Side of a mountain(365) to Pie Town Alternate(376) to Side of a Mountain On alternate(11.9) 22.9 miles Total miles 299.5
Alternate had a ton of elevation change. I’m guessing an additional +3,000 ft/-3,500 ft
Before I tell you about my day I’d like to wish The General, a very happy birthday!
My mom in her happy place, Lucca Italy
It was cold last night. I put on every article of clothing I have with me and prepared for a rough night. Surprisingly, I stayed warm enough. I did a good job of finding a spot sheltered from the 29mph winds. Finding the motivation to get out of my sleeping bag was a different story. I knew that the faster I got moving the sooner I could get warm. I managed to pack up almost all of my belongings from inside my sleeping bag. It was an impressive feat. My next challenge was finding the trail again. I had hiked farther away from it than normal, looking for the perfect spot. Once I found the trail I started hiking as fast as I could, so that I could warm up. I would get a pretty good pace going and then lose the trail momentarily. The area I was in had a lot of blow downs and ground debris from a wildfire. I didn’t like having to stop and look around for the trail. I kept getting cold. I had an extended uphill climb that warmed me right up. By the time I hit the top I was shedding clothing, but then the trail went down for a long time and I was exposed to a lot of wind. I had gotten sweaty on the way up so going down I was chilled. I didn’t want to stop again to put more clothes back on so I just gritted my teeth and pressed on.
View from the fire area
My main concern today was water. I had a guaranteed water source 13 miles away, but it was supposedly very gross. After that I was looking at an almost thirty mile dry stretch, which meant a dry camp and 21 miles the next day. Whew, I know how much water weighs and was not looking forward to the rest of the day. 1 liter of water weighs 2.2lbs. With that many miles and a dry camp I was looking at a minimum of 4 liters, for an extra 8.8lbs on my back. I’ve struggled to figure out why water feels heavier than food. Leaving Doc Campbell’s I had an extra 16lbs of food in my pack. I’ve eaten almost all of that, so 4 liters of water shouldn’t feel so heavy. My best guess is that I pack the food inside of my pack and can distribute the weight properly. The water goes into my hip belt and on the back of my pack. I can’t distribute the weight as well. The 13 miles to water went by very quickly. I hiked about 8 miles on proper trail. After that I hiked on jeep and 4x4 roads. Boring doesn’t quite cover it.
Last little bit of trail for 40 miles
As I neared my destination of a gross cow pound I caught the glimmer of something in the bushes. I couldn’t believe it. It was a small water cache. Not only did it save me from having to walk off trail for water, but it was potable. I didn’t have to filter it. Score! Thanks mystery person for the awesome treat.
Random water cache
I drank a liter right then and there. Then I filled up 4 very heavy liters. The rest of the day would be a struggle. I’m still not feeling great, but at least I’m not worse. I stopped and took mini breaks every few miles. The dirt road was taking a toll on my feet and sanity. Every time the road went uphill it turned super rocky. There is nothing worse than hiking uphill with a ton of water on your back, than doing it over rocky terrain. At least it wasn’t hot out today. The high was 71 degrees with a lot of wind. As long as I was moving I was almost hot. As soon as I stopped I was almost cold. I like hiking in this type of weather. It really helps with the water situation. About three miles after the surprise water cache I crossed highway 12. From here it is a long hitch into the town of Reserve, NM. When I first got sick, this was my emergency backup plan. Supposedly it is a difficult 40 mile hitch, but there was a number for a shuttle service at the trailhead. Since I’m not deathly ill, I didn’t consider going to town any longer. There was also another surprise water cache with 4 gallons of water. Dang, I could have saved myself 3 miles of carrying water. I had already drank about half a liter of what I was carrying, but I didn’t feel like I needed any more and some hikers behind me might need it.
Part of the Highway 12 cache, the rest was in the bushes
Part of the Highway 12 cache, the rest was in the bushes
From this point forward I was on the Pie Town alternate route. This is a 40 mile alternate that takes me into Pie Town. I have to go there to resupply. The cdt official route includes a 30-40 mile dry stretch with a 14 mile road walk on highway 60. I guess I would rather walk 40 miles of dirt roads and have some water, than 40 miles of no water and a busy highway to walk on.
Forest Rd 218
All afternoon long this was my view
Towards the end of my day I passed a backcountry camping area. I really thought about stopping, but it was only 5:30. I really wanted to get a few more miles in. I decided to forgo the picnic tables and pit toilets, a real luxury in the backcountry. As I hiked past I saw another glimmer in the bushes. Yup, another secret water cache. I couldn’t believe it. I carried all that water all day for nothing. Oh, well. Even if I had known it was there I still would have carried the water. You can’t always rely on water caches. I would have been screwed if it was empty. Thanks to whoever has placed these caches. I’m sure you have really helped out more than a few hikers.
Passing by the backcountry camp site might not have been the brightest idea. I added a couple more miles to my day, but I gained 1,000 feet in elevation. I really struggled to find a spot out of the wind. It is going to be another cold and windy night. I’ll fill you in on how it turned out tomorrow. I’m hopeful that I found a spot that is sheltered enough. Tomorrow evening it is supposed to snow. I can’t fricking believe it. I didn’t think that was in the realm of possibilities for this area this time of year. I plan on stopping well before dark and finding a nice sheltered spot.
“When you have exhausted all possibilities, remember this: you haven’t.”
- Thomas Edison