It would have been okay, if everything went according to plan!
It was about a half hour drive to the trailhead. We were dropped off at 1:30pm about 3 1/2 miles (5 kms) north of the Mexico border.
An emergency distress station.
They have quite a few of these across the desert, although this is the only one that we have actually seen. We thought it was an odd location for it, since we're only an hour and a half walk from the border itself. Anybody who crossed the border on foot shouldn't be "distressed" quite this early into their hike!
If you need help, push the red button!
Lots of warning signs, and lots of evidence of illegal crossings. However we didn't see a soul (neither migrant or border patrol) the entire time we were out.
The first part of the hike was a little boring. Just walking on an old dirt road that led to the Milton Mine.
The cactus are pretty, but you can only take so many pictures of cactus!
At the Milton Mine, this was the last trail marker we would see.
About 45 minutes after the Milton Mine, the trail became confusing. We didn't see any markers or signs. There had been border patrol out here on ATV's and sometimes we weren't sure which path to follow.
Eventually, the trail we were on simply ended.
We could have retraced our steps to the Milton Mine, but then we might have had a tough time making it back to the campground before dark. And that was if we could find our way back to the Milton Mine.
Hmm. Which way do we go?
Lost in the desert.
We were essentially lost. However, we had a decent topographical trail map that gave us a good idea of approximately where we were. But now at 3:00pm, we were still a good 6 miles (10 kms) from the campground, and it's much slower going when you don't have a trail to follow. All of the bushes are thorny and you have to be very careful of where you put your feet. You would be lucky to do two miles an hour, and that's if you're actually going in the right direction.
It's a frustrating feeling!
But, we had no choice but to keep going. Sometimes, we were going in the direction we thought we wanted to be going, only to be stopped by a wash that was difficult to cross, or a line of thorns and cactus that we couldn't get through. There was no way we were making two miles an hour.
We were headed in the direction where we thought we would intersect the North Puerto Blanca Scenic Drive. Sure enough, at 4:15pm we spotted a section of the road. By 4:25pm, we were on the road itself.
So, we had slogged our way through the wild desert, without a trail, for an hour and twenty-five minutes. Not fun. How is it that we didn't bump into any of those 18,000 border patrol agents?!
So, now we knew exactly where we were, but we were still 5 miles (8kms) from the campground.
Oh well...one foot in front of the other!
Walking on the scenic drive.
We did see two vehicles who were driving on the road. We would not have turned them down if they stopped and offered a ride, but we weren't to the point of flagging them down.
We made it to the campground at around 6:00pm, just before the sun set.
We were beat. I figured it out, and we had hiked 10.3 miles (16.5 kms) without stopping for a break. However, we did have lots of water, and enough snacks that we ate while we were walking. The worst thing that could have happened was to be out after dark. So we had simply kept walking.
Obviously, I'm going to register a complaint of sorts with the park. There's no way that that trail should have been that confusing. If they're going to list it as an official trail on their trail map, then it needs to be easier to follow. We're not beginners at this, and we were fairly well prepared. Good thing, because it would have been easy for this to have become a problem.
Also, it didn't make sense for the shuttle to be heading out at 1:00pm. No, there is no earlier time listed. We're thinking 9:00am would have made a lot more sense! There had been two other couples with us in the shuttle van, but they were taking a shorter route at a closer drop off point, and we had already done part of that trail the day before. Plus, the late start time really wouldn't have been a problem had the trail been well marked.
Anyhow...we've had enough of the wilderness for a while! We're headed for the city of Tucson today...see you there!
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