Grants to Cuba: 106 miles

5/20 We walked out of the Comfort Inn on the road and continued another 7-8 miles uphill on pavement. A car going our direction stopped to offer us a ride to the actual trailhead. We said “no” and laughed when 2 hikers, Moses (the beard!) and Operator (the ride!) waved at us.  I felt sleepy all day and it was uphill all day, not a great combination.  We picked up water at an off trail spring, for me 3 liters–dinner, breakfast and a liter to get to the next source tomorrow. And then we continued up.  I was starving and sleepy and grumpy and it was past 6.  So we camped just a bit further, at only 19 miles instead of the 22 we were shooting for.  The Ravens could have kept going, but they didn’t–how nice is that? We’ll make up the miles I’m sure.

5/21 I slept great in my little tent.  Maybe 2 nights in town just doesn’t suit me. Trail and road were gentle today with beautiful weather.

5/22 We hiked 24 miles but it was a rather dramatic day. Last year when I asked Mickey DeCourten what she’d like to see more of in the blog, she said she’d like to read more about the challenges. This was one of those challenging days. It started out with an easy 10 mile road walk that we finished at 11:30 with a food break till 12:00. At 1:00:

5 little monkeys hiking on the tread
1 fell off and bumped her head
4 little monkeys hiking on the tread
“Catwater, Catwater, are you dead?”

I was cruising along a short traverse with lava rocks poking up into the narrow little path, when I tripped, came down on my right shin, then left knee, left arm, chest and finally whacked my head. My right shin is already thoroughly scarred from ankle to knee from a lifetime of klutziness so what’s another gash? I barely hit my head, no concussion or even blood. I told the Ravens I was fine. Good thing they didn’t have to run the concussion protocol.

“What day is it?”
“I don’t know, I’m a thru hiker.”
“Who’s the President?”
“He Who Shall Not Be Named.”

What really hurt was my upper left chest. I could breathe, nothing crinkled, collar bone fine, just painful to the touch and tightening up maddeningly. We kept going, quickly, and I dropped some Advil and watched the bumps on my shin and knee puff up. We reached the top of a climb and knew there was a steep 3 mile drop to another dirt road and spring. Bling was waiting for his family to catch up at the top, and I told him I’d keep going. After the fall, I was going to descend very slowly and carefully. When I reached the bottom at about 6 pm, I stopped to wait for the others at the junction to the water. On a connecting dirt road, a vehicle appeared with flashing red lights.
“Uh oh,” I thought. “Has something happened to Mama because of her sore feet?” The Sheriff’s SUV stopped by me.
“Mrs Sterley?” Nobody calls me that, yuck.
“Are you OK?”
“Um, yes. I took a hard fall, but I’m OK.”
“Your device has been sending an SOS, I’ve been trying to find you for hours.”
After apologizing to, thanking, reassuring and shaking hands with (never shake hands with a hiker, we’re filthy) the Deputy, I pulled the inReach from my shoulder strap, figured out how to cancel the SOS, and saw my daughter and husband had both been notified of the SOS and used the satellite text function to try to contact me to find out what happened. Five hours without hearing a word from me or the Search and Rescue folks. Of course they were probably following my tracker and seeing I was still moving quite a distance at hiking pace. As the Ravens joined me and we walked the side road to get water, a light bulb went off in my head. The reason my chest was so bruised was because I jammed the device into myself in the fall, somehow also setting off the SOS. The irony! The sorest place on my body caused by my safety device.

5/23 Amazingly, my bumps and bruises didn’t stiffen up overnight. It was a clear, calm morning walking through canyons and cliffs, mesas and sandstone rock formations striated red, purple, gray, yellow and fierce white. But after awhile it all looks the same and the steep ups are annoying.  The Trujillo Family water cache after 11 miles was a highlight of the day.  We all got enough water to dry camp tonight and through tomorrow morning.  The day got hot and the usual ferocious wind came up as the dirt road-trail-dirt road continued up relentlessly.  We found a protected sandy area and camped after about 23 miles, leaving just 19 to Cuba.

