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.