Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Friday May 14, 2010
Camp 13: in a cow pasture beside a Forest Service Road

My body is exhausted, my feet sore and my stomach still growls even after eating dinner.  We misjudged our resupply slightly and don't have enough food to get to Pie Town.  We did have a great day of pleasant surprises.  Beautiful views of Snow Lake down the valley, a walk along the creek in a canyon and views from a hilltop that stretched endlessly in all directions.  We saw three herds of elk and a Mexican wolf today! We think the wolf was stalking the elk when we saw him, he glanced in our direction and ran instantly up the hill.  We did a good bit of walking on forest service roads, hence the sore feet, but it's much better than pavement.  Even after a long brutal day it feels great to be back on foot, hiking the trail, right where we belong.

hi: incredible wildlife encounters!
lo: I'm still hungry

little g
hi: discovered that our sleeping bags zip together!
lo: we're running out of food

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thursday May 13, 2010
Camp 12: Snow Lake

Ahh...the river crossings are finally over!  A total of 45 today, which brings us to a grand total of 135 crossings (give or take) in three days.  It was a rough start today.  Neither of us slept well as it was extremely cold last night. By the time we had hiked 20 minutes we had crossed the river 6 times.  Our feet didn't stand a chance.  The wild rose and horsetail were relentless, scratching an stinging our shins and calves; our legs frozen, barely able to move.  On the flip side, the cool thing about river crossings and mud means a lot of animal tracks...bear, mountain lion and elk.  We still haven't seen much in the way of wildlife except for a couple of wild pigs which was cool and unexpected. We are now at Snow Lake, the sun is going down and Eric is making dinner.  We are both exhausted and hungry.  It has been a tough stretch of trail but definitely worth every river crossing to experience the beauty of the canyon. The night is still and beautiful as the light dances on the water, the sky illuminated.  We sit in silence taking a mental snapshot, feeling incredibly lucky for the day, the night and each other.  With a shot of whiskey that burns all the way down, it's time for some warm food and rest.  Cheers!

Friday, February 17, 2012

72 River Crossings Today!

Wednesday May12, 2010 (11:30am)
Camp 11: Gila Wilderness in a large wide open meadow

We are sitting on a large boulder overlooking the Middlefork, soaking up the sun.  We stopped for an early lunch to warm up our frozen feet.  We've had 25 river crossings (give or take) so far this morning, some of them up to my hips.  Our feet are purple and frozen stiff.  They ache when the feeling starts coming back and I can actually move my toes again. Makes for a chilly start to the day when the sun hasn't made it over the canyon walls yet.  In some portions we cross the river and immediately walk through a plant called horsetail that slaps against my numb legs, stinging like crazy.  We have many more crossings ahead.


We are exhausted after a grand total of 72 river crossings, today! I fell on crossing #68 as the rocks under the current were green with moss and slippery.  Eric managed to grab me before I went completely under and I was only partially soaked.  Not a fun way to end the day as the sun disappeared behind the walls and the air temperature began dropping.  We saw a huge bear today near the stream who saw us immediately and barreled up the steep cliff behind him.  The canyon is unique with rugged, steep formations and spires on both sides.  Steep, sheer, breathtaking.

no more crossings please

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Tuesday May 11, 2010
Camp 10: Gila Wilderness near Jordan Hot Spring

Ahh...we're back on the trail.  We had a lovely hitch from a woman named Alice that reminded us all to well of Elizabeth Stoner, (an unforgettable woman we took on a tour in Yosemite).  She skidded to a stop right in the middle of the road, rolled the window down and yelled, “Is that a thumb out?”  She was a crazy fast driver on the winding mountain roads, braking really hard for squirrels.  She was probably in her 60's and visiting from Arizona.  Alice had a laugh that brought a smile to my face, her mood, infectious.  I'm so glad our paths crossed, there are some really great people in this incredibly large world.  We visited the Gila Cliff Dwellings today which was so interesting.  We were able to explore some of the “rooms”, traveling back in time to a very different way of life.  The age of hunters and gatherer's where every person had a role and it took every set of hands contributing to their survival.  Incredible, really.  We met our first thru-hikers today; Handlebar and Voyageur.  We actually met Voyageur on the PCT on top of Mount Whitney so it was really fun to see him again.  We took Little Bear Canyon to the Middlefork of the Gila.  The Little Bear Trail ended in a slot canyon with rust colored rocks towering above us.  The river is flowing fairly high from the spring run-off and we had to ford it 16 times today.  We encountered another rattlesnake who was none too happy to see us.  He was immediately in strike mode, hissing and rattling as we stood and watched from afar.  Toward the end of the day we found Jordan Hot Springs which felt great on the frozen feet.  We had tortilla soup and a little Jameson for dinner, dried out our feet, wet shoes and socks.  It is so nice to be back in the woods, the smell of the pines and the sound of the river flowing right beside us.  We have seen big elk tracks by the water and we are in Mexican Wolf country, which is fun!  There are coyote, fox, mountain lion, bear and tons of birds inhabiting the Gila...hope we see some wildlife, soon.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Wal-Mart Rental Program

Sunday May 9, 2010
Camp 8: Copper Manor Motel, Silver City New Mexico

HAPPY MAMA'S DAY!!  Love you to the moon and back.

