Old Spanish Trail: Your Ultimate Guide To The OST

The correct English pronunciation of “Old Spanish Trail” is: ohld spænɪʃ treɪl.

The Old Spanish Trail was a trade route that stretched from Santa Fe, New Mexico to Los Angeles, California.

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  • Trail System: National Historic Trails
  • Length: 2700 miles
  • Abbreviation: OST
  • Pet Friendly?: No.
  • Start Point: The main starting point of the Old Spanish Trail is located in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
  • End Point: The main ending point of the Old Spanish Trail is Los Angeles, California.
  • Halfway Point: Info not available.
  • Bike?: Yes, in some areas.
  • Average Miles Per Day: The average miles a day that a hiker can hike on the Old Spanish Trail can vary, but it is typically around 15-20 miles per day.
  • Popular Trail Names: El Vaquero, La Perla, El Caminante
  • Hunting Allowed? No.
  • Dams On Trail: None
  • Wifi?: No.

  • Created / Founded By: Antonio Armijo
  • States It Runs Through: California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico
  • Highest Peak: The highest peak on the Old Spanish Trail is Mount Wilson.
  • Markings: Historical trail markers.
  • Trail Conditions: Rugged, arid, historic
  • Estimated Completion Time: The estimated completion time of the Old Spanish Trail is approximately 6-8 weeks.
  • Fastest Known Time (FKT): Info not available.
  • How Many Completed: Unknown.
  • Oldest Person To Thru Hike It: Info not available.
  • Deaths Per Year: No official record

Essential Info On The Old Spanish Trail

Difficulty Level

The Old Spanish Trail is a historic trade route that was used during the 19th century to transport goods between Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Los Angeles, California. The difficulty level of the trail varied depending on the specific section being traversed. Some parts of the trail were relatively easy to navigate, while others presented more challenging terrain, such as steep mountain passes and desert crossings. Additionally, factors such as weather conditions and the availability of water sources could further impact the difficulty level of the trail.

Elevation Gain

The Old Spanish Trail has varying elevation gains throughout its length, ranging from sea level to over 10,000 feet.

Weather Conditions

The weather conditions on the Old Spanish Trail can vary depending on the location and time of year. Generally, the trail passes through diverse landscapes, including deserts, mountains, and plains, which can experience different weather patterns. In desert regions, such as parts of Arizona and New Mexico, the weather is typically hot and dry, with temperatures often exceeding 100°F (38°C) during summer months. In mountainous areas, such as the Rockies, the weather can be more unpredictable, with cooler temperatures and a higher chance of precipitation, including snowfall during winter. In the plains regions, such as parts of Texas and Louisiana, the weather is generally warm and humid, with occasional thunderstorms. It is important for travelers on the Old Spanish Trail to check local weather forecasts and be prepared for changing conditions.

Safety Tips & Potential Dangers

When hiking the Old Spanish Trail, it is crucial to prioritize safety. Always carry sufficient water and stay hydrated throughout the journey. Familiarize yourself with the trail map and inform someone about your hiking plans. Additionally, wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and be cautious of wildlife encounters.

Can You Hike It Alone?

Hiking alone on the Old Spanish Trail is not recommended due to its remote and challenging nature, potential hazards, and lack of services. It is safer and more enjoyable to hike with a partner or in a group, ensuring better preparedness and assistance in case of emergencies.

Crime Info

The crime rate on the Old Spanish Trail varies depending on the specific location and time, making it difficult to provide a definitive answer.

Permits and Fees

Permits and fees may be required for hiking Old Spanish Trail. It is recommended to check with the local authorities or park management for the most up-to-date information on permits and fees.

Directions to Trailhead

There are multiple trailheads for the Old Spanish Trail. Here are the directions to a few of them:

1. Old Spanish Trailhead in Santa Fe, New Mexico:
– From downtown Santa Fe, head east on Paseo de Peralta.
– Continue onto Old Santa Fe Trail.
– After approximately 4 miles, you will reach the Old Spanish Trailhead on your left.

