Pie Town to Grants

Day 24

I am feeling wonderful physically and mentally. Both Paperweight and Night Watch are having constant foot pain. I have been fortunate to only have minor pains and most of them were on the AT. We all enjoyed our zero day, but it is time to get out of Pie Town before I blow all my money on food specifically delicious pie. We packed up and headed to the Cafe for breakfast one last time along with Hob and Chocolate Chipmunk. We slowly made our way out of the Cafe and back to the trail where we will be spending a few days walking a road. It is not a paved road, but at times gravel usually sand and dirt. Most of the vehicles driving by are covered in dust as they wave at us. A few stop to say hello as well. Nightwatch and I walked the first three together as I learned more about what it was like growing up in South Africa and how he got involved in thru hiking in the states. The three of us have a good thing going and who knows we might stick together all the way. We took a quick snack break in the shade. Hiker hunger has hit! Send food! The three of us then walked the next 13 miles together chatting and listening to music on my speaker that I’ve convinced Paperweight to carry. We made it to the Thomas Ranch owned by John and Angie. They are generous and welcome hikers to fill up on water. They invited us into their home which is a metal pole barn filled with antiques and trinkets. He is a Korean War Veteran and retired pastor. I loved their young couple photo as she told me she married him at 14. Lots of chatting and good company! We decided to camp in their yard after he told us it’s private property for five more miles and it was almost 6:00. We were surprised when he brought us to a 1989 Allegro RV on his property. The three of us would each get a nice bed to sleep on and Father Time (as John Thomas called Hob) got his own spot in a Winnebago. The four of us hung out in the Allegro eating dinner and simply talking. These are the moments that make the hike! Generous and unexpected kindness. Halfmile and Afloat were camping in another RV a little ways away, but they joined us for a bit as well. I slept wonderfully on a twin bed in the back of the RV after enjoying dinner in the copilot chair. I want an RV, but for now my pack will do.

I don’t know about that saying!Hob napping 

Passing an abandoned building along the road walk out of Pie Town!

The lovely Angie Thomas welcoming us in their home sharing their water and RV
Day 25

On the road again! We walked and walked past No Trespassing, barbed wire fences, and ranch signs for miles. The road walks are bearable thanks to the views. Lots of land for sale and the log homes John Thomas told us about was gorgeous. I wonder why it’s sold three times this year maybe the distance from everything. One couple asked why anyone would live so far from everything… I can think of many reasons. We finally turned off the same road to the right on a less traveled road. We then found the sign for Cebolla wilderness finally finding a trail to walk. Usually the three of us walk next to each other on the road chatting away. I would be pretty lonely without their company. The trail was nice around arroyos and in a canyon. We stumbled on an abandoned home with a new tin roof where Hob and I did a little rock climbing exploring the area without our packs on looking for Pueblo homes finding possible locations. The four of us took a nice break before walking off. The trail was fun to hike as it curved around and up giving us a better perspective before joining a dirt road again. Maybe 2.5 miles of trail today. We were surrounded by mesas as the four of us chatted about tv shows and western movies passing the hours. We did about 22 miles and my feet were done at mile 20. Hob continued on as us three called it. He may be 63, but he’s a stronger hiker than all of us at the moment. My shoes are showing lots of wear on the bottom and my thoughts of using only the 3 pairs I’ve already purchased has changed. If you are looking for a good pair of hiking shoes, I recommend Salomon Trail Runners. They are light, dry quickly, and work well on trail. We found a campsite 3 miles before the windmill where we called it a night. It’s warm tonight so we were able to sit outside and chat for a while enjoying dinner and the stunning canyon walls! I’m still enchanted by you New Mexico!

The couple biking the divide from New Zealand that we met at the Toaster House!

Water source from the heavens with a tricky step upNightwatch, Paperweight and Hob

Rainbow in the clouds

Day 26

The sun was shining early this morning as we were all rolling around in our tents by 5:45. It took us all until 7:15 to be back on the trail which is still a dirt road. The three of walked together toward the windmill to fill up our bottles. Without ranchers we would have no water! I’m looking forward to streams, lakes, and rivers farther up trail. We took too long of a break as usual before hiking the sandy road till we hit the pavement that would led directly into Grants. Around 4.4 miles of paved road had me craving a trail to walk again. We made it to a parking lot pleased to find trash cans, a privy, and picnic tables with a pavilion over it. The sky looked eerie. Thunder roared nearby as we took another hour break with Halfmile and Afloat joining us. Instead of continuing the road we choose to hike the Narrows Rim Trail. The trail is about 500 feet above the lava fields of El Malpais. We began the hike upward enjoying the views and rock formations as cars zipped by on the highway below. Maybe two miles in the rain began as we moved quicker. Suddenly the lightning and thunder was above! Too close for comfort as I let out a scream and the five of us headed down off the rim trail and into the trees. We waited and wandered downward for a bit as you should do in a storm. We decided to head back up once it let down a bit to enjoy maybe ten more minutes of the trail before the thunder and lightning came again. We began dipping down towards the craziest downhill of my life! The Rim Trail turns around and goes back to the parking lot, but our maps shows the option to go down towards La Ventana Arch so we did it. I hated this choice suddenly on slippery rocks on a steep downhill. Paperweight helped me on one of the first parts as I pleaded for him to stay close by. Nightwatch was moving quickly down. I have never been so scared as I made small steps trying to cling onto anything I could. Got poked multiple times by various cactus plants as my heart raced. He kept me calm and was reassuring. It took a while, but the view of the arch was stunning. I made it safely to the ground. I don’t know if I’d do that again! Stunning views and it seemed unbelievable to know I just climbed down that! We took a few pictures before heading back to the highway. 2.6 more miles on the paved road after that steep downhill had me feeling safe again even though cars were flying by over the 55 mph speed limit. We made it to the water cache around 5:30 where I drank an entire liter very quickly before filling up for the upcoming section. Shout out to the Mumm’s family for supplying us with water. We then entered the Badlands finding lava rock quickly as my mind was transported back to Oregon on the PCT. We did not want to go too far and not find a campsite so after half a mile we found a nice tucked in spot blocking some of the wind. We quickly set up and ate knowing it was going to rain soon. Within an hour everything was done and we were inside our tents. Within 5 minutes the rain began! Bravo! I still haven’t decided if I like my Six Moon Design Skyscape Trekker tent as I needed to rig two safety pins to keep the netting from touching the walls and dripping on me all night. I’m giving it some more time, but I secretly miss my cheap LLBean Tent I’ve used on the past two thru hikes. Sweet dreams as rain drops fall! 

Before the scary downhill

The Natural Arch!