Monday May 10, 2010
Camp 9: Continental Divide RV Park...terrible!  Barking dogs and domestic violence.

Again, an interesting turn of events.  We rode into Silver City yesterday, resupplied, got a motel room and just chilled for a bit.  We had lunch at the Red Barn Restaurant next door which I don't believe we were even old enough to be there as it looked like senior citizen day at Golden Corral but we had a steak and a beer anyway.  We called the family, they were all together for Mother's Day.  Later in the evening we had a little heart to heart and both agreed that we didn't quite feel “in it.”  While biking has been quite an interesting adventure we find ourselves riding next to cars and only looking forward to the next town.  After sleeping on it we woke up this morning and called Wal-Mart to see what their return policy was (just for kicks).   Second choice, some homeless man was going to be quite happy with a new bike and cart.  Turns out, Wal-Mart will take anything back within 90 days with the original receipt...no way!  So we took our bikes, cart and gear back and deemed Wal-Mart the perfect rental program.  I'm not even sure I should be sharing this information but it seems a bit too funny and bizarre to keep to myself.  In turn, we bought a Sony Handicam to document our journey.  We are now back on foot and it feels much more like “us.”  We still have a tremendous amount of road walking which is tough on the joints and feet but we are heading toward the Gila Wilderness and it should be amazing!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Saturday May 8, 2010 (p.m.)
Camp 7: KOA outside Silver City.  Biked 28 miles.

We biked a good 17 miles before noon today and stopped in Hurley, New Mexico for a lunch of peanut butter and bagels.  We were both pretty sore from the saddle and the bum is definitely in need of a break.  We pushed on toward Silver City, watching the terrain change slowly from flat to rolling hills.  Our $99 roll back bikes are taking a hit but we're still moving along pretty smooth.  We stopped to camp at the KOA just outside town where the most annoyingly nice person, Jacquie, works.  She almost pushed me over the edge with her syrupy voice and know it all comments but I pulled it together and now sit happily with a cold beer while little g showers.  I know it sounds mean but you just had to be there. It was a beautiful day for riding as we had a good tail wind and the clouds created some relief from the sun.  We're planning to stay in Silver City tomorrow after we resupply and then we head for the Gila Wilderness!  We are going to park the bikes and hike for a few days.

Monday, February 13, 2012

City of Rocks State Park

Saturday May 8, 2010 (a.m.)
Camp 6: City of Rocks State Park.  Biked 34 miles.

I lay here, toasty in my sleeping bag with the gentle breeze kissing my cheeks.  The wispy clouds turn pink as the day comes to life.  The doves mourn in the distance and all else is quiet.  We slept out under a blanket of stars last night with three visible planets.  Serenaded by owls as we lay enveloped by the sky, “welcome back to the trail,” little g whispers.  We are both home.  As I close my eyes the coyotes bark and howl sending a wave of excitement through my entire body.  It is beautiful on many levels, surrounded by a city of rocks formed from volcanic ash millions of years ago, the creatures of the night and the sounds of the morning.  Peaceful.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A BRIEF change of sport!

Thursday May 6, 2010
Camp 4: Deming Motel, Deming New Mexico (zero day)
Camp 5: Grand Motor Inn, Deming New Mexico (it's a long story, please read on!)

Our CDT adventure continues and in true sunflower and little g style, it isn't quite as expected!  We ended up taking a zero in Deming as Eric's knee was sore and swollen and I've managed to pull a ligament in the back of my leg which is rather annoying, really.  We iced our injuries and after a long look at the maps Eric had an interesting idea.  Since a very large portion of New Mexico is on roads, why not spice it up a bit and bike the CDT to Colorado and then hike from there?  After a little thought and some hesitation I agreed that it would be fun and different and it is our adventure, right?  So we headed to Wal-Mart (um, don't judge, this was really our only selection of bikes other than Big K) and bought two Mongoose bikes for $99 each along with a burly cart for our gear, helmets and some tools and prepared for a brief change of sport!

