Oh lava rock. You are porous, sometimes slippery, very round, very large and uneven. You make up so many Arizona dirt roads that I have to think of you as some kind of resilient foe who just keeps reappearing. I'd like to say that we have a love/hate relationship, but for that to be true, you must REALLY love me, for my sentiments are quite on the other side. I'm sure that, under normal circumstances, I'd be leaping around, enjoying the twists and turns. Not so much now.
Just as I was swearing loudly at another misstep, I looked up to see a couple of mountain bikers coming up the path ahead of me. It was noon or so, and they stopped to chat. They were experiencing some of my frustration with the rocky nature of the trail, and we chatted for awhile about gear, as they were bikepacking the trail as a father/son trek. I recommended the Babbit Ranch to them for its predictable though occasionally rocky roads. The day passed on from there, sparse trees, rocky cliff walls giving way into little juniper areas and elk sign aplenty. I saw several more elk during my afternoon break. Mid-bite into my cheese/pepperoni tortilla, a pair of young does wandered into the trail ahead of me, looked at me for a minute, then suddenly realized what I was, crashing into the trees on the other side of the trail.
My water options had appeared plentiful, but the campground faucet I'd longed for, Pine Grove, turned out to have closed for the winter, and I decided that my 2.5 remaining liters would get me through the night and the next morning.
I picked a fairly flat spot to give up for the day, knowing that the grass around me would be covered in frost in the morning, one of my favorite things to peer out of my tent-flap to see. I've brushed it off my tent for the past few days, much easier to deal with than proper dew.