Ghost Ranch (GR_110)
Day 37 and 38 – 5/28/17 and 5/29/17
Miles – 13.4
Total miles – 570.3
5/28/17 and 5/29/17
We wanted to get into town as early as possible, so we got started as soon as the sun came up. We came to our first water source within a mile. The tank was fed from a pipe under the water so we would need to filter. We opted to get water farther along. In the next mile, we came to another tank and it’s water was coming from a pipe thus we could fill our bottles easily from it. The only problem was that we did not know where the water was coming from. Is it safe to drink? We filled 6L and hiked on. We crossed a bridge over the wide and fast moving, Rio Chama, a river that feeds into the Rio Grand. It was running over high and full of brown water. We were pleased to see it so high because that meant the snow in the high country was melting. The four Ravens, Catwater and Robbinaught, followed the river for several miles on a dirt road before turning away eastward. Despite being on a dirt road, this road was heavily traveled by vehicles. Finally we realized why, it was Memorial weekend and many were heading to the river for the extended weekend. We did lose the trail twice because we were not paying attention. The first time we assumed that the trail, a dirt road, would continue until it intersected a paved road. Actually, it cut off through a field and headed to the paved road at a different point. Then we had problems finding the trail through a old living nature museum. Finally we got ourselves straightened out and hiked over to the Ghost Ranch. This is the Ghost Ranch that Georgia O’Keefe lived and her friend Ansel Adams would come visit her. Mama Raven is excited to be here.
As we walked up, we saw Dassy and then Treeman. Treeman had a dorm room that would sleep six. He offered all of us beds. Of course we took him up on it. We got our box, sorted it, got showers, and did our laundry. We feasted on ribs, beans, corn, cole slaw, carrot cake and peach cobbler for dinner. It was a meal fit for a king!
We will be taking a zero here at Ghost Ranch. Sadly, Catwater will be going home tomorrow to take care of some family affairs in Alaska. Her husband is picking her up tomorrow. However our “Auntie Raven” will be returning in two weeks. Actually. her planning is brilliant because this will allow a great deal of snow to melt before she hikes the San Juans. Many hikers are holding up for a week or so in Chama waiting for snow melt to occur. This gets expensive because of hotels and food expenses. We are not sure what we are going to do ourselves. Nonetheless, The Ravens hope they will see their “Auntie” again. She has brought so much fun and joy to our lives on the trail.
.3 beyond stile (26_119)
Day 36 – 5/27/17
Miles – 23.0
Total miles – 556.9
It was a cold night but we all stayed warm in our sleeping bags. Luckily, it did not freeze. The wind blew all night and it would wake us up at times, it was so strong. The one good thing was that it only blew high up in the tree tops, not low down where our tents were. All of us went to bed with soggy, wet shoes and were not looking forward to having to put on those same wet shoes in the cold morning. To the relief of everyone, the shoes had dried through the night! As we hiked out, we noted that the snow had hardened up and a thin layer of ice formed over the water in the trail. Since we camped right at the top of the mountain, where it is the coldest and windest, we hiked down as fast as we could. Our walk down was slowed by many downed trees. Constantly, we had to climb up and over the fallen trees to make our way through. The patches of snow disappeared around 9900′. On the way down, we came across a man who maintained this section of trail. He was heading up to clean out the water drainage channels. He said that the Forest Service had not been up in here in 3-4 years. He had counted, in a two mile section, over a 180 down trees. We stopped for a break in a lush, green meadow filled with dandelion flowers. All around us were giant Aspen trees. We actually wanted to take a break at an upcoming spring, but this spot was just too pretty to pass up. Shortly after leaving the meadow, we came across the spring. A very large amount of water was just bobbling out of the ground a few feet from the tail. We stopped and filled all of our bottles. We have enjoyed hiking in this part of New Mexico. It is beautiful with the meadows and junipers, hemlocks and pine trees. Joon said parts of it reminded her of Old Station in northern California on the PCT.
Once down at the bottom, the trail turned East and stayed fairly flat. But in the afternoon, we came to the big up of the day, about 1500′ over a few miles. We did not have a problem climbing, but it did get very vertical at one point causing our pace to slow down greatly. Since we just climbed one side of a thin mesa, that meant we would be descending down the other side. The trail dropped way down to a stream and we followed it for a few miles. This was nice because we have not hiked near streams that often on this trip. Finally, we broke out of the valley and found a place to camp in a small wash. As we hiked down, we bumped into Robbinaght from Amsterdam. He joined us in our evening hike. We are now down around 6500′ and back in junipers again. We only have 13 miles to reach Ghost Ranch and it is a level down. We should get in around lunch.