Today we headed out of Deming on the highway, delighted that we weren't killing our knees on the hard tread and continued following our maps onto gravel and eventually, sandy jeep paths where our tires sank instantly.  We pushed on although the 75 pound cart was ridiculous to pull and within minutes Eric was pulling thorns from his first flat tire.  I sat, trying not to let the frustration leak in.  The roads were a maze, some private, some BLM land, barbed wire fences blocked the path that we thought we needed to take.  The maps would have been more helpful if we had used them as toilet paper at that point.  We got yelled at for trespassing on someones private land that they had just purchased.  They were parked in their VW van which was actually their house, kids running around outside and the wife barefoot and pregnant.  I swear, I'm not making it up!  The only thing that would have been better is if she had a cigarette hanging out of her mouth.  Who am I to judge anyways?  So there we stood in the scorching sun trying to decide our plan of attack.  We ended up taking another soft, sandy road where I had to push my bike along with the heavy cart.  The cart is so heavy the bike lifts off the ground when I push, making it nearly impossible.  This goes on for quite awhile, the actual amount of time I couldn't be certain, but I assure you, it felt like days.  We finally got to a gravel road where Eric has to fix another flat tire.  This isn't the least bit funny by now as we stand in silence.  Four (additional) flat tires later (this is six total in case you're counting), sunburned, tired and suffering from severe saddle soreness we began to debate what to do next.  Our dilemma, we had already used up all of our extra tubes in just one day and we had miles to go until we get to Silver City to resupply.  I pulled out the GPS, oh yes, did I mention we actually brought a GPS this time, thanks to Auntie and Walkie and some prompting from the family.  In a monotone voice I say, “Baby, we are only 2 miles from K-Mart and I'm not even joking.”  We both laugh as we've managed to ride in a rather large circle around the town of Deming and here we stood just two miles from where we started just this morning.  So we rode back to Wal-Mart and buy more tubes and find a corner to fix a couple more flat tires.  By now it is all a bit humorous as more random thing begin to pile up...Eric somehow lost his sun hat from the burly cart, we run into Keith again in Wal-Mart and as we are ready to ride away I look back to see yet another flat tire on our trailer!  We sit and laugh, looking at each other in disbelief, loving our adventure, our life and each other.  We decided to go to Wendy's for burgers and frosties (because we feel we deserve it) and decide to toss it up as a “training” day as we don't have the time or energy to ride 30 miles to the park where we had planned on camping for the night.  So here we sit in the Grand Motor Inn in Deming, New Mexico.  It's a crazy vortex that we can't seem to escape!  Tomorrow is a new day and we have a loose plan as to where we're going...trying to avoid Jeep paths and flat tires.  It has been quite a day here on the CDT, we've been out all day and here we are, right back at the beginning.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Love me some road walking!

Tuesday May 4, 2010
Camp 3:  Deming Motel, Deming New Mexico

We hiked the last of the Florida mountains today and found some really cool rocks in the sand.  If you smash them with larger rocks they fracture and you sometimes find ones with really great colors and designs on the inside.  For the majority of the day we hiked on jeep roads and paved roads.  I cannot express how painful road walking can be in the sweltering heat as cars fly past and your feet ache more than you thought possible.  We stumbled upon Rockhound State Park where we found a cool shaded concrete bench and vending machines!  So our break was spent in pure bliss, drinking an ice cold Coca Cola and munching on Cheetos...it's the little things, really.  We walked on in the blazing heat, stopping in the shade of a few trees in an older couples yard.  They were extremely nice, the woman brought us ice water and invited us inside to use the restroom if we needed to.  We made our way to the Post Office in Deming to pick up a care package from Rach and Aaron which included airplane bottles of Jameson, Kobe Beef Jerky and an array of other goodies!  We weren't planning on taking a zero in our first trail town but we're extremely grateful for a break as the bodies are trying to adjust to the elements once again.  There is a steep learning curve out here and I find myself having to re-learn all of those little things I forgot from the PCT.  You have to push hard but also give your body the chance to catch up.  Eric is icing his knees and we're just hanging out in the Deming Motel.  We've met some nice local folks already and everyone seems very friendly, waving as they pass by in their cars.  We have had a great first stretch, although it seems longer than a few days since we started!  Eric has one blister and we both have some minor aches and pains but hey, that's to be expected.  Ah, it's time to relax a bit.

hi: care package from Rach and Aaron
lo: a long, hot and painful road walk on pavement

little g
hi: ice cold Coke at Rockhound State Park, trail magic along the road walk with ice cold water in the shade and an awesome care package from great friends
lo: painful, swollen knees

finding some shade for lunch

camping in a sandy wash watching a beautiful sunset

cold Coca-Cola at Rockhound State Park

A wonderful care package from Rach and Aaron
Jameson and Kobe Beef Jerky

Friday, February 10, 2012

Sandblasted on our first night. Oh, yeah!

