This is the last of a three part series on hiking in southern Arizona with humanitarian volunteers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & photo gallery
The sun is emerging more frequently as we start take the left branch and begin the last stretch before we reach the border. There is no question that this trail is in use. There are signs of passing people everywhere, some old like a cloth shirt deteriorating into the debris in the stream bed but others fresh like a brightly colored Mexican toilet paper wrapper resting in the grass. The feet that trod these trails both leave and return to family. Migrants seeking jobs may be hoping to pay for anything from food and shelter to housing and medical care.
This is the second of a three part series on hiking in southern Arizona with humanitarian volunteers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & photo gallery
There’s wildflowers everywhere. Tiny, low blue blossoms blanket the ground with taller, springier pink trumpets erupting at intervals in clumps. More infrequently there are also lacy white blooms and occasionally a burst of yellow or fiery flowers. But I’m still wearing all my layers. About 10 minutes in we come to a cache of water jugs.
This is the first of a three part series on hiking in southern Arizona with humanitarian volunteers: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3 & photo gallery
A few days before I was scheduled to hike with Samaritans, I walked into the parking lot and winced – not just because the heat was hitting me at that moment but because I knew that hiking in this heat with only limited shade would be even worse. But the desert in Arizona is far from predictable. I woke up that Saturday shivering and piled on the layers before starting the drive south. The car shook in winds that swept the highway before we even left Phoenix and the digital bulletin boards warned of possible haboob conditions on the I10. I shuddered, remembering coverage of an accident caused by haboob conditions near Picaco Peak in September 2011.
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If you run into trouble or out of water in the desert, finding help may be essential to your survival. From local police and sheriff’s departments to elite Border Patrol units, law enforcement in southern Arizona regularly rescues migrants who’ve gotten injured or ill, as well as recreational hikers, hunters and off roaders. But many people, especially migrants, can’t call for help when they most need it. Cell phone reception is weak and patchy, and some pollers demand that migrants leave their cell phones behind before crossing the border, if they even had cell phones to begin with. Many are also afraid of any contact with law enforcement.