Monday, July 29, 2013

To Winston

To Winston:
Dates: 7/22-7/25
Section Mileage: 114.5m
VL Mileage: 1969.5m
GET Mileage: 286m

Forced to zero in Magdalena as I got there on Saturday afternoon, I fell for the quaint, small, dusty town. A water shortage has the town on high alert for conserving water, however, little did they know the upcoming week would be a really wet, monsoonal one. In the end, I was glad to rest there as the next 230m or so it would be tough to have a place to chill.
I left Magdalena and entered the namesake mountains. Steeply up, 3,000ft, I persisted until I hit North Baldy Peak. Massive, porous rock walls clung to the high reaches of the Maggie Divide unknown to the wayward valley viewer. A grand vista lay to the west and south of my next leg. Again, dark clouds hindered my view of the upcoming mountain ranges. At the apex of the Maggies a forceful storm moved quickly in. Up there on the crest sat an observatory and a lightning research center. I wondered if the scientists ever got used to the reverberating thunder and electric lightning. Because I sure as hell have not yet!
Moving along the crest road thunder clamored the thin air, now thick with water vapor. I picked up my walking pace into a slow jog. The rain fell harder as I found my trail off the Maggies. I descended quickly before stopping under a humungous doug fir, lightning being the culprit for stoppage. A white strike hit the alpine grass a couple hundred of feet above me, the thunder grinded like cogs in a generator. My hair on my neck stood on end, and then marble-sized hail fell. In a flurry of white, hard-hitting pellets I wended my way down switchbacks. The trail became a creek and the giant mechanical machine echoed violently above me; I was in the belly of an electric beast. I moved faster becoming drenched, but I needed to get down. I flinched at every white flash and clap. I yelled at the sky: 'Give me BLUE!' 
After an hour in the mess, and I somewhat down the mountains, blue sky and sunshine blared from out the clouds. I kept walking, wanting to dry out, amongst short grassy plains speckled vibrantly in green. In a sandy wash, just below a cholla choked plain, I stumbled onto a coyote den. Two pups screamed from out their hole, the mother sprinted towards a hill top. One of the pups kept on nagging me from about 75ft, barking and yipping and growling. I kept on trekking but quickly. Soon the barks became a distant murmur, the ululating wind of the plains and washes enveloping all sound.

The San Mateos loomed in the short distance. The range became black as the day came to an end. Another nasty storm hammered me in the night. A hundred feet or so from my tarp the dry Big Rosa Canyon became a roaring flood. In the morning, I walked up the flood plain littered with detritus from the minor flood until I hit Potato Canyon. Another 3,000ft up and I was on the crest of the San Mateos but rather than trail I followed a dirt road, my views of the valleys stunted by the tall pine forests lying along the road.
The San Mateos are distinguished by 2 sides: the northern being a rolling gentle range, while the southern undulates ruggedly from apex to saddle. In between the split, however, after an initial steep plunge, long ribbons of canyons flounder lazily to their connection. Broad cottonwoods line some of the drainages and stout ponderosas are situated in green glades, simply beautiful and peaceful. The air was muggy and sweltering. If I wasn't wet from rain, then it was from the humidity, drenched actually. My tough day ended after climbing up 2,500ft, only to go down another 1,500ft to climb back up again, until I camped on a saddle beneath the San Mateo Mountain lookout tower. A large bear scurried away from me as I climbed tom the saddle. Night fell and I stayed alarmingly awake mainly from an electrical storm that surged overhead and not just the bear. My nerves had begun to get shook from all the tempestuous weather.

The southern edge of the San Mateos broke completely off, or at least they appeared to do so. Rock and talus slopes funneled down a sharp gulch, straight down the mountain the trail descended. Water rushed from pockets in the rocky talus giving me fresh rain water to drink. The range ended in high alluvial plains the fell sharply into San Mateo Canyon and neighboring Monticello Canyon. Once in Monticello Canyon I noticed the effects of major flooding. Muddy water forcefully rushed down the creek channel. Mud caked the dirt road and grass and other shrubs flattened from the high water mark. The picturesque canyon was very verdant and the air was redolent with Spring's aromas yet everything seemed to be in disarray. Soon the road was completely washed out and I walked up the middle of a low, muddy flood. The murky water was warm and tiny speckles of dirt and other crap pattered my legs. My socks became filled with sand and pebbles. Through the canyon narrows I waded, the sight became tropical with a thick bosque and green plants, as well as the cawing and tweeting of seemingly far-out birds.

