Section 3: Yuma to Nogales
Today was not a day for hiking. Really it was just a day for gabbing. It was one of our first cold nights and when the alarm went off in the morning we weren’t having it. We took a bit of a luxurious morning, sleeping in and hanging out in our sleeping bags longer than normal. The morning was beautiful and so were the surroundings. Sweeping grassy plains getting hillier and hillier going east, then huge craggy mountains thrusting up out of nothing. As we lounged, an excessive amount of Border Patrol vehicles passed by, one after the other.
We wondered if it was related to the group Trey had told us about the night before, or did the high number of agents mean a higher rate of activity for smuggling?
Some of the cars that passed even had two agents inside, which is unusual in comparison to what we’ve seen so far.
The hiking was hillier than normal but still pretty easy and we followed the usual well maintained road as it wound through a wash. The rock surrounding us was a beautiful purple color and was filled with grazing cows. We have not seen any herd animals so far but it made sense today, this land was federally owned and perfect for grazing. We were both feeling rested and chatty so we traded stories all day long and did our best to analyze our entire childhoods in one go. Good stuff. We passed plenty of barrel cactus, squat and round with sharp, two inch, don’t screw-with-me barbs all over. A bouquet of yellow fruit was perched on top and Tenny couldn’t resist grabbing one. All cactus are edible!
As we pushed further into the mountains we felt more and more like we were in a jungle. Probably only in comparison to the extremely arid areas we had come through so far, at this point our idea of lush is certainly skewed. But it’s cool to see how a tiny amount of extra moisture can bring about such an obvious change. The area was teeming with life. Above us a warbler hopped down a limb, cocking its head side to side.
What other birds are here? This area is known for birding.
In the brush we occasionally glimpsed a coyote or two slinking by. And in all directions bees and insects zoomed to and fro. They skimmed the puddles of water in the road (actual water now, not oil) or investigated a late-blooming flower. In contrast to western Arizona, here the same species of mesquite tree was a healthy, tall version of itself. The trees towered over us and formed a patchwork quilt of green draped over the hills. Lime green, dark, sage.
Every half mile we ran into remains of some old ranch, nestled in a wash or buried by a grove of trees. At lunchtime we stopped in the shade of an old ruined house and a windmill and tank that no longer seemed to be working. Even with more water, this land doesn’t seem ideal for growing crops. The hilly terrain leaves little room for wide bottom land or farming. The soil is rocky, the brush thick. No wonder only cows are left. In every direction we can see black or brown bodies, lifted their heads out of a bush and mooing down at us from high above.
Border Patrol continues to be constantly surprised to see us, and every car that comes by stops to check if we’re ok. We do appreciate it, thank you guys.
Still, it’s hard not to wonder why they haven’t communicated with each other that we’re out here?
Different from California. Lunch winds on much longer than normal as we enjoy the break and the feeling of safety. Because this has so many signs of habituation it feels safe, and it’s easy to relax and enjoy the aesthetic. When we get going, our mood is goofy and we spend the next several hours joking around and in good spirits. The second part of the day brings us uphill to the top of a ridge and then along it - a hiker’s absolute favorite - and we got some panoramic views of a truly labyrinthian maze of canyons and mountains. It’s so weird that it looks like it was created by human hands. The roads ahead definitely were, they slice wide, smooth swathes through anything and make no attempt to follow the terrain.
We finally quiet down and hike the last couple miles lost in our own thoughts. When it starts getting dusky we stop at a likely looking spot and enjoy our view of the mountains we’ve just come from. Not our speediest day of hiking but one of our more pleasant. Feeling good for tomorrow and the section to come!