San Pedro Peak (25_085)
Day 35 – 5/26/17
Miles – 17.1
Total miles – 533.9
We had a slow start getting out of town. There was a Subway sandwich store that opened at 7:00 am. We wanted to pick up sandwiches to eat later today. To save time, we decided to have breakfast at Subway also. We arrived shortly after seven and the person tells us she had to finish setting up. She goes about her business, in no hurry, and we sat waiting. 45 minutes later she is finally ready to take our order. Catwater places her order first, and coffee is the first item she requested. The clerk says coffee will not be available for several hours. Catwater without coffee in the morning is like lemonade without any sugar. She is a sour puss (we say that with great affection)! Looking frustrated at us, she says we are going to have breakfast at McDonalds. Nonetheless, we still ordered our sandwiches for lunch to go. Finally, after breakfast at the Golden Arches, we started hiking at 8:30.
Today, hiking was literally one big up, around 3500′ and nobody was too excited about doing it. The first thousand was not a problem. We did that in 8 miles. Then we did the rest of it in 3.5 miles. As we neared the top, we started to see snow. Going up the snow was not a problem, we just hit a patch or two. The problem came as we hiked across the top of the mountain. We were at 10,500′ and snow was tucked up under the trees mainly on the north facing slopes. The top of the mountain was a series of open meadows and small streams. With the day being warm, the snow was melting everywhere and the meadows were a soggy mess. Everyone’s feet got soaked and they got cold as we walked across mounds of snow. It was slow going and no one was having much fun. Despite the soggy, swamp like conditions, the area was beautiful. Large pine trees and rich, green meadows surrounded us. It was hard to believe this was New Mexico.
Right now we are camped at the high point 10,551′ and we will start down tomorrow. It will be a cold night. Hopefully it’ll not freeze, which would turn our wet shoes into a huge ice cubes by morning. As we crawled into the comfort of our tents this evening, it felt so good to pull off our water logged shoes and socks. All thru hikers have their secret, luxury items they don’t want other hikers to know they are willing to carry the extra weight for. Bling, Joon, and Mama Raven have their ultra fuzzy, and cozy socks they wear in the evenings and after today’s hiking those socks were extra warm and comfortable. In the beginning of our trip, Papa Raven said he did not want to bother with such items. Tonight, Papa Raven was jealous of our cozy feet!
Another reason we hope it does not freeze is, because that will make walking down the north facing mountain side that is covered in snow very hard. However, we only need to drop 1000′ or so to get out of the snow. With this being our first encounter with last winter’s snow, our minds are wondering what the snow conditions are like in the San Juan’s. There are many rumors that we hear to make us nervous, however they are just rumors. As Papa Ravens says, we will wait and see what things are like when we get there.
The first day out of Grants, we were heading up Mt. Taylor so it was all up. Despite being in New Mexico, there is surprising amount of green areas. I thought it would be all brown. The second day, we hiked around the mountain and we passed through many huge Aspen tree groves. I like the Aspen’s because they are different looking. Their white trunks stand out and their leaves shake in the wind. In one of the Aspen groves, I saw two wild turkeys. Also, I saw four wild horses run pass us. We dropped down off of the Mesa, which was a 2,000 foot drop in elevation. It was practically straight down into the valley that Cuba was in. While in the valley we were walking on top many mesas. Occasionally, we would walk literally on the edge of fifty to hundred foot drops. One area, there was a dry section with no water, but there was a family that provided a water cache for hikers. On the last day, we were starting a five mile paved road walk and a car stopped with a woman and four kids and asked us if we were The Ravens. It turned out, they were the family that put out the water. They offered to slap pack our gear to town while we walked, pack free, to town. We said yes! We hiked the last few miles without our packs. This was a really nice for a change.
Day 33 and 34 – 5/24/17 and 5/25/17
Miles – 19.7
Total miles – 516.8
Today is a town day and we were all looking forwards to it. We just had to get there. We headed out and traversed around a hill of sandstone shaped like sand dunes. In fact, yesterday we hiked by many stone sand dune hills. Some of them have dark brown stick shaped rocks protruding from them. We assume that these are petrified wood sticks. However we are not certain.
Four miles into our day, we came to a good spring. It was tucked up in a dead end canyon and the water was seeping from the base of the sandstone cliff. Just a few hundred feet from the spring was the ruins of two stone buildings.
We had one very steep mesa that we needed to climb, and it was a pull straight up. Very tight switchbacks brought us up quickly, but it was tiring. Once on top, we hiked for several miles along it’s edge. In the mid afternoon, we finally dropped down to the road that would take us into Cuba. We took a break at the road and ate the last of our food. As we were finishing up, a SUV drives by and stopped, turned around, and pulled up next to us. The driver asked if we were the Ravens. Come to find out, this was the family who maintains the water cache we used yesterday. Crystal asked if we would like to slackpack the last 4.5 miles into town. We accepted and loaded our packs into her car. The only thing we carried was the last of our water. It took two hours to walk into town. As we neared town I got a text from Crystal, she would meet us at the motel. We walked up just as she drove up. We pulled our packs from the SUV, talked with her and the kids, and then got a room for the night. There are several other hikers staying here. After showers Catwater and all the Ravens went to dinner. It is good to be in town.
