Doc Campbell’s to Pie Town

4/27-5/3 127.2 miles total

Like this those miles: 16.2, 21.2, 21.3, 18.3, 20.2, 16.2, 14 because:

After an uncomfortable, hot night in the motel, we hit the road at 7. Those guys did the Gila Cliff Dwellings, which I’ve seen and loved. I told them to take the beautiful Little Bear Canyon route after leaving the Cliff Dwellings. I hiked alone all day, through the Gila. I love this place, this trail. I saw 11 hikers going south, short haulers and Strange Bird who was hiking out on a broken foot. I told him Tinman was behind but could help confirm the injury. Later I heard from another hiker that I had helped Strange Bird by listening and affirming. He told me a lot about himself—high functioning, 54, high pain threshold, other personal details—and I’m glad I made him feel like he was making the right decision by patiently (45 minutes standing in the trail) listening. I love that the trail makes me be a better person.

Anyway, I stopped at 3:30 to wait for TM and Gray and we all gathered to camp with Top O, OT, Jacobi, Fried Green Tomatoes (whose gaiters I found and returned at Doc’s!). Today I saw 11 hikers SOBO, 1 backtracking, 6 ducks, 4 deer, 1 snake.

Top O (background) and OT

Day 2 the crew climbed out of the Gila and camped in the campground at Snow Lake. It rained off and on all day. I weirded out over a comment I took to mean I was too slow. No worries really as I tag teamed with OT and Jacobi. Top O is now hiking with them, I should switch too, these guys are more my speed. (Now as I write at the end of the day I’m cold in my tent in the rain.)

Tinman, Gray and I stopped at noon to eat and dry out tents and bags. Nope (Deaf Hiker Go Away) stopped too. Trying to be proactive I wrote a note asking what pronouns to use. See photo of Nope’s hiking outfit. The reply was, “ I don’t care about that shit.” No help. Guess we’ll all describe Nope as we see fit. “He pees standing up,” “They are Trans,” “She’s transitioning.” I tried to be respectful.

Day 3 Cold AF last night. I hiked out cold with a headwind, uphill, by the f*ing solar pond to the f*ing plain in the headwind. Why am I doing this again? Too windy to keep earbuds in and listen to Foo Fighters and The Killers to keep me on tempo. I yelled obscenities at the wind. Yeah, that worked. I made the miles. Finally dropped into the trees on the far side at 11:15 am? Trail magic, what! Guru with soda, an orange and a protein bar, totally unexpected, and here, after a hateful morning, thank you so much!

I fell behind again in the headwind for hours and got water from a tank surrounded by calves, no cows. I did not freak them out.

Tinman has a new blister, Gray has tendinitis in his ankle so we camped a bit early. Will it slow them down tomorrow? I doubt it.

Day 4 Dirt road to Dutchman’s Spring then back on the official red line, tons of climbing. Water sources and carries tend to be a major factor in how we plan our days. At that junction, TM was ahead but Gray and I got cell signal and, along with 4 or 5 others, bogged down for quite awhile. After hiking out, I finally caught up to both at 12:30, they had waited but put their packs on as soon as they saw me and bolted after telling me what mile they’d camp. Yeah, not going that far with all this climbing, plus why? The miles would be easier to accumulate on the flats tomorrow. I said I’d Satellite text where I camped. I was happy to hike at my own pace. In fact I stuck a fist in the sky when they were gone and shouted, “Liberation!” I’ll see them in a few days, maybe. Maybe not. Camped with Top O, OT, Jacobi, and Lady Bug from Quebec in a pine needled haven.

Day 5 Not a bad day, some climbing. Camped near a water cache with a bunch at a campground. Trail Angel Cheshire Cat and dog Stella Blue was there. He’s been angelling since the boot heel—fresh fruit every couple of days for us! And I get to throw a stick for Stella. Plus, he fist bumped the dudes, but I got a hug. Oh, hiking in the time of Covid. Nobody has got it, we wear masks in town but not on trail. Most have said they’re vaxed. It’s just not even a topic of conversation among hikers.

Day 6 Felt great today. Powered up the 4 to Mangas Lookout, first one out of camp I think. At 11 trail angel John Boy screeched to a halt on the dirt road and gave me Dr Pepper and a cherry pie. Not crowded at Davila Ranch, a little oasis with a washing machine, shower, toilet and food. Many hikers walked in then out to Pie Town. Spent some time with the family of 6 I’d met near Eureka on the PNT last year. Kidnapper (the dad, what a perfect trail name!), Wildflower, Amazon , HoneyBadger and 2 more. Kids are 18, 16, 14 and turning 12. I ate eggs and potatoes they’d made and had leftover, then cooked Ramen with 3 more eggs for myself. I camped as did a bunch more.

Day 7 Into Pie Town and Toaster House, windy walking, 11 miles by 10 am. 14 by 11:30. The place is packed! There’s 8 of us sharing beds and space upstairs, so good to be indoors! Ran to the only restaurant still in business in Pie Town, there used to be 3. Gathered with more dirty hikers as they trickled in—good fun, good food!

Road to Pie Town
Tex, Jacobi, Sugar Mama in Toaster House at Pie Town
What’s going on here? Military doctoring some women hikers’ foot injuries. Uh huh.
Toaster House kitchen, hiker boxes stacked up and Little Brown
Feral kittens under the house, later 3 were rescued by a hiker couple who got off the trail to bring them home. They’d found a newborn on the walk in and were bottle feeding it around the clock already! 4 kittens saved!
Hikertrash at Toaster House—all these hikers are in my bubble, I know them!

5 thoughts on “Doc Campbell’s to Pie Town

  1. Yeah! You tell that wind to fuck off! You’ll have to make friends with the wind here if you don’t want to go hoarse in the first day. It almost never stops and somehow no matter what direction you turn you’re walking into a headwind.


  2. The last group photo is probably more hikers than I saw on all of my 1977 hike of the CDT. That year only 4 people that I know did the whole trail.


    • Even for me, 2017, this is huge. Nita at Toaster House in Pie Town said it was the most hikers she’d ever had! Definitely feels weird to be in a bubble, actually difficult for me to adjust to. When I finished in 2019, I would go days without seeing another human. Now I have to figure out how to focus on my own hiking habits, not the others around me.


    • I just read your 1971 AT trail journal from start to finish! Amazing how so much about hiking is the same—getting an early start, injuries, illness, resupply, and most of all the people we meet along the way! My 1971 would have been better spent hiking, but I had no idea such an endeavor existed. I guess I have to be grateful that I get to hike the AT in 2022, I imagine a lot has changed on the trail in 50 years but it’s still going to be a lot of walking and an exceptional opportunity to meet interesting people.


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