2. Old Spanish Trailhead in Tucson, Arizona:
– From downtown Tucson, take East Broadway Boulevard heading east.
– Continue on Broadway Boulevard for approximately 8 miles.
– Turn left onto South Houghton Road.
– After about 2 miles, you will find the Old Spanish Trailhead on your right.

3. Old Spanish Trailhead in Moab, Utah:
– From downtown Moab, head south on Main Street.
– Continue onto US-191 South for approximately 5 miles.
– Look for the sign indicating the Old Spanish Trailhead on your left.

Please note that these are just a few examples of trailheads along the Old Spanish Trail, which spans multiple states. It is recommended to consult a detailed map or trail guide for more specific directions based on your desired starting point.

Conservation and Etiquette Guidelines

Conservation of the Old Spanish Trail is crucial to preserve its historical and cultural significance. It is essential to refrain from removing or damaging any artifacts, structures, or natural resources along the trail. Visitors should adhere to Leave No Trace principles, ensuring that they do not leave any trash or waste behind. Additionally, it is important to stay on designated paths and avoid disturbing wildlife or vegetation to maintain the trail’s ecological balance.

Etiquette requirements on the Old Spanish Trail include respecting the privacy and property of local communities and landowners. Visitors should obtain necessary permits and permissions before accessing private lands along the trail. It is important to be mindful of noise levels and avoid disrupting the peace and tranquility of the surrounding areas. Additionally, visitors should be considerate of other trail users, yielding to hikers, equestrians, and cyclists when appropriate.

Cell Phone Coverage

The cellphone coverage on the Old Spanish Trail varies depending on the provider, but generally, Verizon and AT&T are considered to have the best coverage in that area.

Photos And Images From Along The Old Spanish Trail

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Hiking The Old Spanish Trail

Section Hikes

1. San Antonio to El Paso
2. Santa Fe to Los Angeles
3. San Diego to Tucson
4. El Paso to Santa Fe
5. Los Angeles to San Diego

Day Hikes

The Old Spanish Trail, also known as the OST, is a historic trade route that stretches across the southwestern United States, connecting Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Los Angeles, California. While the trail was primarily used for trade during the 19th century, it now offers a variety of recreational opportunities, including day hiking routes that showcase the region’s natural beauty and historical significance.

One popular day hiking route on the Old Spanish Trail is the Santa Fe River Trail in New Mexico. This scenic trail follows the Santa Fe River, offering hikers stunning views of the surrounding mountains and lush vegetation. The trail is relatively easy, making it suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Along the way, hikers can explore historic sites such as the San Miguel Mission, the oldest church in the United States, and the Palace of the Governors, a National Historic Landmark.

Another well-known day hiking route on the Old Spanish Trail is the Mojave National Preserve in California. This vast desert preserve offers a range of hiking options, from short walks to longer treks. One popular trail is the Kelso Dunes Trail, which takes hikers through towering sand dunes that can reach up to 650 feet in height. The trail provides breathtaking panoramic views of the surrounding desert landscape and is particularly stunning during sunrise or sunset.

In addition to these specific routes, the Old Spanish Trail offers countless opportunities for day hiking throughout its entire length. Hikers can explore sections of the trail in Arizona, Utah, and Nevada, each offering unique landscapes and historical landmarks. From rugged canyons and ancient petroglyphs to picturesque mountain ranges and vibrant desert flora, the Old Spanish Trail provides a diverse range of hiking experiences for outdoor enthusiasts to enjoy.

Points Of Interest

1. San Antonio Missions National Historical Park – San Antonio, Texas
2. Alamo – San Antonio, Texas
3. Big Bend National Park – Texas
4. Carlsbad Caverns National Park – New Mexico
5. Santa Fe Plaza – Santa Fe, New Mexico
6. El Morro National Monument – Ramah, New Mexico
7. Petrified Forest National Park – Arizona
8. Grand Canyon National Park – Arizona
9. Joshua Tree National Park – California
10. Mission San Juan Capistrano – San Juan Capistrano, California

Stopping Points

1. Santa Fe, New Mexico: Santa Fe is often considered the starting point of the Old Spanish Trail. It was a major trading center and served as a hub for goods coming from Mexico and going to various destinations in the United States.