We took a zero here in Cuba to rest Mama Ravens feet and to line up with Catwaters schedule. There is not a lot here but enough to take a comfortable zero. I went to the library to use there computer to order new sleeping pads, hiking pole tips, and a pair of shoes for me.
Catwater is going back to Alaska for 10 days and her husband is picking her up on the 28th or the 29th. If we leave tomorrow we will get to Ghost Ranch on the 28th and she can get picked up.
We are expecting a slow day out of here because there is a 3500′ climb on of Cuba. It will be slow.
A protected flat area (24_073 0)
Day 32 – 5/23/17
Miles – 22.7
Total miles – 497.1
We know it will not be a good day when Mama Ravens feet hurt before we get out of the tent. We did 22 miles but she was not happy about it. We have 19 miles to go to get into Cuba and then we will take a day off.
Today we had many small ups and downs. We would work our way up into the top of a mesa then contour around it and down the backside, only to do it again with each mesa we would get higher and higher. The countryside is mostly desert with very few large plants. The land is filled with unique volcanic bluffs and rock formations. Although, by the end of the day we climbed high enough to have Pine and juniper show up.
At one break, Mama Raven had a bit of a problem with a cactus. At some point she had stepped on a Cholla and many of its thorns where at the bottom of her shoe. When she sat down, Indian style, the cactus stickers embedded themselves into the back of her upper thigh. We had to spend 5 minutes pulling thorns out of her shorts and leg.
Around lunchtime, we came to a much needed water cache that a local family puts out for hikers. There were also lollipops that Bling and Joon enjoyed. Literally, we were out of water so thank you so much for the water source. Best of all, it was stashed in a very shady location so the water was still cold. This makes it a real treat. We took a long break there. We signed the trail registry the family had left in a cooler. They requested addresses to blogs that were family friendly. Thus we left ours. They have four kids under the age ten and they are home schooled. They like to read the blogs of hikers they have helped especially ones from foreign countries for their home studies.
Canada de las Lomitas (23_145)
Day 31 – 5/22/17
Miles – 25.1
Total miles – 474.4
The sun rose early for us this morning, mainly because the were no hills toward the horizon. We had barely started packing when the first rays hit us.
Today’s hiking was not hard. First, we had a easy ten mile dirt road walk, then ten more miles of easy trail, and finally a huge drop down off of the mesa. After the first 10 miles, we came to the turn off for a good spring. We dropped our packs and grabbed our water bags then we started the .5 miles walk to the spring. We dropped 100′ down into the valley with two round cement tanks holding water. There was a pipe with the spring water flowing into one of the tanks. We filled all our bottles. It was good cold water.
Late in the afternoon, the trail dropped away. It was a steep drop with rocks everywhere. It was very slow going. Below us was a grand view, mesas and tall round mountains stretched out to the east and the North. It was a beautiful sight. We worked our way down and out onto the flat ground. All of a sudden a policeman came running over a rise waving his arms. Mama Raven, Joon, and I stopped as he came up the valley out of breath. He asked if Catwater was with us. Earlier in the afternoon, Catwater had a scary accident. She tripped over a rock and fell a little ways down the embankment. As she went down, her head hit the ground hard and she landed face first on the dirt. We ran to help her up. Her legs were bloodied and bruised, had a bump on her head, and she was complaining of chest pain on her right side. Catwater carries her Spot device on her back pack’s shoulder strap, on her right side. Thus when she fell, she landed on the Spot device pressing it hard into her chest. She came up saying that now she knows how Mama Raven felt impelling herself with her hiking pole weeks ago. Nonetheless, what we did not realize was that her Spot satellite beacon device had started broadcasting a S.O.S. when she fell. This meant search and rescue was also deployed and that her husband and daughter in Alaska, were notified. As we hiked the remainder of the day, unknown to us, there was a search for Catwater by police. They began their search in a truck at the top of the mountain where the accident happened, but we were far away from that point by then. Finally, at the end of the day they caught up to her. They had been tracking her device. She explained about the accident and that she had no idea her spot device was triggered. She felt bad about the incident knowing for many hours, the policeman had been searching for her. She immediately texted her family to explain the situation so they could stop worrying about her. She was mad about the whole situation, including the fall. We tried to cheer her up by telling her how a little gray haired lady had out hiked policeman in an all terrain vehicle for hours and hours. Promptly, she let out a loud laugh . . . and off we all went to hike a couple more miles as the sunset.
We ended the day below 6000′ for the first time in weeks. We are on the side of a dried up river with looming red bluffs surrounding us. Joon got her first blister on one of her little toe. She is no longer blister free.
