Ghost Ranch to Chama

Day 42

Around 6, I was awake packing up my things at the campground. I took a morning shower and put on my already stinky hiking shirt. We made our way with our packs to the cafeteria for one last breakfast. We of course took a lot longer than we planned as we ended up eating our own lunch at the picnic table near the cafeteria. A huge branch fell off a tree almost onto Chocolate Chipmunks pack. Luckily, she wasn’t sitting there anymore. It could of been a trip ender. Paperweight and I ordered snowshoes after hearing how hard the first section of Colorado would include lots of post holing. Another big expense I didn’t plan on, but a lifetime purchase. The four of began the hike out a bit after 2. Whoops. We walked past a few neat building then began crossing the river over and over. We found blue markers on the trees that we followed up and out of the canyon. The climb was tough especially since it was the warmest part of the day. I struggled feeling like I was crawling. My shoulder hurts already! I took my time admiring the beautiful mesas all around. I’m going to miss New Mexico. We all took a snack break at the top of the climb where the trail joins a dirt road. Lots of noisy cows! We came to a huge group going crazy! It was unreal the sounds they made as I admired a white with black spots quite the unique cow! We crossed a cattle guard and dipped back onto a trail for a bit before hitting a forest road again. We had a nice view of the Colorado’s snowy peaks as we found a campsite back on a trail overlooking an epic view. As we ate dinner, the town lights began to turn on surprising me at how close we were to civilization even though it was miles away. A nice short day, but we finally made it out!

Day 43

We lost Nightwatch this morning since he was out of water last night he got an early start. Paperweight and I cruised along towards the water source taking our time. We took a long break there watching chipmunks munch on dandelions and basking in the warm sun. The water was straight from a pipe so I didn’t even filter. Favorite type of water source! The day was mostly hiking along former and not often used two lane roads. We managed to get off trail twice since things aren’t marked. A few extra steps, but the hiking was easy and beautiful. We had a long lunch break as usual and my partner who is a physical therapist did some manual therapy on my shoulder. He’s working on diagnosing me and fixing my issues. It felt great! We continued to move along passing more gravel then a trail followed by a sketchy water crossing too. We passed a strange section of lots of cut aspen trees and a deserted campground. We threw away trash and even used a privy! A few more miles to a nice campsite where the three of us set up and drifted to sleep. 

Day 44

The three of us woke up around 7 happy to have the sun shinning down on us. We all did the usual morning chores of packing up the inside of your tent, eating breakfast, drying out the condensation on our tents, filtering water, and finding a place to dig a hole! Within an hour we were all packed up and walking north along the gravel muddy road. Chocolate chipmunk got a head start and we didn’t catch up to her until lunch. The two of us cruised along the road jumping puddles and stepping carefully around the rocks. We can still see the high mountains of Colorado covered in snow calling our names. We walked a bit over 4 miles to a stream flowing across the trail where we took a close to an hour long break. Surrounded by large aspens and pines and the sound of flowing water has me so happy! We are officially done with the desert of New Mexico I believe! The trail continued on the road as a truck bounced down the trail towards us we jumped to the side of the road avoiding the mud. We said hello and as we looked back they had got themselves stuck. We laughed as a little ways up the road it warned people that the road was no maintained! We continued on mostly uphill sweating and admiring the lush green forest surrounding us. Took a water break then was happy to find a CDT marker leading us onto a trail. We cruised even faster being on a real trail again busting the miles towards our lunch break spot. We were talking loudly when we saw a man and a few other people coming towards us. He informed us there was a large group and they were walking in silence so don’t be offended if they did not say hello. A few said hello as we waited a few minutes as they climbed uphill passing us. The last five took a break letting us cruise downhill towards a river crossing. Rio Vallecitos had a nice log across the river that we easily walked. We joined Chocolate Chipmunk for a break with lots of flies harassing us all. They prefer our feet mostly! Yuck! I cooked using Paperweight’s stove for lunch. I had two tortillas with rice and black beans, cheese, and hot sauce. I may of burnt my fingers a bit ouch! Not used to an alcohol stove. I need to do this more often as I felt so great busting out the next three miles uphill listening to music in under an hour. A water fill up and moving along. The sky turned dark and thunder roared. I waited for him to catch up as we debated our plan. We choose to duck under the nearest and only tree nearby as the rain began to fall. Then came the hail and more roaring lightning and thunder. We made the right choice instead of climbing uphill where there were few trees we found shelter. We basically huddled okay we cuddled under a tree keeping each other warm as the rain and hail pounded down. We waited 45 minutes as it passed over and the blue skies returned as we climbed upward. It’s all about timing as it would of been almost a mile without a good tree to seek shelter under. After the rain, the smell of the forest is unbelievable. I was also pleased to see two deer. One ran along side me for a bit stopping allowing me to take a photo. I cruised along in the lush meadows slipping around in the mud. I had a moment! So fortunate to be out here and so in love with the scenery. We cruised together the last 4ish miles towards a campground. The trail was soaked from the snow melt off so in the last two minutes of hiking our dry shoes became soaked again. We picked out a campsite number 20 to be exact throwing our stuff onto a picnic table. Trash can, a privy, and water made this a perfect site. Being a Saturday night there were kids screaming, fires burning, a few gunshots in the distance, and other unfamiliar trail sounds. We relaxed at the table as a bigger group arrived at the site next to us playing loud music and such. Maybe this wasn’t the best place to camp, but too late now. Lying in my tent listening to random tunes late into the evening as it drizzles and lightning flash in the sky. 