5/24 Bling is so fast!  He hikes for 45″ or an hour and then waits for his family, patiently.  Even with Mama’s sore feet, she’s still fast but sends me ahead of her.  I find myself playing tag with Bling.  I’ll catch up to him, tag, and keep going, knowing that as soon as the rest of the Ravens get to him, he’ll take off and pass me again.  In the lead, I stopped at 11:30 for something to eat and we all got back on trail an hour later.  Quicksilver caught us, he’s taken just 3 nights to our 4 for the 100+ mile stretch.  I chalk it up to the 12 years he spent in the Marines, he’s tough!  At the paved highway, with 4.5 miles to town, I watched him dwindle in the distance. There sure is a lot of road walking in New Mexico.  I made it before the post office closed and got my box.  New shoes!  New Superfeet! Bacon jerky!  I met the Trujillo family in the motel parking lot.  The kids ran up and handed each hiker a bottle of water and a packet of strawberry flavoring.  Sweet!

5/25 Zero in Cuba.  Another funny little place with a highway running through it.  Silly me, I bought a carving from a guy on the street, better than just panhandling, isn’t it?  We have similar people at home, waving baleen at traffic from street corners.  I had a nice conversation with BG, got god-blessed, and felt good about that $5.00. Another hiker later called him “that drunk” but he wasn’t.  Although his front teeth had rotted out, he was less raggedy than me, and despite what must be a tough life, BG’s smile and warm handshake made my day brighter.

Pie Town to Grants

85 miles

5/15 22 miles to Solar Well
The Ravens and I hiked out after eating saved Pie from the night before for breakfast. Yum! We stopped at the Thomas Ranch for water and conversation at about 15 miles. What stories he has to tell, a Korean War vet, pastor, all around fine human being. It was tough finding a break to stand up and keep hiking but we had miles to go. Endless and Queen Bee tag teamed us and caught up later at the next water source and camped with us. I doubt I’ll see them again as 22 miles isn’t enough for some speedy hikers.

A good day, I’m glad to have blasted free of the Toaster House vortex and even gladder to be with the amiable Ravens and not solo.

5/16 22 miles on the Cebollah Alternate

Last night the wind died down after I watched another episode of Into the Badlands.  I woke to mooing at 4 am,put in earplugs and woke at 5:57 just before the 6 am alarm. We walked on a dreary graded dirt road with increasing clouds and cold. We went uphill to rain, then down in intensifying wind chill. I hate the wind but wearing rain gear over layers helped me not get hypothermic.  Finally made it to Hwy 117, paved, and our water source till tomorrow afternoon, a solar powered cow tank filled with green water.  We walked the paved highway for several more miles, gradually getting out of the wind and warming up.  My goal was to camp in the first set of trees along the highway, hidden from both the wind and the motoring public. It worked, I’m not loving NM today but I’m so glad for the cheerful company of the Raven family.

5/17 We had to decide if we would take a highly recommended alternate through lava fields then up to the Acoma-Zuni Trail, a bit longer, higher, more difficult but scenic or stick with the CDT route on the 117.  Papa talked to Grants trail angel Carrolle Mumm who told us the next day would be thunder stormy so we opted for the quicker, shorter road walk. The weather turned out to be fine, much better than yesterday and the road was flat, even and fast.  Our plan was to camp a few miles short of Grants, then have a low miles day tomorrow to have town time and a zero in a comfy motel. Camping discreetly next to a highway hemmed in by barbed wire is becoming kind of normal.  We walked the fence line and 3 horses came up to greet us. A bit further on we crawled under the fence and pitched our tents.  I did not know how friendly horses are until I was woken by a gigantic muzzle poking through my tent fly.  I shooed him off and he and his pal went to the Ravens tent.  Repeat.  Pests! One finally curled up next to the Ravens for awhile and blasted them with gas. Between the wind and the horses trying to get in our tents with us, none of the adults slept well.

Green cow tank water + Starbucks Via = ??

OK, is it sneaking up on me?

Joon and The Pest

5/18 6-8 miles road walk into town.  The road has taken its toll on my back which is now stiff and aching for the first time.  Hopefully it will loosen up before I have to hit the trail again. Lunch at Subway, dinner at Denny’s and a very clean and comfortable room at Comfort Inn.  The only weird thing is that when I did my laundry in the hotel’s single washer/dryer, the next guest put my dried clothes on the folding table, that’s fine, but it was minus 2, count-em 2, pairs of Injinji toe socks.  Why?  Creepy foot pervert?  Good thing I was wearing pair 3 and 2 new pairs will be in the box I’ll pick up at the PO.