After Ranger Tank (22_084 0)
Day 30 – 5/21/17
Miles – 22.2
Total miles – 449.3
The gobbling of wild turkeys in the distance woke us this morning Since we camped at nearly 9300′, we had a cold night, not freezing, but cold enough. We had several hundred more feet of elevation to climb today and then a long down. The morning climb was welcomed because it warmed us up. For the first half of the day, we hiked through some beautiful country. We past through groves of Aspen’s with lush green grasses growing in and around them. It looked liked a man made park setting. We also passed through large stands of Ponderosa Pines, Hemlock, and more Aspen. Their were streams and springs, and even a pond; not the man-made kind but a real pond. The other thing we were happy to see was that the spring season had started here. For the last few weeks, many of the places we have passed through looked like fall. The trees were bare with no leaves on them, the ground was covered in last year’s gold-brown leaves, no grasses were growing, and very few flowers popping up. Additionally, it has been very cold. But today it was spring. The Aspen’s had leaves, fields of green grasses filled with yellow flowers were everywhere, and it was warm. I know when we finally reach Colorado, we will hike into winter. Snow will be everywhere. But for now, we are enjoying spring.
Today we are not sure, but we think we sighted our first wild horses. Four horses ran fast around us and up a hill. We were in an area where there are no fences or gates.
Catwater agreed with us that they must be wild. That was exciting for us to see.
We have two other thru hiker friends that are on the CDT this year, Treeman and Dundee. Yesterday we found out that Treeman, who is a week in front of us, is taking some time off to let the Colorado snow melt. Dundee, who is a week behind us, is having bad feet problems, mainly his heal. Well, Treeman rented a car and drove back to pick up Dundee at Hwy 12 and take him to Reserve, a town we did not go to. Today, Treeman drove him to Pie Town where Dundee can take some time off to heal. Once he is feeling better, he will go back to Hwy 12 and continue on. We hope to see both of them sometime soon.
Near Lobo Springs (21_126)
Day 29 – 5/20/27
Miles – 19.7
Total miles – 427.1
In our hotel room, we packed our packs last night so there was not much to do to get ready to go this morning. With the arrival of the new day, we got to breakfast at 6:00 and had the place to our selves just as Catwater came in. Afterwards, we returned to our rooms, put on our packs, and headed out.
Northward we walked on surface roads, meandering through neighborhoods, until we got to the main road leading up toward Mt Taylor. We road walked about 7 miles until we reached the trailhead. At one point, a van stopped and the driver asked if we wanted a ride to the trail head. Our goal is to walk a continuous path from Mexico to Canada and to skip a section by getting a ride is cheating. It was awfully tempting especially since the gentleman had two other hikers in his vehicle that he was transporting to the trail head. Nonetheless, we walked on. Shortly after words, we past a prison, with its tall tower overlooking the yards of work out stations, task fences, razor wire, and patrolling guards. Two of them, with a dog, were walking the outside parameters.
Once at the trailhead, for the first time in many days, we will get to actually walk upon honest to goodness, man made trail. Oh the joy! It seems we have been forever hiking on roads. Well, our first bit of trail was a large climb. We covered the distance quickly and got to the top of a mesa. We had great views to the south and west. The top was very flat, with only the most gentle climb. The mesa slipped upwards towards Mt Taylor. The rest of the day, we spent heading up and around Mt Taylor. The mesa top was covered with short junipers and Pine. None of them growing more than 30′ and there was a great deal of various types of cactus.
By the end of the day, we had climbed to over 9300′ and we had left the cactus and juniper behind. The trees were much taller, the trail was covered with pine needles, and best of all, the air temperature was much cooler. Hundreds of feet of altitude to climb await us, but that is tomorrow. For now, we are snug in our tents. Bling and Joon, are already asleep.
For the most part, today was a slow day. The increase in elevation got to us. Our bodies were sluggish. Tomorrow we climb a bit more then traverse around Mt Taylor then down we go. That will be good
By this time of our trip, I have mastered the art of crawling under barb-wire fences. It seems a day does not go by that we have to do this. This section has had the most fences to crawl under. The best fences are the ones with out barbs on the lowest wire. Usually they are found on BLM land that are concerned with other animals being able to crawl underneath without getting hurt. Fences on private land are not concerned with other animals getting through so they use bard wire on each wrung of the fence. When we crawl under fences we obviously do not do it with the pack on. It comes off and we push it under the fence and then we crawl under. My mom will not let us go under with our good down puff jackets on so we will not accidentally snag them on the barbs.
On the second day of this section, we had big thunderstorms come in and rain on us off and on all day. On the last night, we had horses pestering us by sticking their heads in our tents and knocking out the pegs for our tent. That night, none of us got much sleep. In the morning when we got out of our tents, the horses were still there and they allowed us to pet them. This night was one of the coolest and worst nights the entire trip.
