Sunday, March 25, 2012

Hiking up Mt. Taylor

Sunday May 23, 2010
Camp 21 and 22:  Days Inn, Grants New Mexico

We're relaxing here in Grants, taking a zero day so our feet can heal.  After the lava field and road walk from hell, yesterday, our feet are aching.  I have three blisters that are not healing as we walk 20 miles a day. It will be nice to take a break.  Today we're resupplying, calling family and plan to be back on the trail in the morning.  Oh, Eric found an arrowhead a couple days ago!  Awesome!

Monday May 24, 2010
Camp 23:  near Mt. Taylor

We are sleeping at 9,000 feet tonight and it's supposed to be record lows!  We're actually on a real trail and not a road...exciting!  The trail is funny and frustrating; it comes and goes so we have to search often for cairns or CDT markers in the trees.  We had a good day, went to the Post Office this morning and got back on the trail at 12:30pm.  Eric found another arrowhead today that was made from obsidian and I found a piece of one!

hi: found a piece of an arrowhead
lo: I screwed up baking cinnamon rolls this morning

little g
hi: waking up with sunflower after a good nights sleep
lo: CDT went by a prison and a landfill on the way out of town

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

El Malpais National Monument

Friday May 21, 2010
Camp 20: in a canyon, heading towards Bonita Canyon

It feels great to lay down. We hiked through El Malpais today.  At first it was awesome to be hiking through an old lava flow, but the mood quickly changed as the black rocks soaked up the heat from the sun at 2pm and the trail was brutal on the feet.  There is a lot of history in the area.  The Acoma-Zuni trail we hiked today had cairns that had been there, marking the trail for the two tribes of Pueblo, for 700 years! After a long walk through the lava we got to a parking area by the road.  I tried to yogi some water from a man that pulled into the lot, trying to quickly tuck his shirt in and zip his pants...more than  a bit odd.  Unfortunately, he looked at me like I was the strange one and rolled the window up in my face.  Not knowing where the next water source on the trail was, we hitched a ride with a guy in a pick-up truck down the road to a Forest Service office.  The building was closed but there was a hose outside with running water.  The water tasted like the hose, rubbery and disgusting, so we unhooked the hose and got water directly from the faucet.  After a candy bar break we walked across the road and through a gate hoping the forest service road would hook us back up with the trail.  The roads are a maze out here but we always seem to work things out.  We are in a side canyon right now that leads to Bonita Canyon and eventually into Grants for resupply.  We saw a huge heard of elk tonight as we were winding down the day.  My feet ache and I'm nursing three blisters right now  There are actually blisters underneath blisters which is really hard to treat.  Anyways, time for dinner and sleep. 

“Remember to take everything in moderation, including moderation.”

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thursday May 20, 2010
Camp 19: Sand Canyon

We're finally finished hiking for the day.  It has been a good one, but long.  This morning we started with a road walk which turned into dirt leading into Armijo Canyon.  We are in cattle country so our water sources leave a lot to be desired.  This morning we walked over to a large tank, hoping for a pipe with some cold, delicious spring water.  Instead we found the tank surrounded by mud and cow manure with a small seep.  It smelled of decay and manure, rancid and disgusting.  Eric dug out his bandana to filter out some of the excrement and chunks and we worked to filter a couple liters as the cows watched from afar.  We masked the first liter with kool-aid as we were a bit dehydrated and hoped for better water at the next source.  The trail was long and hot, we could see for miles and miles with what looked like nothing before us.  We explored Pueblo ruins dating back to 1200 a.d.  We found shards of pottery and various structures that were still halfway standing.  What an incredible piece of history.  The downside, there were signs everywhere that threatened a fine and imprisonment if you removed the pottery but meanwhile the area is open to free range cattle who trample the sacred ground.  We proceeded down the hot, dry, dusty canyon, past a dead bloated cow with her feet in the air, hoping to find water.  We detoured to Armijo Spring only to find it completely dry. We did stumble upon an old stone house built into the hillside.  We explored for a bit, finding a  religious shrine inside.  It was quite interesting, really.  We hiked off trail up the side canyon past the spring, over the ridge and back down the other side where we connected with the CDT.  By the time we go back to the trail it was 6:30pm and we still had 4.5 miles to hike to the next possible water at a windmill.  We picked up the pace as the sun disappeared behind the cliffs and we found some nasty looking water in a cattle trough.  It was getting dark and we really didn't have any other option as we needed water to drink and to cook.  So we filtered, better than nothing, right?  We found a rather lumpy camping spot in the middle of cow pasture.  It smells of cow manure but it's beautiful nonetheless as the colors develop in the sky.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Daily Pie Cafe

