Friday, April 5, 2013

To Patagonia

To Patagonia:
4/3-a.m. 4/5
Section: 55m
From Mexico: 55m

Z dropped us off at Montezuma Pass. We said our goodbyes and I gave him a big hug. Thanks for the winter, good buddy...

We walked the 2 miles down to the Arizona Trail monument which stood behind the mangled barbed wire fence in Mexico. So, we climbed through the mangled mess and took a few steps into Mexico. A couple of photos later and we hit tread back to whence we came.

Immediately leaving the parking lot the trail ascends steeply into the Huachucha Mountains. Up, up and away we went amid the golden hills aflame with a bright yellow hue. Some of the long native grasses were started to change color and it shone in the sunlight resplendently. The hills appeared spongy soft but as you traversed the slopes you encountered pokes and sharps, especially from the catclaw. It felt good to be out.

Suddenly we made the high Crest Trail, topping out at 9,000ft, needling its way on the Huachuca Range and encountered large ponderosas, stout oaks, and squatty cedars and junipers. The wind soughed in a breeze and a chill came across my body that made my skin prick.

Just as steeply as we ascended we descended even more abruptly. We basically rolled into Sunnyside Canyon where pools lingered over from the snow melt. Sycamores straddled the creek banks. The checkerboard barked cedars were gigantic and reached skyward out of the narrow canyon.

We even met an outfitter taking some folks from Ohio out for a horse ride. We could tell his feeling on illegals as he uttered the word 'wetback' with no qualms within strangered company.

We crested the last mesa before camp and I took one last look for the day at the blimp that floats in the sky looking for 'things.' One tough mother of a day.

Lint and I slept under a canopy of massive oaks near Parker Canyon Creek. We talked a few times throughout the day about our hike. We solidified our commitment to hiking the AZT together. It's a long summer, my friends...

The next day proved to be just as tough despite not attaining such high elevation while venturing across the Canelo Hills. The trail seemed to go non-importantly to some places which made for frustrating travel. Nevertheless, the scenery was pleasant. At one point in Red Rock Canyon Lint and I took a moment to look at 2 squabbling hawks in mid-air. The squawked at each other and twirled in the thermals above getting so close to each other as if to clip the wing of the other. I stood with my neck cricked up in wonder and felt an intense sense of freedom.

We met 2 cowboys on ATVs, ten gallon hats, drawls and everything. But these weren't no ordinary cowboys. We could tell they were stewards of the land around them no matter where they were at. Besides picking up trash and leaving hardly a trace, they spoke of treating no matter who they met out here with human respect. They understood that they do not know everyone's situation and to judge someone's predicament without knowledge is pure arrogance and dog-like. They didn't say 'wetbacks' but thought of them as people, unlike our outfitter friend from the day before. One mountain range over and sentiments change drastically...

Also, these cowboys knew of 'ultralite' backpacking and had MontBell down jackets tucked away in stowage on the ATV!

We ambled along through the hills and canyon and raced against the dark to find a decent campsite. We camped on a somewhat flat knoll in a drainage some 5 miles out of Patagonia. The site sucked but we had no choice. We sat huddled on our sleeping pads under the stars when Lint said in a sharp whisper, "Did you hear that!?"

I heard a sudden thump of what I thought were hoof prints. But before I could even answer Lint I heard a yell, "Border Patrol!" I fumbled for my light because I wanted to ensure the identity of the yeller. Sure enough it was Border Patrol. They said in huffed voices they had been following us for about 3 miles. The were out of breath and I could hear his voice trembling with adrenaline. I admit it scared the hell out me, and I'm sure Lint too. The agent doing the talking said they were glad we didn't have guns. I couldn't imagine his feelings from his perspective. Lint worked his charm and definitely calmed down the situation. They were still alarmed and I believe were still trying to figure out what the hell we were doing out here.

"We're glad you didn't have guns and rose up shootin'," one agent said.

"Yea, we're going to walk the trail to the road and hope for a ride," the other said.

"Shit, yer goin' to Patagonia too! Dya know of any good places to eat in town?" Lint's response. Fuck, I held in my laughter and snickered in my parka.

They said, "yea there are a couple of places." And like that we watched them scamper up the switchbacks and hit a saddle with their flashlights beaming across the whole hillside scanning for who knows what these trained professionals scan for.

We laughed the next morning when we remembered the agents saying he heard us speaking English and we thought it would've been funny if we had been speaking our Spanglish slang we occasionally speak.

!El gato es mi novia!


  1. Hell yeah, on the trail now I see! Best of luck man, there should still be decent water out there, watch out for high temps though! I'm in Pine now, my ankles healed up, movin was a bit slower than anticipated this past section, a lot of confusing rough trail between roosevelt and Pine. Getting some rain and snow this week up here! Anyway, best O luck, I'll be following and jealous once in done. Also, if Lint remembers me tell em I said hello, I kept pace with him for a while on the AT in 2010 with my GF Dewlap. It was in VA and CT/MA when he was hiking with Bama and Bee. First triple crowner I ever met, haha.