2. Durango, Colorado: Durango was an important stopping point along the Old Spanish Trail. It served as a supply center for travelers and traders, offering various services and provisions. The town’s location in the scenic San Juan Mountains made it a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

3. Moab, Utah: Moab was a significant stopping point along the Old Spanish Trail due to its location near the Colorado River. Travelers would rest and resupply in Moab before continuing their journey through the rugged desert terrain. Today, Moab is renowned for its stunning red rock landscapes and is a popular destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, and river rafting.

4. Las Vegas, Nevada: Las Vegas was a crucial stopping point along the Old Spanish Trail, providing travelers with a place to rest, replenish supplies, and trade goods. The city’s location in the Mojave Desert made it an important oasis for weary travelers. Today, Las Vegas is known for its vibrant entertainment scene, casinos, and luxurious resorts.

5. Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles served as the final destination of the Old Spanish Trail. It was a major trading center and a hub for goods coming from Mexico. The city’s location on the Pacific Coast made it an ideal port for shipping goods to various destinations. Today, Los Angeles is a bustling metropolis known for its diverse culture, entertainment industry, and iconic landmarks like Hollywood and Santa Monica Pier.

Scariest Part Of The Trail

The scariest part of the Old Spanish Trail is the treacherous and unforgiving terrain of the Mojave Desert. This vast and desolate landscape presents numerous challenges, including extreme temperatures, lack of water sources, and rugged terrain that can easily disorient travelers. The isolation and harsh conditions make it a haunting and perilous journey, where one wrong turn or misstep could lead to dehydration, heatstroke, or even death.

Hardest Part Of The Trail

The most challenging section of the Old Spanish Trail is widely regarded to be the treacherous crossing of the Colorado River at the present-day site of Moab, Utah. The river’s swift currents, deep canyons, and rugged terrain posed significant obstacles for early travelers, making this stretch of the trail particularly difficult and dangerous to navigate.

Water Sources

1. Natural Springs: Natural springs are one of the most popular drinking water sources along the Old Spanish Trail. These springs provide fresh and clean water that is naturally filtered through rocks and soil.

2. Rivers and Streams: The Old Spanish Trail crosses several rivers and streams, which serve as important water sources for travelers. These water bodies provide a continuous flow of water and are often used for drinking, cooking, and bathing.

3. Wells: Wells were commonly dug along the Old Spanish Trail to access groundwater. These wells were manually dug and provided a reliable source of drinking water for travelers. Some of these wells still exist today and are maintained for historical purposes.

4. Cisterns: Cisterns were built to collect rainwater along the Old Spanish Trail. These large storage containers were used to store water during the rainy season, ensuring a steady supply of drinking water during dry periods. Cisterns were often found near settlements or rest stops along the trail.

5. Ponds and Tanks: Ponds and tanks were created by damming small water bodies or natural depressions along the Old Spanish Trail. These artificial water sources were used to collect and store water for drinking and watering livestock. They were particularly important in arid regions where natural water sources were scarce.

Places To Eat

1. The Range Cafe: A charming cafe known for its delicious comfort food and friendly atmosphere, perfect for hikers looking for a hearty meal after a long day on the trail.

2. The Shed: A rustic restaurant offering a unique blend of Southwestern and Mexican cuisine, with a vibrant ambiance and mouthwatering dishes that hikers can’t resist.

3. The Plaza Cafe: A historic eatery serving classic American fare and traditional New Mexican dishes, making it a popular stop for hikers seeking a taste of local flavors.

4. The Cowgirl BBQ: A lively barbecue joint with a diverse menu featuring smoked meats, Tex-Mex specialties, and a wide selection of craft beers, providing hikers with a satisfying and flavorful dining experience.

5. The Santa Fe Bite: A renowned burger joint famous for its juicy and flavorful burgers, attracting hikers who crave a delicious and filling meal to refuel their energy.

Guided Tours?

Yes, guided tours are available on the Old Spanish Trail. The availability of guided tours may vary depending on the specific section or region of the trail you are interested in. It is recommended to contact local tour operators, visitor centers, or historical societies in the area you wish to explore for more information on guided tours.

