The off-trail route started just fine. After all, it's a wash, so it's well defined.

A wash, for those who don't know, is the path that water takes when it rains, and carves out its own trail-like path.

It's often difficult to tell the difference between a small wash and a trail.

In this case, the wash is large enough to be a road, and it has its own inhabitants: a tribe of bovines.

Rather bold bovines.

This area of New Mexico has lots of grazing cows, but the primary use of the land is not for grazing, it's for mating. I've gathered that it's mating season, because today is the 3rd time I've seen a bull try to mount another cow.

I've never seen the cow accept the mount, though. Usually she just runs off a couple of feet, and the bull just meanders about.

It may be because I'm there.

"No, Bill! What's wrong with you?! I can't relax with that thing watching. We don't even know what that is, but it concerns me"

If your game is strong enough, I wouldn’t matter.
Bill stares at me.

I get pretty close. Close enough that I wonder if I should do anything special, because this particular bull looks like he wants to charge me for ruining his game.

They all look like they want to charge.

I verify that he is a bull from his underside, moving slowly toward him, and he finally does mosey off.

Very.

Very.

Slowly.

-

The wash becomes very technical, and much harder to get through than I imagined. I accidentally kick a rock with my left foot, and it's clear there will be consequences to that.

It's the first time I've noticed that Altra trail runner shoes sacrifice sturdiness in the toe area for weight.

Erg.

Getting past the wash, I wonder how far I am. Only halfway. And it's time to climb the mountain.

At the top, there's a barbed wire fence with no opening.

Yeah. I forgot that could be a thing. I don't want to pull on the fence, because it was clearly difficult to get such a structure to completely traverse this hillside.

Show-off
My pack can easily be thrown over, but I can't find a way without potentially tearing either my lightweight nylon clothing, or my skin.

Hmm.

Maybe under. Maybe I can shimmy.

After clearing the sharper rocks and cacti out of the way, I slowly get my lower legs under. Then my hips, within a couple of inches of a barb.
Now my chest, and I eventually get to my neck. This is somewhat precarious, but I can move slowly, and I'll be fine.

And then.

I'm through.

My pack and I are reunited.

Coming down the mountain, I cross more fields, and eventually come to the last water cache I paid for when I started the trail.

It's empty. My ankle is fine, but my toe hurts.

This wasn't worth it.

But I'm proud of my accomplishment.

-

I march triumphantly into Lordsburg with no food and no water left. I've also underestimated the New Mexico sun, and I'm burnt on my lips and the back of my hands.

Oasis
But my pack is light, set high on my back, and when I walk into the Econolodge motel that has set themselves up as the thru-hiker's oasis, the manager proclaims to another:

That looks like a hiker who hasn't started yet.

Are you going to start tomorrow?

I've walked from Crazy Cook.

Really? You look pretty good for someone who just walked 85 miles.

Why thank you.

When I enter my room, I turn the air conditioning on to the coldest setting and lay on the bed in the fetal position, soaking up the cold air.

The Mark VIII is ready for a nap