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.
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!
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!
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!
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!