Two days after getting a lift back to where we left the trail, I am very happy to report that my new shoes have done the job! I can hike, I can carry a fully loaded rucksack, and although we have hiked over some seriously rough terrain, the discomfort from my still- somewhat-swollen toe joint is manageable. To say we’re relieved to be back on trail would be a massive understatement!
So on Friday, after my new shoes finally arrived by post from REI (men’s size 8 in a wide fitting, just about wide enough for my right foot), we headed back to the South Narrows picnic area, where we’d left the trail last week. Hugo Mumm, the local trail angel who took us out there, strongly recommended we do the Rim Trail – a 5 mile trail along the edge of a sandstone cliffs overlooking a large lava field. So after cooking dinner in the picnic area, we slowly and carefully made our way uphill onto the rim. It was an amazingly beautiful place, with the evening sunlight slanting in between the stunted gnarly pines, highlighting the warm colours of the rock. After a mile or two we came to a sandy basin surrounded by rocks and trees, and rather than put up our tent on such a warm night, we just laid out our mats and sleeping bags and slept under the moonlit sky.
The next morning we made an early start at 5.15, in expectation of yet another hot and cloudless day. But a beautiful red sunrise gave way to a cloudy grey day – not the best for photography, but a godsend for easier hiking!
We continued along the Rim Trail until a very tough, very steep descent path took us past La Ventana Arch, a spectacular rock arch. A couple of miles of roadwalking and we reached the start of the Zuni-Acoma Trail, a cairned route across a huge lava field. This is notoriously rough going, a tumultuous mass of craters, domes, ridges and crevasses, and we picked our way slowly across the black bubbly rock from cairn to cairn, thanking the weather gods for sending a good cloud layer to keep the sun off us!
After 7 miles of this we were relieved to get onto the dirt road along Bonita Canyon. We made swift progress along this before camping after a daily total of about 26 miles. This left just another 13 miles of roadwalking to go today before arriving back in Grants – and we’re very happy to be here!
Tomorrow we head out of town again, going north to Mt Taylor then to the town of Cuba in about 4 days time.