transition from the desert to the San Juans going north. Oh well, maybe next time. (ha ha!)
Through the day, several of the valleys below the trail had long, deep gorges in them. I presumed they were created by running water durning monsoon season, but it was hard to know for sure. Later in the day, the trail passed over one of those gorges on a small wooden bridge; it was at least 30 feet deep.
Coming down the mesa to the valley, I lightly sprained my ankle on some slightly messy downhill with loose rock, and then nearly sprained it again a little while after. Feeling more tired than I ought to be for how far I’d gone so far, I took a it as another sign I’m really ready to be finished this hike.
I passed by a water tank, opting to get water at a water cache that had been refilled yesterday. I didn’t bother to check to see what the water quality in the tank was, but I had no reason to expect it would actually be good. (That said, there haven’t been any cows today.)
There have been a few stiles through fences today. Aside from some annoyingly places barb wire, they weren’t too bad, except for one that was placed too tightly for me to squeeze through with my pack on.
I reached the water cache a little before 1:30. It is one of the largest water caches I’ve seen on trail, nearly 30 gallons.
Knowing this would eat into my total distance for the day, I decided to cook dinner at the cache anyway. The weight savings would be nice, and I’d be able to sit out an hour and a half of the hottest part of the day.
According to the cache’s log book, Mr. Freeze and Soccer Mom were here two days ago. That probably means they’re finished now, or will be very soon. The log book also indicated that the cache had been maintained continuously since 2015 by the Trujillo family, who lives nearby. Thanks so much, this is truly an oasis in the desert!
Onion arrived at the water cache shortly before I left, having taken a (dirt) roadwalk to get there. (This whole area has had an extensive network of dirt roads and ATV tracks.)
A CDT marker at a dirt road crossing just south of the water cache had distance to water in both directions; I don’t remember seeing something like that anywhere else on trail.
In the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming, one of the downsides of the trail’s northwest March is that every afternoon and evening, I was hiking straight into the sun. It’s even worse going southwest as I am now: the sun has been in my face for nearly the whole day, which is really tiring with there being no shade.
I met the two hikers who left the car I saw near the road yesterday. Bear Man and Bad Azz Butterfly were also joined by a dog they found out on the mesas, winning it over with food and by pulling a cactus needle out of its paw! (It seemed a little skittish and unfriendly, but they had it on a tight leash.)
Towards sunset, I stopped for a short break, mostly to stop in the shade for a bit (and also to let the sun dip lower in the sky so it wouldn’t be in my eyes as much).
About a quarter-mile after that break, I stopped for the day at an overlook that should hopefully give me a really beautiful sunrise tomorrow. Ideally, I should have gone further, but I’ll just have to get up early tomorrow and go. With yesterday and today being less than 20 miles, I haven’t made it as far as I planned. Especially if the weather is bad tomorrow and the day after, I don’t think I’m going to make it to Grants on Monday like I expected.
I decided to cowboy camp. Given the weather forecast, this is probably my last opportunity, and I want to see the stars one last time before the trail is over. Plus, no tent will make leaving tomorrow half an hour faster.
Quite a few hikers passed after I “set up”, including two who hiked past over an hour after sunset. I’m not sure they saw me, off to the side, with no tent, taking in the stars.