Day 30 hiking the CDT, day off in Cuba, NM

Day 30 May 16
campsite on CDT next to power line to 2miles past Portales Mesa
24 miles

We’re working our way up and over several Mesas today. I pushed my cowboy hat down more firmly in the morning wind, as I didn’t ‘t want to say bye bye to it going over the edge to the floor several hundred feet below.
Louis, Breeze, and I agreed to get up at 6 and start moving by 7. We wanted to put some extra miles in today to save us those same miles tomorrow morning. We are also just about out of food, which is good. An accomplished hiker heads into town for re-supply of food with an empty grub sack.
We also wanted to start early in order to put some miles on in the cooler morning temperatures, as it reached ninety- three degrees again, with not a cloud in the sky.
Had two glorious water moments today: the first at a working spigot just a couple of miles from our campsite and the second in Jones Canyon. We knew that jones Canyon had water, but the spigot was chancey. We assumed 28 miles of trail between water sources. I was not interested in running out of water again, so I carried a full 6 quarts out of each source. That’s 12 pounds extra. I ended up drinking 9 quarts today, and will probably down another quart before I hit the sack. I’m still thirsty.
The Jones Canyon water was coming faintly out of an old pipe, into a metal cow trough. As we walked up to spring, we encountered the caretaker, a very recently deceased coyote splayed out in the path. The water was relatively clear, but there were all kinds of little black shapes swimming around in it. We had to have water or die, I so I put my bandanna over Tiki-man’s mouth and poured through it as a filter, and then zapped that water with a UV treatment from my Steripen, which has worked flawlessly to date. The water was cold and tasted good. Some of this hiker behavior is nothing that one would engage in at home, but out here, it’s truly a survival game.
We put down 15 miles by 2 PM, and just kept it up until we had 24 down by 7:30. The last push of the day was up the side of a pretty serious mesa, which had new rock stairs constructed recently, and even some steps and hand holds chipped out of the rock faces. I did surprisingly well, with the extra water weight in my pack.
Today we traveled through ridiculously prolific and dangerous cacti. They are everywhere, and ready to latch on to you in their live or dead states. Where the trail drops into a groove, small, lumpy pincushions lines the sides of the trenches, little demons eager to attack ankles as they plod on by. We talked about how dangerous it would be to night hike here, trip, and then fall into a bed of the monster plants with the huge white needles.
I gotta crawl into my tent and become unconscious, ASAP.

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Day 25 of hiking the CDT. Day off in Grants, NM

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Good places in Grants, which is not exactly a destination vacation spot: The Sands motel -1 block off Rt 66. Good Indian family eager to help. Washed and dried all our clothes for $10 cash. $50 room w/ 2 beds. Refused $$ after driving us to Walmart and waiting for a half hour as we resupplied. Convenience/ liquor store across street, excellent Mexican breakfast, and then lunch at El Cafecito- within eyesight. Railroad rumbles in the night, again. It’s a town of faded glory in the West.

I received a question from my faithful transcriber Clarkie, AKA John Clark, and decided to make that today’s post. Maybe it can generate more commments :

“Can you discuss the issues related to group hike vs individual hike?
For example, decision making involved in “hike your own hike” and starting whenever you want versus waiting for others; or vice versa, hurrying to keep up or leave with others. What level of concern does MeGaTex have when you write for instance on Day 23, May 9: “Still no Patburglar sightings.” Is their a faith that everything will work out in time?
While through hikers may all know these ethics, many of us who are not long distance hikers might be enlightened with this information.”