Day 27

It rained on and off all night. It was raining when we woke up making it the first time on trail packing up in the rain. Yuck! It took a little bit of time, but we were on trail a bit before 8. Paperweight left first without an umbrella as Nightwatch was a gentleman holding my umbrella above me as I packed my last few things up. The two of us headed out with our umbrellas in hand into the La Malpais, meaning the Badlands, as it rained. You can see for miles out here as we wondered when and if the rain would stop. The trail is marked by cairns built with lava rock and often a large stick is in the middle of it. It was fun walking and exciting. Very careful steps as I’m lucky to have strong ankles twisting them slightly quite a few times. A few of the cracks were packed full of lava rocks so you didn’t have to jump across. I’m told I have a body for walking and I believe it’s very true. The two of us took lots of pictures peeking into the splits and looking for caves. The rain let up for five minutes then poured down again. We had about 7 miles of this section to hike wandering up and down over a lava field in the cold rain. I’d highly recommend this hike!! I’d love to do it again maybe not in the rain, but I still enjoyed every moment because who knows I may never be back again. We had a nice break at a picnic table with a privy and trash cans. The simple things! Back to the trail we went crossing the road back onto a muddy sandy trail. A little ways down the road Nightwatch spotted an unopened Budweiser beer. So he opened it and the two boys shared most of it as we trudged through the wet sand. I decided to have the last swig and fully enjoyed it. We hoped more were left along the trail, but we found none. We packed out the can while walking past over a hundred empties along the trail. We made it to the windmill and the sun was shining! Pack explosions as we hung out our tents to dry. Halfmile and Afloat joined us as well. I feasted as things dried out including my wet, slimy, off colored feet did as well. Suddenly, Paperweight looked behind us and noticed a huge dark cloud coming then the drops began. I haven’t moved this fast in a while as we jammed things into our packs and got back on the trail. It let up and we walked fast for a little over an hour as thunder boomed nearby. We made it an hour before the rain hit us. Thankful for my umbrella. I think it is a new necessity for any long distance hike. I’ve never walked so many miles without hiking poles before and we will see how my legs feel in the morning. It rained hard and for miles before it finally let up. Besides a wet pack from my Osprey cover that doesn’t do its jobs and never has the only part of me that was wet was the bottom back of my pant legs. Not bad at all! We took a quick break looking at how close we were to town before moving along. We then turned right onto a gravel auto tour road as cars zipped by kicking up dust. Epic views of mesas on both sides and blue skies! We decided to call it a day around 6:30 as we jumped off the gravel auto tour road and dipped into the trees. We found lots of lava rock at first, but quickly found of field of rough grass to set up on. Only 8 more miles of this gravel road to pavement leading into the town of Grants. We enjoyed a nice dinner as the sun set over the canyon and the almost full more rose. Another stunning campsite before crawling into the warmth of my tent. 

Bye Nightwatch! Maybe it’s dry down there?

Hiking on lava rock

Don’t slip

Looking out of the cave

Drying out time

Outrunning the storm

My view from my campsite
Day 28

It is much easier to get started knowing town is nearby. We were chilly this morning as the sun was still hidden by the mesas. The road is a gravel trail labeled an auto road as many cars passed by kicking up dirt. The gravel walking had my feet aching on the way in, but the sun came up warming us. We came across the one large group of cows that walked ahead of us trying to get away as we continued on the road all the way to the cattle guard so they crossed the road into a field to graze. Silly cows! After the cattle guard, we hit a town road passing many houses along the way. Dogs barking, county political signs, horses, and many homes as the sound of the traffic and highway got closer. This trail always has a taunting road walk into and out of town. I have never noticed the smell of burning oil and exhaust so much. I’m just so used to the smell of pine trees and blooming flowers. I like towns since it allows you to refuel and rest, but I detest the noise pollution, sounds, and garage everywhere. We curved around finding ourself walking on a main road quickly then over the railroad tracks with the smallest guard rail. There were no safe spots to cross the main road so we made a run for the median before leaping the last two lanes to the parking lot of McDonalds. The boys ordered breakfast, but I waited until 10:30 to get a double cheeseburger and fries of course with a hash brown as well. We were there for almost three hours using their wifi, eating, and resting our aching feet. My feet are so sore after the long gravel road and it’s time to get new shoes soon. We slowly walked towards downtown on historic Route 66. First stop was the post office where I picked up a small box of necessities from mom. Thank you! Mail drops make town shopping easier and allows things to get split into various boxes. Paperweight mailed home a little over 3 pounds of weight which will hopefully help his feet. We had three more long town miles to the hotels near Walmart. I enjoyed walking past the parks and the older buildings. Most are for sale or deserted. We had booked a room at the Motel 6, but they told us we had to pay over $3 a piece a day for wifi and that there was no heat. So after the long walk we headed to the TravelLodge to look in the hiker box since we got a message from Hob. The woman behind the desk was able to get us a great hiker deal making the cost only $5 meaning it was cheaper than the Motel 6 including a hot tub and continental breakfast for two mornings! Score! Also, we found 7 beers in the hiker bin and other great snacks. I won the prize of showering first and as quickly as I turned on the water I was slipping. I grabbed onto the shower curtain ripping it down as I fell out of the tub onto the floor banging my elbow. I quickly jumped up as Paperweight ran in asking if I was okay. Luckily, I was not injured just some bad bruising to come…. Non trail injuries are the worse. It was a shaky shower as I held onto the railing. So lucky! They must of done a good job cleaning before we came since the other two didn’t slip. We had a relaxed evening of a few town chores, snacks from Walmart for dinner, and a few beers a piece. Looking forward to a zero tomorrow we all stayed up too late water Adam Sandler movies.

Day 29

Zero day in Grants! We got a bunch to eat at the continental breakfast while discussing the snow ahead in Colorado and the options. It was then shopping time! Dollar Tree and Walmart were close by and made it easy. As we were coming out, we saw Hob and the four of us headed over to the Chinese Food Buffet! Finally, I am ready to devour a buffet. We had two plates each as a couple that looked like hikers came in. We met Monty the 3rd and FixIt who is a 76 year thru hiker. Wonderful couple as we ended up spending over two hours at the restaurant chatting. Oh zero days! Back to the hotel to sort through our food and relax some more. I got to catch up with two of my great friends as well. The time flies by! We ended up just snacking for dinner and listening to music. Tough day for sure! Bedtime came quickly and another zero day done until Cuba! 😉Sass


Reserve to Pie Town

Day 1910.5 miles to town is motivation to wake up early and get moving along. We were on trail a little after 7 wandering around searching for the trail using our GPS. I found it as they followed me and I lost it again. Once we found it again the trail led upwards so I let them go first as I moved slowly along. Hiking early and late is the best time of day. The sky explodes and my heart fills. The climb was straight up at times. I haven’t been on trail this early in a while. We all took a break together then split up busting it to town. The trail then dips down from the mountain onto a dirt road then onto open fields. Beautiful! Nightwatch and I waited for Paperweight two miles from the road where we would hitch to town. We ate a few snacks counting the cars on the highway hoping the hitch wouldn’t be too long. The three of us moved along on a nice gravel road then up a washed out path towards the pavement. We rushed across the street and got settled waiting for cars. In 45 minutes, only one car passed that could pick us up. The others were semis, state vehicles, or other work vehicles. It didn’t help that the one car was out of state. As Halfmile, Afloat, and The Beast were arriving, a car pulled up and dropped off Numbers. We all lucked out as they picked the three of us up and promised to come back for the other three. The hitch was over 30 minutes through beautiful New Mexico with great conversation. So many kind people. We got dropped off in Reserve as we made Nightwatch do the work of getting us a room. We ended up really lucking out and getting a trail with three beds for $125. It was amazing and recently updated. The Beast joined us and we even had a washer and dryer in our room. We relaxed for a bit cleaning up before heading to Ella’s for a delicious burger and hospitality. Yummy! First of many burgers on trail. We then moved along to the one place in town that sells beer, Uncle Bill’s. The four of us shared a few pitchers, played pool, played horseshoes, and had some laughs for over 4 hours. Yetti and Walkabout joined in the horseshoe game as well. The Beast and I made a perfect team winning every game. A wonderful day with great people!

