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DWTH Day 9: Petroglyphs, Some Cross-Country, & First Blood

DWTH Day 9: Petroglyphs, Some Cross-Country, & First Blood


👣 Miles: 16.85 ft

📈 Elevation Gain: 873 ft

📉 Elevation Loss: 623 ft

Overall Weather: Partly Cloudy

Good Morning, Dew

Instead of chanting, we fell asleep to cows in the distance. It made sense because we moved some cow pies to have a flat spot to camp. 

We awoke to another soaking wet tarp despite it not raining. Because of how much water fell over 3 days, the desert is still wet everywhere. You can see it in the fresh shades of green in the creosote and the swollen spines of saguaros. 

Messy Dirt Roads

The morning consisted of a very messy dirt road. It definitely had plenty of milky water if one was desperate. However, it would for sure clog a filter. 

Instead, we had to use our poles when jumping over the puddles because the edges were slick mud. Neither of us felt like eating shit this morning. We had a few last-minute-throw-down-the-hiking-pole saves as we slide around. 

Fortunately, mud allows for some tracking fun. We saw prints of coyotes and some larger bird talons. A few canine prints were questionable since we saw a fresh OHV track as well. A print here or there looked more feline, but not super clear. The best spots to look for tracks are the muddy sides of puddles where an animal will go for a quick drink. 


Since I wanted to do the extra steps to actually sit on top of Wasson Peak yesterday, Karma called those steps in to do extra for petroglyphs. 

We took a wash over to a bunch of rocks with cool petroglyphs AND a very majestic red tailed hawk perched above. 

While Karma looked at all the petroglyphs, I busied myself trying to photograph a Blue Gray Gnatcatcher. The little bugger would not hold still and constantly dove in and out of a mesquite bush making it a challenge of patience. 

Some Cross-Country Bits

After the Grand Enchantment Trail, we got super familiar with Blisterfree’s route style: use trails as much as possible, then dirt roads, and cross country when needed. 

We went cross-country 3 times today, the first two of which were pleasant. Those sections had relatively good space between cacti and other plants with spikes. We could easily wind our way in a general direction. 

First Blood

The last cross-country section of today started great on a cow path until it suddenly turned a direction we didn’t want to go. So, we turned off and began winding our way through the cacti.  That is, until they became thick. Somehow we ended up in a mesquite thicket. We managed to bat back some of the worst branches with our hiking poles, but sometimes it was protect your face or your legs. We chose face. 

Karma’s first blood happened on his finger batting a branch away from his head. Mine ripped open a few small slices on my legs while protecting my face. 

I’ve never done a thru-hike where I’m not bleeding in the first 100 miles somehow. 😂

Questionable Wild Horses

Toward the end of the day, we started seeing horse hoof prints in the mid. But, not with horseshoes. A wild horse hoof is typically round with a V cut out. Almost like a pie with a slice missing. 

Then, near a rancher-developed cow water source, we saw a group of 4. I was still questioning it since they looked a little too healthy to be fully wild. 

Our next clue was a particular poop pattern in the road. We’d seen the exact same pattern in the Basin in Wyoming on the CDT with Wild Mustangs. 🤔

A mile later, we saw another group of 5 horses. 

Based on their proximity to ranchers developed water sources and salt licks, it could go either way. 🤷🏼‍♀️


We went until right before dark when we found a mostly flat space filled with older cow pies. 

Naturally, we kicked and flung the cow pies away and set up camp!

Right as we finished, we caught the tail end of a sunset. 🌅 

We made an unusually good vegan dehydrated dinner…Kung Pao Rice, Beyond Beef, Bell Peppers, and Cabbage! 🤤

Since we pre-make all of our dehydrated backpacking meals with my Mom’s help, sometimes we don’t know how good a combination will be until we’re out hiking.