Gear Packing List

1. Backpack
2. Tent
3. Sleeping bag
4. Sleeping pad
5. Stove
6. Cookware
7. Water filter
8. Headlamp
9. Map and compass
10. First aid kit
11. Sunscreen
12. Insect repellent
13. Water bottles
14. Food
15. Bear bag or bear canister
16. Hiking boots
17. Hiking socks
18. Clothing layers (including rain gear)
19. Hat
20. Sunglasses
21. Trekking poles
22. Pocket knife
23. Firestarter
24. Personal hygiene items
25. Camera (optional)
26. GPS device (optional)
27. Trekking poles (optional)
28. Extra batteries
29. Cash and identification
30. Emergency whistle

Camping Things To Know

While camping on the Old Spanish Trail, there are a few lesser-known aspects that can enhance your experience. Firstly, it is important to be aware of the historical significance of this trail. The Old Spanish Trail was a trade route that connected Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Los Angeles, California, during the 19th century. It played a crucial role in the development of the American Southwest, facilitating trade and cultural exchange between Spanish, Mexican, and Native American communities. Understanding this historical context can add depth and appreciation to your camping trip.

Secondly, it is worth noting that the Old Spanish Trail passes through diverse landscapes, ranging from deserts to mountains. This variation in terrain offers unique opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. While camping, consider exploring the surrounding areas for hidden gems such as natural hot springs, ancient petroglyphs, or secluded waterfalls. Engaging in activities like hiking, birdwatching, or stargazing can further enrich your experience and allow you to connect with the natural beauty of the region.

By being mindful of the historical significance of the Old Spanish Trail and taking advantage of the diverse landscapes it traverses, you can make the most of your camping adventure and uncover hidden treasures along the way.

Advice For Beginners

When hiking the Old Spanish Trail as a beginner, it’s important to be well-prepared and informed. Firstly, make sure to research and plan your route in advance. Familiarize yourself with the trail’s difficulty level, length, and any potential hazards or challenges you may encounter. This will help you pack the appropriate gear and supplies, such as sturdy hiking boots, a map, compass, plenty of water, and high-energy snacks.

Additionally, always check the weather forecast before setting out on your hike. The Old Spanish Trail can be subject to extreme temperatures, so dress in layers to accommodate changing weather conditions. It’s also crucial to inform someone about your hiking plans, including your expected route and estimated return time. This ensures that someone knows where you are and can alert authorities if necessary.

During the hike, pace yourself and take regular breaks to rest and hydrate. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself beyond your limits. Stay on the marked trail and be mindful of any wildlife or potential hazards along the way. Finally, leave no trace by packing out all your trash and respecting the natural environment. By following these beginner tips, you can have a safe and enjoyable experience hiking the Old Spanish Trail.

What If Lost?

If you are lost on the Old Spanish Trail, the best course of action is to stay put and wait for help. Avoid wandering further, as it can make it harder for rescuers to find you. Use any available resources, such as a map or compass, to determine your location and communicate it to authorities. If possible, signal for help by creating a visible marker or using a whistle. Stay calm, conserve your energy, and wait for assistance to arrive.

Places To Stay

Types Of Shelters

The types of shelters available on the Old Spanish Trail include adobe houses and simple brush shelters.

Popular Hostels

1. Moab Backpackers Hostel
2. The Lazy Lizard Hostel
3. The Atomic Chalet Hostel
4. The Adventure Hostel
5. The Wander Inn Hostel
6. The Hiker’s Haven Hostel
7. The Trailhead Hostel
8. The Desert Moon Hostel
9. The Canyonlands Hostel
10. The Red Rock Hostel

Other Amenities

The Old Spanish Trail is a historic highway that stretches across the southern United States, connecting St. Augustine, Florida, to San Diego, California. While it does not offer specific amenities itself, the route passes through numerous cities and towns that provide a wide range of amenities for travelers. These amenities may include accommodations such as hotels and motels, restaurants, gas stations, convenience stores, historical landmarks, recreational areas, and various services catering to tourists and road travelers.