I hit the NM State dirt road highway hoping for an uncertain hitch. My prospects seemed bleak as in the hour I waited not a single vehicle passed. Since it was mid-afternoon and I had no shelter I decided to push on. My plan was to attain the paved, lonesome highway some 20m or so away and try for a potentially 2 vehicle hitch. Thunderstorms weighed heavily on my mind and the urge to stay ahead or to use clear weather for mile gainage was utmost on my mind. I left the lonely highway and hiked crosscountry up a juniper-lined ridge. In Knisley Canyon, at a windmill, I harkened to waterproof my self and gear, for a giant cell of cumulonimbus hovered over me.
These storm systems are strange. I can feel the soft wind down at floor level and I could tell you which way the system is moving to or coming from. I use this to 'time' my way in proceeding on hiking. But times, in sudden, quick changes of time, these clouds form without notice, instantly. I know the storms come and go, fleetingly, but then time seems to stop. I imagine the weight of some of these enormous clouds must be beyond comprehension, in fact, I know they are.
I hiked up Knisley Canyon trying to get as far up it as possible before I knew I would have to hunker down for cover. The storm hit and sat. Rain fell in a deluge in a matter of seconds. The canyon had little coverage so I settled for an broad-canopied alligator juniper. The hills around me were painted a bare green grass. Day became night, thunder rumbled, and I huddled even closer. The heavy rain became heavier, lightning struck all around me. I hope it would be a short dump. 

An hour passed. I could see the system circle in the heavens above. I realized that the sunshine I had been walking in earlier was in the middle, or the eye, between 2 large cells converging on each other. I now huddled up underneath a lone tree in a bare canyon waiting for the end.

A flash of lightning hit on the hillside opposite the canyon, only about 150ft or so. An explosion of mud erupted in the air; the white flash and bolt and roar of thunder all hit simultaneously. I jumped from my crunched position. I yelled out: 'Fuck all!' I instantly became frightened. For the next 2 days whenever I blinked I saw that particular white flash of lightning. My heart raced, my adrenaline pumped and I began to think erratically. I had to make a move, so I thought! CRASH!!!! Another white flash and electric crunch hit near me. I thought the tree behind me got struck! I could hear, wait, no, I could feel the electricity. I leaned back on the dirt and closed my eyes. I mentally embraced the scene in my mind's eye. All the noise, the feeling of the air. Then, I realized the loud rush of things wasn't the wind: Knisley Canyon had become a roaring river. A muddy torrent flowed down a chasm some 50ft from me. Shit...

The tree I hunkered under became flooded. My ass sat in cold water. A gnat flew directly in my eye and I let it dig in. I zoned out on the hillside across from me and every time I blinked I saw that white flash. Another hour and a half...

Suddenly, a window to the east opened up and the rain lightened. I sprang to my feet and ran up valley. I sloshed through the mud and puddles. Unfortunately, I had to ford the flooding creek a couple of times, I had no choice! Walls inside the creek channel gave way, everything became super-saturated and liquefied under its sopping water weight. I kept up a brisk running pace, breathing in a calm, meditative manner. I had to be in a better position. I couldn't wait for that fleeting, violent storm to end, especially with the possibility of getting struck by lightning.
I ran. I ran, on and on for an hour. A loud electric whirr filled the air. The noise was so loud I thought it was a giant laser beam being shot, you know, like the ones from cartoons or comics from the evil genius. I ran up a slippery, muddy hill and saw a cow pond. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of frogs and toads croaked so loud it brought a tingle to my spine, like electricity from lightning. At least they were enjoying this deluge.

I meandered way off route and settled up under another large juniper for the night. I laid on my sleeping bag feeling quite gloomy. But during this state of despair I surmised my experience as thus: 'In order to do great shit, sometimes one must endure great shit.'

Rain continued throughout the night. Around 5am I hurriedly broke camp and hiked onward up drainage. I had an idea of where I was at but I couldn't continue up to the Divide and the GET. Mist clung to the trees and drainage I was in, while on the Divide clouds still grumbled and groaned. I couldn't take the chance, plus I was still pretty well shook up from yesterday. I made my own alternate, with my own bearing and did a shambled mix of forest roads and crosscountry until I hit the pavement. I walked towards town and saw only 3 cars, all going the other way. All the way to Winston, by foot...

