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We went for a hike today in the Puerto Blanco Mountains of Organ Pipe. (We didn’t want our hiking muscles to atrophy what with all the bike riding we’ve been doing.)

A few miles into the hike we came across an object to the side of the trail that looked like one of those car washing mitts that are white and fluffy. It seemed like an extremely odd place for someone to bring such an item. There was no water for miles and no way to get a car in there. Mary suggested that perhaps a pack rat had dragged it home to his mate – you know, “Look what I got you Honey!” sort of thing. I thought her scenario was a weak one but we soon forgot all about it as we continued through the cactus forest.

Another couple of miles though, and we came across this scene near the trail:

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Almost immediately, we both knew the answer to the mysterious car washing mitt we had seen earlier. The booties in the above photo have soles made of that same material. The tops of the booties are made of felt and they are made to be worn over another pair of shoes whenever the wearer doesn’t want to leave shoe prints on a dirt road – as in illegal aliens trying to escape detection by the Border Patrol.

The black plastic jugs are the standard water canteens that illegals carry. They are strewn throughout the desert down here. We’ve seen hundreds of them.

According to the authorities, over 4000 illegals are apprehended in Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument each year. We’ve seen at least ten of the unfortunate 4000 in custody ourselves.

With those kinds of numbers, I imagine a thriving industry exists just over the border outfitting these guys with everything from felt booties to camouflaged packs for their attempted entry into the United States. I gotta hand it to them, however. Mary and I walked a mere ten miles on an overcast day and we were pooped. They have over a hundred miles to Phoenix or any other refuge and the weather is almost never as accommodating as today. According to Humane Borders, an organization that leaves water jugs in the desert for them, several thousand have died of thirst attempting to make it to Phoenix. On our hikes and bike rides, we have come across several of these watering stations. They mark them with a blue flag atop a long pole:

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Of note is the seeming camaraderie between the Border Patrol and the apprehended illegals. No handcuffs are used. It is not unusual to see good natured expressions or even laughter between captor and captured. Since there is no penalty beyond repatriation, it must seem like nothing more than a game of cat and mouse to those involved.

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