Llamas and Donkeys and Hares, Oh My
- CDT Miles: 438.8-443 (4.2)
- Cebolla Alt. Miles: 0.0-18.8
- Narrows Rim Trail: (5.3)
- Total Hiked: 396.7 miles
- Elevation Range: 6,960-7,860
Beauty sunrise, eh?
Pretty uneventful morning road walk, except for two unexpected animal sitings. The first were these donkeys hanging by the side of the road. Sadly, one appeared to have a hurt foot. And I’m pretty sure my graceful lone horse grazing out in the meadow last night was one of these.
The feel of the morning can even make a road walk quite serene.
Maybe a mile up ahead was yet another group of intriguing animals..
Here’s the sign where I finally got off the road I’d been on for 28 miles! Hooray. I pretty much went straight east from here towards the cliffy hills I’d been looking at last night while cooking dinner. I moved now to maybe a 2.75 on the road scale. Might’ve been a 2, but I wasn’t feeling the loose soft sand in places.
Then we got to a 1, basically trail, but two tracks.
And finally single track trail!
Saw a bunny aka a hare…
Followed a cool wash/canyon.
And then the trail started making its way up the wider canyon with steep rocky cliffs on each side.
Around 9:00am, I made it to this cool old cabin and found Wardrobe. Had second breakfast and caught up a bit. Wardrobe has some maps with with notes and such. She said this cabin has an old foundation that was later added onto, which is all the metal and wood.
Wardrobe moved on ahead, but told me where I might find some petroglyphs on a large rock. Once moving, I did find them! For some reason I didn’t take any photos though. It wasn’t long after this that the trail went up the northern canyon rim.
Once above it was pretty flat again. After a few miles I made it to a pond. Still a cow pond, but less cow activity it seemed. I filled up one bottle as an emergency source, didn’t filter though, and moved on
Next, I popped out on some two track cruising through a different canyon (Cebolla Canyon?). It was quite pleasant. Walked with Wardrobe for a bit, but when I took an early lunch, she continued ahead to get to water.
As I was walking back to the road to keep trekking, I noticed two hikers walking my way. They were still a ways off, so I started walking, but after a bit decided to take a break and see who it was. Com (crazy old man) and Quentin from France were having a nice stroll together chit chatting away. I joined in walking with them, but Iistened in mostly.
The three of us split as Quentin got water from a source first, then I did, and Com continued on to the Highway 117 road walk.
Pretty good water source I’d say. The cows literally climbed inside the tank when I was there, but I filled right from the pipe’s flowing water. Filled up for my biggest carry yet at 5.25 liters.
Then, hit the road. I planned to go about 4.5 miles ahead and cut off on to the Narrows Rim Trail. Other hikers had pointed this out to me as an option. Essentially the road gets to a point where it cruises along below some giant orange and white sandstone cliffs, whereas this trail takes you up on top for a few miles.
I was getting excited as I neared the large and impressive-looking cliffs…
Took a little break at the trailhead to stretch out. These road walks are no joke. It’s like the muscles just tense up for some reason. But, I was excited to get up there, so off I went and it was pretty spectacular!
This is looking back from where I’d come from.
The wide dark expanse on the opposite side of the highway is all lava rock of El Mapias National Monument. Crazy geology and a very uniquely beautiful scene that I was happy to see from this vantage point rather than walk through.
From above, I got a different perspective on the lava rock and could see the larger forms of the fissures and cooling cracks.
Super windy up there!
Towards the start of the trail, I was hugging the rim and couldn’t get enough of looking out, but after I while I returned from the exposed rock to the trail a little ways in. Some cool stuff there too!
Every now and then I’d pop out to check things out on the rim though. This video shows it better. A little calmer in the wind department.
The Narrow Rim Trail is supposed to be 4.5 miles to “the overlook.” The whole trail seemed like an overlook to me, but I did know when I got to this feature because it opened up a whole new view towards the north and Mt. Taylor (I think) in the distance (which I hope to summit in a few days!).
There was also a stellar view of La Ventana Arch from above in nice end-of-the-day lighting…
“Wow!,” you’re probably thinking. “That’s amazing Stevie. Good decision to take the Narrow Rim Trail.” Indeed, it was amazing, but here’s where things get sketchy.
So… I’d heard about this trail from other hikers. It shows up on my mapping app, but it ends at this overlook. I was told there is a trail that continues and that I’m supposed to follow it for a little while further on top of the rim, following cairns, and then there’s a route down. A scramble I think some comments reported it as. That seemed reasonable at the time, before when I was planning and scheming my route, but up here, seeing how high and how cliffy these cliffs were, I was quite hesitant now.
I followed the “trail,” which turned out just to be a social trail, and looked for a point where the topographic map lines seemed to be spaced a little further apart, indicating a less steep grade. First attempt going down was a disaster. Started down a wash of sorts and it dead ended at a sheer drop. Scary. Back up I climbed. And climbing with a backpack isn’t easy or fun. Not really knowing what to do and considering setting up camp to reassess tomorrow, I started going back the way I’d come. Then I saw it, the cairn pathway, and knew right away I’d found the way down. It was sketchy and indeed a loose rock scramble, but I felt much better seeing an actual route of switchbacks.
I made it down. I was tired after some strenuous stuff and putting in the most miles in a day yet for me, but I was down. In hindsight, knowing all the info. about the trail, I don’t think I’d repeat the endeavor. I don’t like the idea of not being on designated trail and am a tad ashamed that I did it. I was careful not to tread on any bio crust and only stepped where others already had, but still felt bad about it. I’m being straight with y’all and that’s that.
I still had to find a spot to camp though. Problem was, I’d popped out right by the parking and short trail for the arch and didn’t like the idea of camping right there potentially having tourists gawking at the dirty hiker man in the bushes.
Here’s where I came down…
Even in my stressed and exhausted state, I still couldn’t help admiring this beauty…
I’ll just say I made my way back to the Highway and didn’t go far before finding a stealthy spot to cowboy camp. Probably not the greatest spot with prickly pear surrounding me, yikes!
Wow wow wow, what a day!
Album of the Day
“By and By” – Caamp