Section 3: Yuma to Nogales
Right as we began our hike on the road that would take us into town a passing biker stopped to chat.
She was curious about our backpacks, "what are you doing"?
We had a nice conversation about the trip and the outdoors and made plans to meet up sometime during our stay in Nogales. The power of the outdoors community-makes it easy to find friends!
The road was straight, paved, and quiet (perfect for hiking) but we decided to shave off some miles by following a maintenance road that was well marked on the map. Only a couple minutes in we realized this was a mistake. The “road” made no attempt to follow the navigable terrain and just bulldozed it’s way in a straight line regardless of what lay in its path.
Are we in for a rough road?
We stubbornly refused to turn back, somewhat stupidly, and soon found ourselves bushwhacking and hopping fences as the road abruptly and inexplicably disappeared. It was tough and slow going so we bailed as soon as possible to a country road that led us in the direction of the highway.
The back road eventually spit us into a wealthy neighborhood. We moved through orange and white adobe palaces adorned with patios, modern french doors, grand columns and carefully shaped trees. Each had an adobe fence around the perimeter patrolled by a tiny, fluffy dog or two. We were barked out of the neighborhood. The lavish scene abruptly transitioned to a gravel yard of half constructed semi trucks. This was the first of many businesses that worked on vehicles; dealerships, body shops and automakers.
A little further down the road dissected a marsh full of standing water. It was an odd sight here on the outskirts of Nogales, and we were surprised to learn this was Las Lagunas De Anza Wetlands. Several discarded items bobbed on the murky water and more and more trash accumulated as we continued. Mixed into all of this was I-19 and a variety of small stores and several churches of multiple denominations, Catholic and Episcopal. Already four cop cars had passed us, true to what we’d heard about Nogales boasting a high police presence.
As we continued past the wetlands and along the connected creek the levels of trash piled higher. The plants bent to the water's edge and caught tattered strips of clothing, plastic shards, fast food packaging and heaps of microtrash. Old tires clogged the flow at every twist of the banks. Rather than hike along the busy road, we hopped up to the railroad which followed the creek into town and to our hotel. As we entered the downtown, we passed the police department and city hall, which were modern, recently constructed and surrounded by lush green lawn. The official buildings stuck out from their surroundings, which is something we’ve consistently noticed in the border towns we’ve passed through.
Which buildings are the most well maintained?
The familiar smell of grass and the soft plunge into its depths felt like forgotten sensations. A short jaunt later and we were at our hotel, a huge sprawling complex with an interesting albeit somewhat eccentric artistic aesthetic. Time for a few days off and the Christmas holidays!