On the shore of the big lake (do any of these lakes have names?) where the channel opened up the ground was mostly mud. Leeches don't usually like mud, preferring clear water and nice sandy bottoms. I wasn't going to waste any more time so I continued around the edge to a spot with plenty of large rocks and boulders of various sizes. After working this shore for about twenty minutes we must have had about twenty leeches, some with eggs attached and possibly two species. Finally. By the time the clouds began to roll in and thicken around us I had more than ten times as many leeches as had been collected in the previous 5 days. But the haze was threatening to cut off our escape. Don Renaldo was eyeing the greying air nervously. That made me nervous. I'm not sure if anyone treks through this area without a local guide. If so they get no sympathy from me. It was still before noon when we had to bug out of the valley - Don Renaldo was insistent and I wasn't going to argue. Fifteen minutes later, moving back up towards the pass, were it not for Don Renaldo's knowledge of what seemed like every boulder, ridge and gully I'd have just plopped myself down for want of any sense of direction. Visibility was about 5 feet at best, but we made it back to the pass and out of the clouds without incident.
If I could remain in this state of being I would. I have fantasized about retiring to the Sea of Cortez, living out my life collecting critters on the sea shore in some bizarre Steinbeckian dreamscape. I've never been to the Sea of Cortez. Maybe I'll just come here and wander through these mountains finding critters with no names and none to give them any more. Maybe I'll come back and still be fascinated with how the huge stones supporting roads high up in the sky among emerald pastures and lush cloud forests were set down and held fast a millennium ago by nameless unknown persons as much flotsam on the waves of time as I am content to be now.
Date: October 28, 1999
Altitude: don't know, don't care, lower than the pass yesterday