Where have I been? El Porvenir Canyon, for one.
Rita & Jim (of John River fame
) took us to one of their favorite spots in the Pecos Wilderness on Memorial Day weekend.
The campground at the base of the trail was mobbed: full of RVs and tents pitched cheek by jowl. I've never understood this kind of camping: boom boxes, coolers full of cold drinks, card tables and folding chairs. Why bother? We were in search of more remote and primitive locations.
Less than two hours up the canyon, past the wilderness boundary, after clambering over and around some rather large blow-downs, we came to Jim & Rita's spot.
The site is flat, not immediately visible from the trail, shaded, equipped with excellent food storage capability,
and most importantly, just a few footsteps away from rushing Beaver Creek, providing potable (after pumping) water, cool storage, and a superb, deep swimming hole. (Forgive me for not bringing my camera to the swimming hole!)
This was my first backpacking trip. As much hiking as I've done, I've never carried tent, sleeping bag, food, and cookware.
Michael and I split the load, but even 35 pounds added to the upper half of your body makes rock scrambling and stream crossing more challenging. Think core strength and center of gravity.
On Day Two we ditched the heavy packs and headed up stream, then took the left trail fork to follow Hollinger Creek.
The trail here was narrow and at times difficult to find; the country was wild, untravelled, and relentlessly gorgeous. Finally, after lunch in a high meadow,
we headed back to camp. 70 stream crossings in all. I started out trying to keep my feet dry, but by crossing number six I decided to put my water shoes and neoprene socks to the test.
It was lovely splashing through the water, feeling the gravel shift under foot, and stepping into deeper pools to cool off.
On earlier visits, Rita & Jim had built a fire ring from the pink granite that forms the cliffs of El Porvenir canyon, but this time the wind was too fierce for camp fires. Then Monday morning dawned cold (38 degrees) and calm, so we enjoyed blueberry and pecan pancakes with real maple syrup as we used Jim's new benches,
his most recent contribution to the perfect camp site.
Most reluctantly we packed up and headed downstream.