Day 20

I woke up in the most comfortable bed today in the small town of Reserve. The four of us enjoyed breakfast at Ella’s and shopping at the small store. Everyone in Reserve is very friendly to hikers including a 5% discount at the store. I would recommend a stop in this town even though it’s a long hitch. You eventually make it in and back out. It has everything a hiker could need on just one street and everyone waves hello as they drive by. We returned to our little oasis to all shower one more time and pack up. The Beast paid to take the 11:00 shuttle out of town while Paperweight, Nightwatch, and I decided to relax, eat, and update some things using the free wifi at the restaurants. We hung out at the Abode Springs BBQ Restaurant. We all enjoyed a huge cinnamon bun and they both got a free cup of coffee along with our 10% discount. We hung out at the picnic table outside as I slowly tried to update my blog. I mailed home my busted phone, some maps, and a pair of shorts that caused horrible chaffing. It was a perfect town morning. The boys ordered lunch as well which they enjoyed and we talked to the woman running the restaurant named Dorothy. She over cooked a batch of cookies so she wrapped one up for each of us to take with us. Thank you so much and best of luck with the new bigger restaurant they are working on across the street. Around 2, we walked to the edge of town and stuck out our thumbs. It took a while, but a nice guy in a red pickup drove us most of the way. I sat in front making small talk and learning about the area. I also got to play with Cowboy the little dog that nibbled my fingers the whole way. He dropped us off at the end of his driveway with another 8 or so miles to go. We waited at least another 45 minutes until a redhead girl named Lindsey rescued us in her van. The first thing she said “let me put my pants on!” I don’t know if I would of got in the vehicle if a man had said that to me. She travels around in her van with her two rescue dogs and works jobs as a peddle cart driver, unicycle and fire dance instructor. I joked that she is my long lost redheaded sister. So instead of paying to get a shuttle out we took two hours, but met two wonderful people. I still love hitchhiking! It was warm as we started the trail and fell in love with beautiful gates made of iron with a neat CDT symbol. I took it slow and steady on this section as we hiked over 10 miles after 4:00. The views keep getting better and I’m still enchanted! Lots of cows wandering about today as they ran off when we got too close. A few of the climbs had me wishing for PCT switchbacks. We could hear coyotes howling and a even a turkey. We camped by a damed lake near Halfmile and Afloat. I was exhausted!! My calves burned and I just wanted to sleep. I snacked quickly then passed out before the other two were in their sleeping bags.

Day 21

We succeeded at getting on trail by 7:30. I warmed up quickly sweating on another steep uphill and walked the morning miles away chatting with Paperweight. Oh the things you talk about on trail. If you only knew. The three of us joined Halfmile and Afloat for a long hour and a half break at a cow tank. Hiding from the heat I even got chilly and put on my down jacket. I love breaks! The rest of the day was warm and on fairly even terrain with a few arroyos and rocky climbs at times. I even took out my umbrella for a few sections. We took lots of breaks along with Nightwatch and enjoyed the last few miles in the Gila National Forest. After the national forest, the trail got a bit hairy with just wooden posts leading the way. Lots of uneven ground that was tough on the legs. Nightwatch and I saw a coyote we believed off in the distance. We also saw a huge rabbit that I thought was a baby fawn. We pushed on covering a bit over 22 miles with a mini panic attack after not finding water on trail like we thought. We all went off trail to tank as Paperweight kept saying the rancher was going to shoot us. We filled up and continued on looking for flat ground finding nothing. We choose a campsite on the other side of a gate. Three donkeys came around wanting to join us. I may have pet them! Beautiful animal. We enjoyed a sunset in the big open field looking for miles in all directions. Love my life! Paperweight cooked a double dinner which was delicious. I fell asleep next to a barbed wire fence happy as can be. Day 22

We had about 4.5 miles of uneven ground towards the road. Paperweight and I jammed to music along the way. Then came the 13 mile rode walk along the highway into town. We choose to take this route which was the official CDT instead of a gravel road path. Roads are tough after 7 miles I start to get cranky and there was lots of broken glass along the way. We pushed along to mile 10 of the road which has the Top of the World store. We got there a bit after noon and didn’t leave until 3. It was a wonderful place to relax on the wood porch drinking soda, eating chips, and ice cream. The famous Nita, the owner of the Toaster House, was there with a few other hikers. Love her already. The three of us did the last three miles on the highway into the small town of Pie Town. The Toaster House was bought in the 1980s and five children were raised here. She now lives down the road and let’s hikers and bikers come and go as they please. Her neighbors asked isn’t she scared we would steal things. She laughs saying they won’t carry any extra! Lots of new hikers to meet and a few more women! Best of all Hob was here as well. I love hugs and stories from him. I enjoyed a shower and doing laundry. We cooked some food from the freezer and enjoyed chatting on the porch. Six of us played a card game that Patience, a woman from Israel taught us. Lots of fun and an annoying game. We did not go to bed until 11:00. Looks like tomorrow will be a zero day! 

Day 23
Zero day in Pie Town! Lots of great people and the Toaster House is a place worth spending some extra times. Nita, the owner and kindest person I’ve met so far on trail, picked us up and took us on a tour of Pie Town in her car. So appreciated! I picked up 3 boxes including a new sawyer filter. new bigger and nicer Osprey pack, and a big box of food resupply. I enjoyed breakfast at the Cafe with Paperweight, Nightwatch, and Walkabout. A few of us spent some time cleaning up the Toaster House. I always like to leave hostels better than I found them. Some hikers are disgusting. Enough said! Lots of people around including 5 bike riders as well! Time to rest, relax, and make lifelong friends. To many more days of happiness! ❤️Sass