Grants (20_217 R)
Day 27, 28 – 5/18/17, 5/19/17
Miles – 6.6
Total miles – 407.4
It was a long night. It started out as most any other night on the CDT in New Mexico, but soon we had a visitor. First we heard footsteps of a large animal. Then it put it’s nose against our tent and sniffed, and it sniffed loudly. A quick peek outside confirmed that three horses were very curious about us. They repeatedly sniffed our tent and we would talk to them and push their noses away. After they were done with us, they walked over to Catwater’s tent and checked her tent out and then back our way. At one point, one of them kept nuzzeling our tent, and Mama Raven would scratch his nose. He thought we were playing with them and before we knew it he was scratching his hoof on our tent wall. He could easily hurt the tent so we had to push him away. Also they knocked out one of our tent pegs. They did the same to Catwater. One of them was able to put his face inside her tent. The horses bugged us for several hours then one if them laid down next to our tent. Where he promptly passed the longest gas we have ever heard. Finally, they wondered off and we were able to get some sleep. Later that night it started to rain, not hard, but enough to got everything wet. Come morning we were visited by them again, this time Bling and Joon were awake and could witness the antics of the three horses. As Catwater said, they were acting like playful dogs biting and wrestling with each other. We laughed and giggled as we packed our gear and the horses harassed us. We petted them as we said good bye.
We only had about 6 miles to reach the hotel thus we hiked quickly. There is nothing more exciting to a thru hiker than a town day with a room and food. Just after the trail crosses Hwy 40 we stopped at the convenience store for a few drinks. We got to the hotel around 10:00 but no rooms were available yet, so we dropped our packs and went to the Subway for food. Finally, around noon we were allowed into our rooms. Catwater is right next door to us. The rest of the day was taken up with showers, washing clothes, cleaning gear, hot Epsom salt baths for feet and catching up on blogs. We also got our re-supply boxes and just relaxed. There is a chance of rain tonight so being inside is a real treat.
We woke to very gray skies and it had rained overnight. We went to have breakfast a bit after 6:00. The air was cold. As we sat at breakfast it started to snow, big fat snow flakes. There was not a lot but enough to cover the ground in a thin blanket. We were very glad we were not hiking out today. The weather said that it was 33°. By mid-morning the clouds had broken, the sun had come out, all the snow had melted, and it was still cold. Catwater and Papa Raven went over to the post office to handle some boxes. Mama Raven finished sorting our boxes and generally got ready to hike out tomorrow. The weather is getting better. The weather outlook is a warming trend for the next week. That is excellent news for us!
A bit before Hwy 70 (20_135)
Day 26 – 5/17/17
Miles – 21.5
Total miles – 400.8
It did not rain during the night and we woke to clear skies. However all weather reports say it is going to rain today and tomorrow. We had about 8 miles to hike before we had to make a decision on which route to take into Grants. We packed up and we’re almost ready to go when Bling staggered and fell right near me. He did not pass out but he was very dizzy. We all stopped what we were doing and came to help him. It took several minutes for the dizziness to pass. We helped him to the sun. After about 10 minutes, he was feeling better. Mama Raven, Catwater, and I quizzed him and we finally figured out that he had drunken very little yesterday so we started having him sip water. It had been cold yesterday and you do not feel like drinking when your cold. When we did start hiking, we moved quickly. We stopped for a break at a natural arch that just happened to have trash cans where we rid ourselves of our garbage. Next, walked on to the water cache and trail junction. Here we needed to make a decision to spend the next 6 hours crossing an eight mile lava field or to walk the road toward Grants. With rain coming tonight/tomorrow and loosening time crossing the lava field, the road won out. We spent the rest of the day walking next to Hwy 117. This was not fun. All our feet hurt. Although we did make good time, we stopped early so we would not reach Hwy 40 where people lived and would not have anyplace to camp. We only have 5 or 6 miles to walk in the morning. Hopefully, the rain will hold off until we are in town.
Hwy 117 North windmill (CW_419 R)
Day 25 – 5/16/17
Miles – 22.0
Total miles – 379.3
The wind let up sometime after dark which made it easier to sleep. In the early hours of the morning, we were woken by cows moowing. Not just one cow but many. Come dawn, the sky held a few clouds and the cows keep moowing. The Ravens, including Auntie Raven, packed up and hiked out expecting to see a big herd of cows all about the watering trough, but there were none. The sound of the herd was coming from over the hill. We got to the road and started north. All trees disappeared and the country side was covered in just a short grass. With every rise, we excepted to see the cows that kept making the noise but none came into view. Finally, we rounded a hill and we could see a roundup in progress. A very large herd of cows had been rounded up and, the cowboys on horseback, where driven the cows into a holding pen. Mystery solved.