Wednesday May 19, 2010
Camp 18: yet another pasture, signed No Trespassing, Private Property

We walk into the Daily Pie Cafe and the bell on the door jingles.  Heads turn and nod to greet us as we take a seat by the window.  Old glass bottles line the sill along with a postage stamp keepsake giving an overview of the Sante Fe Trail, an old blue speckled cup and a tiny glass bottle with a wooden arrow inside, just the point of it sticking out the top, impossible to remove.  The server brings us coffee and returns to her chair to finish breakfast. The cook finishes writing the specials on the chalkboard and recommends the apple fritters with eggs and bacon.  I accept!  Eric orders and we sit in silence sipping our hot fresh coffee.   The morning is cool and windy; we are at 8,000 feet and the actual divide is just up the hill.  The sky is deep blue and cloudless and it is difficult to tell what day of the week it is as locals sit around laughing and talking at 9:30am.  Conversation revolves around the summer solstice plans and I pipe up saying, “for hikers, that's hike naked day!”  Odd glances result in laughter from the four men sitting at the table beside us and it will prove to be an ongoing joke for the remainder of the discussion.  An old man in overalls sits quietly by the window, in the same spot as yesterday.  He listens but does not join conversation and scratches off his lottery tickets.  I smile as it reminds me in some ways of a scene from Dad's feed store when I was a little girl.  Our food arrives, delicious home cooking.  Eric offers a bite of sausage in exchange for an apple fritter.  What an excellent way to start the day here in Pie Town, New Mexico.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Tuesday May 18, 2010
Camp 17: Nita's Toaster House

We are in Pie Town, New Mexico at Nita's Toaster House.  A quaint little hiker haven that gets its name from the abundance of toasters hanging on the picket fence.  It has a porch with old car seats and benches, a fridge full of sodas, beer and pizza and the house is open to hikers to take showers, do laundry and sleep.  We are loving the unexpected New Mexico trail magic!  We've been sitting here talking to Handlebar, a 65 year old man from Ohio, going for his Triple Crown.  He just split his finger open chopping kindling and is in need of real stitches but refuses.  Instead, we got out the first aid kit and did the best doctoring we could with what little we had.  Nita just stopped by to say hello.  She no longer lives in the house but is happy to leave it open to hikers.  Her daughter is a firefighter in Yosemite...I love small world stories!  We went to the tiny hole in the wall post office to pick up our resupply box as there is no grocery store in town.  Actually, there's not much of anything in town!  When we first walked in we didn't see a soul, it felt like an eerie old ghost town.  The streets were quiet, the houses run-down, trash would blow across the road and an extremely obese dog that could barely bark growled at us from behind a fence.  Too much pie, I'm assuming.  I half expected to see freaky little girls in dresses singing songs like you might see in a horror film.  Anyways, turns out the town is nothing like what it seemed at first, thankfully!  We received several letters and boxes from friends and family so we took our goodies to the Daily Pie Cafe for some lunch followed by pie and coffee.  We were greeted again, by some of the nicest people in the world!  The cook, and owner I believe, was a friendly man out to help in any way possible.  He let us use the phone to call home as there were no pay phones in town either.  After a long discussion and no luck finding a home for Wolfie, I had to call the animal rescue shelter that I despised, to come and pick him up.  I was assured by the locals that it really was a decent place where many people volunteered and the animals were fed and taken care of.  I glanced out the window watching Wolfie sniff around houses and cars as I made the call.  He was partially covered in green cow manure as he had taken the liberty of herding some cattle on the way into town and rolled in a fresh cow pattie before we could stop him.  It broke my heart to say goodbye.  I walked outside and whistled, he immediately ran to me and the lady from the shelter leashed him and took him away.  I walked back inside going straight to the bathroom to wipe my eyes, knowing it was the right thing to do as we simply couldn't support a hiker dog.  He had only been with us for a few days, but mind you, a few days on the trail seems like a lifetime.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Monday May 17, 2010
Camp 16: private property after the “animal rescue shelter”  

