Oh, a-hiking we will go…

JJ really is a sour-puss, isn’t he… I mean, for a guy in the service industry, he’s a real cuss.

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Cha-ching!  What are you charging for guide services?  Providing a quick panning lesson is one thing, but this is actual guiding

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Thanks for the summary, James!  I am sure we all appreciate it when you tidy up the story line and let us know what’s going on…  I think we call that a “re-set” in the business…

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Nice gear… Why, those pack straps won’t dig in at all…  And Poor Doc- his bunions are already screaming!  But seriously… it’s about JJ’s nose…  and the look from Mark…  What’s that supposed to mean?

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Four Campers, four tents…  that, um, makes sense…

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Trusting, aren’t we??

With map in hand, Ol’ JJ has no use for his clients any more…  why, he could just dispatch them and put us all out of our misery…

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Odd, but real…

chiricahua

But let’s soldier on, campers.  There is sure to be a mesa-load of manufactured tension right around the corner…

More wildlife than a zoo!

One thing that struck over the last few days, other than the glacial pace of the story, was the introduction of old-school Trail “wildlife” in every strip.   That was a reliable feature of the Dodd/Elrod era.  We seem to be returning to that as we join our characters in mid conversation:

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That’s right, Mr. “I know everything about gold and panning for it… that’s why I keep working my little shop- it’s really just a side-hustle to conceal the fact that I have a fortune in Gold stored in the basement!”  YES- WE HAVE A MAP!

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Doc, sincerity drips from your craggy face!  How could anyone doubt you??

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JJ is keeping his poker face on… but deep down he has a little tingle running up his leg…  I mean, how could he not??

Wait… I thought we had a map?

Grooooowl!   Cluccckkukokk!

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<yawn>

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Oh Leola, or Leona, whatever your name is…

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Subtle… very subtle!  Inside a peak?  wouldn’t that be a cave?

Victorio Peak Treasure

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Victorio Peak treasure (also seen in print as Treasure of Victorio PeakTreasure of San Andres), describes a cache of gold found inside Victorio Peak in Southern New Mexico. While there have been multiple documented expeditions to the peak, no gold has been officially recorded as being recovered from the site.

Theories abound on the origins of the alleged treasure, from eighteenth-century Spanish Missionaries to wealth pilfered from Mexico during the reign of the French puppet Emperor Maximilian. Some years after Doc Noss was killed, his wife Ova asserted a claim that she was entitled to access to the cave in Victorio Peak and its contents. Eventually she brought her case to the military, but the alleged bonanza had vanished.

Many years following the Doc Noss discovery local newspapers had reported different accounts of possible treasure finds and hikers falling in the Hembrillo Basin. One story made headlines in the early 1990s after two bodies were found trapped inside the peak.

Today’s lesson: Wild Cats native to the Desert Southwest

Mark’s eyes grow wild (as wild as two dots of india ink can get…) and Leola flashes her baby-blues… while JJ utters the family-friendly version of WTF?!

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But fear not (like we were…)

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It’s Mr. or Mrs. Ocelot!  Native to these parts…

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It appears that the stripe/spot patterns are variable…  Allen has chosen a stripier version to represent this small carinvore, who apparently has sights set on bacon, and not human, for lunch!

Are there really big cats in the desert?

As we continue to watch the “excitement” unfolding in the desert southwest, we are reminded of a couple of things…

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…that Doc is still fairly spry, Mark is the captain of obvious…

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…and James Allen really has trouble writing a story.

That is a most disturbing picture of JJ, from that low angle, but how better to reveal that he is about to be attacked by a misplaced puma(?)…

Oh, Mark… Chivalry is not dead…

Bring on Nature!  A herd of Javelinas!

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Mark was correct in having everyone take to high ground…  lifting the young and defenseless lass onto the rocks and leaving the old and spry Doc to his own devices…

According to the Wiki, these are also known as Peccary and Skunk Pigs…

By rubbing the tusks together, they can make a chattering noise that warns potential predators to stay away. In recent years in northwestern Bolivia near Madidi National Park, large groups of peccaries have been reported to have seriously injured or killed people.[10]

I guess the CLUKCLAKCLUKCLUKCLUK is the Aforementioned chattering noise…