We spent most of the morning hiking on a dirt highway and then we turned east and started up a valley heading toward the nearest Mesa. The clouds thickened and soon we were sprinkled on. We could see heaver rain to the east and north. As we near the head of the valley, we switched backed up onto the mesa top and began to cross it. We took a break in Sand Canyon. In the middle of the break, it stared to rain and then hail. We moved our packs up under the trees and sat under our umbrellas. Since we were on the edge of the storm, it did not last long. As soon as it let up, we started hiking down the canyon and away from the storm. The rest of the afternoon we would get light rain but the worst part was the wind. It was cold and strong, about 30 mph and we had to walk straight into it. This was not pleasant. Near 4:00 we came to the paved Hwy 117 and our next water source. This was a solar well and a tank, the only problem was that there was no sun, hence no water coming out the pipe. We had to fill two bottles with green water and I mean really green! We titled it Verdi Grunge. We decided to hike a little farther before calling it a day. Around 5:30, we stopped and climbed under a barbed wire fence and found some flat places in a stand of pine. We stopped early because if we hiked on, we would be trapped between a rock wall and lava fields and we would have no place to camp.
Tomorrow we will hike about 8 miles to a water cache and then decide which way to go. One route goes across the lava fields and then loops through Zuni Canyon. The other stays on Hwy 117 and is 10 miles shorter. The weather is suppose to be turning for the worst. We will decide tomorrow morning.
Solar well (CT_0199)
Day 24 – 5/15/17
Miles – 23.0
Total miles – 357.3
We got up at 6:00, ate a piece of pie for breakfast. We were on the trail by 7:00. Today’s hiking was uneventful. We were on a dirt road all day. The terrain was flat with only the smallest hills. We worked our way north northeast. Even though we are over 7000′, there is only junipers, a few pine, and grasses.
Mama Raven’s feet were feeling very good and we hiked fast throughout the morning. We came closer to doing a 10×10, (10 miles by 10:00). That is a pace that, if you can hold it, you’ll have a good chance of doing a 30. We’re not there yet.
We stopped by the Thomas’s house for water. They are an older couple who likes to help hikers. Also, Mr Thomas likes to talk. In fact it is hard to get away. We listened to his stories from his youth and being in the Korean War. They are more genuinely sweet New Mexicans that we have met. However, it reached a point we had to excuse our selves.
We hiked out of there with the next water only 8 miles away. We reached the water trough at about 6:00. We decided to stop for the night because we headed out into a wide grassland with no cover from the strong wind. Endless and Queen Bee joined us.
Todays big miles of 23 is our biggest day yet. Hopefully, if Mama Ravens feet hold out with her new shoes, we will make good time and arrive to Grants earlier then we planned.
On Our Way to Pie Town
My parents have been known to through rocks at our tent in the mornings to wake Joon and me up. When I woke up the other morning, I realized it was not Rocks hitting our tent. Instead, the walls of our tent were pressed in on us. When I stuck my head out of the tent there was five inches of snow on the ground. What I thought was rocks hitting our tent was actually snow falling off of the tree branches onto our tent. It was a fun experience because it was different however I am glad the snow did not stay around more than the one day. It was really cold, our feet were constantly wet, and the trail was hard to find. Finally, we have made it into Pie Town. The best part about Pie Town is all the pies that can be eaten here. I have had an apple pie with cranberries, plain Apple Pie and for breakfast, I am having berry Pie before we hike out. Joon and I have also had fun riding the bikes provided by the hostel. Most of the day has been spent talking on the porch with the other hikers.
Pie Town (17_127)
Day 22 and 23 – 5/13/17 and 5/14/17
Miles – 9.6
Total miles – 334.3
Today was all about getting to Pie Town. The trail followed a road to town. We hiked fast and took only one break. At that break, we ate the last of food. Our food bags are now empty. We made good time and got the town a little after 11:00. We stopped at the Toaster House, which is a hostel for hikers and bikers. This is a house owned by Nita, who raised her five kids in it. Her kids are long gone and she now lives else where. Nita leaves the Toaster House open to anyone who needs a place to stay temporarily. It is called the Toaster House because of all the old toasters hang everywhere outside. Inside the house was a large group of hikers including Catwater, Dassie, and Burning Calfs, all who started the same day we did. We were so excited to see our good friends. Catwater had saved us a room with four beds so we put our gear in there. Next, we walked with Catwater and a hiker named Dave over to a restaurant for lunch.
Pie Town is known for there pies. There are three restaurants in town and all make their own pies so for today and tomorrow we are going to be having lots of Pie.
After lunch we worked on showers and laundry. We have not had either in 9 days. Then came our box, yes Catwater was able to pick up our box yesterday. Mama Raven’s new shoes from New Balance look good. There are wide in the toe box and have a lot of padding at the bottom. She usually wears New Balance shoes. The most popular shoe for thru hiking are Altra,’s, which are known for their wide toe box. Most people swear by them and cannot believe Mama Raven’s foot is too wide for them until they see her foot. Mama Raven says she is guilty for forsaking New Balance and trying another brand but she has learned her lesson and is going back to her tried and true New Balance. When we hike out, we will see how well they work.
Nita loaned us her car so Catwater and all the Ravens drove to Quemado, a larger town 22 miles west for dinner and to stop at a store. Pie Town does not have a store.
