Bad luck and good people

by Gillian Larson | posted: May 3, 2018

Well, this day was the start of a series of unfortunate events which would end up playing out to a difficult conclusion later on in the week. The day prior I had a leaking tire and took it to a repair shop to be fixed; unfortunately, they didn't patch the leak well so my tire wasn't looking too good. I filled it with air and used a Fix-a-Flat can to hopefully patch it up enough to deal with when I returned. I was starting a 6 day section this morning and couldn't afford to get off schedule.

horned lizard

I arrived to a trailhead in the El Malpais National Monument where I was going to leave my truck and trailer. Unfortunately, as I eventually learned, national monuments are regulated similarly to national parks which requires that you have a permit in order to leave your vehicle. There weren't any signs at the trailhead stating this, however, so I remained blissfully ignorant. After saddling Shyla and loading Takoda, we started on the trail. We didn't get far though due to the incredible amount of lava rock. I was mostly not anywhere near the trail so as to skirt along the outside of the lava rock where the terrain still resembled dirt. After about 4 miles of very slow and careful going, I decided to double back to a dirt road I had crossed that led to a main road and walk along a highway that the trail was paralleling. Road walks aren't my favorite but this was much safer and easier going.

Water was pretty scarce in the morning so while walking along the highway I spotted a cattle trough. Just as I tried my horses to a fence so I could fetch them water, lo and behold, the owner comes driving down the road. He pulls over and introduces himself as Jimmy. Jimmy then insists on helping me climb through the fence and even grabbed some larger buckets out of his truck so we could water the horses more efficiently. The horses gulped down several gallons each and the three of us were so appreciative of Jimmy's kindness. Jimmy even offered us a place to stay, but unfortunately I had another 15 miles to cover in order to stay on track. Once off the highway, we rode along a dirt road for several hours until arriving at camp, which really was another cow trough with water that was a rusty red color from all the algae. It was a pretty chilly night with temps dropping down into the low 30s and the horses' water freezing over as it sat in their collapsible buckets.

our camp on the night of 5/3


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