Doc Campbells to Reserve

Day 14
New Mexico is certainly the land of enchantment ! I woke up packed my things and before 7 was soaking in a hot pool with Paperweight and Nightwatch. Remember thru hiking isn’t only about the hiking! I am exploring the country and enjoying the perks along the way. Soaking in 105 degree water was relaxing and a wonderful way to start the day. After a nice hour of soaking, we all enjoyed breakfast together at a picnic table with the Beast as well. A group of men who are out for a few days offered us fruit and to pack out our trash which was greatly appreciated. We had planned on getting an early start, but choose to hang around until Doc Campbells opened again. So a little after 10 we were eating ice cream and drinking soda at the picnic table in front of the store. I met the first woman hiking part of the CDT this year named Hippie Long Stocking. Besides the other woman I met day one I have yet to find many ladies out here. It was a peaceful morning full of good company! We also ran into a man hiking the Grand Enchantment Trail. Sounds really lonely out there and lots of bushwhacking. A bit before noon we finally left Docs and continued walking on the road towards the Gila Cliff Dwellings. I’m really getting used to road walking and don’t mind it all. The scenery out here is unbelievable and I am falling more in love with New Mexico each day. The four of us checked out the visitor center before continuing back down a paved road toward the Dwellings. Hiking the Gila and going to the dwellings is not part of the official CDT. I learned very quickly this is a pick your adventure type of trail. My goal is simply continuous footsteps to Canada since staying on the actual CDT is not important to me as it was on my past two hikes. We could of took the official route along the Black Range Mountains, but you miss the dwellings and the Gila. The Gila Cliff Dwellings is a magical place that is difficult to put into words. I felt like I did not belong there glimpsing into a mysterious world from 700 years ago. I envisioned the ceremonies that occurred and what it would be like to grow up there. How simple a life they lived and in such a beautiful place. They build their home in the rocks and lived out of the elements with stunning views. If you ever have the chance to visit, I highly recommend it! Best $5 I have spent so far on trail. I took my time letting the guys leave first and taking in the moment slowly hiking down from the dwellings. I could of stayed forever and will likely return someday. The crazy part is my day only got better from there. We choose to take the Bear Creek Canyon route and it did not disappoint. The sun was hot this afternoon and my pack has 7 maybe 8 days worth of food in it. Heaviest it has been in a long time. We took it easy pushing along taking a nice half an hour break staring at various rock formations. My pictures will do no justice unfortunately. The trail dips down into a slot canyon. I have never done anything like this before. A stream runs through the canyon into the Gila River. I felt like I was in another world far away from civilization even though we were a little over 4 miles from the road. There were small caves in the rocks and tall rocks formations of various shapes all around. A very humbling moment of feeling blessed to experience such a gorgeous place. Nightwatch, the Beast, Paperweight and I all camped together before crossing the Gila again. So dry shoes all day! The campsite was huge and the best part was sitting by the river staring up at the rocks for two hours eating dinner and chatting. Listening to the birds sing as the sun set along the Gila. We may not have done over 12 miles, but our day was full. As we all headed back to to our tents at least two dozen bats were zipping around our tents and heads. Another surreal moment that I have never experienced before. They were feasting on bugs and too quick to take any photos. Today will be one of those days I talk about for years to come. I love my life and exploring our country on foot. There is nothing more I could ever ask for. As I lie in my tent, it is drizzling, thundering, and lightning for the first time on trail and I am at peace with Mother Nature. I’m one lucky girl eager to see what awaits, but I am in no rush. 

Day 15

Today was physically exhausting and we only covered 13.1 miles. Paperweight takes too long to pack up compared to me so the bonus was I got to enjoy our awesome view while blogging this morning next to the Gila River. We got on trail around 8:15 and splashed into the river within twenty seconds. We would cross the Gila 96 times today! The trail is difficult to find at times and often you are just bushwhacking around hoping to see a cairn or a well traveled trail. The crossing are very rocky and I have no idea how anyone could hike this section without two hiking piles. Most of the time was spent moving slowly over rocks or at a crawling pace in soft sand. Also, the extra water weight in the shoes makes each step a bit harder. Sand, pebbles, mud and such seep their way in too. I do love my Solomon trail runners since they dry quickly. 3 miles into the day we made it to the Jordan Hot Spring. It is around 98 degrees we were told in town. The Beast and Nightwatch were already soaking so we joined them. Maybe the two hours spent there have something to do with the lower miles. This is likely the last hot spring directly on trail so why not soak for a while. We met two women and man out for a few days enjoying the hot spring as well and had great conversation. It was after 11 before we got moving again at a snails pace. I came out of one of the crossing and heard something slithering. It was a coral snake which I’m told is very poisonous. Scary looking guy. We also saw the largest centipede along the way too. This type of hiking is something I have never experienced. You are walking between the canyon walls with large rock formations while trampling through the water looking for a trail. You have to be super alert and careful at all times. I wore shorts today and got lots of new scrapes and cuts along the way. We also saw large trout, small fish, and lots of tadpoles. Nightwatch, Paperweight and I enjoyed a nice lunch break that lasted a bit too long. Earlier in the day I handed my camera to Paperweight to take a picture of me in the Gila and it fell to the ground. Denting the side and cracking the screen, but it still worked. I have dropped this camera hundreds of times on my past two hiked, but the rocky Gila won this time. On the 102nd total crossing of the Gila River I took an unintentional dip. It was a stupid choice to try to climb over a log to cut part of the river crossings. As I stepped down, my feet slid and I banged my knee dipping my pack under water. The worst part was my camera was not in a waterproof bag. This canon camera has been used since the start of the Appalachian Trail and capturing pictures for just over 5,000 miles of long distance trails. But the Gila River won this time. It had been acting up with sand in the lens the past few days and I think it will be retired soon unless the lens decides to magically start working again. I was so pissed at myself for a good thirty minutes! Lucky my cell phone is in a lifeproof case or I would of been in big trouble. Lesson of the day don’t drop your camera on rocks then fall into the river. I will be even lighter when I mail it home and will have to just use my cell phone as a camera for now. We were shocked when we took a break around 5 to realize we had only done 11 miles total for the day. I was exhausted and stumbling around on the rocks needing a break. I chugged a half liter of water then we got moving. Some scary moments on rocks where I decided to sit on my butt and slide. A flood occurred a few years ago washing away lots of the trail so it was tricky. Also, this section is not maintained by anyone but thru hikers. In a burn section, the guys ahead were breaking branches from dead fallen trees to make it easier for the next hikers. If I had the time, there were a few places I should of stacked rocks to create a cairn. Maybe next time. 😉 The hiking is difficult, beautiful, and worth every poke from branches or bushes. Speed caught up to as well today joining our trail family making it a group of 5 camping together. I actually ran into Speed last year in the town of Mojave,California. He looked so familiar. The trail community is a wonderful place! We all chatted until 8:20 aka hiker midnight before retreating to our tents. It smelled smoky tonight and the sky was a bit eerie. A few bats were flying around, but nothing like last night. A good day of tough hiking, a hot spring soak, low miles, and wonderful company.   Day 16