We will take tomorrow off to give Mama Ravens feet some time off.
Today was pretty quite. Hikers left and new ones came in. There is about 14 hikers here right now.
Catwater told us that she will be hiking out this morning. She had been here two nights already and said that she will wait for us in Grants. The Ravens need there Auntie Raven and Catwater needs her Ravens. Together, they make a perfect team. We told her we were going to get breakfast and she decided to join us. Poor Catwater was in a dilemma: start hiking today or stay one more night and hike out with the Ravens? In the end, she decided to stay one more night. Yeah!!! The Ravens get to hike with Catwater tomorrow.
Most of the day was taken up working on Joon’s poles, finishing our box, soaking feet in Epsom salts, talk to the other hikers and eating pie. The only thing we did not get done was all the blogs.
Joons hiking pole keeps coming apart. It is a flaw with Black Diamond poles. I worked on tying the cord inside of them, but I could not get it to work. Finally I gave up and epoxied the poles together. I hope this holds.
Some where on the road to Pie Town (PT_304)
Day 21 – 5/12/17
Miles – 20.3
Total miles – 324.7
It was another cold night but it was good to see the sun hitting the tent as we packed up in the morning. On those extra cold mornings, it is hard to crawl out of warm sleeping bags and begin the day. Our morning began with a large up to the top of Mangas Mountain. It took several hours to reach the top. Once there, we walked the last little bit to the fire lookout building. It is not manned, so we could not go inside but we did climb up the ladder to look about. After a short break, we started a big down. Downs are always hard on our feet and when our feet are not 100%, it is even worst.
Mama Raven’s feet are giving her the most problems. Two of the blisters she had back in Silver City have not yet healed, including the infection. The new shoes she got have helped with some issues, but they have created new ones. She now has many new blisters and some in places she had never had them before such as on the balls of one foot and around the bottom of her big toe and heel. Yesterday, she added seven new blisters. Her feet are in bad shape. We really need to get a handle on this. She has new shoes that are just 9.5 miles away, buy we need to let everything heal.
We worked our way down Mangas Mountain and out onto the flats. The vegetation transitioned from pine to scrub junipers. The back roads we’re walking get very little traffic. Only three trucks passed us all day. The third one was interesting. Bling was off in front, as normal, and he had rounded a curve and was out of sight. The rest of us came plodding up around the corner to see Bling standing at the side of the road with a truck stopped and the driver was standing talking to Bling. We thought, “What’s up now”. Think of it from the drivers point of view, ” What is this teenager doing out in the middle of nowhere?” The driver was Sheridan and he maintains the back roads of the area. He offered us a few beers and Papa Raven took one. We talked a bit before we parted ways. He was surprised to see such young hikers doing the trail. He felt bad he did not have any sodas for them. He was another genuinely sweet New Mexican we met.
Many of the water sources are muddy, slimy, and just unappealing. When there is a good spring or well, hikers take full advantage of them. Today there was a working well that we stopped at. We filled all of our bottles, drank 1.5L, and rinsed our hair. It was a good quick stop and we are so thankful to the rancher who allows CDT hikers access to their water.
We are camped next to the road just 9.5 miles from Pie Town. Too far to make it to the 9:30 post office closing. Luckily Catwater got our message and picked up our boxes from the PO or we would be waiting there until Monday. For dinner tonight, the only food left we had was peanut butter and two tortillas. We have four snicker bars also, however we are saving them for tomorrow.
Valle Tio Vences (PT_101)
Day 20 – 5/11/17
Miles – 20.1
Total miles – 304.4
It was another cold night, but we were thrilled to wake to blue skies. However, as we packed, clouds started to roll in. Not the big dark cells that we had yesterday, but round puffy ones. We packed for rain just in case.
We started hiking through the pine covered hills and down into the oak valleys. About mid morning, the trail cut off on a dirt road and we all started down it. Mama Raven and Bling out in front with Joon and I taking up the rear. I checked the map and saw that the trail cut off in less then a mile. By this time Mama Raven and Bling were out of sight. Joon and I continued down the road looking for the cut off. After a while, I checked the map and found that we had missed it, then I noticed that there were no footprints in front of us. Did Mama Raven and Bling take the cut off and we walked by it? Were they still in front of us? No footprints and only two sets of hiking pole holes, they must be behind us. Joon and I turned around and hiked back until we found the trail cut off. We started up it. It was very had to spot any footprints because the ground was covered with pine needles and the soil was firmly packed from yesterday rain. Finally, we decided they did not come up the trail, so they must have been farther down the road. I knew that they would come back for us because when ever the leaders get ahead they stop and wait for the tail to catch up. If the people in the back do not show up, the ones in front start hiking back. What now worried me was that they would come back and past the trail cutoff. Joon and I hurried back. We dropped our the packs and walked up the road looking for Mama Ravens footprints. We could not look for Bling’s because his shoes and mine are the same, so the footprints match. The only difference is size. After 10 minutes or so we found one print of Mama Raven and it was heading down the road. We walked back to the packs to wait for them. A few minutes later, we heard Bling calling, there he was hiking back up the road. Soon after, Mama Raven showed up. The Ravens were back together. All and all it took about an hour to regroup.