Sometimes in order to do great shit, you must walk counter-current normal to the flow of others.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

To Magdalena

To Magdalena:
Dates: p.m. 7/16-7/20
Section Mileage: 145.5m
VL Mileage: 1855m
GET Mileage: 171.5m

I have been a wanderer, a vagabond, my whole life. This realization is more evident to me while trekking this summer. I have floated in and out of people's lives. I have been positively impacted by them and I hope I have done the same. My time is brief, then I drift on.

Leaving the town of Tijeras was harder than expected. My first couple of days back on trail I felt intensely lonely. 
Into the Manzano Mountains I went, now on a definite route. The mountains were lonely; nobody, not even a single footprint, imprinted their existence on me. The Manzanos rose steeply from the Rio Grande Valley. Rocky and rugged, I followed a trail tumbling along the crest, undulating on exposed ridgelines. At one point, from a high vantage point, I gazed west and followed the plains until brown alluvial fans swept underneath the Manzanos. My neck cricked towards my feet as the plains had a contradictory illusion of sloping downward into the mountains. If the brown, dusty terrain out yonder was seawater it was crashing along the shores of a massive island.


My mornings in the mountains were cold and humid. The air was heavy and the dampness clung to everything, every tree limb, leaf and needle. I, too, became drenched. The sun poked out of thin, low clouds crashing into the crest. Fog enveloped the high forest, the sun dimmed. I kept at it, walking with intent.

My second night in the Manzanos the wind howled and the occasional fat rain pellet would pelt my tarp. I was on a high, exposed ridge and was susceptible to lightning, but all the tempestuous monsoonal weather did was bark, no bite. However, it made for a fretful night of sleep. At one point, in the wee morning hours, I startled awake to silence. I said out loud to myself, coldly: 'The wind has stopped.'

The trail was littered with fresh bear scat and track. Sure enough, I ran into 5 bear in 2 days. At a spring, just off the crest, a cub and sow appeared. I left the spring immediately with the sow holding her ground. The next morning, I encountered a large male. He stood about 20ft from where I stood. I yelled at him and stomped my feet. He turned and darted the other way. He powerfully lumbered down the steep hill obliterating trees. Different than an elk in retreating with grace, the bear exhibited a pure essence of power. I remember thinking, 'Why should he be running away from me?!'

The ridgeline wended on and on, climbing up and down steeply. The views were stupendous and far-reaching. Eventually, the mountains petered out and I left the aspen and spruce forests for the pinyon and juniper savanna.

Shadows lined the stark contours of the arid land. In Sand Canyon, I followed tracks of a bear. Fresh as they were, I expected to see him, however, I would still be surprised to see him in that terrain. The rugged, torn canyon walls poked up higher the lower I went. Dark, ominous clouds moved in a battleship fashion. I hit the confluence with Abo Canyon, as a few bighorn sheep stood on knife edges on the rocky outcrop jutting into the canyon. Rainwater pools dotted the rocky crevasses and the muddy recesses beneath the salt cedar. A series of trains passed on the trellis hanging over the canyon, the sound of the engines soothing my inner, rushed tempo.

Out another lesser canyon, I found the bear tracks. Within about 2 miles I heard a scurry among the willows and a cinnamon bear hurried up the cliff and scampered in the open dodging pinyon and juniper. I yelled in a raspy voice: 'Lo! I've been following you! Long way!'

Low rolling hills and flat, large mesas dominated the scene. The occasional conical butte sprouted up; the scene changed. The wind whistled and a subdued peace resided inside me. I walked from windmill to windmill following a course mostly on lonely dirt roads and less on a crosscountry route. The land was barren but beautiful, even eerie. The clouds moved in a blitz krieg with ominous features--dark, puffy and low.

At the Puertocito de Bowling Green the Alamillo Wash drastically cut into an escarpment. It seemed all water in the basin funneled out through the outlet between the cockscomb. Cattle trotted away from me as I eluded the cowpies dotting the plain. I neared the Puertocito and spotted an abandoned homestead dug into the rocky hillside. The scene froze, all was silent save for the whistling wind and metal on metal creaking. I felt suddenly strange, even frightened. I could feel the presence of others, or spirits.

I moved on. Within a mile I found a large cistern tank, some 15ft tall. I climbed up the ladder and clung to edge trying to refill my water bottles. The reflection of the clouds showed on the still surface. I guzzled some slugs of water. Then, a gold fish swam up from the darkness, like a ray of sunshine. He wriggled up to nose my water bottle and I immediately felt happy. But I could not help but think that rather than having glass walls or a bowl to look out of this particular gold fish, in the middle of no where, could only see up into the sky. How did the gold fish get there? What was its life like? What did it see inside the cistern? I believed what the gold fish saw just wasn't black.