It was chilly this morning and slipping on wet shoes and socks doesn’t make it any easier. We were on trail by 7:45 and within a few minutes began fording the Gila River for the final day. Today we would ford it 82 times making the grand total of fords to 236. Sometimes we forded at the wrong time only having to cross back since ours maps said we should of done less fording. This type of hiking is purely exhausting, but being surrounded by red clay canyons made the challenge worth every minute. A few of the rocks are covered in moss making it slick and a bit nerve wracking at times. The deepest the water ever got was to my hip once and only once did I stand up stream and side step across. I feel pretty confident in my fording skills now. My feet have no blisters or dead skin they are too soft from the 236 soakings. I managed to bust one of the tips on my Black Diamond hiking poles. Everything seems to be falling apart. Embrace the brutality is the CDT motto. I had just completed a ford and found myself on a dirt path with lots of greenery and large ponderosa pines. I saw what I thought at first was a dog running towards me. I did a double take to see a bobcat in the wild for the first time. It was beautiful, graceful, and moving quickly up the hill and into the trees. Paperweight saw it too, but the beast missed it by a few seconds. Amazing moment! Later we saw a huge bear print in the water the size of my hand. Three hikers got to watch a bear swimming in the river a few miles ahead of us. Next time. We took a long break again drying out my feet and snacking! The last few miles were exhausting and a bit confusing adding more scrapes to my legs. Already have more scratches then both trails combined and we are somewhere in the 200 mile range. We found our way out of the Gila one last time climbing up to Snow Lake. The lake looked a bit sandy, but it has a campground with running water, vault toilets, picnic tables, campsites, and fire rings. We really lucked out as we arrived Hippie Long Stocking and her friend Tiny Dancer were there with two trucks. They hooked us up! We enjoyed a PBR and later split a tall boy of Tacate. He let us use his propane stove to save HEET, gave us candy, chips, and then offered us to sleep in the back of his Tacoma truck on a mattress with a comforter and one pillow! Score! Paperweight built a nice fire with one light! It’s much easier out here than the AT to get one going. We met lots of new hikers as well. A total of 9 thru hikers camped here tonight. That’s a lot for the CDT! It was a nice evening hanging out by the fire and laughing! The stars were unreal as I saw one shooting star. Paperweight and I enjoyed the warmth of the truck and I loved the pillow most of all. What a tiring day and a wonderful way to top off the night.

Day 17

We woke up as the sun rose looking out the frosted windows of the Tacoma. We made a big mistake last night. We brought in our Sawyer filters, but did not put them in the blankets with us so they froze. I could tell since a chunk of ice was in the top when I undid the screw. Whoops. Luckily, Paperweight has backup and Nightwatch is hiking with us and willing to let us use his filter. Amateur mistake and I should of known better. I also managed to lose my headlamp in the truck I realized at the end of the day. Good thing he packed a second one unintentionally in his down jacket that he gave to me. Truck camping is nice, but I wasn’t organized like I usually am in my tent. At least, we both stayed warm! I drank 3 liters of water at the Snow Lake campground and packed out 5 1/2 liters. So much for a lighter pack. We heard coyotes howling this morning off in the distance. I still feel strong and occasionally my right shoulder bothers me after a long uphill. This has been a common pain throughout my past three hikes. We walked away from the campground a bit before 9 hydrated and loaded up with extra water. The trail follows a gravel road before climbing under a barbed wire fence. It then leads through a canyon on rocks, grass, and sand at times. We caught up to The Beast and Nightwatch at a man made lake before climbing up and out of the canyon. It was a climb for sure with 5 plus liters. We then emerged onto a gravel forest road that we would walk the rest of the day. I have grown to love this type of walking especially when you have panoramic views. Eventually, we dipped down into a pine forest that reminded me of the UP of Michigan again minus the whole elevation thing. The four of us all took a lunch break together shivering at times. I’d guess the temperature is in the low 50s, but I have no idea. I decided to zone out during this section listening to a few Ted Talks as Paperweight and Nightwatch walked together. The view was consistent of a pine forest with ups and down and lots of roads leading to neat campsites. It finally opened up and we could see the road a few miles in each directions. The three of us pushed on going up and down the gravel road until 6:30 when we hit the stream. We set up near Halfmile and his partner quickly climbed into our tent as the temperature was dropping. It was a cold evening, but I slept in shorts to help my horrible chaffing, socks, long sleeve top, and a fleece hat inside of a 10 degree liner and my REI Joule sleeping bag I’ve used since the start of the PCT. I woke up to ice on my tent, but I was still very warm. Looks like I’ll survive this hike without needing to buy a new sleeping bag. I slept through the rain storm and was told I snored most of the time. 20.7 miles total for the day.

Day 18

It was a cold start to the day as we hit the trail a bit before nine. I was wearing gloves, a fleece hat, and my rain jacket. The trail continued on a gravel road for a little more than 6 miles. Up and down all around the mountain. Lots of cows and babies wandering about munching grass. We climbed up finding the official CDT again at the point where the Black Range route comes out. It felt wonderful to be on an actual trail again. Thanks to all the maintainers and trail builders who make this type of hiking possible. I hiked off first after the three of us took a early lunch break. This area was a burn section that allowed for splendid views. At the top of the climb, the trail then dropped down for a while on switchbacks climbing over fallen trees and such. I’d compare this trail to PCT views with some AT ups and downs. I got spoiled on the PCT with the nice switchbacks for miles up and down the mountain. My legs will be in even better shape at the end of this hike. I took a break on a large rock overlooking the mountains while Nightwatch passed then Paperweight joined me and we continued hiking together. We took a 1 1/2 hour break near a pond for cows. We watched them graze along with two donkeys. We had to pack out enough water for 17 miles where we would hitch into Reserve. So we drank lots of water and I packed out 4 liters. Still haven’t need to use Paperweight’s tabs for water since Nightwatch has been sharing his Sawyer filter. The afternoon climbing was tough and I zoned out to my Ipod. As we were climbing, Paperweight spotted elk. There were three of them cautiously watching us and moving farther away from us. Beautiful creatures. I’ve already seen more wildlife on this trail than the other two and I’m not even half way done with New Mexico yet! We pushed along to two overlook points to have stunning views of mountains and desert floor. Lots of variety. We hiked a total of 19 miles for the day before finding a flat site with no dead trees hovering over us. It was warm enough to eat outside and chat for a change. The sun turned pink and the tiny sliver of the moon appeared. We are only 10.5 miles to the road leading to Reserve.

Silver City to Doc Campbells

Day 10- Zero day number two! It was a perfect zero day too. We left the hotel to go to breakfast at The Drifter which is named the best breakfast place in the county. Hob and the Beast joined us as well. The hiker hunger has finally hit me. I devoured an Omelet, hash browns, toast, and a side of bacon. Hob and Paperweight ordered a second breakfast too… Maybe I don’t have hiker hunger just yet. Our next stop was the dollar store to grab snacks for the day and food for the next section. Then we lounged in the hotel watching junk tv and eating Dominos take out. My legs ached this morning and the rest did my body well. No hotels for a while now. 

Paperweight, Hob, The Beast

Day 11
Leaving Silver City was difficult, but we made it out after an early lunch at Taco Bell. We decided to take Little Walnut Road to connect to the Gila Alternative. Again, this trail gives you many options. We use Ley Maps and Guthook’s App. The maps are very important and show all our choices. We are all about continuous steps. All the cars waved as they drove by us and one asked if it is cheating to take a hitch. We said yes and no thank you. It was enjoyable checking out the homes outside of downtown. Again, I really like this state. We passed the first camping area to the second one a quarter of a mile up trail. Unfortunately, we had to go back to get water. We ended up taking a long break drinking water, charging our phones back to 100%, and hiding in the shade under the pavilion. We finally got moving along the gravel road. We took a turn and heading off the road onto a dirt path. Some climbing as we were able to walk side by side since the trail can be driven by cars. We came to a nice running stream happy to have natural water again as we got closer to the Gila River. We hiked a bit father and found a beautiful campsite off the trail. It was a warm relaxing evening. Everything is better once your back in the woods for a few days!