Hot Springs Locations

The Old Spanish Trail is a historic trade route that connected Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Los Angeles, California, during the 19th century. While there are no specific hot springs directly on the Old Spanish Trail, there are several hot springs located in the general vicinity of the trail. Here are some notable hot springs along or near the Old Spanish Trail:

1. Ojo Caliente Mineral Springs Resort & Spa – Located in Ojo Caliente, New Mexico, this historic hot springs resort offers a variety of mineral-rich pools and spa treatments.

2. Pagosa Hot Springs – Situated in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, these hot springs offer a range of pools with varying temperatures, including the world’s deepest geothermal hot spring.

3. Glenwood Hot Springs – Located in Glenwood Springs, Colorado, this popular hot springs resort features the largest mineral hot springs pool in the world.

4. Desert Hot Springs – Located near Palm Springs, California, this area is known for its numerous hot springs resorts, including Miracle Springs Resort & Spa and Two Bunch Palms.

5. Tecopa Hot Springs – Situated in Tecopa, California, these natural hot springs offer a unique desert oasis experience near Death Valley National Park.

6. Mono Hot Springs – Located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California, these remote hot springs are accessible via a scenic drive and offer stunning natural surroundings.

Please note that the Old Spanish Trail itself does not have specific hot springs, but these are some notable hot springs in the general vicinity of the trail.

Trail Magic

Trail magic on the Old Spanish Trail is a unique experience that hikers can look forward to during their journey. The Old Spanish Trail is a historic trade route that spans across the southwestern United States, offering stunning landscapes and a sense of adventure. While not as well-known as other long-distance trails, such as the Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, the Old Spanish Trail still attracts hikers seeking a different kind of hiking experience.

Trail magic on the Old Spanish Trail often comes in the form of unexpected acts of kindness from locals and fellow hikers. As the trail passes through various small towns and communities, hikers may encounter friendly locals who offer food, water, or even a place to rest for the night. These acts of generosity can be a welcome surprise, especially in more remote sections of the trail where amenities may be scarce.

Additionally, fellow hikers may also contribute to the trail magic experience. Hikers often leave small caches of supplies or treats along the trail for others to enjoy. These caches can include snacks, toiletries, or even notes of encouragement. Finding these unexpected surprises can boost morale and create a sense of camaraderie among hikers, fostering a supportive and positive trail community.

Overall, while the Old Spanish Trail may not have the same level of trail magic as more popular long-distance trails, hikers can still expect to encounter acts of kindness and unexpected surprises along their journey. These moments of trail magic can enhance the overall experience, making the Old Spanish Trail a memorable adventure for those seeking a unique hiking experience.

Best Lookouts, Viewpoints, And Scenic Views

The Old Spanish Trail is a historic trade route that stretches across the southern United States, connecting Santa Fe, New Mexico, to Los Angeles, California. Along this trail, there are several breathtaking scenic views that showcase the diverse landscapes of the region.

One of the most iconic and picturesque spots on the Old Spanish Trail is the Grand Canyon. Located in Arizona, this natural wonder offers awe-inspiring views of the deep, colorful canyons carved by the Colorado River. The vastness and beauty of the Grand Canyon make it a must-see destination for travelers on the trail.

Another stunning view along the Old Spanish Trail is Monument Valley, situated on the Arizona-Utah border. This iconic landscape is characterized by towering sandstone buttes, mesas, and spires that rise dramatically from the desert floor. The unique rock formations and the vast open spaces of Monument Valley create a truly mesmerizing sight.

As the trail continues westward, travelers will encounter the Mojave Desert in California. This arid and expansive desert offers a starkly beautiful scenery with its vast sand dunes, Joshua trees, and rugged mountains. The Mojave Desert’s unique and otherworldly landscapes provide a captivating contrast to the lushness of other regions along the trail.

Lastly, the coastal views along the Old Spanish Trail are also worth mentioning. As the trail approaches the Pacific Ocean, travelers can enjoy breathtaking vistas of the California coastline. From rugged cliffs and sandy beaches to picturesque seaside towns, the coastal views offer a serene and scenic experience.

Overall, the Old Spanish Trail offers a variety of scenic views that showcase the natural beauty and diversity of the southwestern United States. From the majestic Grand Canyon to the unique landscapes of Monument Valley, the trail provides travelers with unforgettable sights along their journey.