5/19 Zero in Grants. For $.50 a shuttle bus will take you anywhere. Papa Raven arranged a bus for 9:15 to the post office 3 miles away and another bus 9:30 to take us back to the motel. Meanwhile I got all my resupply food for the next 106 miles to Cuba at Walmart, including freshly baked cinnamon pound cake for breakfast, Spam Classic singles with bagel thins for lunch and a new connector thingy for my earbuds so nobody else has to listen to my podcasts and audiobooks as I hike. I got my package: new Hyperlite Mountain Gear pack to replace the one I’ve worn out after 3000 miles, new socks, new Purple Rain hiking skirt in a size down since I’m already skinnier, and a bonus giant Snickers bar Dan threw in the box. I’ll be unrecognizable in all this new stuff!

For way better photos and another perspective check out the Ravens blog at

Reunion: Reserve to Pie Town

5/10 Woke to pouring rain and snow on the mountains.  Good timing to be in Reserve!  Caught up on civilized stuff like reloading my iBooks app and books, bill paying, eating at the excellent cafes and buying a few snacks.  Here everybody knows each other, “How are you?” they say to each other. “Good!  How are you?” exactly like my sadly now former coworker Cody Carpenter says at home in Alaska.

I talked with a wildlife officer who had been stationed in the Army and later was a USFS smokejumper in Fairbanks.  After serving in Iraq, he wanted nothing to do with cities and loves his job in NM.  New Mexico is wilderness as I’ve discovered, with big cats (Puma, Jaguar, Mountain Lion, I’ve heard all these names), bear, coyote, Mexican Wolves, snakes, javelinas, elk, deer, turkey and so on.  His job is to determine if a dead cow was killed by a reintroduced Mexican Wolf (the Feds will reimburse the rancher for the loss) or by a regular run-of-the-mill predator.

5/11 I can’t believe how great people are–my plan worked.  Breakfast at Adobe Cafe at 7 when they opened, pack on the porch.  I walked to the edge of town, sat on the guardrail, and the first truck picked me up.  I was walking by 8:30!  A beautiful day through pleasant country with 1 2-hour climb, muddy brown cow water, 1 jacked-up pickup and 1 Private Property with 2 insanely barking dogs.  I camped hidden from the road in scrub trees and desiccated cow pies.

5/12. Since I did 22 yesterday, it was just 18 to Toaster House in Pie Town which I reached early afternoon.  Hikers!  Dassie and Burning Calves from Day 1 greeted me and showed me to a bunk in their room. Then I was whisked away by owner Nita for a tour of Pie Town, a rather old, and odd, spot on the map.  After taking us to the house she lives in and getting to play with her orange cat Muenster, I found myself driving her car with Bow Leg to Quemado 20 miles away for beer.  Back at Toaster House with 12 or 14 hikers in this old, semi-decrepit, bizarre, cluttered, by-donation “hostel” for hikers and bikers that has about 8 beds and several couches plus porch and tenting space along with a single bathroom.  Lots of great company!  Most people spend at least 2 nights here.


Very Large Array at Pie Town
Muenster cat


Nita, Catwater, Dassie and Burning Calves

The Ravens in front of Toaster House
Bow Leg and Catwater selfies

Bling and Joon in Toaster House kitchen
Inbar and Midnight

5/13 The Ravens are coming in today I hear!  I went to Saturday post office hours (7:30-9:30 am, how weird is that?) and picked up their boxes so they wouldn’t have to wait till Monday. I busied myself cleaning house, washing clothes and towels, chatting with Midnight, Dassie, Burning Calves, Navi, Bow Leg, Navi, Dave, Lux, Anna and John and more.  And the Ravens arrived with smiles and stories.  I moved to a bunk upstairs.  Mama’s feet are doing better but they will zero tomorrow.  I should get out of this vortex and hike out, but I’m enjoying all the hikers, the pie, the rest and the Ravens, so…..

5/14 Mother’s Day.  I bought Pie to go yesterday for breakfast today.  More hikers walked in as others walked out: Endless and Wueen Bee, Silver, Quicksilver, Radar and Peru, Inbar from Israel, Buddy Backpackers Dad.  I changed to my own tiny room and slept great.

