When I woke up from the brief, perhaps hour long sleep that I got last night, I was not the usual energetic starter. The toe infection may be worse than I thought. But, I packed up and trudged out into a glorious morning in the forest, coming immediately upon a group of guys who had just been dropped off at the nearby trailhead. Sometimes, it's that obvious. I didn't see the car pull away, but they had that muted terror in their eyes. They seemed to be three generations of a family. Grandpa in a nice old North Face external frame pack, his two slightly pudgy desk-job sons in very new REI gear, and one grandson, standing at a painful 150 degree angle under the weight of far too much stuff on his lithe 16-year-old frame. One son was toying with a new Leki trekking pole, frustration mounting on his face. I attempted to compliment grandpa on his pack, but he thought I was ridiculing him. Fail. Then, I tried to help trekking-pole guy, but he'd done something inscrutable with the thing, and I couldn't fix it. Fail again. Finally, I just wished them a good hike, knowing better.
Throughout the day, I was either tired or lost in thought, and I missed the "trail" signs (read "carsonite road signs") probably 10 times. I think I must have hiked 4 extra miles just getting back on track. I ran into the trail steward for the section at one point, and he said it had once been a difficult area to navigate, but wasn't it better now? I tried, diplomatically, to tell him that I was having a tough time, but that it was probably me, not the signs. Finally, one wrong turn took me halfway down an alternate route to one of the wildlife tanks, and I gave up and took it, cutting half a trail mile off. Fair enough, given the detours, I reasoned. And so I gathered water from Gonzales Tank. I caught a young Chihuahuan night snake on the way and noticed that its tail was broken from the cloaca on.
I set up my tent in sight of the wildlife tank among some trees (yeah, I know, but I just wanted one night of wildlife watching, dammit). There were coots and a couple of mallards, but no ungulates to be seen. One cow stood alone in the surrounding meadow, staring at me. All around were distant gunshots.
As I lay in my tent tonight, it is clear to me that I am not healing. My knee and leg are in pain and swollen again, my right big toe is oozing green and the skin is not a pleasant shade of yellow. Furthermore, the knowledge that there may be a job for me, according to an email received in Flagstaff, coupled with my desire to sell my trailer in Ehrenberg to the guy who is patiently waiting for me to finish this trail is causing me to consider quitting. I also miss T, who has patiently endured my desire to disappear. I am a long day or two short ones from Pine, which was to be my next resupply, but I have no ambition to get that far at the moment. I believe that I will hit the Highway 87 road crossing tomorrow and hitch out.