I camped last night at Bill’s Lake, a beautiful well-fed pond and small RV park. The bull frogs serenaded me all night long. It was lovely. This morning I woke up and was determined to make an early start. I got up and put water to boil on my wee camp stove and removed the fly from my tent. Very quickly I realized that I wasn’t going to be taking down the rest of it any time soon. It seems that the dragonflies like the Mutha Hubba as much as I do! Quite of few of their pre-dragonfly selves had crawled up onto the mosquito net part of the tent in the night and as the sun was warming the day the adult dragonflies were slowly and carefully emerging from their dry, wingless shells. It was an amazing thing to be able to watch – and only put me back by an hour and a quarter!
Today we rode for almost 6 hours down the shoulder of a big paved road with plenty of traffic. Jesse James was remarkably calm about the trucks and motorcycles – the mental break seems to have helped him as much as the physical break helped Finehorn. Even so – riding along the side of a busy road in the heat and wind isn’t any of our favorite sort of day. By the time we followed L to the camp she’d scouted (which is lovely and on a creek that’s actually got moving water in it!) we were all a bit grumpy and out of sorts. L’s brilliant picnic sorted most of that – the ponies had plenty of green grass to munch on and roll in and I enjoyed raspberry chipotle chicken and gourmet potato salad. I got camp set up quickly when the sky started to spit and there was even time to tidy up my haircut a bit.
Tomorrow morning the ponies and I are heading out into the wilderness again. We’ve got 8 days of riding between us and civilization and in terms of how much food we can carry there’s not a lot of leeway. I’ve got a big fancy forest service map of the area we’re riding through (courtesy of B) and I swear it’s big enough to use as a blanket (and waterproof!) The women at the Ranger Station in Lakeside were above and beyond helpful – helping me to plot out a route that goes from known water source to known water source and stays away from areas that are closed due to recent or impending fires. I’m as prepared as I know how to be – but it’s a big deal taking two ponies across 8 days of dry wilderness, gaining well over 3000′ of altitude and not knowing the terrain. This is not an ecosystem that I’m familiar with – and apart from things I’ve been warned about like bears and mountain lions and dry springs and non-existant lakes (and the monsoon season starting, which can lead to flash floods, and lightning… ) I don’t know what I don’t know about the area I’m riding into – Solo. This is sobering!
I’m hoping to be in Luna in time to pick up my mail on Friday- 6.July. I’ll be 47 by the time I emerge from the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest and enter New Mexico! What a strange thought. One other bit of news – I traded in my red felt hat with the feathers for a big floppy brimmed straw hat which L put a giant sunflower on and brought to me. The red felt was cooking my brain! Sorry I don’t have any photos of the new hat yet – that’s something to look forward to when I emerge from the wilderness! I’m so grateful to have had 3 days of rest (and lots of water and fruit) with the Llamas and the Peacocks before heading into this stretch. Really having to watch my hydration in the hot winds – I’ve upped my carrying capacity to 1 1/2 gallons and my Steripen Adventurer is charged and ready for the trail. Tonight it’s raining on my tent, I’m snug and dry and counting the seconds between the lightning and the thunder – it’s getting farther away now and the sound of raindrops is soothing and comforting after so many months of dry.