Day 45

I was pleased to use a privy in the morning. We followed Guthook’s app to get out of the campground. We ended up taking a road to be surprised to see a trail marker at the exit of the lake. So again we did extra miles for no real reason. Just continuous footsteps! We crossed the road and passed a bin of trail magic full of empty soda cans and trash. Along the trail we went to a small field will silly switchbacks up an already easy to walk hill. Maybe it was for the snow melt? Pretty random I thought. We ran into Dragon and Deco along the way as well. A nice road walk led to a great water source for a quick break. More moving along towards the snowy Colorado mountains. I saw a prairie dog hanging out by his hole. He even posed for us. What cute little creatures! We had a long break at the end stream where we caught up to Chipmunk. After she left, a large aspen tree crashed down bringing a few others with it right off the trail. It’s all about timing! It sprinkled as we rushed the last few miles towards the planned campground. Lots of herds of elk roaming the land. We can across a fawn as the mother ran away. It stood up slowly and wobbly being just a few days old possibly. It started to walk towards Paperweight as we hurried by! We almost camped at the lower Lagunitas campground since it was sprinkling, but we did the extra bit uphill where Chipmunk was set up. We quickly set up and the rain stopped. We enjoyed dinner at a picnic table looking down on the elk drinking from the pond. The sky turned dark again and we quickly ran back to our tents just as we had finished dinner. Lightning struck nearby and as usual I slept like a baby. Not even hearing the mouse that would chew two holes in my tent attempting to get my food.