I climbed down from the ladder and got a move on; big, black clouds were rolling in. Not more than 50ft from the cistern I found a Somalian nickel. An elephant was etched on one of the shiny silver sides of the coin. I pondered in a baffling manner, I wondered deeply at the travel and story of that coin from so far away a place to another so far away a place. The world suddenly appeared enormously grand around me rather than being a gold fish in a fish bowl, or cistern.

These 2 moments, counter-intuitive to one another, conflicting in nature, one narrowing the world, the other expanding it, has left a great impact on me. Fleeting as they were, I felt a tremendous amount of hope as I hiked towards the Rio Grande River. I couldn't help but remain curious to the meaning of these conflicting, profound findings. I felt free, very free, yet occupied with an exploratory urge.

I crossed the muddy river and entered the bosque. Bugs zoomed around me and I hurriedly walked on. I camped underneath the overpass of I25. My sleep went from restless to restful as I got more comfortable under the highway as the night went on.

I awoke early the next morning and walked into San Lorenzo Canyon. It narrowed and the pink walls shot up tall. I climbed up a small, polished chute made slippery with spring water. I swiftly hiked the rest of the day trying to out-hike the incoming thunderheads. The land flattened and curtains of rain blocked my view of the north. For some reason, I fortunately avoided the heavy rain as I walked along the edge of the darkness. To the south, more dark clouds hovered over the Magdalena Mountains. I walked within a pocket of sunshine.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

From Pecos

From Pecos:
Dates: p.m. 7/6-7/8
Section Mileage: 92.5m
VL Mileage: 1709.5
GET Mileage: 26m

Under the awning at Pancho's Shell Station in the outskirts of Pecos I pondered my next move. I delved into a green chili bean burrito and looked at the Sangres from a southern perspective. I wandered back 6 months in time in my head. I couldn't believe I was in this exact place, a place I mapped and scoured through in atlases for hours at a time, thinking--- 'How am I goin' to get through this unknown area?'

My eyes watered, I could just feel them fill with liquid. I was doing what I set out to do. This brief reflective moment crashed under a clap of thunder. In an instant, I was present, under the awning, eating a green chili bean burrito, as rain poured down in a torrential swoon. Back in the moment, I enjoyed watching the Earth get pummeled in a deluge of rain. I was protected and I didn't have to leave at that moment.

I contacted Vulture Death, fellow hiker trash whose information was passed along from Brett Tucker. Vulture Death has scouted a route from Santa Fe to Albuquerque for some time now. Eagerly I listened, and within a few hours of lounging under the awning in Pecos, I left for Lower Canoncito, where Vulture Death lives, by way of the canyon corridor of Galisteo Creek.

Down the highway I trekked 6m. My scenery change drastically from beautiful, isolated, and quiet mountains to broad, pinyon-lined mesas among a roaring highway. However the feeling of wandering I felt through the last section, I now felt to be in the epitome of it now. I truly had to free-form a route within the physical space in front of me. But I also had to free-form a route within my structured head. I tried to stop thinking too much as I walked quickly down the road. Suddenly, in a haze of blurred, chaotic thought, a car pulled over on the dirt shoulder. The driver's door swung open so hard it rebounded back to hit the driver in the head who was now bending over to vomit along the edge of the highway. I looked over at the second the brown sludge ejected from her mouth. I walked on unemotional, unaffected. I stopped thinking and felt the pavement underfoot and the wind in my face that rifled through my whiskers.

I followed rail line until I dropped into the Galisteo. Even though I could hear the bustling interstate my mind transported to a remote canyon in Utah. Wilderness is found in the mind, through concentrated breathing, and the beauty of wilderness is found within a ruckus of humanity.

A few hours later, as I walked up Vulture Death's graveled driveway, thick droplets of cold water fell from the dark, purple sky. We sat under his patio, sheltered from the incoming storm, and talked trail. He has put many hours in researching and scouting a route from Santa Fe to Albuquerque. This connection is probably the biggest challenge within the Vagabond Loop, for private land and other land ownership and management block any 'pure' way of connecting the 2 cities. Without his own scouting of the connection I would not be able to find an attractive and walkable route.

Magic, his girlfriend, came home and a feast ensued. I hadn't had company, hiker trash company that is, like this in many a day. And it felt great to have people around me who 'got' what I am trying to do. Feeling gratified and thankful, I fell asleep under electric lightning pulverizing the sky above me.