We’ve decided to take the Pie Town Road Walk Alt, mainly because it is 10 miles shorter and with luck, we could get our box on Saturday, before the post office closed until Monday. The dirt road we started out on was a little rocky and it led us up into the next set of mountains. We spent the rest of the day climbing up ridges and dropping into valleys. At one point, we came across a small herd of elk, which ran away as soon as they saw us. We stopped for the night at a small campground. All day long the sky was filled with small individual puffy clouds. Bling describes it as a sea of clouds that keep rolling through.
We have about 30 miles to get to Pie Town and we need to do it be 9:30 Saturday morning. That is when the post office closes. I’m not sure if we’ll make it.
Near GC #5 tank (15_134 0 S)
Day 20 – 5/10/17
Miles – 16.4
Total miles – 284.3
During the night, we heard the soft patter of rain. It came and went most of the night, but as morning neared, we did not hear it any longer. Since it was a cold night, we did not have the best nights rest, but when the rain stopped, the inside of the tent warmed up and we slept better. Come morning, we found the walls of our tent pushed way inside on us. This is because they were covered with snow. The pitter patter we heard last night was not rain, but snow. We had such a thick layer on the tent, it insulated us and muffled the sounds outside. Mama Raven peeked her head out and saw that it was still snowing and everything in sight was covered in a thick layer of snow. We ate breakfast and waited for it to stop snowing. As we lay there, a small herd of cows walked by and the trees started to drop piles of snow that the limbs could no longer hold. Around 8:00, it stopped and we packed up. During the night, it dropped about 5″ of soft, fluffy snow.
We had about 2.5 miles of road walk before we cut off onto the trail. It is definitely easier to walk on the snow cover road than snow covered trail because it is easier to see. The trail was easy to loose under the snow. At one point, we came across Lux’s camp site. There was a small clear footprint from a tent surrounded in snow. This made our job much easier because the footprints he made while walking were melting and soon his prints were joined by two other hikers. With all the melting and footprints the trail was almost clear. As we moved North, we slowly left the area where most of the snow had fallen and we had clear trail the rest of the day.
The hiking was not easy. There were many ups and downs and we had two mountains we had to cross which were over 9000′. To make matters worse, it snowed on us every few hours all day long. Our feet were wet all day and the temperature remained low. A strong wind did not help. All and all, it was a tough day of hiking.
A little before Dutchman Spring (G_1021 R/S)
Day 19 – 5/9/17
Miles – 20.5
Total miles – 267.9
It was a cold night (33.8°). Frost covered all the plants around the tents. Since it was so cold, we did not want to get out of the warm sleeping bags. Nonetheless, we needed to get going because we need to pump water for the days hike. The inside of the tents were dripping with condensation and the sleeping bags were wet. Hopefully, at some point during the day we will be able to dry them. When we opened the door to the tent, we found the sky covered with clouds and a cold wind blowing. We hiked only .4 of a mile and came to a pond. On the side of the hill above the pond was three sets of solar panels. The big kind that go on houses. We assumed that they were there to pump water to some large tanks at the top of the hill. We started filtering water and we put our damp sleeping bags out to dry. The sun would come out from behind the clouds and then get covered up again. When we had only one more bottle to fill, we saw a large dark cloud heading our way. We moved all our gear under one of the sets of solar panels, got our rain gear on, and umbrellas out. Then the wind and rain started. Lux, another hiker, showed up and got under the panels with us. Lux informed us that he sent all his cold weather clothing ahead to Colorado because it was so hot in the beginning. All he had to wear was his rain jacket for warmth. We are thankful we kept all our clothing. We wanted to be prepared for any possible weather condition that New Mexico had to offer. After 15 minutes or so it started to snow, big fat flakes. This went on for awhile but none of it stuck to the ground. As the storm cell was passing, we packed up and headed out.
Today’s hiking was very easy. Even though we did not start hiking till 9:30 because of having to filter water, we still covered 20.5 miles, not bad. We spent almost all the time on Jeep tracks, dirt and gravel roads. We pasted thru rolling grass hills, thin groups of juniper and pine, and pine forests. It really is beautiful country. The large storm cells were about us all day, but did not rain on us any more. We were lucky in that. We saw a large herd of elk run across the road. There must have been 30 to 40 of them. That was Joon’s first time to see elk. In all of our past trips, she has missed them.
As the day ended, everyone’s feet really hurt so we stopped early. We only have 2 more miles to finish the Gila River Alt and join back up with the normal CDT.
It is cold right now 46° and dropping. A Forest Service person told us that there is a chance of snow tonight, after midnight. It is pretty clear out the right now so we will see.