Day 3 – Cownelo Hills

Date: February 20, 2020

Miles: 29.3 – 48.3

I slept in until 6:45 this morning (the luxury!), then decided to pack up and start walking before breakfast. I needed some water, and that was located a couple miles ahead. The first thing that greeted me was a small, black drone hanging out about 100 feet from camp.

I kept an eye on that drone for a while, but it didn’t move. I’m pretty sure it wasn’t there to keep an eye out for me.

I stopped at a flowing stream (sort of difficult to come by out here, I’m learning) to have breakfast, and after that, started heading uphill. It didn’t take long to get to the Canelo Pass trailhead, which marks the boundary between Passage 2 and Passage 3, Canelo Hills West.

Passage 3 started pleasantly enough, with a climb up to a saddle and a promising view of Meadow Valley. After that, the theme of the day was brown, dry, and bovine. Cows, and their poo, were everywhere. I had to shoo a few of them out of the trail and, not being agriculturally oriented, I was nervous about their reaction. One mama did not like that I was coming up on her and her baby, and she lowered her head and growled at me. Did you know that cows can growl?? I didn’t, but I do now. As she started toward me, I yelled, ‘I’m going away! I’m going away!’ and started running. It wasn’t my bravest moment.

Don’t let the face fool you…they are menaces!

Later that afternoon, I passed through Red Rock Canyon. At one point, I heard some rustling in the trees to my left and noticed a few furry things climbing up the trunks. My first thought was, ‘those look like bear cubs!’ My second thought was, ‘well, mama bear is here somewhere and I’m about to die.’ Then I noticed that those “bears” had long tails, and as about seven more of them came out to see what was going on, I realized they were Coatimundi. Thank the lord. They all ran up the hill away from me and I almost vomited with relief. I wish I had been quick enough to get a picture or video of them, but in my defense, I thought I was about to get mauled to death.

The rest of the day was uneventful hiking up and down and around hills, at high alert for both cows and non-existent bears, until I reached the Harshaw Road trailhead, which is the start of Passage 4 (for northbounders) and the road walk in to Patagonia, where I will get some coffee that isn’t instant, pick up my resupply box, and hopefully do some laundry.

At the trailhead, I chatted with an ATV’er who was packing up for the day, and a bike packer named Alex, who gave me some sourdough bread from the bakery in town, and told me how he used to live in Seattle but moved because he couldn’t handle the wet, gray weather. I feel ya, Alex.

I set up camp at the trailhead, feeling a little better to be able to hear the sounds of traffic and know that there are no cows here.

A bird nest in cactus.
The typical water source out here
The last saddle of the day.
View of Patagonia.

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