Resupply Points

The Old Spanish Trail was a historic trade route that connected Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Los Angeles, California, during the 19th century. Along this trail, several resupply points emerged to cater to the needs of travelers and traders. Here are some of the most popular resupply points on the Old Spanish Trail:

1. Abiquiú, New Mexico: Located in northern New Mexico, Abiquiú served as a significant resupply point on the trail. It provided travelers with access to food, water, and other essential supplies. The town’s proximity to the Chama River made it an ideal stop for restocking provisions before continuing the journey westward.

2. Santa Fe, New Mexico: As the starting point of the Old Spanish Trail, Santa Fe was a crucial resupply hub. It offered a wide range of goods and services, including food, lodging, and equipment. Traders and travelers could replenish their supplies and prepare for the arduous journey ahead.

3. Las Vegas, New Mexico: Situated on the eastern edge of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, Las Vegas was another prominent resupply point. It provided a vital stopover for travelers crossing the rugged terrain. The town offered various amenities, such as accommodations, provisions, and blacksmith services, ensuring that travelers could restock and repair their equipment.

4. Los Angeles, California: The final destination of the Old Spanish Trail, Los Angeles was a bustling city that served as a major resupply point. Traders arriving in Los Angeles could access a wide range of goods and services, including food, lodging, and transportation. The city’s strategic location on the Pacific coast made it an essential hub for trade and commerce.

These resupply points played a crucial role in supporting the Old Spanish Trail’s travelers and traders, ensuring they had the necessary resources to complete their journey across the challenging terrain of the American Southwest.

Bathroom Facilities

The bathroom facilities on the Old Spanish Trail vary depending on the specific location and amenities available. Some areas may have well-maintained restrooms with running water, toilets, and sinks, while others may have more basic facilities such as pit toilets or portable toilets. It is advisable to plan ahead and carry personal hygiene supplies, as restroom availability may be limited in certain sections of the trail.

Historical and Cultural Information

The Old Spanish Trail was a trade route that connected Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Los Angeles, California, during the 19th century. It was primarily used for the transportation of goods, including furs, livestock, and manufactured items. The trail played a significant role in the expansion of trade and cultural exchange between the Spanish colonies in the Southwest and California. It also facilitated the spread of Spanish and Mexican influence in the region, contributing to the development of a distinct Southwestern culture.

Training Required For Before You Hike

Thru-hiking the Old Spanish Trail requires a comprehensive training regimen to ensure physical endurance, mental resilience, and navigation skills. Training should focus on building stamina through long-distance hikes, incorporating elevation gain and varied terrain. Additionally, strength training and flexibility exercises are crucial for carrying a heavy backpack and preventing injuries. Mental preparation should include practicing problem-solving and decision-making in challenging situations. Lastly, honing navigation skills, such as map reading and using a compass, is essential for successfully navigating the trail’s remote and sometimes unmarked sections.

Careers / Employment On The Trail

The Old Spanish Trail, a historic trade route that connected Santa Fe, New Mexico, with Los Angeles, California, offers a range of potential career opportunities. One such opportunity is in the field of tourism and hospitality. As the trail passes through various scenic landscapes and historical sites, there is a demand for tour guides, hotel managers, and event planners who can cater to the needs of tourists and travelers exploring this historic route. Additionally, the Old Spanish Trail presents opportunities for archaeologists and historians to study and preserve the cultural heritage of the region, contributing to the field of research and education.

Another potential career opportunity on the Old Spanish Trail lies in the realm of outdoor recreation and adventure tourism. The trail passes through diverse terrains, including deserts, mountains, and canyons, providing ample opportunities for activities such as hiking, camping, rock climbing, and horseback riding. This creates a demand for outdoor guides, instructors, and outfitters who can lead and facilitate these activities, ensuring the safety and enjoyment of visitors. Moreover, the trail’s historical significance attracts enthusiasts interested in reenactments and cultural events, opening up possibilities for actors, event organizers, and artisans to showcase their skills and talents.

Flora and Fauna

The specific flora and fauna on the Old Spanish Trail include various desert plants such as cacti, yucca, and sagebrush, as well as animals like coyotes, jackrabbits, and rattlesnakes.


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