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DWTH Day 29: WTF…823 ft Up in 0.34 miles?!

DWTH Day 29: WTF…823 ft Up in 0.34 miles?!

Stats

👣 Miles: 13.21

📈 Elevation Gain: 2,077 ft

📉 Elevation Loss: 3,251 ft

Overall Weather: Partly Cloudy, Warm

Hello, Steep!

A woman backpacker taking a sit break part way up a climb.
The Steepness Required Small Breaks

We managed not to fall in the pit mine last night. Small win. 

While we lay in the tent, we both made sure to rotate our ankles and lightly stretch our calves. 

Neither of us mind starting with cross-country…but we do prefer a little warm-up. 

Having woken up and down steep cross-country in the past, we know from experience it’s important to take small steps. Otherwise, you might overstretch your Achilles and that’s definitely not fun. 

I mildly thought my watch was wrong several times as I glanced down huffing and puffing. I swear we climbed about 200 feet and it registered 0.05 miles. 

Our goal was to gain a ridge by getting to a peak without a name, only a number. 

The going was slow. Not only was it steep, lots of the rock felt crumbly as we made our way through various cacti, ocotillos, catclaw, and thorn trees. 

At one point, I felt the rock I was stepping on starting to slip. In the split-second decision, I saw two options: eat shit or smash my knee into a Yucca. In that half second, I chose the Yucca. I straightened my leg, yanked the broken-off tip out from under my knee, and watched a new small blood stain appear. 🤷🏼‍♀️

The Ridge

An Arizona trail-less ridge line with expansive views.
Ridge Line Views

At the numbered peak, I looked down to see that we had gone 0.35 miles and gained 823 feet. 🤯

The ridge itself was a bit nicer with a better grade and fewer spikey plants. We continued up it enough to get to a good shoulder to descend. 

The Way Down

We started going down slowly, zig-zagging our way through ocotillos, various cacti, and rocky outcrops. Luckily, it was less steep than the ascent. 

At times, we found some game paths. It looked like the upper ones were made by cows and deer.  Wild burros seemed to favor the lower ones. 

Water Gap

Expansive desert views.
Desert Views for Days

We got to our only water source for the day and it was quite green with floaties, swimmers, and bees. 🐝 

If you moved slowly and didn’t sway, the bees left us alone. We moved the water around a bit before dunking the dirt bottle to scare the swimmers. And, we pre-filtered the water from one dirty bottle to the other with Karma’s shirt to remove some of the filler-clogging algae. 

We cooked dinner for lunch so we didn’t have to carry cook water, so the break took a while. 

Eventually, we filtered enough water to hike the second half of the day, dry camp, and hike half a day or so to water. 

Oh, You’re Not Done With Cross-Country Steepness

We left the water and had an uneventful traverse of the valley floor to a ridge of smaller mountains.  

That is, except for the military jets making obvious amounts of noise.  At one point, I think they were playing where one fake chased the other and they were shooting flares at each other right over us. We found some of their litter later. 

Of course, we climbed up and over the next mountains as well. While not as high or as steep, it felt rough because of the longer water carry and the heat of the day. 

It gave us pretty views and great cell service for a second. 

Wild Burros! 🫏

On the way down, Karma started singing about his Skittles being buried in his backpack. Instead of pausing and getting them out, he decided to sing loudly about them. 

I asked him to quiet down when I heard something and we saw two wild burros running away from us down in the wash. 

I got a few good photos before they huffed and trotted along. 

We passed a road that we wished we had cached a gallon or two of water at, then started up into the next set of hills. 

Part way up, I looked up to see another pair of Wild Burros even closer!  

I snapped some pictures as we crept closer and they moved away. 

After about 5 minutes of this, they decided to take another drainage away toward the sun with bad lighting. 

It’s been a while of seeing their tracks, scat, and trails without actually seeing them. It made the harder day just a little bit better. 

Camp

Like usual, we hiked until sunset and found the flattest spot nearby. 

As I write this, I’m listening to burros off in the distance as they, too, bed down for the night.