Section 6: Columbus to El Paso
We had camped behind a small hill out of sight from the cars flying by on Hwy 9, and our hiding place left us with a cross country segment in the morning. It took very little effort to use the tower stationed by the road as marker for navigation.
High tech navigating?
We pushed through scrubby bushes until we intercepted a small road that paralleled 9 and skirted the tower. Good, unobstructed walking. El Paso is in our sights and we’re ready to be there! We alternated between hiking along the highway and hiking along a rough track that runs along the highway. It feels like we’re in a weird in between spot, with our minds in Texas and our bodies still finishing New Mexico. An occasional car sped by, entering our lives for the thirty seconds it took to pass, but otherwise it was remote and empty.
We hustled along until Border Patrol intercepted us. This wasn’t a coincidence, the two extremely friendly agents told us they had seen two hikers on the cameras but were puzzled why we were moving west/east instead of the typical south/north. They were curious about what the heck we were doing and asked us if we could explain it. It really threw us off, this is the first time Border Patrol has asked about our motives. We stumbled through something about learning about the borderlands and traveling through the communities here.
One of the guys cut us off, “so what you’re really doing is seeing if we need the wall?”
We went with well it’s about a lot more than that. They didn't know what to make of us but told us we could walk by the border fence and we thanked them.
Thumping sounds in the distance meant a helicopter was nearby. It came into view and flew over us. We stood still and stared up at it, waiting for it to circle back over. It did. And so did another helicopter a couple hours later. More and more helicopters as we move closer to El Paso.
For some reason there were cairns all along the highway. Why someone went through the trouble to carefully stack three foot tall tottering piles is a mystery. But the sculptures kept the landscape entertaining. Otherwise our thoughts revolved around the last couple days, particularly the interviewing and filming with Zak and Corey. Every word we said played on an endless loop, and all the ones we didn’t say. All the small things that weren't articulated quite right, like saying “immigrants” instead of “settlers” when speaking about who traveled on the Camino Del Diablo. There’s so much information that we’re getting careless with how we’re communicating. We need to say exactly what we see and exactly what we learn.
This evening we had special treat. A canyon! It came out of nowhere hidden by creosote bushes and a slight incline. The strata along the rim was black and volcanic, and the rock below was a pristine white. It wasn’t exactly an attraction, but we thought it was beautiful, and it made us happy. Tenny had been feeling sick all day and she especially needed the uplift. We walked along the canyon’s edge until it faded away then we set up camp back by the road.