I had to live in the desert before I could understand the value of grass in a green ditch. -Ella Maillart
The past few days we have been slowly progressing across the Black Mountains from Laughlin, NV to Kingman, AZ. At the moment we have set up camp up in the mountains east of the Colorado River. Our goal is to get through the initial wave of mountains and make our way into Golden Valley to rest before traversing a second set of mountains before heading into Kingman.
The Black Mountains have posed the most formidable challenge we have faced since this journey began. However, I am confident that the decision to tackle the southern desert mountain ranges, as opposed to their more northern cousins was the right decision. The mountains here in the lower latitudes, while still rife with their own set of difficulties, present a host of challenges that I consider to be far more manageable. These mountains are much lower in elevation, around 4,000 ft, and as a result they afford more navigable passages. Had we tried to traverse the mountains further up north, as we had originally planned, we would have encountered elevations as high as 7,000 ft with fewer passages. While the heat and terrain certainly make this leg of the journey strenuous I feel we made the right decision.
The heat continues to work against us at every turn. It’s hot when I wake up, even hotter when I ride, and by the time I get back to the trailer at the end of the day I feel irritable and drained. It’s like shadow boxing in an oven. I am continuously reading the terrain to find routes that will help us gain purchase across the mountains and at the same time provide a more suitable path for Gus. It’s constant analysis and constant adjustments. When I’m not managing the terrain I’m managing the heat. Couple this mental exercise with the oppressive heat and it makes for a long day on the range. To stay ahead of the heat and maintain my mount I have to invest a considerable amount of time taking care of Gus. A part from keeping him hydrated, I have to keep him clean so that salt and dust do not irritate his skin and cause blistering. In this terrain preventative maintenance is essential.
Before I go I want to thank all of you for checking back here to see my progress. I know we haven’t done much in terms of veteran outreach this week and that is due largely in part to the challenges of navigating the current terrain. We intend to pick things up once we get into Kingman. In the meantime we are asking for everyone to check out our Facebook page.