Day 46

Stupid mouse! Good think tonight will be my last night with this tent. Paperweight and I are moving into a 2 person tent saving us both almost a pound and keeping each other warm in Colorado. I’ll have to sew it back up when the trail is done. We climbed up to a ridge walk that blew my mind! We walked for miles staring out at vacation homes in the distance. What a view! I love northern New Mexico. We took a break at a scenic outlook staring at Colorado. Looks terrifying! The views today were epic and a fell of what is to come. We had lunch at a stream staring at the clouds growing darker. We hurried along towards the uphill climb of the day. We hit snow and lost the trail completely. Footprints led in every direction and there were few markers. We climbed upward postholing and covering a mile in an hour. Soaked feet as many times my foot would sink through the snow into a cold river. I was miserable. Luckily I have a cheerful hiking partner. We were almost to the top when thunder and lightning pounded. To be safe we did not climb up any farther, but used our gps to find a connecting dirt road. We hurried down sinking to thigh deep at times. We hit the road as it was pouring so we jumped down farther hiding in the trees. I got cold quickly as we saw lightning strike near the top of the peak we were supposed to be on. This ain’t a walk in the woods! The rain let up and back on the road we went going as quickly as possibly over two miles to the point we dropped back into the trees. The hiker only got harder here as I post holed once into a down log slamming my shin hard. I even slid a bit catching myself and bending back my pinky! So many injuries and obstacles. Climbing over so many down trees, stepping in snow melt rivers, and avoiding getting hit in the face by branches. I felt like we were making no progress at all. We found a stream where we filled up and started to look for a campsite. I was exhausted as we found no good spots we just continued onward nearing our second state. I shook off all the stress of today and reflected on New Mexico. I saw more wildlife in this state than all 17 other states I’ve thru hiked in. I’ve seen more weather and lots less thru hikers. I have embraced the unexpected challenges. I am fully enchanted by New Mexico and hope to return someday. We turned a corner and found a fence separating the two states. Someone made a NM and CO marker with sticks that we walked right over. I had to repair CO for our photo. We made it!! We connected every footstep. We took 6 zero days and too many neros in and out of town to keep track of. It was an exhausting day, but rewarding. The first view from Colorado blew my mind as I stared at lush green trees, lakes, and snowy peaks! We walked along looking for a site and ended up getting off trail again! We found our way back to the trail climbing through more snow piles to a nice site to enjoy the sunset. We both set up our matching one person Six Moon Design tents for the first and last time in Colorado. The sky exploded in beautiful colors as I spent my first night ever in the new state of Colorado.

Day 47 

1.1 miles to Cumbress Pass, CO where we hitch into Chama, NM! So we make it to Colorado, but get to go back to New Mexico. That’s alright with me that means more green chili! We were pretty slow packing up today. I went through my pack finding lots of things to just send home since heavier snow gear awaits me in town. We got moving and spent most of the time taking pictures and admiring the elk. We had to cross a few snowy patches, but nothing like yesterday. We quickly crossed the road and put out our thumbs. The first vehicle to drive by was a huge mountain tour bus. It took 10 minutes for the next vehicle to come and it was Ricky from Texas who stopped and drove us into town. He has been staying in his RV in Chama for a while and seen lots of hikers. We were the first two he picked up this season. He dropped us off by the post office as we decided to get breakfast first where we ran into Deco and Dragon. They got in yesterday afternoon right before the storm came. We ate then went to the PO. I got my two boxes from mom, but our orders from Amazon were missing. Paperweight would spend a few hours this afternoon and evening on the phone with UPS. It was ridiculous! We walked over a mile toward the cheapest motel at the end of the town. The owner of the Trading Post ran outside and offered us both a NM bandana. We saw him again at the High Country Saloon which he also owns. He bought us each a round of beer too! We got a room at the Y motel for $48. Nothing nice, but it would do! Did the typical town chores followed by beers, dinner, and sleeping with a pillow!700 plus miles vs new shoes

Day 48

We took a zero day in Chama, NM spending most of our time lounging in our hotel room at the Y. I loved Fina’s Diner and specifically the green chili breakfast burrito with a little American flag sticking out of it. We got all of our chores done so we could drink a few beers and relax. The mystery of the snowshoes were solved early as we learned they were at the Post Office all along with a different name on the label. Nice job UPS! Note: when ordering from Amazon write General Delivery and the address to the post office next to it. We headed up the road and got a hitch with the owner of one of the nicer hotels in town. He had loaned his other car to another hiker named Boat who we met at the post office and brought us back to our hotel. A new pair of snowshoes for $190 ek! I hope to get a lot of use out of them. Another great meal at the Saloon this evening as we packed up planning to leave tomorrow afternoon. 

Day 49

Chocolate Chipmunk had the same problem with Amazon/ UPS, but her gear for mailed to a girl in Santa Fe with the same name! What? So Paperweight, Nightwatch, and I didn’t want to leave her behind so we debated what to do. We went into the office and talked to the owner Anne where she offered us a free room number 11. It had four beds and a kitchen. She doesn’t want anyone to hike alone. So with a free stay we all bought a six pack, snacked, lounged, and then went to the Saloon for another delicious meal. The owner bought us each another beer maybe we will stay here forever! Bringing the total to 8 zeros in New Mexico.