Last night we didn't sleep well in the bitter cold above 9,000 feet.  We fed Wolf some tuna and tortillas, he scarfed it up in an instant.  We walked through dry and dusty terrain, mostly on old roads beneath the power lines.  As the day wore on it continued to get hotter and Wolf had a tough time keeping up.  He would run ahead and quickly dig a hole in shade of trees and bushes.  As we hiked past he would follow and then run ahead and dig another hole.  On the map we saw that there was an animal rescue shelter on the same road we were walking on!  Convinced we had found a solution we found the place and it had a cooler of water at the end of the driveway for hikers with a note that said, “Enjoy, but don't linger too long as the dogs will run down and may try to follow you.” We walked down the lane leading to the house and were immediately surrounded by about 50 barking, growling dogs.  That wasn't even including the ones locked in the pen beside us that were following us along the fence line and going nuts!  It was disgusting and terrifying!  Wolf turned around and high tailed it back toward the road as several dogs chased him.  Eric turned around to go retrieve him and not really knowing what to do, I continued toward the house.  A man came out to meet me, seeing that I was quite intimidated and a woman followed, obviously upset that I was there.  It was feeding time apparently and they let 50 some dogs out during feeding time.  Don't ask why,  I have no idea, I'm actually quite frustrated as I sit and write this.  Cats sat in the windows and covered the couch that sat outside on their porch.  Appalled, I explained that we had found a dog and were hoping to drop him by as we are hiking the CDT and couldn't take him along.  The man asked if I thought I could catch him and I reply that I have no idea as he was scared off by the barking dogs who chased him back down the driveway.  He gave me a leash and said to go ahead and walk back and he would drive and find us in 15 minutes and take the dog if we could catch him.  I took the leash with no intention whatsoever of giving these people my dog.  Yes, by now I am quite fond of our little companion and although the man was nice enough, I was not leaving this cool mellow dog with these people and their 300 animals.  I turned and walked back, the dogs nipping at my heals, throwing out my trekking pole on occasion to ward off the growling mutts.  By the time I got to Eric and Wolfie I was so mad I could have spit nails!  These people should have been on an animal hoarders show.  It was an absolute nightmare.  So here I lay, after dinner, with a very hungry doggie companion, wondering what we're going to do with him once we reach Pie Town.  Hopefully we'll find some help.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sunday May 16, 2010
Camp 14: Rode Inn; Reserve, New Mexico
Camp 15: Mangas Mountain, with Wolf by our side

We decided to make a detour because of our food situation into the tiny town of Reserve.  We hiked to Highway 12 at the intersection of a tiny general store in Apache Creek.  After cold sodas and ice cream we stood at the corner hoping for a quick hitch into Reserve.  Not quite as easy as it sounds! Fifteen minutes would pass between cars and they weren't slowing down a bit.  Finally, a mini van pulled over, driven by a 16 year old boy named, Montana.  He was home schooled and very smart, chatty and pleasant.  He took us 12 miles into town and we got a room at the Rode Inn.  After a pack explosion, showers and laundry we grabbed some dinner at Carmen's.

