Devil’s Campground(10.9)-Courthouse Wash(28.9mi)
We got a leisurely start at 7:15am this morning. Being in a campsite with warmed bathrooms and running water defintely encourages a more relaxed morning. This leg is a great way to start off a long trail because it feels more like a weekend backpacking trip and we have time to work out the kinks. The weather has been unseasonably perfect with temps in the 60s (40s at night). We were prepared for greater extremes, especially colder nights, so we’ll take this while we can!
The day started with a short hike out of the campground area on some unnamed trails that eventually got us to a road where we walked a bit befoe heading cross country along an underground gas pipeline. There wasn’t a trail, but there were posts, so it was easy to follow. Slow going in deep sand, but it was entertaining to watch this hot air balloon as it rose and dipped, eventually landing and then taking off again. I also started my first audiobook of the trip. I tried the podcast Serial on the drive down and can’t do it with the disturbing images and topic of murder. Not my thing. I chose the book Tracks by Robyn Davidson, about a woman that hiked across Austrailia in 1977 with camels. Quite fitting for what I’m doing I think.
After the fenceline, it was some wonderful slick rock for a bit down to a wash. Water this seciton has not been a problem, but it soon will get much trickier and sometimes we will come across potholes with water in them that will save the day. Here is also our first pothole sighting of the trip…hoping for many more!
We got to the end of the alternate to see the Great Wall that we needed to find a way down…INCREDIBLE and a bit intimidating. Knowing others had found ways down this is the only thing that made me think it was possible.
There were cliff bands at angles that I never thought I’d be comfortable walking along that we traversed until we found somewhat comfortable spots to slide down or jump. The sandstone was thankfully grippy. Here is Katherine going down one of the bands. We’d drop our packs and then climb down. On this one, here full water bottle slid out and rolled into the abyss…lesson learned there and good thing she had plenty of water. Later, her iPhone popped out and that frightened me more than the water!
The last 6mi of the day was through Courthouse Wash. Brushy and unattractive at times, but towards the end, it became a visual treat that reminded me of the Gila along the CDT at the end of the day with early spring green and low sun shadows accenting the canyon walls.
We could have pushed into town, but chose to stop just before at this very inviting spot in Courthouse wash about a mile from the trailhead and road into town. What a great way to kick off this trail!