Day 12
Today was full of variety from a steep uphill climb to a stunning ridge walk staring at clay rock all around to playing in the Gila River. It is nice to be back on a trail and surrounded by natural water. We took a long lunch break at a water tank. Chatting with Nightwatch, The Beast, and meeting Twigg. Lots of great people out here, but not many women. We took way too long of a break again, but we aren’t in a rush. We had some more uphill climbing before the trail dropped down to the river steep at times and other times on long switchbacks. We could see the water for about an hour before we got down to it. We tried not to get wet on the first crossing of Siphilo Creek flowing into the Gila, but it was no use. We crossed the Gila 5 times before calling it a night. The first crossing we tried to keep our feet dry, but it was no use so we just splashed right in. The cold water felt so good on my feet as we went from water to trail to water. As we were beginning to look for a good campsite, I saw something across the river drinking and did a double take. Before I realized what I was staring at, it turned and ran up towards the rocks. It was a light colored black bear that I called a cinnamon bear. It almost blended in perfectly and took me a bit by surprise. We have seen lots of bear scat, but I was in shock to see one. Paperweight didn’t see it and may not believe me, but I know what a bears ass looks like running away. It was a bear! Later I was told about 100 bears call the Gila home. We walked a little farther before choosing a campsite under the trees. We went to get water and found 7 baby ducks floating along. All of a sudden the mother duck flew out from the grass along the river and the family scurried down stream. These moments always remind me that we are just visitors in their habitat. It was another lovely day in New Mexico!

Day 13

Crossed the Gila River 53 times making the total so far 58 fords. I always thought I wanted to be a marmot in the High Sierra, but now I want to be a bird living on the Gila River. We splashed in quickly cooling off and feeling refreshed. This is very different hiking. You are between two walls of red clay rocks wandering about. It is tiring and fun at the same time. As we got closer to the road, we saw an old mattress and other bits of trash. That’s how you know you are close to civilization. We walked a little over a mile on a paved road towards the store where we had boxes waiting for us. We made it to Doc Campbells with about 15 minutes to spare since they close at 4 not 5 like our book said so we were lucky. Two sodas, a Gatorade, and a container of homemade vanilla ice cream did the job. I actually made myself a root beer float. I also picked up my first mail drop full of goodies from mom! She’s going for her triple crown of support. We hung out with Twigg for a while at a picnic table even though the store was closed they have an outlet outside for us to charge our devices. Luckily, we were told the wrong wifi password so the world of Facebook, emails, and such did not take away from the moment. Twigg hiked a few miles up trail to a free campground as Paperweight and I decided to spend the night at Gila Hot Pools Campground. For $6 you get to camp, use their three heat controlled hot pools, picnic tables, vault toilet, water both cold and warm, and most importantly just a peaceful place. Nightwatch and the Beast joined us as well at the CDT campsite. I spent at least two hours in one of the pools in just my bra and panties surrounded by a bunch of dudes. Thru hiking has made me much more secure with myself as well. I’m comfortable in my body at whatever form it is in and I’m happy with my life! The water does magic for the body between the cuts and aches I felt healed. The views and company made it even better. Finally crawling out of the warm pool I enjoyed some tortellini with olive oil and shake herbed parmesan cheese. Paperweight is spoiling me by “cooking” for me using the hot water the campground supplies to warm up the pasta from his mail drop. Delicious and a nice change! It was a mellow evening full of happy relaxed hikers. After a day of wet feet and more river crossings then I have ever done in my life, it was a perfect ending!❤️Sass


Lordsburg to Silver City

Day 6- We took a zero day in Lordsburg! I learned the hard way on my first thru hike about the dangers of not taking zeros. I hiked for 30 days with a few neros (less than 5), but no zeros. My knees and feet were overused and took months to heal post trail. So after 85 desert miles it was important to rest up, hydrate, and prepare for the next section. The day went quickly and I was eager to get out of Lordsburg one last time.
Day 7- Around 9:15, we were making it out of Lordsburg for the final time. The pack feels great and so does my body. Taking the zero day helped a few things heal and allowed me to rehydrate. We walked the trail one last time through the town as dogs barked at us from inside their fences. Not too hot yet as we walked under the train tracks then followed the trail along highway 80 to 90. Lots of glass, trash, and prickly things to avoid along the way. After about 4 miles, the trail continues under or over a barbed wired fence on a 10 foot trail easement. (I have not gone over any barbed wired fence yet, but I did get a nice poke in the ass once) The trail follows footprints in the sand with few markers. Just wandering the desert again and using our apps gps to see how far off we went. We took a nice break under a shady tree. Paperweight got attached by ants during this break and the bites look horrible. I must not of tasted so good. We wandered some more until we finally found a trail marker again. How far do we hike each day? It’s anyone’s guess. We hit the 100 mile mark today. We kept walking toward the mountains in the warm sun as I was able to rig up my umbrella for a few miles. We hit a dirt road walking side by side and still seeing Lordsburg behind us. Lots of cows moving out of our way. We stopped to get water with a huge group of cows making a ruckus and some of them head butting each other. We choose to take our break a little farther down the trail. Beautiful area and I really don’t mind walking these gravel roads that the ranchers use. Our app said we were 16.8 miles from town by the time we stopped for the night. We had a nice spot off trail where I set up for cowboying. We climbed up a hill to watch the sunset on top of a pile of rocks, but the clouds interrupted the viewing and it was chilly. I fell asleep smelling cow poop while lying under the stars! Couldn’t be happier!

Day 8-

Today was the first time we saw a CDT marker nailed to a tree. Previously the markers have been on old wooden posts or attached to metal stakes. Lots of the stakes are held up by rock mounds and many were blown over in the open areas. It looks like we will be climbing in elevation a bit and enjoy a pine forest. We followed along the gravel road dipping up and down. At one point, we came to a ridge walk looking out at the wonders of New Mexico. The trail passed an old mine that was barbed wired off as we continued up the road. We dipped back down past a power line stopping for a snack and sunscreen break. We then ran into Mary who was out for a hike after leaving some water caches for us CDT hikers. She’s originally from Mass too and had the best description for people in New England. They all suffer from the battered wife syndrome. Meaning they get beat up in the winter for months on end then it gets nice again in the summer only to go back to the winters once again. She is loving living in New Mexico where she can hike year round. Thanks for the water!! We cruised along chatting the miles away and falling for New Mexico. We stopped for a water break before the a few uphill climbs awaited us. El Burro Mountain to end the day was a tough climb as I’m still not in thru hiker shape and adjusting to the higher elevations. Climbs are tough, but the views are fantastic! We stopped at one point getting a bit chilled so I slipped on my rain jacket to help protect me from the gusty wind. I don’t recommend hiking the big uphills at the end of the day. We struggled past the top towards Jack’s Peak. We were both exhausted doing the climb during the evening miles and didn’t complete the climb. We found a sheltered spot at over 8,000 feet to camp at worrying about it freezing tonight, but we were too tired to continue to the top and then back down. Sometimes you run into trouble finding a camp spot at night and injuries happen easily in the evening. I’m glad we stopped at a total of 19.2 miles for the day. 

