Unlike most of our trips that take place in Arizona, the forecast was for a 40% chance of rain. Now a 40% chance of rain in Phoenix is usually laughed at but in SE Arizona, a 40% forecast should not be taken lightly. As things would have it, I woke up in the wee hours of the morning to the sound of a steady rain hitting my tent. So did others. By 6am, the rain had become an off again, on again drizzle. We tried to quickly pack up during the dry spell. For this trip I installed a roof rack on the TJ to carry lighter items such as sleeping bags, blankets, pillows, air mattress, and tent on the roof, most of it protected by “Storm Duffels.” More on that later.
As we prepared to leave for the trailhead near Douglas, I found that my new Optima were dead and Steve found out that his alternator was fried in his CJ. A jump got us both started and Steve and two other members headed to the parts store in Douglas for an alternator.
By now it was steadily raining again. While it was different for us, desert dwellers have a kind of fondness for rain. Steve and company got the new alternator and installed it at the parts store. The rest of us topped of our tanks with fuel, as the next stop would be over 200 miles down the trail. Jim, with an advance group of five Jeeps, started down the trail as a scouting party. Rain in the desert sometimes brings on flash flooding and we did not want to get caught up in that.
With tanks topped off, last minute supplies purchased, and Steve’s Jeep fixed, we all met up at the trailhead. We called to the advance group on our Ham radios, which were 10 miles ahead of us, for a situation report (or a sit rep). The trail was wet with some mud and no flooding issues had been noticed. The long line of Jeeps hit the trail.
The one thing that strikes you at the beginning of the trail and throughout the trail is the signs that warn you of “Illegal activity, smugglers, etc are present in this area.” After all, the first twelve miles or so of the trail are at most one mile from the border and at least 100 or so yards.
It wasn’t too long before we saw the “border fence” that is supposed to discourage people from entering the U.S. illegally. It reminded me of the pictures of the fortifications at Omaha Beach on D-Day during World War II. They might stop tanks and heavy equipment, but I would bet my dog could easily jump over them, and the average person would be over with a step or two, up and over and then a step or two down.