In the morning, Vulture Death walked me up a hill behind the adobe house. He pointed out the Sangres, the Galisteo Creek corridor, and the broad mesas of a transitioning land. He spoke of the end of the giant swell of the Rocky Mountains this far south. I stared far off in the distance, his voice drifting to the back of my mind but still resonating within my present senses. This moment was as profound to me as gazing into the Grand Canyon for the first time on this journey. It signified change and growth, an end to a place I found to know intimately, and presented a forward path, progress. We embraced before I left. I cannot express how grateful I am towards him for scouting a route and sharing along information that could might as well be left to his own hike. He is a part of my pioneering as anyone.

From his house I hiked the rail road above Galisteo Creek to the small town of Lamy. A minivan with an older couple, Sue and Reldon of Albuquerque, pulled up along side of me and offered a ride. I explained how I couldn't accept their kindness. We had a short yet rewarding conversation. This proved to be a theme: vagabonding without leaving a trace yet being deeply impacted by the kindness of people. Even though I was alone in this section, people gravitated toward me. And here I thought I looked like the biggest, most hobo looking, and stinkiest bum ever, especially after the scowls in Red River. 

More dirt road beneath the set of rails. I decided to stay out of the Galisteo because of the ubiquitous thorny Russian olive tree. Plus, the scenery from the track opened the book of the plains directly in front of me. I could read the land, follow the story of water with my eyes, and scan the direction of weather patterns. 

Eventually, the rail and creek headed northwest until their intersection with the Rio Grande. I hit pavement and walked the Turquoise Trail, through the gypsy-filled hamlet of Madrid, for roughly 9m. Along the way, 3 cars stopped to offer a ride. Each time I politely explained my situation and every time the people smiled and moved along kind of scratching their heads.

Following Vulture Death's route using his maps he lent to me, I ultimately decided to crosscountry through Indian Reservation to avoid any further road  and dirt road walking. I figured if I went crosscountry down Canada de Coyote I would also avoid homesteads and people. I still needed to very discreet and stealthy.

From the highway I slid through barbed wire fence and set a direction towards the canyon. From low, broad ridges, one after another, through pinyon pines, sagebrush and prickly cacti I made smooth traveling until I meandered my way through knobby rock and into the drainage.

I disappeared from the world in this remote drainage. It was like wearing a mask to escape the presence of others and yourself. My mind transported to the mid-1800s, when people were moving to the West, with the land bare and undiscovered. I was off the map, an anachronism in my mind, a vagabond in the present, physical world.
From the drainage the Sandia Mountains poked up from narrowing, low angles of the eroded canyon walls. My water carriage emptied long before I stumbled onto a spring in a hidden alcove. I sat, relaxed, letting my guard down for the first time in a long day. After I snapped out of the spell of the glorious spring water, I stood up and walked up into a sagebrush corridor near a small pour-off. As soon as I was going to walk onto a bench to cross a sagging section of barbed fence a truck skidded to a stop on a dirt road unseen to my eyes. I ducked down quickly in the sage and fell back against the amalgamated dirt wall. 
Suddenly, in plain view, an elderly man appeared within 15ft of me near a trough.

'Ito! Bring the screen and the shovel. Ito!'  

A boy about 10 clumsily carried the tools down the hill. Once he had the screen, the abuelo scooped out green algae from the trough. He whistled an airy whistle through his teeth. He toiled away in the trough for about 15 minutes. I sat stock still and worried about the boy. I thought he would be the one who would notice me. Kids are usually more curious than adults, plus they get bored easier and tend to stary from a scene.
But the abuelo left the trough near me and went to the trough I had sat by earlier under the large alcove. I could hear the whistling, an old man at work. The kid climbed up on a boulder that gave him a higher perspective of the area. This only meant that I was going to be stuck in the sage for a while. 

Time creaked on by and I felt somewhat in a meditated state. The shovel scooping out gravel, the slurried sling of algae splattering against sandstone rock, and the airy whistle of the abuelo; these all had me in a sleepy, meditative state.

Half an hour went by. The kid got bored, the abuelo could feel it. Ito was throwing rocks all around the alcove. He was getting antsy not doing anything. I watched him intently figuring any second he would wander over to where I was hiding.

I couldn't get caught. Who knows what they would do? I was not threatened but I could not deal with authorities at the moment. It could ruin the whole VL. I waited impatiently, though I was calm.