Gila Cliff Dwellings to Highway 12, 90 miles

5/5 After a lovely night’s sleep, I slept in and hit the road at 7:30. Worried about making miles when I returned to the river, I walked right past the turnoff to the Gila Cliff Dwellings site, a round trip of about 4 miles. Then I walked past the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument visitor center and got on the trail. I stopped dead in my tracks, tucked my pack under a tree and turned around. I went back to the visitor center, paid my fee, went back to the turnoff and walked the road to the ruins, not the road to ruin.


These dwellings were inhabited for just a generation by Mogollon people, Pueblan culture, and have a lot of the original structure including wooden support posts that provided dendochronology (tree ring dating) but here, as normal, the archaeological sites in New Mexico have been heavily plundered, “pot hunted,” in the last 150 years.  In fact, I have inherited 2 perfect pots from Mesa Verde that my great or great great grandfather Clayton Theodore Sallee, took. I also have an ornate marriage certificate with his name and my great great grandmother’s name with Arizona Territory crossed out and New Mexico Territory penned in above. I don’t know much more about my mom’s Sallee ancestors, she was born near Coulee Dam where her dad was on a WPA project in the Depression and she graduated from high school in Oregon.

How people have wandered the West for thousands of years.  Who were they really?  What were their lives like?  Why just a generation in this location?  What is the true story of my ancestors?  Did I inherit the wanderlust?  I’m glad I turned back to visit this site, it gave me a lot to think about when I got back on the river route a couple of hours later.

From 11am to when I camped I crossed the Middle Fork of the Gila River 57 times for a total of 14 trail miles ( which doesn’t include the diversion to the Cliff dwellings).  Hard to make miles in sand, cobbles and water.  But I couldn’t be happier with the route or my day.  Frogs, tadpoles, fish, fry, lizards, snakes, squirrels with big ears, and 2 day hikers with a pit bull too tired to even wag her tail.

5/6 So slow, so many crossings, so little tread.  I followed footprints until the thunder showers between 1:30 and 5:45 wiped them out.  I finally pitched my tent and rested my aching back.  I miss the Ravens so bad and wonder where they are and how Mama’s feet are and how they’re managing the river.

5/7 It was cold this morning. I went from the canyon (fell in the water once, getting my daily quota) to ugly Snow Lake which was enlivened by legitimate trash cans at the USFS campground. Hikers love to get rid of trash! Met my second pair of nice FS guys in a truck.  In both cases, an older, largish white guy is driving with a younger, fitter brown guy riding shot gun. One was a Kachina Hot Shot!  There are fires in the area but they tell me the CDT is open and safe. Continuing on from the lake on dirt road to trail and the last water was a weird pond with solar panels.  Then a climb onto a road and I saw the “German couple” in the distance that the FS guys told me was ahead.  I walked for a long time across a treeless, windy plain before dropping down to trees and the nicely maintained Bursum Road where I said “Hey” to the German couple resting in the shade.  The road continued up, up, up over the Divide and I found a tent site in the trees.

I made lots of miles today but I didn’t plan for the eventual water carry as I left the river and the weird pond. Fortunately I’m paranoid since the Catwater incident in 2015 and always carry more water than I need. I have enough till tomorrow and the next on-trail spring in 14 miles.

My life is ruined, stupid iPhone somehow deleted the iBooks app.  The last thing I did last night was read “Digital Dick,” by my Yosemite friend John Mullen.  When’s Book 2 of the series coming out, John?  I love the concept, character and story, and it’s so well crafted!  The way these phone mishaps go, that app would pop up with an inadvertent elbow in the tent and self destruct.  I need wifi to restore it and that’s days and days away.  I haven’t not read a book every night since I learned to read. I am reduced to reading the labels on my food and reviewing my own stupid journal entries.

5/8 Not my favorite day. Woke to cold and cloud cover and continued the easy tread FS road at 2% grade. Passed Treehugger, Blisterfree and dog Sage as they were packing up. I miss the Ravens, Dassie, Dan, Jackie, Poppy, Recon, Puff Puff, Milkshake and Sticky Buns, Mr Smith, Velcro and Sparrow.  I really mourn Sparrow, every day.

