Elk Wallow Ridge
13 mi ::
246 mi ::
Sunny, some clouds, warm
Some of Wayne’s tribe are up before the sun, getting ready to hunt wild turkey. Not wanting to appear lazy, we pack up and bid them good hunting.
We soon pass the turn where our spring should be. There’s supposed to be a tank, but we don’t see it and keep walking. About half a mile later we figure out we’ve passed it, and hike back with the water bags. We should believe what the map says by now, but sometimes our minds just refuse to accept it.
We have to do some bushwacking up to a ridge to join our first section of trail right on the divide. It isn’t trail as you might imagine it, just a series of blazes on trees and not much actual tread. It’s better than bushwhacking, though.
There are nice views in both directions. To the west are more forested mountains, and East is the Rio Grande valley. Ann has a hard time enjoying the the views though, because she has a new, intense pain in her foot caused by pressure from a strap on her shoe. We stop twice to cut away bits from the offending sandal. This relieves the pressure, but the lingering pain slows us way down for a while. The trail is full of steep climbs and descents on the divide, increasing the difficulty.
Eventually we emerge on a road. To our amazement, some more wild turkey hunters pull up in their truck and give us sodas – Mt. Dew this time.
Ann’s foot starts to feel better, and we make good time on a contouring road until dusk. Then we hit an intersection that’s not on the map. A hunter wanders by and tells us he’s seen the trail up a road that heads southeast, a direction that seems like backtracking to us. We get out the GPS, and soon decide we’re on the wrong road.
A confused series of events follows. We set off on the road going southeast. It gets dark. We nearly set up camp below an earthen dam, but I decide to investigate a ways up the ridge first. I climb, when below I hear a monstrous splashing, hooting, and trampling. I run back a few steps towards Ann, then realize that I’ve frigtened a herd of Elk wallowing in the pond behind the dam. They make an unbelievable racket, prompting us to both climb the ridge and put the tent up by headlamp on top.