Day 9-

Slept well and warm enough in my tent. It takes us a while to get started in the morning especially being hidden from the sun. We finished the last bit of the uphill climb soaking in the views before passing through a gate. The rest of the hiking on trail was downhill. Deadman Canyon was a fun hike down and I found a cave off the trail that I had to check out. We then came to Tyrone Road for 4 miles. It’s a gravel road passing lots of No Trespassing signs as a few cars drove by. We were warm and happy to find shelter at a viewpoint of Tyrone mine. They no longer mine this space and are slowly restoring it back to natural landscape. We hid out in the shape for over an hour eating snacks and hydrating. We then began the longest road walk of 12.6 miles into Silver City. It was along the side of a paved highway as cars zipped by and cyclists rode up and down the hills. The amount of trash along the road was disgusting, but motivating too knowing there were lots of options for food. I will never understand why people throw trash out of their cars… I carry my trash for sometimes 10 days at a time. You can drive to gas station or throw it in your own personal trash. Rant over! We cruised along chatting the miles away and having fun. That’s what it is all about! We had a great plan of staying at the historic Palace Hotel and drinking at the Brewery. Again plans never work on trail. Thru hiking has allowed me to let go of things I can’t control and be much more relaxed. So before walking an additional 1.2 miles on the paved road through town we made reservations at the Motel 6 for two nights. Unfortunately for us the price went up $20 for May 1st, but we saved a few bucks spending the last day of April there. Paperweight had a gift card to DQ and our walk to the hotel passed right by it so we stopped for a bite to eat. Funny washing your dirty hands in the sink and noticing all the dirt marks around your neck and face. The employees had never heard of the CDT as they wished us luck. We needed that extra fuel to make it to the hotel. The woman behind the desk at the Motel 6 gave us each a goody bag with 2 in 1 shampoo, deodorant, snacks, Epsom salts, and a few other treats. We ran into Hob in the lobby and caught up as well. It was after 6 by the time we were showering and relaxing in bed. No energy to walk back to the historic downtown for a beer so we enjoyed a few Coors in bed instead. Longest paved road walk yet and quite a few more to come. Luckily, the miles pass quickly with a companion to hike with. ❤️Sass

Southern Terminus to Lordsburg 85 miles

On Friday April 22nd, my journey began. It was an early morning where everyone met in the lobby of the Econo Lodge to get a ride down to the border. I was greeted with a hug from a familiar face, Naturally Hob! I met him my second day on the AT back in 2014. He is a wonderful man who has traveled the world and is full of unbelievable stories. There were eight hikers starting with us so two vehicles were needed to transport us all. I choose to pay the CDTC $120 to transport me to the border and stash 2 gallons of water at five water caches between the border and Lordsburg. I would recommend this to anyone starting Northbound. Paperweight, Hob, and I rode together in a truck sharing stories and catching up. A little AT class of 2014 reunion. Before we left, they call border patrol to let them know two vehicles were heading that way. The ride was a little over three hours. The first bit was on paved roads then we turned off onto poorly maintained gravel roads towards the border. The going was slow and bumpy, but the views were wonderful as my heart started racing faster and faster. At one point, the driver laughed saying one way was the right way… We took the wrong turn and had to back up. The truck scrapped up against the shrubs adding new scratches. For this reason, it is well worth the money and peace of mind knowing water would be at each cache.

Day 1

A bit before 9:30 we were all standing in front of the Southern Terminus. I tried to comprehend my last few years and how I ever ended up here. I never would of imagined this four years ago. We all took lots of photos and I soaked in the moment. I may never be back here again and I may never see the northern terminus. You just never now. I loved the fact that a barbed wire fence was the only thing separating us from Mexico not a huge rusty wall like the PCT. We made it a point to put our foot in the Mexican soil this time. Paperweight and I were the last two to leave the monument and we would be the last two to make it back to Lordsburg. We quickly made it to the first CDT marker where another photo shoot took place. I lasted ten minutes before pulling out my umbrella. There is going to be a learning curve as I attempted to hook it to my pack a few times until I got it right. The heat and elevation was bothering me right away as I felt a little off. New Mexico is beautiful as we followed the path and quickly realized no one will ever walk the same trail. Multiple paths lead to each market. Some appear to be foot traffic and other cow paths. Within the first five miles my legs were scratched up and bloody and I was regretting being so lazy over the winter. Three years in a row of struggling the first few days. We took lots of little breaks hiding in the shade when we could find it. I managed to get what I thought was a rock in my shoe. I leaned on Paperweight hoping to dumb out the rock without any luck. I sat down and realized it was not a rock, but a cactus thorn that punctured my shoe, insole, and was poking my foot. The desert is rough! A few miles along I screamed stop as a rattlesnake sat in one of the washes rattling at us. We moved along and I made a big mistake. I decided to take down my umbrella and keep walking. Next thing I know Paperweight was yelling “rattlesnake.” I couldn’t see my feet since I was taking down my umbrella so I just took big steps hearing something slithering beneath me. Ahh! I just jumped over a rattlesnake that came out so quickly and passed in front of us both. Haven’t even made it 10 miles yet! The snake was huge and more scared than I was. Stay focused out here just because it was flat easy walking the snakes are lurking. We made it the first water cache at 13.7 miles later than we planned. I felt horrible! Dehydrated ad exhausted. We found a small site where I decided to cowboy camp and he set up. It was a rough evening with us both feeling a bit off. Glad we have each other! The sunset, stars, and full moon made my evening! Survived day one with just a little blood shed, some vomiting, rattlesnake encounters, and a beautiful place to call home for a few months. 

