Wednesday, November 26 – Somewhere Out There

At the request of the property owners, we will not divulge our hiking location today – either online, by GPS or in future discussions. We respect their request for privacy and deeply appreciate their kindness towards our little project.

Some general observations from today can be shared.

The three of us, Denny, Mike Bilbo and myself attempted to cram four Battalion hiking days into eight hours. We did not see all we had hoped to see, nor did we hike all the places we desired, but what we did was sufficient to better appreciate the 1846 experience. The high desert plains are marvelous. Surrounded by high mountain chains, they are a fragile environment, but resilient enough that some of the prior abuses are being healed through careful management.

The Battalion’s passage with approximately 30 wagons, 400 persons and perhaps 500-700 animals did not have a profound effect on this land. Traces of their route are few and difficult – nearly impossible – to find.

Because alternate routes, better, safer, less demanding routes were located after their passage, some sections of the original Battalion’s route have been spared major development. For example, Foster’s Hole (aka, the “Lost Well”) has probably not been visited by 1,000 persons since its “rediscovery” some twenty years ago. Consequently, it is well preserved and though difficult to visit, one can see it as it basically was 160 years ago.

As a society, we have “loved” some sections of our county nearly to death. Consider Yellowstone National Park. It’s unnerving to watch a tourist get into the face of a bull buffalo or to tell their kid to “get closer” for a picture. Fire-rings are everywhere in some forests. A 25-mile stretch of our route in December has been closed because some ATV riders have been indiscriminate in how and where they’ve gone off road – destroying OUR common history.

Water is everything here. A small surplus means marvelous growth. A small deficiency, if prolonged, will seriously upset the balance. A spring creates luxurious growth on the shaded side of a canyon while the opposite side is baked by strong sunlight each day all year.

We exit the property at sundown as the owner provided us a ride to the gate where Jerry is waiting for us.

While we cannot conclusively claim we have found wagon ruts, swales, artifacts or definite proof of the Battalions’ passage, it was a good day and a privilege to hike this ranch. It was wild country back then and it still is today.

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