Section 3: From Yuma to Nogales
Best night of sleep on the trail, hands down. Our campsite was quiet and peaceful all night - no wind! Usually we wake up constantly throughout the night, checking on a sound or readjusting a bit of sleeping bag, but this night we both slept like logs. Does a lot for the mood the next day.
The main chunk of the day took us through a huge valley, surrounded by distant mountains. The road stayed wide and flat and easy to follow, although it took us in and out of sandy washes which are a pain for finding good footing. We watched a Border Patrol vehicle pull up to an intersection we were about to cross, wait for us, then promptly drive away as we reached it. That’s a first.
We know we smell but not even a wave or a hello?
This happened a couple more times today and did not do much to endear us to the AZ Border Patrol. We continued on our way to the boundary of Barry M. Goldwater Range and the beginning of Cabeza Prieta Refuge.
We took a break just off to the side from a dip in the road, under the overhanging branches of a leafy tree. In the hour that we sat there, at least 5 OTVs passed us by, not a single one of them noticing we were there. They were going at least 20mph so it’s no surprise, but it was a good reminder of what kind of things you miss when you’re in a car. Or any kind of vehicle. We miss things constantly when we’re hiking, sure, but not to the same degree. Still sticking with our mission statement which puts walking as one of the best ways to explore our world!
The last vehicle to come by, a Border Patrol car, passed us slowly then reversed and sidled back to us. He seemed to know what we were doing out here and only wanted to know here we’d be camping tonight. We asked him about water sources (we still have an alarmingly scarce amount of information on them) but he could not have been more clueless. He gave us vague directions that contradicted some of what we’d already heard and didn’t stick around to chat. Oh well. Guess we’ll figure it out when we get there.
The second half of the day took us back into the mountains and some truly remarkable terrain. We’re only a handful of miles east of yesterday’s mountains but already they look completely different. We are impressed that although the colors and shapes blend harmoniously together from day to day, the locations always remain distinct. Every new group of hills is different. Every flat expanse is different.
We wonder why traveling on foot allows us to detect these slight changes. Is it in the minute differences our senses absorb with every step? The progression of feelings and sounds we experience in even one mile?
Your mind records all this sensory input to form an association unique to each location and notably different from the next. The volcanic rock radiates more heat than the white granite, more warmth one moment and less the next. This in combination with the scent of a creosote bush and then a mesquite tree. What a cool feeling to be able to explore this way.
As the day wore on, we started to look for our next water source, a supposed “tank” that we didn’t know much about. Something got screwy with our mileage and we must have gone past it. Oops. Not a good thing to screw around with in the desert. Both of us know better than to be wishy washy about water. It’s amateur hour over here on El Camino del Diablo.
We knew the Tule Well was only a couple miles away, a campsite managed (and that’s a loose term) by the Cabeza Prieta Wildlife Refuge. Our sources hadn’t mentioned any water but our helpful Border Patrol agent from earlier on in the day had told us that he “thinks there’s a tank there but I’ve never seen anyone drinking out of it.” Campsite it is. Let’s hope and pray that someone is looking out for us. Otherwise we’ll have to call for a rescue, and we’re not sure if our pride can handle that.
The last couple miles to Tule Well wind through a series of small hills with some truly stunning panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The sun is setting and it’s that perfect light, where it’s almost painful how perfect everything looks. We could see the campsite from far away, and as we got closer we focused more and more on the giant blue tank sticking up from the ground. When we got there we set our packs down and nervously walked over, wanting to postpone knowing for sure. Tenny slowly turned the knob and...gushing water! We let out some celebratory cheers and guzzled as much as we could before calming down and setting up camp. We shall drink well tonight!