I drove from Grants to Albuquerque, an easy posted 75 MPH (!) on some highway. I dropped off the car and Google mapped the 5 mile walk to the Greyhound station. I kind of like walking through other people’s cities, plus I had plenty of time to catch the bus back to Grants.
5/27 20 miles
Starting from the motel at 6400′ I walked through town, up a paved road, then to the trail. I camped at 9300′, the same place where the Ravens and I camped last year for the same reason: too much uphill. Along the way Curt and Ryan blasted by me. Curt started at the border 550 miles ago and his friend Ryan just joined him for a couple of weeks.
5/28 22.2 miles
I really enjoyed the trail today until the last 5 miles after I picked up 3L (6.6 lbs) of water. The additional weight killed my neck as I continued up, a steady, not steep, climb. It’s windy and hot, so dry that even breathing through your nose can’t stop the desiccation of throat and lungs. I get a dry cough, gritty eyes and a feverish feeling. So I camped in a soft, flat little spot, hidden from view with my camo-colored Altaplex. Just before camping I went by 2 guys just waking up from naps to hike in the cool of dusk and evening. I hate hiking in the dark, mostly because, duh, I can’t see, even with a headlamp, and then there’s the glowing eyeballs the headlamp picks up next to the trail.
5/29 21.7 miles
Camped in a cattle corral with Ryan and Curt! Nice to have company, however briefly. Also this is the place the Deputy Sheriff rolled up on me last year, lights whirling madly. “Mrs Sterley? You OK?” A little joke with the guys, Ryan says, “How does it feel out walking a 30 year old guy?” He’s suffering from bad blisters and a flare up of runner’s knee. I give him a bunch of ibuprofen since they’re running short.
5/30 20-ish miles, maybe 19
Tremendously beautiful country, pillars of eroded rock, the trail goes up escarpments with views forever. Jack rabbits and greenish lizard things. And the human element, “Pretty good job whacking Ryan in the knee, eh?” I joke with Curt when I catch up to him where he’s been waiting an hour for Ryan.
At the wonderful Trujillo Family water cache, Ryan decides to hitch the nearby highway to Cuba to get a cortisone shot and a rest while Curt hikes on another night. Bummer. A while later, both Enigma and Curt pass me and I camp on one of those escarpments, moonlit all night.
5/31 26 long miles
Today was incredibly beautiful again, I stopped again and again to admire the rocks, the gigantic scale of tumbled boulders rolled and halted in the flatlands below me, the tiny little marble rocks under my feet, the scoured, run-off shaped towers and pillars, and the sandstone fractal mosaic mounds. And adolescent rabbits hopping everywhere.
I really, really believed that when I hit the highway about 4 miles before town, I would be able to hitch a ride. Not only would it be a long day, but I’ve already done this road walk, no need to link footsteps for a thru-hike. There was plenty of traffic but 100 cars later, not a single one slowed or offered water or anything. Exhausted and disappointed in local humanity, I finally made it to the Del Prado Motel. So it’s a puzzle to me. Is there no awareness of CDT hikers here? Compassion for the obviously overheated and struggling? Respect for women who could be your mom or grandma, for elders? Get over it, Catwater, you don’t need no stinking ride.
There is a trail closure from Cuba to Ghost Ranch because of severe fire danger. The CDTC posted an alternate to the 45 mile trail, a 60 mile road walk, I’m not going to do it, but there are no buses out of here and, umm, hitching doesn’t bode well. In an update, the CDTC reported the USFS didn’t want hikers on the highways. CDTC has scrambled and found someone willing to shuttle hikers to Ghost Ranch, woohoo, thank you all!