03 March 2006 Friday

Our campsite is the last one before the trailhead.  We’re sleeping in, or at least, enjoying the sunrise from the back of the truck.  We got ourselves together finally and headed up to the trailhead.  Shortly after we arrived, a park service truck pulled up and he headed up the trail, we assume, for trail maintenance.  Our hike started off in direct sun with a few low shrubs.  It’s about a two mile hike in and the first half in exposed and the second half is under trees and in the shade of a narrow canyon.  The trail ends at the base of a “pour-off”.  A pour-off is a low place in the canyon above that, during times of rain, the water collects and pours-off into the canyon below.  After a rain, this is a beautiful waterfall.  As we hiked back out, we saw something off trail and went to investigate.  It looked like some type of experimental station with two large water tanks and several plots of land roped off.  

Back at the truck we took a few minutes to eat.  We talk briefly with a guy who is hiking with his grandson in a few days and is trying to get back in shape.  He reminds us both of our friend Coyote in Tennessee.  Our days in the desert begin early, at day break, and we do our hike in the morning and try to be back by noon.  During the hottest part of the day, we are in the truck, with air conditioning, heading off to our next campsite.  Once there, we level our truck (usually with rocks under the tires), pull our the chairs and find a patch of shade.  Usually, it’s the shade of the truck.  We’ve used to solar shower a couple of times and it works great.  we have enough privacy to clean up occasionally.  In the dry desert air, we don’t sweat too much, but we’ve doused ourselves with sunscreen before hiking and we want to wash that stuff off. 

Our next stop in at Ernst Tinaja.  We camp nearby at La Noria, the closer ones are booked.  On the road in, we saw a couple of trucks that reported trouble with the 4-wheel drive road, but we didn’t have any trouble.  We took it easy in the afternoon and got the bikes down.   We have dinner, trying to clean out all the stuff in the cooler, so we don’t have to buy ice (at $3.00 a bag) to keep stuff cold while we are backpacking.  

At several of our campsites, we’ve seen tracks that might be mountain lion.  The park acknowledges there are about two dozen mountain lions in the park and have had a few recent sightings.  For the most part, they stay away from people, but they have had one recently that has been “curious” about humans and wasn’t scared off easily. 

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