Meal 3 at Fina’s Diner


Cuba to Ghost Ranch

Day 37

Leaving Cuba took a little longer than expected. We checked out at the required time of 11 then went to McDonalds where we all bought a few burgers to pack out. I ate one and packed one out. The boys bought more. We walked out of town stopping to grab an ice cream and a little whiskey too. We wandered off the main road onto a side road walking past lots of homes and farms. Some beautiful large homes and others tiny ones. We got off of the paved road and as we passed a stream the boys yelled bear. It wasn’t a very big one, but it was terrified of us so off it ran. We took a break a few minutes later munching on our burgers before were the starting an uphill climb on the road towards the trailhead. Continuous footsteps! We got to the trailhead running into other hikers and getting a little magic. A fresh apple yum! We are now climbing into higher elevations and water is much more plentiful. As I climbed up, water was rushing down the trail and I loved all of the aspen, pine, and evergreen trees! Mountains again! We saw a few elk along the way and found a nice campsite in a meadow where the three of us set up. I didn’t like their spot so I moved a little ways away having a private spot! We all feasted and had a little whiskey. A beautiful day I’ll never forgot and I feel at home again.

Day 38

I did not make it 2 minutes before my shoes were soaked. All of the snow melt led to wet meadows as I sloshed through the water. Chilly water. A huge heard of elk were roaming across the meadow as well. The boys got ahead of me as I filtered. I realized I was off trail so I cross another stream to soon see the boys coming across as well. Someone had left two branches blocking the trail which usually means don’t go this way. Using a gps is essential out here or a map. We all wandered along the wet trail admiring the lush green forest getting more excited for what was to come. We headed back down the mountain to run into other hikers at a water source. A mountain bike rider zoomed by us twice mentioning there are lots of CDT thru hikers out here. We crossed a main road finding trail magic of cold soda. A cold coke made my day and gave me the energy to complete the climb. I had a moment on this section surrounded by large rock in varying colors falling more in love with New Mexico! We did our miles and decided to camp off trail at a nice spring. A meadow campsite and an early evening was perfect. This is the life!

Day 39

We had a few morning miles in the woods heading towards the Chama River. Climbed up a Mesa, walked along a stream up and down little dips, then crossed a bridge over the Chama River. Largest river so far on the hike and the sound of rushing water has up excited to not need to worry about a water report. We had a long road walk as it was a holiday weekend cars zipped by on a one lane gravel road. We had a goal to swim in the river. Rafters waved at us as they zipped down rapids. It was a warm day. We found a side road to an outhouse then headed down to the river where we met the Deming five. They had been out camping for a few days and asked what we were up to. We ended up having wonderful conversation, a few beers each including a new favorite Monk Beer, lots of fresh watermelon, and a few other snacks. I love moments like these! Two of them were from Massachusetts as well and have fallen in love with New Mexico living here for many years. As they said sometimes the desert calls to you. It’s calling to me! They even filled up our water. We wandered back to the road with a nice buzz as more cars passed down. We found the boat access spot with trash cans as we soaked our feet in the river. We were told of a great campsite half a mile off trail so that was our goal. We maybe hiked 15 miles total today, but I could care less. We took the side trail to a stunning spot looking back on winding Chama River! My favorite campsite so far and it isn’t even on the trail. A huge four foot long bull snake hung out with us a bit. We watched the sun set content with our lives! I look forward to coming back here someday and maybe even doing a little rafting. For now, I’ll keep my pack on my back and walk along. A day of magic, beauty, rushing water, and smiles!