First, a bit about Reserve.  You blink and you miss it.  It takes 2 minutes to walk from one end of town to the other, there are two restaurants that close at 8pm, three small stores that close at 6pm and one local tavern called Uncle Bill's Bar.  While we were in town there was some sort of rodeo going on nearby so there were big pick-up trucks everywhere and everyone wore cowboy boots, hats and belt buckles.  So back to the story, we walk into Carmen's for dinner and a young guy looks up and says, “Have you been to the beach?”  We were dressed in shorts and flip flops as we don't carry many extra clothes, especially abnormally large belt buckles and Wranglers.  We smiled, wondering where in the heck a beach would even be in this part of the country and we took a seat.  After a burger and a burrito we decided to grab a beer at Uncle Bill's.  We walked in and every head turned to look at us.  We were obviously a little out of place but we bellied up to the bar and ordered a couple Budweiser's.  The locals immediately started talking to ears, I guess!  They cracked jokes, filled us in on the history of the area and of Uncle Bill's.  The bartender, and owner, was called Toughie and the bar had been in the family for years.  Shotguns and pistols hung from the ceiling and signed dollar bills were taped to the walls.  The actual bar was old and beautiful, made of Cherry wood and Toughie brought out antiques to show us over the course of the evening.  These included and old iron stove, machetes and steel shoes among other things.  Toughie was a tall, lanky old timer who loved to make the ladies laugh.  He threw out jokes every chance he got, which had all of us laughing and shaking our heads.  The man next to me, John, carried a pill bottle with arrowheads that he found from the nearby Pueblo Ruins.  He was quite the historian and had lived in the area his whole life.  They were all such inviting and nice folks.  After a few beers and a shot of Patron from John, we shook hands, said our goodbyes and walked across the street to the motel.  Thankfully we were within stumbling distance as the locals were not too fond of the town sheriff who waited outside the bar to catch people leaving and getting in their vehicles.  The bar had actually taken quite a hit from this as people simply didn't come in anymore because of it.

This morning we resupplied and had lunch at Ella's Cafe.  We sat down in a booth and the waitress talked to us about what we were doing even while she was back in the kitchen or grabbing drinks or food.  Reserve was a laid back, charming little town where everybody knows everybody.  After bandaging up my feet, oh yeah, I have some nasty blisters right, fun...we start walking to the edge of town to get a hitch back up to the trail.  In a matter of minutes, a pick-up rolls up and Toughie yells, “Need a ride?”  We hop in and he gives us the grand tour of the area as we head back to the CDT.  He turns off the highway and starts down a dirt road saying he's going to make us a few extra miles for the day.  Eric and I exchange a look and partial laugh as Toughie obviously doesn't really get what thru-hiking is all about, but we're thankful for the lift anyhow!  We drive past the first CDT sign that we've seen so far on the trail and he drops us off a bit farther down the road.  We exchange goodbyes, put on our packs and walk back to the CDT marker for a picture before continuing.   A pleasant surprise all around as we headed back to the trail with full stomachs, a renewed spirit and food in our packs.

Today we hiked in varying terrain starting out dry and dusty but soon gaining elevation as we climbed near Mangas Mountain.  We stopped to filter water from a spring and I turned to see something running toward me.  I let out a little scream as it startled me, knowing we were in the middle of nowhere and for a split second I thought it was a wolf!  Turns out, it is a Blue Healer.  We figured his owner was around somewhere and thought nothing of it.  We took a break and started walking up Mangas Mountain as “Wolf” followed us.  At first we ignored him, assuming he would turn around.  Thirteen miles and an entire climb up a mountain he was still with us!  We have no idea what his story is.  We know he is loyal, doesn't bark and is all around a great little dog.  As we hike he becomes more alert, friendly and even playful.  We caught a gorgeous sunset on top of the peak and tried to find a camping spot.  After a lot of searching we finally found something that would work.  Eric threw down the ground cloth and Wolfie immediately curled up on it.  We couldn't get him to move until we put down the black trash bag liner from Eric's pack and were able to get him switch.  We set up the tent, Wolfie immediately passed out, obviously exhausted.  We have no idea when the last time he slept or ate was.  In wolf country he probably hasn't felt too safe.  So here I lay on the side of a mountain at 9,000 feet with a dog snoozing beside me under the vestibule.  We have no idea what we're going to do with him but at least for tonight he is safe and comfortable.  Time for some shut eye for me too.