My answer:
We are at the same time concerned about everybody else and also not overly concerned if a break in the group occurs.
Regarding Patburglar, he’s a unique very capable hiker who started a different route (Crazy Cook) from us (Columbus) on this hike. He joined us through the Gila portion and somewhere here in Grants today who has chosen to embrace the ultralight philosophy to the max and understands that by forwarding his phone north to Chama, he has made it more difficult to stick with the group, and he’s apparently fine with it. He has our numbers if he wants to call and coordinate the next leg to Cuba 112 miles away. I personally miss hiking with Pat, but am not worried at all about his ability to take care of himself out there. He’s very skilled at surviving difficult situations.
Me Ga Tex and other solo hikers fit together easily. So many great trail relationships continue from individual contacts: Boat, Dreams, Psycho and Apricots come to mind from the PCT’s 2010 hike.
There is no distinction as to who is joining who, either. I recall the most powerful presences on the PCT and think of Boat, now a Triple Crowner, after his solo CDT northbound hike of last year. He allowed us to join him, and we shared his company for a time northward from California as long as you were willing to rise at daybreak to walk with him. MeGaTex is open to sharing campsites and meals as well as the tread with any hikers.
That being said, it is common to split up for a day or more and reunite with this group if one so chooses. It requires strong compromises to move a group along the CDT.
On the AT, hundreds of shelter registers allow the whole shifting cast of characters to keep track of one another. Even if one only stops at a shelter for a snack, a quick entry can be made, like “Passin’ thru” with time, date, and name. Word travels up and down the trail due the thousands of hikers who travel the AT. This allows one to ascertain how much work it will take to reunite with someone ahead. You simply do the math and figure it out.
It’s was harder on the PCT due to no shelters and no registers. Despite that MegaTex started, and finished on the same day, and managed to communicate barely enough to hold the group, there were periods where each individual member was indeed separated and it will happen here too. Moving on seems to be the norm, and fact be told, this Trailjournal serves as a focus point to pinpoint the general group’s progress. Phone numbers and emails help too, when you can get a connection, and Verizon rules here. Louis has an AT&T account and he hasn’t been able to get one bit of service so far.
The CDT will turn out to be a tougher situation for stragglers. No shelters, no registers, no agreed upon route, no towns to rally around ( it has been close to 350 miles since we have been able to enjoy a motel). Also very little capability to make phone calls or send texts or emails. There have been reports of former CDT hikers who never encountered other thru hikers on the whole trail, and these are recent reports.
Pat called Breeze a few minutes ago, he decided to head out today, on his own. That’s the way it rolls. Likely we may see him again, though. I hope so, we need all the help we can get to keep steady northward momentum.

When I finish hiking, all my focus will shift back to the blog again. Hold on! In the meantime, go to my daily Trailjournal and follow the adventure.
My Trailjournal site is http://www.trailjournals.com/tjamrogCDT/

Day 21 Hiking the CDT

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Day 21 May 7
Rest (zero miles) day at Pie town

Record number of hikers were here last: Rambler (from Ambler, Pa), Papa Smurf, Litterbox and Yukon,
Balls and Sunshine, Samurai and Lily,
Steady and Skeeter, plus MeGaTex.
The owner of this hostel, Nita, is an ascending trail legend . She’s done an excellent interview/ conversation with long distance bicycling professional Matthew Lee on the dvd RIDE THE DIVIDE (on Netflix). She lets bikers and hikers stay here. At times, she’s not even in town. She’s a woman who has retained beauty and grace and intelligence in style.
For a donation, I scored a bed, and there are free drinks in the fridge, and frozen meats in the freezer. There are many canned foods to use up, and this place has the best hikers box you can imagine. I enjoyed the pleasures of a new private washroom and shower at the RV park for another donation.
I washed my clothes in the utility tub in the same building. That was a long, wet, tiring story. My clothes were so dirty, I must have wrung out and soaped up and wrung out my shirt fifty times before the water was reasonably close to clear.
Ate like a pig today at the only cafe in town, open from 8-4 daily. Had a piece of blueberry pie with milk while I waited for my delicious burrito. In the afternoon, we went back and I had a huge Chef’s salad, and then then pulled pork sandwich. O, yes, another pie, chocolate cream. No cream. Heavy chocolate heaven.
The feature of the day was MeGaTex helping a local couple move a display case from their house to a room at the side of the Pie-o-neer Cafe. We hopped in the back of a pickup and rode out into the desert where they have lived for the past 10 years. They are totally off the grid, and described themselves as ” freegan”. They had dropped off some ground elk, and fresh greens for our supper tonight. It was the best example of what a lifetime of reading Mother Earth News can do for you.
Before we left, a pile of quartz crystals was spread on the table and each of us was invited to pick one that spoke to us, that felt right in our hands.
“You have to keep it with you all the time”, said Tony.
It was the right decision for us to stay here today. Tomorrow, we launch across the El Malapais for a 4 night, 5 day , 82 mile trek to Grant’s where we will rest up another day. It’s going to be new vistas for the gang.
Patburglar researched a route that puts us near some water caches, and working windmills.
I also want to give a shout out to my wife and hiking partner Auntie Mame, who out together a super intelligent and tasty resupply box here to me in Pie Town.
It’s a place where you can’t buy anything on some weekdays. But where everyone is good to the hikers.