Day 40

The boys woke up before me, but I still caught a nice glimpse of the sunrise over the Chama River. I’ll never forget this campsite and hope to visit again someday. We were walking well before 7 on the gravel road towards Ghost Ranch. We managed to walk past the turnoff to a trail that cut some road walking. Things aren’t marked well out here and if you aren’t paying attention you can miss a turn easily. We joined the paved highway where I had cell service and checked in with mom. We walked against traffic as cars zipped by. The smell of exhaust! Eh! We jumped the fence that was labeled No Trespassing into an abandoned museum to go cross country towards the ranch. Bark Eater and Ilene joined us as well as we climbed two barbed wire fences then found ourselves going down a rocky descent. We connected to an old nature trail that led over an old suspension bridge. Pretty neat! We walked quickly eager to get our resupply and feast! Getting into Ghost Ranch was the goal of the day and before 10 we had succeeded. We walked the gravel road past a few employee buildings, then a museum, and up towards the Visitor Center. Hikers were hanging around the stone porch sorting mail drops and simply relaxing. Ran into Masshole, Stumi, Tick Tock, The Beast, Chocolate Chipmunk, Turbo, and my favorite Hob. He gave me the run down as to how the ranch was run as we shared stories. 22,000 acres of land had been donated to the Prespeterian Church and they turned it into a retreat area. Hob is taking time off to see him wife then flipping up to avoid the snow. I’ll miss running into him in each trail town, but I look forward to visit him in the future. He refused to tell us his birthday, but he had let it slip that he turned 64 already on trail. So I bought him a ginger ale and put a candle in one of the hostess cupcakes my mom had sent in my mail drop. It was a great surprise for him and made me happy that I’m carrying candles this year. Hob you are an extraordinary man and I can only hope to see as much of the world as you have. He hiked off as I held back tears. Everyone lounged on the porch until lunch time. No need to shower or set up. We were starving! Ham and cheese or grilled cheeses with French fries! Delicious! Along with a salad bar, fruit, and even some ice cream! We were all in heaven feasting for the hour that the cafeteria was open. I have never been so full as we slowly made our way to the campground where we showered, started laundry, and the three of us set up our tents in a shared spot with Chocolate Chipmunk. The girl behind the desk said four at the site was fine making it about $6 a piece. Not too bad! I came out of the bathroom and the boys were talking to two ladies who offered us a ride to a gas station to pick up some things. The ride was beautiful admiring the mesas and the area Georgia O’Keefe called home. We each bought a 6 pack of beer each and a few bags of chips. What else would a hiker need? It was a fun evening on drinks then a dinner buffet! I ran into Thunder Bunny again! Haven’t seen her since outside of Tahoe on the PCT! Love seeing hikers again! Spent some time in the library using the wifi before sleeping well in my tent. Nice “town” day!

Day 41

A zero day at Ghost Ranch was the perfect place. Buffet breakfast and dinner. Good company! We toured the two museums, walked a labyrinth, lounged in the library and lounge, found a piano for Paperweight to play, and simply enjoyed the beauty surrounding us! Lovely people in a lovely place!

Grants to Cuba 110 miles

Day 30

I drank three small plastic cups of OJ, one bagel with cream cheese, and 3 mini muffins from the free continental breakfast before the three of us went across the parking lot to Denny’s. I then devoured two French toast, hash browns, bacon, and two eggs. Hiker hunger! Hob sat across from us eating breakfast then getting back to the trail quicker than us like usual. We checked out and attempted to hitch the three miles of paved road to the post office. No luck so a long walk into town with full packs of food. I had to pee so bad, but there was no place to go for almost the entire 3 miles. We came to a city park with porta potties! Yes! I then went for a quick swing and maybe even slid down the slide once! Soon to be 30 years old and I still love a good park. We finished our walk to the post office as they mailed boxes ahead to Ghost Ranch. Then we had to walk back to the road where the trail heads out of town. Deja Vu! Luckily, we passed another park with a water fountain where we each drank a liter and filled up. We had planned on buying a liter each at the grocery store on the way out, but free water is even better. We met the high school woodworking teacher who asked for our picture for the newspaper. Nice guy! We then began another road walk past little shops and such leading out of town. 3 young girls in a car from New York stopped asking what we were up to. I think we blew their minds! They were driving up to Mt Taylor today on a road trip it appeared. We then stopped for a quick ice cream sandwich break at a gas station then moved along. The last store on our map was the grocery store where someone wanted to buy some whiskey. They told us to go down the road 100 yards, which turned out to be much longer. Success! Plenty of food, water, and a little whiskey! Back to the trail, which was along a paved road for miles. We passed two signs saying not to pick up hitch hikers. Then came the state prison where one guy asked Nightwatch if we had any drugs from behind the barbed wire fence. Never walked past a prison before on trail or actually ever. Cars zipped by as Mt Taylor stared at us in the distance. Lots of trash, bullet shells, and glass to avoid. We made it to the trailhead parking lot around 2 with 8 ish miles of road complete! We hid under a tree to find a dead coyote behind it when we went to pee. Reminds me that you never know what is lurking nearby. I threw away my trash in the cans at the trailhead then began hiking a trail for the first time today around 3pm. The trail winded up a mesa for a few miles before flattening out and giving stunning views looking down at Grants. My pack is heavy and I was moving slowly. I hate getting a late start, but that’s typical on a day out of town. I walked alone the first few miles before joining the boys for a bit. They flew along with their lighter packs. As the day drew on, we got to the point where we began the uphill climb off of the CDT towards Mt. Taylor which is the tallest peak we pass in New Mexico. Yes! Paperweight and I hiked together getting confused at a few points with so many different trails in various directions. Exhausted we continued uphill until we found the spring past 8:15 as it was getting dark. We camped above 9,000 feet and I felt the elevation as I was slow doing everything and not feeling hungry. Similar to how I felt in the High Sierra of California last year. I knew better so I forced down a meal before sleeping soundly in my tent. 

