OK, I made it off my lookout mountain without a single problem. I moved slow, kept my head up, and let Beans do her thing…whatever that is. There is no real name to the mountain that I was on but there is a railroad siding just below it. A sign says it is Vanar, AZ. Pretty fancy name and sign for nothing more than a wide spot with and extra set of tracks. I think it should be about mile marker 389 or so on I-10. That would put it about 1 – 1.5 miles west of the New Mexico state line.
So, if I have it figured right, I am about 125 miles from Tucson. That is 125 miles in 18 days. Or, averaging 7 miles per night of travel. I don’t think that is too bad really considering the circumstances. And, that means I should be home in about three to four weeks if everything goes well. Maybe I should say I will be home in three to four weeks…if at all. Walking for another three or four weeks seems like an impossible task. But, I made it so far…
I only had about three miles to go last night. My goal was to simply get off the mountain and get into a position to watch the west entrance to the pass. I figure I should spend plenty of time making sure that the pass is neither guarded nor used. Weird, the pass doesn’t have a name. Where I am right now is called Powers Canyon. I found a small pond laying right up against the mountain, never expected to see that there. It had some water in it but it looked pretty sketchy compared to the stock tank a hundred feet away. I watered up abut then went to the other side of the canyon to wait out the night. This morning it was pretty easy to find a good spot to hide, decent shade too.
I remember as a Boy Scout they told us that moss grows on the north side of trees. Well, in the desert southwest you don’t find much moss anywhere. But, trees grow on the north side of mountains, grass on the south side, for the most part. And bingo! I have shade trees (ok, large bushes) today while I watch for anything out of the ordinary.
Tonight at dusk when I push out I will have about 1.5 miles of open desert to make it to the beginning of the pass. Another two miles of walking pretty much north where my canyon will dead-end into a larger east-west canyon, again without a name. I will turn east and walk about two miles and then I might have a problem. There is a spot on the map at that point that is labeled “Guess Ranch.” I have no idea if it is a working ranch or maybe just a historic point of interest. If it is a working ranch then the next logical question would be if anyone lives there or is just corrals, pens, etc. I am hoping it is just a historic landmark.
If all that is good then I have about four more miles walking to the southeast to make it back to the train tracks. Bad part about that…the tracks run right next to the interstate again. Fortunately I will be at least three to four miles east of the blocked pass on the interstate. And it appears I will be about one mile east of an interstate exit called “Road Forks” that is the exit for Hwy 80. That highway heads due south to Cotton City and Animas, it dead-ends in Cloverdale way, way south. Actually, it doesn’t dead-end there technically. It then turns into a series of two-tracks that are not highways. If you know your way around it goes all the way to the border with Mexico. There is a fence down there, it is not a border crossing. Well, at least it wasn’t before the EMP strike, who knows what it is now.
I have a little concern about the highway but not much, I mean there isn’t really any vehicle traffic that I have seen so I am not thinking a cartel is using it…yet. Since I will be hitting the tracks/interstate at least four miles east of the blocked pass I doubt I will have any problems there. But, we will see.
If there is a good part of all of this the path tonight through my alternative pass is its all roads, mostly two-tracks if I am reading the map correctly. What is a little strange in the number of roads when I exit the pass on the east end. There has to be maybe five of six different roads that all intersect each other in a spaghetti fashion, all in the space of a mile. Should be no problem really with one exception. There is one road, first one actually, that appears to be the main road at the second intersection. If I stay on that road accidentally it bends right back into the blocked pass. So I have to alert.
Then two turns later, if I take the wrong turn I end up on the road again heading right back into the blocked pass but from the east. There are those two major ways I could get myself into big trouble tonight. To help avoid problems I am going to really watch my compass closely. If I am walking due south for more than thirty minutes I screwed up. Also, I think I can use an easily identified spot on the map (Guess Ranch) and then count my paces to the first turn, then between each subsequent turn. Doing that will help keep me on the right course. Notice I said “help”.
Desert two-tracks can be tough to deal with. If they are even used occasionally it is pretty easy to spot them…in the daylight. But, the desert can reclaim two-tracks pretty easily. I have no idea how well used these roads are and I am not traveling during the day. My SA sucks!
I am thinking somewhere around ten, eleven, or possibly twelve miles between here and hooking back into the train tracks. If I keep a decent pace I can make it before morning hits. I thought about leaving tonight before dusk but I realized I would be walking out in flat desert land easily seen from four or five different mountains. And I will only be about three or four miles from the trucks blocking the interstate. That is not enough of a safety cushion for me. So I will wait until full dark. But, that cuts my walking time way down. I will have maybe seven hours, possibly a little less.
I know that sounds like plenty of time to walk twelve miles, and it is. But, I won’t be walking two miles per hour that is nearly a normal walking speed. I have to be very cautious and watching for other people, ambushes, and then there is the ranch. I will be lucky to make it tonight. And I would really, really not like to depend on luck.
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