15 mi ::
399 mi ::
Sunny, warm, breezy
We return to the Uranium Cafe with Elaine. I have determined to attempt to eat a Uranium Yellow Cake with eggs. Ann and Elaine opt for the smaller Silver Cake, a pancake the size of a dinner plate and half an inch thick. My Yellow Cake is an inch thick and overhangs the plate substantially on all sides. It’s good, but I decline the Challenge: eat two and they’re free. We need to walk today.
Again we’d be in bad shape without Elaine, who drives us back and forth across Grants for breakfast, then post office, and finally to drop us off on NM547 and say farewell. Thanks Elaine!
On the way out of town we stop at the ranger station and see Marsha again. She makes some calls and gives us tips about water.
There are signs discouraging picking up hitchhikers, so it’s not surprising when we pass a prison. The double fences with razor wire top and bottom are intimidating. We wonder how many eyes are peering out at us through the dark windows.
At one point Jeff and Barb pull over to ask about our hike. Jeff is enthusiastic and eager to help us if he can. We get directions to his house near the trail where we might get water later.
The climb up Horace Mesa is good, with lots of blooming cactus. At the top we can see over Grants and a little bit of Zuni Canyon. Walking on top of the mesa is pleasant, very gradual climbing.
We spot Jeff’s house from the Mesa, a couple of hundred feet down. After some debate we decide it’s too much trouble when we have some tips about water along the route. If we keep going we might reach a different water source by bedtime.
The road is rutted and rocky, so we’re surprised to see a sheriff’s sedan-style patrol car creeping down. The officer says they patrol forest roads sometimes – this is his first. Later he comes back because the road got too rocky. We figure out by talking to him that the water source we were hoping to find tonight is nowhere near. Water tips are great, we decide, but not very useful unless you can pinpoint the location on a map. Now we’re counting on finding water at Gooseberry Spring in the morning. The Sheriff gives us some extra water for the night and wishes us luck.
I get excited when I spot a stock tank through the trees, but it’s dry. It’s a nice spot to camp though, so we settle in amidst the pines 2800 feet above Grants.