Monday May 3, 2010
Camp 1:  crazy sandstorm camp 15 miles from the border at Palomas
Camp 2:  sandy wash, pleasant and quiet with a nice breeze and a beautiful sunset

Where to begin?  We met Keith on Saturday when he picked us up and took us to his house in Deming.  Keith showed us various things on our maps such as water caches, the “best” BBQ on the trail and how to get back to his place when we pass through Deming on our way North.  Yesterday he drove us to the border at Palomas and had a long drawn out plan on how we were going to go about “dealing” with border patrol.  He was going to stop in the building and tell them what we were doing, we were going to wait and then walk to the border where they couldn't see and stick our hand through the fence and take a picture...yada, yada, yada.  As soon as Keith exited the truck we grabbed our packs and started walking toward the border to get a couple pictures.  We couldn't wait to just start hiking!  Long story short, Keith made everything much more difficult than it should have been and I'm pretty sure border patrol was much more suspicious after he approached them than if he would have just dropped us off and left. 

So we started walking yesterday, May 2nd, our first wedding anniversary!  We put in a long 15 miles of road walking as the trail doesn't really exist quite yet.  The CDT is only about 70% finished meaning there are many places you have to connect roads (paved, dirt, gravel) to different trails and sometimes you just have to pull out your map and compass and navigate off trail to get from point A to point B.  The route through New Mexico has to avoid a lot of private land.  Sometimes you can see exactly where you need to go straight ahead, but you have to walk the “grid” around a barbed wire fence, turning a half mile into 4 miles.  It was a pleasant day of hiking but late afternoon the clouds began to roll in and rain was falling in the direction we were heading.  Around 4pm we refilled our water bottles at a cache in a man's backyard, walked out the back of his property into the sandy dry desert to look for a place to set up camp.  The wind was picking up and sand tornadoes were forming and moving violently across the desert floor coming right for us.  We braced ourselves and turned our backs as the sand blasted us and then moved past.  We set up the tent once, but had to move it to what we thought was a more protected area.  The gusts continued to get stronger and we couldn't get the stakes to hold in the fine sand.  The tent got blasted over and over as we struggled to set up a barricade with our packs and all of our gear.  We finally had to tie the tent down with rope to a nearby tree and laid listening to the rain as the insane wind blasted sand and dirt into our shelter.  It covered everything and was in every nook and cranny; our hair, teeth, nostrils...everywhere...miserable!

We woke this morning to sunshine and a beautiful blue sky.  The air still and cool, a welcome change from the hours before.  We shook out our gear, regrouped and hiked cross country, careful to avoid the array of prickly desert plants as one with huge brutal thorns had already made its way through my shoe, insole, sock and stuck into my toe!  Cactus, Yucca and Joshua Trees stood like a maze before us.  Driving past it may have looked hot, dry and boring, but when you walk through it, everything comes to life a bit.  Flowers of all colors greeted us, the cactus blooms full and beautiful, lizards scurrying across our path, fat horny toads creeping across the sand and the occasional snake soaking up the warm sun.  As the day wore on our virgin skin turned dry and red, our feet tired and sore and I had to laugh because it was only the beginning.  We put in about 15 miles today and found a nice, protected sandy wash to set up camp.  Eric made quinoa with a chili packet for dinner and he's sleeping hard beside me.  We are both exhausted...welcome back to the trail!  



Thursday, February 9, 2012

Saturday May 1, 2010

Many miles to go before we sleep.  Today we sit in anticipation of the adventures to come.  Tomorrow we celebrate our first anniversary and the beginning of another journey.  The Continental Divide Trail, the trail of all trails, Eric's Triple Crown, another physical, mental and emotional test...the trail...nothing else like it in the world.  We are officially homeless and “unplugged” and it feels wonderful!  We have spent the past three weeks visiting family in Missouri and Cincinnati.  Lots of quality time with the nieces and nephews; met Greyson for the first time and attended his baptism, took Adelynn on her first camping trip, enjoyed the curiousness of Addie and Daniel and played games and shared laughs with Lauren, Anna and Sam.  Here we sit in Chicago, ready to board a plane to Albuquerque where we will rent a car and drive to Las Cruces and Deming trail angel, Keith (el coyote), will pick us up and take us to his house for some sleep before heading to the border in the morning.  A smile in my heart as Eric serenades me with a made up song.  I am anxious and happy and free in every sense of the word.