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 us...new 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 now...fun, 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.