Finally finishing the alt and getting on the CDT, I came to a lookout and saw the 2 fires.  It made me nervous, they were so close, should I retreat?  I left a long note in a USFS fire rig that was parked, unlocked, with the keys inside, with instructions to call Dan so he could satellite text me if I’m in danger.  After all, it’s not like a bureaucrat has never made a bad fire behavior call!  I hiked on, picked up some murky pond water and camped in smoke.

It was a nice warm campsite.  I woke at midnight to the sound of a bunch of coyotes yipping like sled dog puppies.  Then further off, a long awoo, a single wolf howling, singing, and the coyotes shut up.  I know Mexican wolves have been reintroduced to the area, and I’ve seen plenty of food for everybody–cow calves, deer, elk–so I guess that’s why I wasn’t scared, and it was such a beautiful, wild song.

5/9 Between the iBooks issue, the fires, the hail and increasing wind, cold and weather, and the uncertainty of whether my resupply box was actually being held at Toaster House in Pietown (ah, hiker rumors made me call to confirm from Silver City but I hadn’t heard back before losing cell coverage for the last week), I’d decided to give 3 hours to an attempt to hitch the 30 miles from NM 12 to Reserve, an unplanned stop and a notoriously hard hitch.  If I couldn’t get a ride, I’d camp and continue the 2 days to Pietown.  I got a ride part way from the first car going my way, after just an hour huddled in all my layers and rain gear.  Then a second ride from a law enforcement officer acting as a Good Samaritan to a hiker in distress.  Turns out a week ago, a colleague died of hypothermia out here and the officer had that in his mind.  Oh, the kindness of the people of New Mexico!  They’re not crazy outgoing, they’re calm and helpful.

I love hitching

And so I’m in Reserve on another unplanned zero waiting for the severe weather to pass.  Seriously, rain here, snow where I would be hiking, tornadoes around the state, wow.  And I’ve restored my books, done my laundry, caught up the blog, eaten really great beef, watched The Voice, Better Call Saul and Into the Badlands, and found out the Ravens took 2 more days in Silver City.  They’re probably close to me! I’ll know when they get cell service!

Solo out of Silver City


5/1 The Ravens and I took a zero in Silver City. Mama’s feet are a mess and she needed to see a doctor to get some antibiotics for an infected blister, and she needed to find some better shoes for both the blisters and to help with the plantar fasciitis. The early miles are murder on most hikers’ feet. Heat, sand, a little wrinkle in the sock, lacing your shoes too tight or too loose. We’ve all been there. Last year’s PCT, my left foot ached badly the whole way, I had to get antibiotics for an infected toe, and I lost more than half of my toenails. Why do we do this again?

I spent my zero day buying a new shirt, sunscreen, gallon ziplocks, food and beer. While Mama and Papa were at the clinic, I took Bling and Joon across the highway for a tasty McDonald’s lunch. They knew their orders by heart but I haven’t eaten in a McD’s in years and had to study the menu. It was good!

I went to the Visitor Center to get the CDT bandana that Teresa who drove our shuttle to the start said they’d have, but no, they had no information about bandanas. All 4 Ravens and I had dinner at the Wrangler. As we knew, Mama needs at least one more zero day to let the meds work and the blisters to dry up. I’ll hike out on my own.

5/2 Stalled out saying goodbye and leaving the Ravens, I will miss them, what am I doing? I took the Little Walnut to Gila River alternates to my next resupply at Doc Campbell’s Post which is more direct than the “official” CDT. It was a pleasant road walk uphill from the busy highway to a two-lane filled with morning commuters, and ordinary houses giving way to castle-like homes then cattle ranches and finally USFS Wilderness dirt roads. At the “Monastery” turn- off, traffic stopped. Walking from graded dirt road to trail and then to ancient horse-drawn wagon-sized roads, the country changed. I picked up water enough to dry camp and trudged straight up an overgrown drainage excuse for a trail to a lovely forest, flat, Pine needled, perfect tent site.

5/3 Might have, should have, taken the longer CDT instead of the Gila River alt. But I am committed for 70 more miles. Today started with about 10 miles of trail to road to endless trail down to the river. The river is what you follow or walk in with just a rudimentary and sporadic trail on dirt cutting the curves of the river to straighten out the route a bit. Not particularly dangerous, just SLOW. I was hoping to make 20 miles today to leave 8 for tomorrow to Doc’s but, oh well, I’m camped now with 10 to go. My feet are still fine, even with all the water and sand and gravel in my shoes. I really hope Mama Raven takes more days off, this stretch will be tough for hikers with sore feet. The river walk is, however, utterly beautiful, red cliffs rising from the canyon, some eroded into stacked rock shapes, some with caves. It’s hot again down here until the sun drops behind the canyon walls at around 7pm. I’ve seen all kinds of creatures and tracks: the slithery trails of lizards, bold black beetles, tadpoles and frogs plopping in pools, snakes, Ravens, robins and little birdies with yellow caps, deer, and I think elk.