Day 31

The three of us were all in our tents as Hob arrived this morning at the spring. He may of even sang me a little wake up song. We slowly got going since it was chilly. We began an uphill climb slow and steady! It was steep for a while as we looked up toward Mt. Taylor at 11,301 feet. We could see small patches of snow as we curved around the mountain to see nice long switchbacks up towards the peak. Hob and Chocolate Chipmunk were ahead of us at least one switchback. It got chilly and windy so I added my rain jacket. Feels good to be hiking to the peak of a mountain again. Mt. Whitney was my last peak and wasn’t on trail just like Mt Taylor isn’t on trail. I struggled a bit, but going slow and steady (how I was named SAS) I made it. Mt Taylor is a volcano and behind the sign is a 6 foot whole where it had erupted so yes it used to be even taller. First volcano climb ever! The views were clear and I could see for miles. Hob pointed out the El Malpais in the distance as we could recognize the trail we had just walked even saw Pie Town in the distance. The five of us walked down a little bit to an open warmer spot where Hob shared his thin mint cookies. Me and the boys also had a quick whiskey swig on top of the mountain. We all snacked and chatted for a bit before heading down on the first patches of snow. I slid a few times using my poles to keep myself upright. It was fun and a bit nerve wracking as expected. We then came to an open area where we joined a dirt road that switch backed up to a lookout. Slow and steady we made it. Paperweight and I dropped out packs and climbed towards the lookout which also isn’t on trail. La Mosca is at 11,036 feet meaning two 11,000 feet mountains conquered today. We talked to the man at the lookout who told us there was a fire way out in the distance. He was chilly wishing they would open up the lookout soon, but it takes four strong men to open it up. He patrols three lookouts and I thanked him for his service. We took some quick picks then headed down to a lower elevation quickly warming up. The next section followed a road over some snow patches as we cruised along. No more big climbs ahead! Took a few breaks with the crew of five before getting back on a really muddy road. I was listening to a podcast when I suddenly looked back and saw something strange. A woman was driving a blue Pontiac Grand Prix with the trunk open with a lawn chair sticking out. It seemed so strange to me since the road had two deep tire marks in the mud. The bottom of the car was scrapping the ground and the seat was bouncing around. I got off the trail and was still moving faster then her car. She said hello out her window as I noticed a cane and a dog resting in the back seat. A few yards down the trail I heard what I expected to hear. The sound of her tires stuck in the mud as she continued to gun it getting more stuck. I let the boys catch up to me as we all evaluated her situation! I knew we wouldn’t be able to get her out, but we spent almost an hour attempting to help. Paperweight tried to rock the car as Nightwatch and I tried digging and wedging rocks and sticks behind the tire. She really didn’t seem to worried as she said AAA would get her out if we could just call for her when we got to or car. She did not understand thru hiking. She offered us money for our time as we said not to worry. We continued on the road for 15 minutes worrying about her and wondering when she would ever get. After passing a cattle guard, the road was more rocky and she would of easily made it. So close! We considered ways to get her help and spent 30 minutes on the road hoping a car would drive by! No luck. She got herself in a pretty bad situation! The three of us turned back on the CDT on a trail completing the Mt Taylor alternate. We walked another hour or so until we got back on a gravel road. We saw Chocolate Chipmunk wandering around where the water tank should be based on our maps and apps. She had spent over 30 minutes looking even using her binoculars. All of us were almost out of water so we continued thinking another 9 miles or so to the next source. Luckily, the water report was .6 miles off and we found the yucky tire! Paperweight took out his whiskey as we relaxed after a long day. A day of two 11,000 footers and a woman driver stuck in the mud. Funny day!

