Ok, today is going to be downhill. I think.

Yesterday, I was pretty sure it was going to be flat, and I was wrong. I tend to misjudge elevation profiles, often to the detriment of my intended schedules.


I'm pretty sure it's downhill.

And it is.

Thank goodness.

I'm descending into a canyon, and the temperature is quite reasonable. Warm, even. It's not often during a winter hike that putting your hands in a stream to collect water is refreshing and welcome, but this is one of those days.

The landscape reminds me a bit of northern Arizona, and there are patches that almost look like Florida. It's a pleasant day, but I can feel the difference that empty carbohydrates makes, both in my energy and mood. It's not a big deal, though; it's just part of the game.

There's no cell coverage today, which is often for the best. I have a plan to make it to the next town for my resupply package sooner than later, because I really would like to eat my pre-prepared food instead of what I currently have.

I pass by several section hikers, which is rare for this trail.

One group was 8 deep, and they were all listening to a man telling a story. He was really engaged, but no one else seemed to be.

They all had really heavy packs.

One of the girls looked up at me with a strange look; she might have been asking for help from his story. There was nothing I could do, so I just nodded. She would have to listen to the entirety of it.

Probably all the way up the mountain I had just descended.

Another man and his son, or maybe nephew passed by. He had tattoos all over his body, and I wondered if he was an experienced outdoorsman showing his nephew the wilderness, of whether he was just as clueless as I used to be. His face told me the latter. He almost looked scared. Maybe the kid was the expert.

The scenery gets kind of boring, but I can see that everything will change once I climb out of the canyon.

At one point I stop to sit and rest, and tarantula-looking spider casually crawls by me. It's massive, and particularly ominous looking. I think it’s a wolf spider, but don't recognize this particular design of spider. Can it jump?

Let's find out!

I move toward it ever so slightly.

It stops.

The great thing about large spiders is that they're aware of predators, more so than smaller spiders that have no problem with crawling wherever.

If it jumps I'm going to jump too.

It doesn't move.

Even when I get closer.

It's probably scared.

Good. Don't jump on me Mr. Wolf.

I step over it, watching it the entire time to make sure it doesn't attach itself to my skin and take me as a host.

Over the mountain, I see overgrown infrastructure. Broken concrete floors. Remnants of walls.

Apparently this used to be a prison camp. The upcoming trailhead is named after a Japanese man that refused to report to an internment camp, and so ended up here.


The trailhead is full of car campers, complete with massive coolers of plastic and every type of luxury you can think of.

I wonder if these folks think they're roughing it. With their heat, air conditioning, and 20 pound tents.

Goobs. Also I might be somewhat jealous. But let's not tell anyone.

The garbage cans are not completely closed, and there is garbage collecting around them, so I pick it up and close the latches on the animal-proof garbage cans.

I've only got a short time before sunset, and I would like to make it over the next mountain. I can't camp in the campground without paying a fee, and there's nothing appealing about this place.

I don't have time to filter water and make it up and over the mountain, so I down some peanut m&ms and go for it. Surprisingly, I make it faster than I thought I would. Usually, it's the other way around.

The other side of mountain is beautiful, and a much nicer area than the established campground I passed earlier.

There's a water trough coming up, but it seems to be guarded by 3 horses. Cows will move away if you walk toward them, but horses may or may not. Horses are also dangerous if you creep up on them, so I try to move slowly around the one horse that is giving me the side eye.

I find a decent spot for my bivy about 50 feet from the trough. The horse doesn't like me that close, but sunset is almost upon us both - he will have to deal with it.

After setting up camp, I head down to the stream since the trough is being guarded, but I have to pass by the horse. I move slowly, and make continuous soft noise to alert him to my presence, but he gets startled anyway. Were I right next to him, I would have gone flying from his kick.

This horse does not want me here. He has made it very clear. But he will have to deal with it.

After filling up with water, I find another route back to my campsite, and cook dinner. The horse is no longer watching me, and he and his friends seem to have moved up the hill. Maybe he’s been distracted by the beautiful developing sunset. I wonder if he'll come to visit me this evening.

If he does, I'll be ready. As much as I can be, lying on the ground, exposed in a bivy.

During the night, I hear something moving in the bushes right beyond my site.

The horse has come to check up on me.
I’m still here, horse. And I’m not leaving.

He meanders off, and I drift off to sleep, unconcerned.