5/4 Whew!  Short day but I’m staying in a room at Doc Campbell’s.  Bought an extra day’s worth of food since the miles are so slow.  Polite and professional, a young boy (Kaden?) was running the calculator and cash register at the store.  I sat out back and met 3 hikers and a hiking dog.  Treehugger said, “You know the saying, ‘Hike Your Own Hike?’ Well I’m hiking the dog’s hike!”  She said when the dog heard a fox yip, he crawled into her sleeping bag.  She and Blisterfree had an enormous resupply box that included canned dog food for a special calorie boost for the dog.  Blisterfree, whose name I recognized, originated the Lowest to Highest (LTH) route from Death Valley to the top of Mt Whitney and The Enchantments.  Hiker celebrity!  Of course he was sitting there poring over his maps.

I cooked up a Backpackers Pantry for dinner, hung some hand washing in the bathroom, turned on the overhead fan, finished reading Levison Wood’s “Hiking the Himalayas” and went to sleep indoors on my Thermarest on top of the lumpy bed.  This is the life.

Lordsburg to Silver City 77 miles

Trail marker
Even better trail markers
Dassie and Bling waiting
Thanks for the coffee! —– and Wilderness

Dassie and I split a room in Lordsburg for 2 nights, with the Ravens in the same hotel. It took me a full 24 hours to recover from heat exhaustion, which I guess I’ve never had, just know the symptoms from first aid. My heart was fluttering all night attempting to pump overly thick blood, I felt like I was getting a head cold–sore throat, dizzy–and I drank gallons of fluid. I went about the chores of buying resupply food and lunch and snacks for the day. Suddenly at 4 pm, I was ravenous and looking forward to hiking the next day. Dassie and I went to buy pre-dinner IPA since the restaurant here doesn’t serve alcohol. That made me realize that I should have prioritized a refreshing and revitalizing brew the day before after walking into town.

4/27 our group of 6 headed out the road north of Lordsburg in wind but less heat. No more Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) provided water caches, our goal was a solar powered wind mile about 18 miles in. We gained 2000′ elevation in 5 miles, went by old mining works and caught up to Kat from Taiwan and a couple of other hikers at the windmill. There was plenty of time left in the day so we continued on another 3 miles to dry camp in trees and thorn bushes. It’s been a dramatic improvement in scenery and temperatures. Trees for shade, what a concept! This area reminds me of the PCT stretch between Lake Hughes and Hiker Town on the edge of the Mojave Desert.

4/28 We continued on a mixture of dirt road double track and single track trail with trees for shade. Because of water we walked off trail a mile or so to the Burro Mountain RV Park which gives hikers free camping, hot showers and electricity. It wasn’t super restful though when the wind started howling and our tents lit up with lightening and a dashing rain. However, it was the first night I actually got in my sleeping bag! In the morning we packed water to make it to the next guaranteed source just over 20 miles away.

4/29 We’ve got a bit of a trail routine going. It will change, but right now 15-year old Bling with his endless energy and effortless positive attitude has the fastest pace. Dassie is feeling great and walks behind him. I generally tuck in next with Mama’s sore feet slowing her down with Papa walking drag. Joon is a little slow to wake up but a little into the day she’s right behind Bling. Super experienced, Bling will stop and wait for the group at confusing intersections or just randomly when he knows he’s way ahead.

At one of these stops I kept going ahead and was rewarded with seeing some kind of cat tracks, a large animal and a baby sized. “Puma” is what the guy at the RV park talked about, same guy that told us the bathhouse was “yonder.” He said 2 women hikers had a Puma mama and two kits walking the trail between them, and that a big cat took down a deer nearby a few days earlier. Anyway I’m walking along with these fresh cat tracks peering around thinking they were lurking in high places like my house cats do, just waiting to rush me. I found a nice clear high spot and waited for the group to catch up. I got behind Bling and Dassie, letting their footprints cover up the cats’ and forgot about them.