Then, the abuelo's whistle came closer, for I couldn't see them through my sage cover. I perked up, ready for action. He handed the screen scooper to Ito. But rather than follow his abuelo, Ito went up to the truck. I watched him from my spot. If he turned to his abuelo he would see me. The abuelo suddenly was at a trough I hadn't noticed, only about 10ft from me under a juniper and a sandstone overhang. 

I could see him point blank. If he looked up, just an inch, my cover would be blown. But I could tell he was getting tired. His whistled slowed, he breathed deeper. Ito going to the truck may have been what the situation needed to end. 

The abuelo yelled, 'Ito, the screen!!' No response from the boy. There was too much coverage from the slope of the hill muffling communication. 

Within a minute, the abuelo tired out. His whistle stopped, his breath labored. He walked right in front of me. I could reach out and touch him if I wanted to. I blended in, I was silent. The abuelo lumbered up the hill and I heard the truck rumble to a start. I slid from my sage tunnel and ran to the tall barbed fence in the wash. I pried open 2 strands and slithered through quickly. Once through I ran down the canyon trying to get out of sight.

Down Arroyo de Coyote I went, swiftly making my way crosscountry. Soon the Crest of Montezuma appeared below the Sandias. I made for the crest. Miles of cross-angling over ridges and drainages passed before I hit a notch between a hogsback and intersected a dirt road that switchbacked up a hill below the Crest of Montezuma. I found myself on the outskirts of the tiny, old town of Placitas. I turned my phone on and received an email from Vulture Death. He got wind that sections of the Santa Fe NF were closed, including the Sandia and the Manzanos, the first 2 sections of the GET.

I became frustrated. I just wanted a section to walk where I would be allowed to walk through. The past couple hundred miles I have been on high alert and I wanted to just enjoy trail through an unfamiliar mountain range relishing all the sights around me. The forests were closed due to extreme fire hazards. The forest was in an extraordinarily dry and tindered state. Couple that with the thunderheads floating in a rumble and one strike of lightning in the right spot and the whole forest could be gone.

I could either road walk around the Sandias or illegally walk the crest of the Sandias, though I would have to be stealthy, for the crest of the Sandias is spired with television antennae and a tram with restaurants and platforms is a prime tourist spot.

I went up into the Sandias from the Tunnel Springs trailhead. I mashed my way through the crestline into the evening. The forest thickened and rapidly I gained elevation. Rocky cliffs lined the western front of the Sandias which contrasted the gentle sloping flanks of the eastern side. I ghost camped under a grove of aspen below the tram hidden from plain view. From my site I could see the lights of Santa Fe shimmering in the far-off distance. Lightning struck towards the northwest. The night appeared purple.

In the morning, rain pattered my tarp. I broke camp around 5am to get an early start through the area that would have the greatest chance of getting caught. Once through the area I attained the crest and looked out over Albuquerque. I breathed in and out an air full of giddiness. I was nearing an end to a section. Excitedly, I mashed my way down the Sandias through the transition zones of the forest. Once back in the desert pines and cactus, I saw the town of Tijeras laying comfortably along side the roaring Interstate 40.
I zig-zagged my way down and soon I was standing on the shoulder of an on-ramp trying to hitch into Albuquerque. An older man, Frank, swooped me up and carted me off to the big city. 

Out of the canyon emerged the spread of the city. I looked around with big eyes. I hadn't been in a city this big in a long time!

The next morning I had to get to the airport to wait meet a visiting friend. I arrived at a bus stop at the same time as 2 cholos did. These cholos were older than me and carried thick, woody canes. I looked at them in the face. Teardrops drooped from the menacing eyes. One nodded at me, I did the same. I blurted out, 'Hey, I gotta walkin' stick too!' I pointed to my trekking pole.

'Oh yea. You do, ese,' he said rather blandly and coldly. But I liked his response. It made me feel at home in the big city. 

The flow of humanity moved quickly while on the bus. The stream moved in a hectic manner as I stayed calm though observant enough to have escape routes planned; I was in a deep recess in my survivalist mind. At a transfer stop, a young mother yelled constantly at her 2 year old. He disobeyed all her commands and she kept incessantly threatening him. I didn't know how much of things to participate in. I was in a place beyond my needs. People were no longer equal. I had to leave behind the utopian state of thru-hiking.

At the airport, I waited. I felt to be sitting still while everything moved around me. Everything moved by me in a current going swiftly downstream. I filtered movements out of my peripheral and envisioned my friend coming down the escalator. I was dreaming.