Ghost Ranch to Chama 6/4-6/8 95 miles
“Aaackkk, get outta here!” I roared, surprising me as much as the bear with the volume my damaged voice produced. I’d just put up my tent the first night after a 20 mile hike from Ghost Ranch. I was laying on the hard ground inside with my head on my stuff sacked sleeping bag listening to the birds while waiting for the back pain to subside for a few minutes. Footsteps. There weren’t any hikers behind me all day. Wait, they’re coming from the wrong direction. I looked through the screen. Bear! Just strolling down the trail sniffing the air. I scared the snot out of him, small latte colored guy, graceful until I yelled and his head shot up and he skedaddled uphill as fast as he could go. Few better sights than the backside of a bear gallumphing away. I repacked my pack and skedaddled myself up the trail another hour just in case he decided to come back and give me a scolding. For a 22.2 mile day.
Sometime the next day, another 22 miler, I saw a wolf, lush brown and alert, look at me from the trail, and then dash uphill quietly, stealthily. So much less noise than all the hoof noise deer and elk make when they spot me. New Mexico is paradise for wildlife, I’m so happy to be walking through it.
I finished Stephen King’s Dark Tower series today, after reading 6 of 7 books, Book 7 I listened to, all 28 hours of it over the last 2 weeks. Say ya true Stephen, Roland and his Ka-tet should have let you die. Actually a great series, whether you’re a King fan or not. I read Book 1 a million years ago when it first came out. And then my son Glen somehow inspired me to read the lot, it’s taken 6 months of intermittent attention.
This was a new stretch for me with lots of new hikers and weird misdirects on the route. Some awesome hikers were Clean Sweep, Root Beer, Brian, Dixie and Aaron, and there were others whose name I didn’t get including a group of 3 humans and 2 dogs and a couple who hammocked instead of tented. Brian hiked the Colorado Trail (CT) with his wife last year when they moved from Michigan to Farmington, NM. She has a strict work schedule so he’s off to thru hike the CDT, doing big miles happily and quickly. Super nice guy, I don’t know, but really every single person I’ve ever met from Michigan? I adore. All Brian needs is a trail name, he refuses to name himself, so please any hiker up the trail, watch for this dude. He’s a good one.
The third day I did another 22, and I’m generally happy and plan for 20 miles, but finding campsites is tough on this bugger.
My fourth and could have easily been my last day before the trailhead to Chama, I came on Dixie and Aaron at a creek. When I said I was named Catwater because I drank water on the PCT with a dead cat in it, not only did Dixie describe that particular cistern, she asked if I’d had to fish water out of it with a long line. Wow! She hiked and fished water there in 2017. Whoa! They’re doing modest miles currently after taking time off from the CDT for assorted reasons. Wow!
I crossed the barbed wire fence marking the New Mexico/Colorado border and camped the fourth night, with just a few miles left. Rather than paying for a motel, I’ll get to town tomorrow morning, get all the chores done: pick up resupply box, laundry, food shop, etc spend a night in a bed and head back to the trail. The zipper on my bug screen has failed so I’ll get some binder clips in town to jury rig it until I can get the backup I’ve had Dan mail me to the next stop up the trail.
I walked from the trail to the trailhead at 8am. A woman was just parking her Subaru. She stepped out and asked me “Are you Catwater?” I was gobsmacked. Turns out Laura’s husband Dave, who I had a great talk with last year at Pie Town, was just a day behind me and guessed where I was because he reads my blog. Laura was staying in Chama while providing support and resupply for this section. She was out for a day hike but we exchanged phone numbers and got together for dinner later that day.
Meanwhile I stuck out my thumb, got a ride instantly from Rick who stopped the car just before the post office to say hi to a friend who showed him a tiny rescued kitten she had wrapped in a blanket to take home and feed with a syringe. I got my mail, walked to the laundromat, washed clothes, called a motel and was settled in a spacious kitchenette with 3 beds for $70 at Cumbres Inn, with continental breakfast!