Bird the dog went ballistic this afternoon at the door. I looked up from my desk and saw three guys with backpacks on my porch. This is strange for at least a couple reasons. First my place is 3/4 mile from the highway behind a locked gate. Second, we had experienced three guys with backpacks coming through here a couple months ago but they weren’t hikers, they were almost certainly drug smugglers. These guys were white and looked benign but you never know. I opened the door and they said they were lost. They said they had been trying to find the quaking aspen trees on the Nature Conservancy preserve and got lost going back to their truck, which was parked at Madera Canyon roadside park. They said they had been walking for 8 hours, that they had to stop and rest under a Ponderosa pine somewhere up canyon. They were wearing tennis shoes. I gave them water and told them I’d drive them back to their truck. Still… I put a pistol in my pocket as I got my keys. On the way to the truck I stopped and said, “I just gotta ask: You guys didn’t have a map?” “No” “A compass?” “No… I guess we didn’t think it was that big a deal… We were kind of unprepared…” While driving them back I told them they were lucky nobody took a shot at them, that we have had smugglers in this area and that there was an article in the paper this week about a rancher in Hudspeth County who shot two guys trespassing. That they would have been fine had they gotten permission from the Nature Conservancy, checked in and got a map. They were lucky nobody got hurt.

It’s amazing to me how people get out in nature and have no idea what to do, how to prepare, how to get out of situations. You hear about it on tv all the time. Sometimes it seems like people have lost a certain human know-how that we, from another generation, seem to take for granted.

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