The Arizona Trail Day 61: Stink Beetle Killer

Friday, May 17, 2013

AZ! Y U SO WINDY?

A strong wind has been blowing almost every day for the past few weeks, and today it was especially nasty. During a brief period of calm I started off along the trail, then the torrent began in force and never went away.

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I walked five kilometres to Cedar Trailhead. Finding no water there, I headed to the nearby tank in a cattle yard to the left of the road. The tank had a pipe to dispense clean water, but the water report said it wasn’t working, so I was hoping the water in the tank would be bearable. Nope. It looked like one of the sickest things known to man, and man knows about easy listening muzak. With plaintive hope I tried the dispenser. It worked! and the water was nice and clear. I didn’t know whether it was potable – perhaps I could have drunk it without treatment, but I don’t take risks with water. I filtered it, but the wind had fun blowing grime into my water containers while I was filtering, so I’m going to have to filter it again before drinking. Normally I don’t mind some dirt, but… cattle yard… who knows what’s in that dust. I’ll also Steripen it. STERILIZE EVERYTHING!

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After the filtering, I met a cute cowboy looking through binoculars at East Cedar Tank. The tank has a marker to show the water level (it was 1/2 full). He knew some basic info about the AZT but asked where exactly it went. He did not seem impressed by my strategy of not knowing where exactly it went.

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The AZT passed mostly through pastureland today and, like yesterday, reminded me of the Patagonia area. There were even prickly pears and brambles. A sign on a gate stated that people hunting on Babbitt Ranch property need a permit. People hunt here? Hunt what? ‘Honey, I know that you don’t like butchering the cows yourself, but it saves us so much money at the grocery store’. I encountered another cowboy driving along in his truck. He asked whether I needed any water, and I said no. My brain has a picky definition of need.

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Finding a sheltered spot, I decided to make camp. The time was only 4:00 PM, but I had walked thirty kilometres with the phenomenon of flat ground and annoying wind spurring me on. The campsite wasn’t bad, but still it was windy and I kept forgetting what the pre-shelter wind was like; then I would step away to look for another spot and be struck by a huge gust of wind. That was kind of fun, so I started doing it on purpose (hey, it was 4:00 PM).

As I was re-treating my water, I saw a stink beetle on my Steripen case. Eww. I flicked the beetle away, then placed a rock on it. I lifted the rock to see whether the beetle was dead. It was not. I placed one foot on the rock and ground it in a little, then lifted the rock again. The beetle started crawling. I replaced the rock and ran away.

Near my pack, I found another beetle. Naturally, I put a rock on it. I’ve officially become a stink beetle killer… or at least someone who drops rocks on them. I didn’t see either beetle emerge, but later two stink beetles were crawling around nearby (I put a rock on them). Coincidence? I think not…

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