A few switchbacks to the top

Nightwatch, Hob, Paperweight, Chocolate ChipmunkBam! I made it.The lookoutSide trip up to the top

Stuck in the mud candid shot thanks Paperweight!

Day 32

Our tents were covered in condensation and getting started was tough like usual. We noticed the sediment at the bottom of our bottles understanding how our filters slowed down so quickly. Around 8:10, we wandered back to the dirt road for most of the day. Suddenly, a truck drove by and we waved him down telling him about the lady stuck in the mud. He had already talked to Nightwatch and said he would call her father once he got to town. Relief! He gave us one bottle of water to share as well. Thank you. He continued along going slowly on the road. I spent most of my time trying to find the flattest part of the trail while chatting with paperweight. Large wide open fields on both sides and mountains behind us, to the side of us, and ahead of us. Beautiful scenery and the breeze made the walking bearable as well. We stopped at a muddy pond as I decided to go down and get water in the rock canyon. It was a silly and stupid idea and I spent over 20 minutes finding a safe way down then getting stuck in the mud grabbed nasty green water. I really didn’t need any, but I like being extra hydrated. I managed to twist my knee and ankle which bothered me for a few miles. The three of us took a long break under a shady tree feasting away. We met two new hikers that started May 3rd and they were wondering when we started. 11 days before them! There are many different ways to complete a thru hike and I have found my favorite method. It is important to take zero days and explore the towns along the way. I’m in no rush! We will likely never see them again. Farewell! We made it to the water source which is half a mile off trail one way. Since I was hurting, Paperweight offered to go get my water for me. They were gone for 50 minutes and described the hike down into the canyon the best part of the day. I probably would of loved it, but I had some alone time to type my blog and rest. We continued on for another two hours before calling it a night in the trees. Lots of birds soaring overhead and a relaxed evening with good company as usual.

“Road walks” aren’t too bad!

Back on a trail for evening milesLove these markers!

Day 33

I feel like I’m in a National Geographic special! The morning started off walking along a mesa on a road. After a few miles, we found ourselves at the edge of the mesa looking down over miles of desert. We took a few extra steps to look over the edge before continuing along on the trail. We came to the downhill which is a mix of steep downhill and switchbacks where only managed to fall face forward once. We dipped about 2000 feet to the bottom. The views were spectacular and even included watching two giant lizards fight with each other. All the flowers are in bloom and the smell of sage was everywhere. I slipped falling face forward catching myself with my hands only cutting up one knee. Ouch! The trail led back to a road where we took a side trip out to a water source that tasted like crap. We found a spot under the tree to hide in the shade while staring at toilet paper mixed in with cow shit. So the cows have learned how to use toilet paper or some hiker ahead doesn’t know how to pack it out. LNT! We enjoyed a nice 40 minute break before wandering back to the trail in the hot sun. I got my umbrella, but the wind kicked up and the clouds gave us some much needed shade. We cruised for miles as I listened to a few podcasts and he jammed to his music. We hiked together on and off taking a small break in the shade admiring the cows. The last bit of hiking was so exhausting of just little ups then downs along the gorgeous terrain. We were pooped and managed to lose the trail along the dirt road. We missed a right hand turn and ended up bushwhacking towards the trail downhill. A few of our options included a jump off the edge so we looked closely and found a safe route! Exhausted, thirsty, and ready to camp we came across a water cache from the Mumm family. Thank you so very much. I needed a drink badly. As I went to fill my last bottle, I did not duck enough to fill the water chained to the tree. I jabbed my head so badly into a branch it bleed a tiny bit into my hat. It hurt so bad that I cried! Ouch! No more injuries please! We walked .2 down the trail and away from the road setting up camp around 8. We hiked 23ish miles, but it felt like 30. My head ached, my knee throbbed, and my body craved rest. As the sunset, we said goodnight giving each other a much needed embrace to top of a stunning day of views. To dreamland we went!