We continued on, lovely country, as it got cooler and cloudier and I felt rain was imminent. I wanted to drop down off the ridge before that happened and got out front again. I turned into and then off of a dirt road into a long sandy canyon fenced and gated to restore the area. I heard a truck and saw a woman, man and two barking pit bulls with tow straps and a come-along unsticking their Tacoma from the middle of the trail. “They won’t bite!” she yelled. “I’ve got 5 behind me, I’ll wait” I yelled back. And then it started to snain (snow and rain) so I dug out my rain gear. The truck got unstuck and the woman ran back to me and asked if we would be OK in the snow. So sweet! I said we are going to camp just a mile down the wash and she waved goodbye. The others joined me a few minutes later, the snain stopped and we continued to a lovely soft campsite out of the wind and called it a day.  We passed numerous tire tracks practically on top of the signs saying, “No Motorized Vehicles.”

4/30 We got up and walked 5 miles through sand, then double track past many healthy cow-calf herds to the paved highway which we’d need to walk 13-14 miles to town. Dassie has a deadline to go back to work and wants to see as much as she can, so she opted to hitch to town, buy her resupply, overnight, and hike out with the pack from CDT Trail Days. The Ravens and I will zero. I don’t need to rush since I’ll be taking a break to return home for a visit and the Ravens have to wait for the post office Monday and to give Mama’s feet time to heal. Half a mile into the road walk, a truck stopped on an approach on the far side of the road. A guy asked if I needed water for the road walk. I said sure and walked over to meet them. Turns out they are Jerry Brown of Bear Creek Survey whose maps I’m using and Luddite who maintains the trail in this area. Cool! Then I found $0.26, a flat raccoon, a flat coyote, a syringe, a pair of hemostats, and thousands of beer bottles and cans. Trudging along, a car suddenly screeched to a halt, 2 people hopped out and gave me a bottle of iced coffee–former CDT hikers returning home from Trail Days!

CDT Crazy Cook to Lordsburg 85 miles

Bling, Joon, Papa Raven, Mama Raven, Catwater
Bling on point
Another one bites the dust
A little bit of beauty


4/21 The Ravens and I took photos at the Southern Terminus and started to our first camp at the first water cache at MP 14.5. Beginnings can be hard and the heat and pack weight will take some time. I always lose my appetite for the first week or so and coming from winter temperatures to shadeless summer slays me. But as the other hikers (9 of 10) who shuttled out the same day rolled into camp and we all settled into tents, I was happy to be back hiking.

4/22 was about making the water cache at Mile 27 which we did, choosing to push on carrying 5 liters another 3 miles to a lovely sandy wash sprinkled with dried cow pies and thorny bushes. The Ravens and I were joined by Johnny from Germany who felt as nauseous and overheated as I was. Neither of us could finish our dinners. As he was blowing up his mattress, I heard Mama Raven exclaim she heard a rattlesnake. When we figured out it was Johnny, I yelled “trail name, Rattlesnake!”

There is very little trail so far, it’s pick your own cow path CDT post-to-post, or walk a dirt road. Lovely though, horned toads, huge black tail rabbits with gigantic ears, cows, doves, ravens, deer scat. Very, very hot.

4/23, day 3, I fell down, went a ways down the wrong road and threw up my dinner. Excellent day. Laying in my tent on soft sand waiting for the sun to go down never felt so good.

4/24 was again about finding water caches, shade and trying to eat enough to stay alive. It got really windy so target mileage went out the window as we pushed on to find some kind of wind break for the tents. The Ravens, Dassie from South Africa and I found a remarkably comfy but tight area and slept soundly tucked below a slight levee and thorn bushes that look like the Kiawe bush s on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Day 5, 4/25, we made it back to Lordsburg a day ahead of schedule. What a day. 11 miles of gentle uphill into a howling headwind and another 6 or so on a rather busy but well graded dirt road into town. Dozens of Border Patrol vehicles and an old red truck that swerved toward me for no reason. I looked behind and he did the same thing to Bling who froze in place until the truck went by. It was a brutal day, I felt annilated and could only eat half of my bacon cheeseburger in town. I’m taking a zero. Turns out we were in a sandstorm so ferocious they shut down the I-10.