Day 2

The water caches are stored in bear boxes along the first section and are filled by employees of the CDTC. We filled up our bottles and headed back to the trail. The morning miles were cool, but full of ups and downs. The trail in this section is marked with old posts as you go up and down arroyos or washes. They are usually straight down then back up. Exhausting and lots of energy spent. We took a break in the shake and I headed out first following what I thought was the trail. Before I knew it, I was off course and at the barbed wires fence with the gate to the left of me. He beat me to the gate. Just wandering around the desert. So many footprints in all different directions. The sun was bothering we again and it was slow going. Again, I’m lucky someone is tolerating my slow speed and willing to take lots of breaks in the shade. We made it to the second cache where we filled up and said hi to Hob. We decided to cross the highway and hide in the shade under a trailhead marker. As we were resting, a border patrol agent got out and walked up to the barbed wire fence to talk to us. He told us his partner is tracking two pairs of footprints along the road and asked to see the bottom of our shoes. They weren’t tracking us. We would find out later a couple took the road instead of the up and down of the arroyos and they left their footprints. We were told on the ride down yesterday that they rake the sand next to the highway to look for prints each morning. No illegals just thru hikers taking a cut off it seems. We took a very long break before heading back into the sun for a few more miles. The trail joins a gravel road where we walked side by side while admiring all the cows. We found a spot right off the trail and called it a day. I got to pop the largest blister ever on my fourth toe. It was a nasty one! I decided to cowboy camp again even in the gusty wind. I set up my umbrella and used a rock to hold it down to prevent sand from blowing into my eyes. The moon was so bright at midnight it I thought it was morning. I missed sleeping under the stars and this life. I’m cut up, bruised, exhausted, dehydrated, and so happy!  Day 3

I got a head start since someone has a tent to pack up. The trail continued on the gravel road going up and down. I waited for him to catch up as we found a shady spot for a morning snack after saying hello to rattlesnake number three. The scent of the desert is mixed with the smell of cow poop. Flowers are blooming and the birds are out singing. New Mexico is beautiful. Full of wide open spaces and mountains every way you look. I had that moment today! It hit me hard. I’m hiking the Continental Divide Trail and this is my home for the next few months. I am blessed and full of joy! Held back tears of joys admiring the beauty and promising myself to cherish each moment. Found a rusty old bike that won’t help us get to Canada. At water Cache 3, we met Titan!  He also hiked the AT in 2014 and PCT in 2015. We bumped into each other only once on both trails. Today he sat in the shade with us and we had our first conversation. Great guy! Get that triple crown Titan!! He’s a fast hiker and that will likely be the only time we bump into each other. After a long break and drinking over two liters of water, we were off again. We hiked a solid day of almost 20 miles before finding a nice campsite off trail. Cowboy camping again for me in the windy desert. Another beautiful day capped off with a sunset. Love my life. Day 4

The past few days have involved crawling under barbed wire fences and seeing more cows than hikers! Much more wild than any hike I’ve done before. No vandalism or graffiti until two hikers signed a cow skull in sharpie. (Hope I met you two so I can lecture you. Would you like it if I wrote my name on your skull? Come on people! LNT.) We have only found two wrappers that we packed out and two pieces of TP stuck in a tree. Lots of old bottles near some of the road crossing and some bullet holes in the signs close to these roads. The past two years on the AT and PCT has been disappointing in my view. So many garbage and tagging. Grow up! Anyways… The weather was much cooler today and my umbrella stayed in my pack all day. At cache 4, we met Chris from Belgium who is taking on his first thru hike and wins for the largest blister I’ve ever seen. He started the day after us and is a super strong hiker. He joined us for the afternoon miles through the desert. The wind was ridiculous as I struggled to stay upright. We learned they even closed down the highway due to high winds that day. Paperweight found a nice campsite for us away from the wind kinda. We both managed to rip the netting of our new Six Moon Design tents with our hiking pole tips. He ended up putting up my tent for me after I got frustrated and angry fighting the wind. Thanks! I should of just cowboy camped haha. We watched the sunset sipping whiskey and eating candy!! Tough days.

Day 5

I headed out to the water trough to chat with a cow as I filtered water. Good cold water! Some more crawling under fences and more battle wounds. My body is beginning to accept the challenge and getting into the groove. We both have some horrible chaffing so I switched to pants at our first snack break. We chatted the miles away on another gravel road heading closer and closer to town. Love all the old windmills, deserted farm equipment, and the views! I could live in New Mexico. (Name a state I’ve hiked in that I wouldn’t live in…) As we neared the last cache, a kind man named Apple introduced himself telling me he had cold water and drinks by the road. Such a wonderful man who does magic on the CDT, CT, and the AT. I had a coke and two cold gatorades that gave us the power to bust the 7 or so miles back to Lordsburg. I am feeling strong and confident again. We cruised into town busting the last mile of road walking back to the Econo Lodge. It was a relaxing evening and I ran into Foxtrot from the PCT. He hung out with us and chatted in our room catching until he headed off to bed since his hike begins tomorrow! 

 Overall advice- lots of sunscreen, an umbrella helps but know how to use it, stop and look for snakes, wear pants if you don’t want to be scratched up, drink 2 plus liters at each water cache, know how to put up your tent in the wind, be prepared for blisters and let your feet air out, get an early start in the morning to beat the sun, and never stop smiling! No two people will ever walk the same path I’m sure I’ve already done an extra mile somehow. I’m loving the trail so far and the solitude! We saw two new hikers, Apple, and only bumped into Hob at Cache 2 in 85 miles. It would be very lonely without someone to share the miles with. This is the longest start of a thru hike into a town for me. It feels nice to just jump right back into trail life!! To many more wonderful days!!❤️ Sass

Bye East Coast

I flew from Boston to Atlanta where I considered sneaking out of the airport back to the AT, but I checked my gear to prevent this from happening. In Atlanta, my hiking partner for most of the Appalachian Trail joined me as we set out on our last flight of the day. Paperweight and I spent the four hours catching up and getting even more eager. We hiked together for almost 1,700 miles and it went well so why not give it another shot. Having someone to talk to, plan with, and share thoughts made me at ease the past few months. Usually, I make myself sick worrying and second guessing everything. I almost quit the AT before I even started. I do not want to feel too comfortable since this trail is going to be so different. Navigation, winter hiking, remote locations, grizzly bears, and the most miles I’ve ever hiked await me. I’m lucky to have a good friend with me so we can support one another.

We landed in Tucson, Arizona and rushed to the baggage claim to grab out gear. I had wrapped my pack up in a huge plastic bag that tore open, but nothing got lost luckily. I recommend using an old suitcase that you can leave behind at the hotel. We rushed out of the door into the heat surrounded by palm trees. Not in Massachusetts anymore! We jumped into a taxi and were jetted across town to the Greyhound station. We did not pre buy our tickets since we weren’t sure if we’d make it. We made it with plenty of time to spare and purchased the last two tickets to Lordsburg, New Mexico. The workers made a big point saying they have never seen so many hikers going to Lordsburg and we are all a little crazy. At the station, we met four thru hikers starting on Wednesday. Feeling at home already. I enjoyed the bus ride looking out the window admiring Arizona for a few miles. The red rocks were beautiful and I hope to do a little hike thru that state someday called the AZT. It was hot when we stepped off the bus in the McDonald’s parking lot in Lordsburg, New Mexico. The CDT passed thru this town so I stepped foot on the trail before I ever saw the monument. On Friday, we will begin our hike at the Southern Terminus on the border then return to Lordsburg in 85 trail miles. We quickly hurried to the Econo Lodge out of the heat and checked into our room. Lots of hikers! It was easy to tell who has already hiked the first 85 miles by the scratches, sunburns, and hiker hobble. We heard stories of broken ribs, sprained ankles, people quitting at the first water cache, nasty blisters, and a person deciding last minute not to even start their hike. What am I getting myself into? The CDT motto is “embrace the brutality!” We spent two full days getting last minute things together, hydrating, eating lots of food, meeting new people, and catching up with old friends as well. 

Karate Kid and I