First big view in a dayLooking out from the top of the Mesa

Heading down

Huge lizard

Moo!Fence stiles of CDT

Enchanting!It’s a long way down

Sunset view!

Day 34

At 5:30 am, the alarm clock buzzed. Paperweight and I got up to watch the sunrise over the mesa. Wonderful way to start off the day we moved along to the next water source which was little under a mile away where we ran into Nightwatch. We filtered and caught up on our experiences from yesterday. The three of us set off together wandering up and down toward new mesas. We walked up them down them and best of all on top of them. I love walking right along the edge peering down carefully. We cruised along busting out the miles before taking a long snack break admiring the beauty all around us. A few more hours of walking in Mesa land before our next stop. At times, you are walking on sand, huge rock formations, dirt, tiny rock bits, and other times you just hope you are on trail. We took a long break at a nice water source in a canyon. Hiding in the shade we hydrated, jammed out to music, and aired out our feet. I love this life! We got moving along slowly through the land of fragrant sage admiring a huge mesa standing before us. As expected, we slowly made our way to it before beginning a steep uphill. The trail had rebar to hold some of the rocks in place and really impressed me. Thank you to the trail maintainers and whoever designed this section! Impressive. It was a tough climb, but the view from the top followed by a nice leisurely walk atop the Mesa made a splendid way to end the day. We wandered for a few more miles before finding a sheltered spot off the trail. It spit rain a few times but we all managed to set up, eat dinner outside, and relax as the sunset. Another enchanting day in New Mexico.

The only bridge so far over an arroyo

Sitting near the edge


Day 35

At 5:25 am, the alarm clock buzzed as I heard the boys already packing up. We camped to the left of the edge of a large mesa and wanted to hike into the sunrise. We were all on trail by 6:00 cruising toward the town of Cuba. Early mornings and late evenings are magical hours on trail. We wandered down off of the mesa towards the paved road as the sun rose. The morning miles went quickly and before we knew it we were staring at the paved road. We were exactly 9.3 miles to the hotel room from our campsite. Again, I notice the smell of town more and more every road walk and it disgusts me. It’s a common occurrence of burnt oil, tires, and gas followed up by garage littering the side of the road. It makes me appreciate the smell of nature and the beauty surrounding these roads and towns. We checked in the hotel and did the usual hiker thing. We went to McDonalds. No need to shower or anything just feasting. Lots of trays later we did the shower thing and began relaxing. I spent two wonderful hours with Hob talking about trail life, the change in hikers over the years including the disrespect along the trail, and our lives. It was a magical discussion that helped reassure me that I’m exactly where I should be and need to be. His words meant the world to me and I admire him as a father figure and wonderful friend. My three favorite men and I enjoyed a delicious meal at the Del Prado Restaurant next door. The evening was mellow as any town day should be. 

Day 36

Another zero day making it a zero in every trail town so far. Do I physically need a zero? Nope! Do I enjoy zeros? Of course! Is there too much snow in Colorado? Absolutely! Do I need an excuse to zero. Never! The three of us got our laundry done after a delicious breakfast at the Del Prado Restaurant. The day was easy followed up by a quick resupply at the grocery store then lounging in the hotel room for hours. We choose the same restaurant for dinner all ordering green chili cheese burgers. Not the best ones on trail, but they hit the spot. To bed early dreaming of the snow melting in Colorado.

Ah! New Mexico is almost over!