Saturday, June 23, 2007

Superstition Ride - - - Day 4 (morning)

I keep puttering about, fussing over the dwindling stores of food, making sure that the water bags are completely filled and ready. I go through each of the panniers to see if there are things that would not cause any problem to discard. Sally being here to carry the water and the first aid supplies is the biggest thing we have going for ourselves and since she's already going to be pulling more than her fair share I don't want that to be an ounce extra. I take the alfalfa pellets, which haven't been touched yet, over to where the three horses are standing and put them out. I know that there's half a bale of timothy hay in the trailer at the end of the walk, along with a full tank of water. I take the remaining coffee beans out and begin to grind away. I don't light a fire though. I use the little sterno stove and put the finished product into a thermal jug for when the others wake up. Breakfast is going to be light, canned peaches, dried fruit, a little jerky, hardtack and coffee.

Silas smells the coffee and wanders over to where I am. I hand him a steaming mug and the last can of Eagle Brand. He chuckles triumphantly. I take out the jar of peaches and pass it to him. He busies himself slurping coffee, making a canned peaches sandwich with the hardtack. For the enthusiasm he shows it could have been beluga caviar on blini chased by champagne.

The Germans wake up one by one. Pretty soon we are all sitting and eating away. I tell them my plans for the walk. Since Schatzie is a proven rider she can take a turn riding Rosalita with Hans riding double behind. Ingrid is still too footsore to do any walking and can ride behind Silas. The Germans give me a concerned look. They have seen me limp and got a pretty good look at the surgical scars and pronounced thinness of my left leg last night. I tell them not to worry, by walking alongside Sally and the holding on the pack saddle I should be able to keep up and take my full turn walking.

I tell them that there are three very good sources of water along the trail and that by going from source to source at a slow and steady pace we should be able to reach the end of the trail without a hitch. I also tell them that it is already feeling like a scorcher and that they should be aware of the signs of heat stroke and exhaustion. I say there aren't any points given for style on a walk like this. We'll either make it or we'll stop and call for help. I don't tell them about the God of All Ropers coming with a wagon full of water and other goodies.

When we are done I pass out long sleeved shirts for the Germans to wear over their clothes. Anything to keep the sun off is a good thing here. The burlap that used to hold the alfalfa pellets gets cut up into sheets to make neckflaps down the back. It will also take a good soaking of water to keep body temps down.

The horses don't even wait to be called in. They're ready to go. I get Rosalita and Sally tacked out while Schatzie rigs up Ban Fai for Silas. After one last check to make sure everything is ready to go Schatzie hops up on Rosalita and I help Hans up to sit behind. He's a rookie so we give him a quick course on how to sit, straight but relaxed. I show him where to put his hands on the back of the saddle so that he doesn't throw Schatzie's balance off. Then I go over to Sally and show Eva how to hold on to the protrusions on the pack saddle. This will keep the walking easy on us. We start out keeping a nice steady pace. Rosalita is a little concerned to know that I'm there but not riding her. Schatzie is a good enough rider that she keeps everything managed. We keep reminding Hans to relax. Silas comes by Sally and tells Eva that she is quiet enough to be an Apache. She looks down at the ground blushing.

After about ninety minutes of good walking I tell Schatzie that it's time to switch off the riders. While we stop I give each of the horses a decent drink and a licorice bit. They are holding up fine so far, although it is nowhere near as hot as it will be. The air is still and feels heavy. The canyon walls are still blocking direct sun but in about half an hour or so that will change. Before I mount I show Hans and Schatzie how to hold on to the pack saddle and tell them that the old Apache used to outrace their enemies by having four warriors on foot and holding on to each horse. Geronimo was a master of that tactic and used it to devil both the American and Mexican armies. It allowed his light infantry to have even more range than cavalry because it is much less taxing on the horses. When we start out again I can see the surprise on their faces at how much easier it is for them to walk beside the horse at a faster pace than they would be able to maintain by themselves.

I remind them to keep sipping at their water. Much like the way we are covering our ground, we want our water consumption to be constant and moderate. I remind them that if anyone stops sweating we need to stop immediately. Silas jokes that things have certainly changed. He tells them that when he was a boy one of the rites of passage for an eight year old being taken into a warrior society was to run nearly ten miles while holding a mouthfull of water. I tell them that it has changed for the miltary too. They have a huge fixation on the concept of hydration now that wasn't a part of my war. I once told a cherry who wanted a piss break that the fact of his having piss to spare proved I wasn't driving the pace hard enough.

Hans wonders aloud about how long ago it would have been where it wouldn't have been safe for four white people to walk these hills. Silas says that his grandfather and one of his grandfather's brothers were part of the Apache scouts who hunted Geronimo. I tell them that Germonimo's brother-in-law was my great-great-great-grandfater. I also tell them that White Mountain Apaches were one of the first southwestern nations to ally with the Americans. While we would have been safe for them, the Chiricauhua, the Tonto, the Mescalero, Mimbreno, Tewa, Jicarilla, Tarahumara, and most other desert and mountain nations would have skinned their backs for moccasin soles.

The Germans are very interested in learning about the differences among the nations of the southwest. I tell them that it is really no different from Europe. There isn't a typical Indian culture. We all have our distinctions and differences. I joke that you wouldn't expect Bavarians to act like or even get along with Belgians, to say nothing of the French be they Gascon or Burgundian. I joke that the Souix had better press agents than the Apaches and Navajo and have convinced Kevin Costner and the rest of the white people that they are the only Indians in the world. Silas interjects that if the Lakota were so great the Apaches would have let them stay in Arizona.

The banter stays light and easy. We reach the first water in good shape. Both people and critters. There is a stand of palo verde trees which is great shade. Schatzie and I take the saddles off the horses and turn them out to wallow in the water, while we all sit in the shade and drink our fill of water. I pass out little hunks of jerky, except for Hans, who gets a saladido, to help replenish salt loss. Hans showed a big measure of gallantry when we dismount by going over to Ban Fai and taking Ingrid into his arms. He then carried her to the shade so that she wouldn't have to walk on her still sore feet. Silas goes over to a blooming prickley pear and nips flowers for all the girls. When the horses leave the water Schatzie and I towl them off with blankets, give them a good rub and brushing, then it's hoof picks and a thorough check over. While Schatzie is checking Sally's feet we all get a laugh because Sally takes ahold of her shirttail and when Schatzie goes to move back to the horse's back she is held fast. Sally has always had one of the best senses of humor you could find in a horse.

As we start out again Silas comes over to where Eva and I are walking alongside Sally and says to Eva "I bet you are a singer. Am I right?" Ingrid gives her up as a music major. Eva begins to sing a German song that her friends all know. She has a gorgeous soprano.

The sun is about to make its presence known, it is probably close to 100° by now and it's only around ten in the morning. Our little stroll is about to turn into a trudge.




Blogger Sherry said...

i really am drawn into this. i look forward to the next.

5:41 PM  
Blogger Marc said...

So MB, when are you going to put your writing into book form? Wil Wheaton did just that with "Dancing Barefoot". I'd say you have a good amount of skill which would easily make buying it a no brainer for me and all the others who read your posts.

6:30 PM  
Anonymous Constant Comment said...

I concur with Marc. FYI: I'm an editor and would gladly be of assistance if needed.


6:52 AM  
Blogger Brave Sir Robin said...

It just keeps getting better.

8:02 AM  

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