9/18/16 Mile 4.1 to 20.8

by sedona maniak

What a damned beautiful morning.  I walked back to the wildlife tank to retrieve 5 L for today's walk and a dry camp tonight.  While I was squeeze-filtering the second liter, concentrating intensely on getting only clean water in the container, I failed to notice the gray fox that had come in just across from me to drink.  His nose was close enough to touch, and he looked at me curiously when I bade him a calm, "good morning."  I finished my filtering as he watched, seated next to the pool.  He was so close that I could confidently determine his sex.  Quietly and steadily, I walked back to my backpack about 100'; away, turned on my phone, and approached again.  There were stellar photos as the curious fellow allowed me within 10'; again.  I thanked him and moved on.

Just before lunch,  a badger crossed the trail a few yards ahead of me.  Being an idiot biologist, I followed it to a cloud of dust that it was hastily creating to escape me.  It ducked inside a hastily remodified burrow just before I could get a photo, but I snapped the den anyway.  Since they have such a well-deserved reputation as badasses, I decided to leave it there.

By the time I reached the dry reservoir, I was at about 2.5 L of water and thirsty.  I'd prepared for a dry camp, as the water spreadsheet on the ATA website had accurately characterized this reservoir.  To my elation, however, there were two pristine gallons of cached water at the nearby trail junction.  I drank a full liter standing there, then filled up another.  Excellent trail angel-ing!

About a mile later, a blister on the ball of my right foot popped in an agonizing way.  I decided to walk another mile, then make camp and do some blister care.  This leaves me in ponderosas and Gambel oak, on some comfortable duff.  I'm pretty happy with 16.5 miles on my first full day, actually.   I hope I can stand up tomorrow.

Critters and plants today:
Ponderosa pine!
Pinon pine
Gambel oak
Live oak
Several heavily grazed bunch grasses
Lichens aplenty
Mojave yucca
That same damned goosefoot shrub
Desert Firecracker
Indian paintbrush
A lovely purplish penstemon
Prickly pear
Old man prickly pear
Silver cholla
Some mammalaria
Chamacyce (sp?)

Northern goshawk
Pinon Jay
Mountain bluebird
Golden Eagle
Redtail hawk
Some Empidonax
Some wren with lots of yellow
A large Coyote
Gray fox
Squirrels of many sizes
Horned lizard