Section 3: Yuma to Nogales
Camped in a cow field and woke up to the sound of enormous bodies passing by the tent and chomping on grass. The night was cold. Way colder than anything we’ve experienced on this trip so far. We both burrowed farther and farther into our sleeping bags as the night wore on. When the alarm went off all it took was for Claire to stick her nose out of the bag, declare it too cold to move, and to go back to sleep. Tenny didn’t even pretend to wake up. Oops.
Guess that’s another late start to the day?
Here’s a short, nerdy explanation of how we froze our asses off, yet saw no frost out the tent window. It has to do with the dew point and the semi-arid climate we’re in. The dew point is the temperature that moisture in the air condenses onto surfaces. If the dew point is lower than the air temperature, you won’t see any frost. And lower dew points correlate with drier air. Yep!
And then we were off! Like the last couple days, the hiking is beautiful. We wound through the mountains going up and over the top and down to the valley below. This section of the road was quiet and peaceful and we saw only a handful of cars. One truck pulled up and a cute couple rolled down the window. Laughter erupted before we could so much as introduce ourselves. Their first question followed suite...
hahaha what are you...DOING??
...hahaha!! They spoke mostly Spanish but we all pieced together a conversation based in laughter. They didn’t know what to make of us! The area is a popular for cutting firewood and they were out to get their share. Despite our different motives, they welcomed us which felt like a transformation from the estrangement we felt on Camino Del Diablo. We’ve started to pick up on a theme that foot travel is kinda uncommon out here.
Their smiles were contagious and we left the conversation in a great mood. We alternated between hiking in our own thoughts and goofing off with each other. We’re not exactly in a rush to get anywhere. It was still chilly and the ditch next to us had ice in it, further proof it had reached temps below freezing last night. We’re not crazy! And then we see it, the most beautiful sight of all...picnic tables! And bathrooms! And trash cans! Now that we’re closing in on Nogales we’re starting to enter the recreational land that regular people use to enjoy the outdoors. These types of areas have been almost nonexistent thus far and it’s awesome to see signs of other people. It’s a scientific fact that a backpacking meal tastes better cooked on a picnic table. And oh the luxury of a toilet seat!
Unfortunately water was still scarce and we had to make a longer and more uphill climb than either of us were expecting to the nearby lake. It was weedy and full of ducks and lots and lots of water and it looked like something we’d find back on the Appalachian Trail.
Time for a swim?
Several signs told us that the lake was home to the Leopard Frog, an endangered species whose population is under attack from the invasive American Bullfrog. It also listed some of the fish species, like Bass which are catch and release only. Next to the dock was a plastic tube mounted for monofilament disposal. This area must get high use if sustainable rules are so clearly stated. Claire took a gallon of the water to filter later (surprisingly only a faint shade of green) and Tenny decided to live on the edge and risk it with what she has. We’ll see which one of us survives…
We made it a little farther down the road but honestly it was just not happening. At the next set of picnic tables (a beautiful campsite closed for the winter) we gleefully threw down our packs, even though it was way too early to stop. We didn’t care. It was already cold enough that we knew tonight was gonna be rough and we were ready for those sleeping bags. Even from inside the tent the stars were beautiful and hooray we have toilets!