Section 8: Fort Hancock to Presidio
Woke up to the sound of a dog barking outside the house we slept in. Uh...that dog wasn’t here yesterday, right?
We felt mostly safe here, after talking to the caretaker, Terry, a couple days ago but we were just uneasy enough that sleep eluded us both for the half an hour or so it took the alarm to ring. We packed up quickly and tidied up the minor signs of our presence. The place seemed just as deserted as yesterday- no new cars or footprints - but when we went outside three friendly dogs all sat on the front stoop, happy to find a human friend.
The main chore was filling up on water as we had a while to go before we’d see any more. Ugh. Our least favorite kind of weight! It took a long time to fill up the 18 liters total we’d be carrying out of the small hose, especially with three energetic dogs doing their best to jump on top of each other to finagle the best petting position. At long last it was time to go. We still had seen no sign of a human being. As we started up the road all 3 of the dogs followed, along the paths, up the hill, and then along the main road. We yelled and tried to shoo them away but one in particular persisted. We’d loved to have brought him along, but his momma would probably miss him. And there was no way we were carrying his water, no matter how cute he was! We finally had to yell with every ounce of anger we could fake, “GO HOME!” He crouched in the road, whining and looking up at us with betrayed eyes as we walked away.
Our road continued from Indian Hot Springs into the Quitman Mountain,moving away from the river which had narrowed to a constricted channel in order to squeeze through the mountains. Our road sliced through the steep terrain exposing beautiful rock, rusty red rhyolites and purplish maroon magnesiums. The mountains eventually plateaued and we walked across a flat that overlooked the whole world. There really is little out here. We saw one abandoned gray homestead today, lots of horse hoof prints and a broken water pipe that was in segmented pieces for miles. That’s about it for man made objects.
We randomly get service throughout the day in brief sections allowing a stream of texts to come through.
The person we want to hear from most?
Probably Robert Newman and we got lucky, he teased that he might try and meet us on Bramblett Rd tomorrow. We LOVE Robert.
We spilled out of a wash onto a traveled road. Border Patrol came flying up, he was coming from the river and judging by his speed he thought we were migrants. Yep confirmed, he told us he thought he had an easy catch. We get that comment a lot. This man was kind and worried about us, especially after we told him our plans. He did his best to reroute us by describing the treacherous terrain and smugglers who don't want people in their territory. He suggested an alternate route that moved away from the river and avoided a difficult cross country section around Eagle Canyon. We don't know who or what to listen to. He told us he's one of the few people that come out here and said he'd try and come out tomorrow to check on us. Nice guy. Unlike some of his colleagues he clearly knew the area and sincerely tried to brainstorm different options for us, rather than just trying to discourage us. Thanks kind BP officer!
We continued on trying to decide whether to stick to the original plan or reroute as suggested. By dusk we're still undecided and set up camp early so we had options for the next day. We had been walking on an open ridge right along the river for several hours and were feeling exposed again. We struggled to find a spot to camp that felt hidden, finally settling on a brushy spot next to but concealed from a wide wash. We were in our tent and in blackout mode for only a short time before we heard the footsteps. They moved with robot like precision directly past the tent, not hesitating for a moment. There had to be at least 5 people and it took a long time for the sounds to fade. It wasn't even 7pm yet. We lay in the tent in petrified silence, hardly daring to breathe. Even knowing that they were unlikely to bother us even if they were to see us we felt so vulnerable and uncertain. They sounded far too confident and organized to be a group of migrants moving through. With our field of vision restricted to the walls of the tent it was all too easy to imagine that monster under the bed. Finally enough time had passed in silence that we were able to fall into an uneasy sleep. Around 4 am the footsteps came back and we forgot how to breathe again. Daylight brought with it overwhelming relief and an easy decision to take the BP officer’s advice and move away from the river.