We spend the morning walking up and down, up and down on the ridge. Mud sees some bears just after breakfast. They're smaller, he says. The big one is about the same size as a Labrador. The oak trees are smaller too - all shrubby and short. And the squirrels are black with ears that point straight up and the bushiest of white tails. Things are different here in New Mexico at 10,000 feet.
When we descend the path becomes more like the desert as I remember it. Cactuses, Yucca and a wide, winding trail. My back aches under the new weight of my pack. I don't even have a full days' worth of food, we're set to resupply today in Tijeras. Hiking is hard, I remember now. It takes endurance, patience, a certain kind of strength that you can only find by doing it.
Tijeras has nothing to offer us but a post office where Mud retrieves our first package of food. Not even a place to charge our phones or an inviting, cold beer. I'm secretly grateful for this. It's too early to get distracted by town things.
We walk the road out of town and I continue my metamorphosis into my hiker self. The trail is well-graded and for a moment I feel as though we're on the PCT in Southern California.
I'm looking forward to an early night since last night we had to set up in the dark. But when we get to the water source where we planned to camp we find that a) there is no water and b) there is no place to camp. It turns out we have to go off trail to find the water. We walk for a mile to find a pool of still water in a canyon, covered in an oily film with tiny creatures floating all about. Mud uses his super power: collecting the cleanest water possible in any situation, and collects us both some water that is completely free of floating creatures.
By the time we've eaten dinner and found a campsite it's dark. Again. But we crawl into the tent feeling content after a good day's walk.
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