Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Day 17- Getting High in a Fire Tower

Tuesday, May 01, 2018
Side of a dirt road(11.9) to Side of another dirt road(34.1) 22.2 miles Total miles:321.7

Sums up my day

Wow. It was really cold and windy this morning. I think I found the best possible spot to camp last night. I was relatively protected from the wind and I chose a nice flat spot to setup my tent. Thanks to the chilly temperatures I packed up camp quickly. I was surprised at how much colder it was on the trail(dirt road) than where I was camped at. There had to be at least a ten degree difference. With the windchill it was 28 degrees out. I started off with a quick pace trying to warm up. Within 20 minutes I had to stop to take my puffy off. I was climbing up to the top of Mangas mountain, elevation 9,650 feet. When I arrived st the top I looked around for the lookout tower. I have heard that you can go up in it. When I finally found it I thought I heard someone shouting to be heard over the wind. I looked up and saw somebody in the tower. He shouted for me to come up. I was so surprised to see another human being that I forgot to take a picture of the tower. The wind was really strong so I was really careful climbing up. Patrick, the fire lookout guy, enthusiastically invited me in. He seemed almost as excited as I was. Being a fire lookout guy must be a lonely job. He gave me a nice tour of the tower and explained how he does his job. I ended up staying for almost 2 hours. The view was incredible. I could see where I was going and where I had come from. Even with the awesome view you couldn’t see where I was 3 days ago. It was cool to know that I had come so far. 

View towards the southwest and Patrick’s cabin

View to the northeast, including Pie Town

Tools of the trade

Patrick explaining how they triangulate the position of a fire

I learned how fires are named. It is however spots one gets to name it. They usually name it after a landmark that is close to the fire. They can not name it after a person though. I also got to see how local weather conditions are reported. People like Patrick taking readings and call them in. I listened as 4 other towers called in their reports to Silver City. That is one of the ways they can accurately give locals the weather. It was a very instructional morning. Eventually I said my goodbyes and ventured back out into the brisk day. 

Thanks Patrick

My goal today was to get as close to Pie Town as possible. I have a resupply box there and I’m really looking forward to a “town” day. I’ll have to settle for a tiny town day. Pie Town consists of two restaurants and a donation based hostel called the Toaster House. I’m really looking forward to this stop. It is a classic stop along the trail. I started the day 28 miles away from Pie Town. If I hadn’t spent so much time at the fire tower with Patrick, I probably could have made it by the end of today. I’m still sick and my ankle and knee really dislike dirt roads, so I thought it best not to try to hike all of those miles today. I spent the entire day on a dirt road. It was excruciatingly boring. Other than the fire tower, the other high point of my day was finally seeing another hiker. I caught up to a guy named, Discovery. It is the first time I’ve come across him and the first hiker I’ve seen since April 25th. We talked for a long time. He is in his 50’s and this is his first long distance trail. He had a lot of questions about how to be a better more efficient hiker. I answered what I could and wished him luck. He was stopping for water and I decided to go another 5 miles before I stopped to do the same. I thought the farther water source would be better and I ended up being correct. Discovery’s water source was a yucky cow pond, while mine was a cow trough. The trough seem to stay a lot cleaner than the earthen ponds. 

Practically spring water by cdt standards 

The rest of the day dragged on. Today my knee was bothering me more than my ankle. I think it is all the same issue, over tight calf and hamstring muscles. The hard dirt and paved roads seem to just kill me. 
Coming down Mangas Mountain

Same road, different view 

For almost 12 miles of my day I passed a lot of private property. There were signs that made it very clear I was expected to keep hiking and not linger. I found it a little off putting since I was technically on a road not their actual property, but I kept going and tried to limit my breaks. At one point I had two guard dogs came at me. They barked and snapped at me for a quarter of a mile. It was kind of scary. I thought one of them was actually going to bite me. They were both snarling and barking their heads off. I didn’t want to encourage them. I tried not to make eye contact, but I was unnerved when they were behind me. I thought for sure I was going to get bitten on the butt. When I crossed an imaginary line they just stopped and trotted away. 

Just as they turned to go back home

For a boring day I guess I actually had a good bit of excitement. Days like this I always wonder what I’m going to write about. I am a little surprised to see that what I initially thought of as mundane day had a good deal of substance. My day ended with a surprise water cache along the side of the road. I could hear a lot of barking and howling and was a little nervous to keep going forward. I need not have worried, it was an animal shelter for lost and abandoned dogs. The owners put out water for hikers and a note asking us to move on as soon as we got water. They didn’t want hikers to linger around the property because it excites and upsets the dogs. Some of them are allowed to wander freely and they sometimes follow hikers and don’t come back. Since I only have 5.5 miles to get to Pie Town I only took .25L. I knew somebody behind me might need the water desperately. I setup camp on the side of the road behind some trees and bushes. I’m not as protected from the wind as I would like, but my choices were limited. I’m still surrounded by no trespassing and private property signs. 

If you zoom in it says no hiking without written consent. Who exactly do you talk to about getting written consent?

I passed the 300 mile mark first thing this morning. Since everyone’s mileage varies due to alternates I made due with just making a marker for myself. Maybe eventually I’ll go back to making them on the trail for everybody to see, but for now that seems silly. 

And to everyone who has asked, yes I eat the M&MS immediately after I take a picture. I’ve been saving all of my blue and orange ones for the last week. Go Gators! 

I also want to wish The General and Hannibal a very happy 42nd wedding anniversary. I feel very lucky to have parents who are still happily married. When I asked The General how long they have been married she answered, “42 loving years”. I think that speaks volumes. 

"If you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there." - Lewis Carroll


  1. You do have the best parents! What a fun time in the tower with Patrick - very informative. Enjoy Pietown; very interested in what kind of pie you might have.

  2. Good read today (as always.) Great title for it too. Sure you’ll enjoy your town day and getting to the mountains....someday.

  3. How cool to see the workings of fire reporting. Glad you didn't get an actual fire-reporting experience though!

  4. Have never been in a fire tower. You've been in a whole bunch of places I've never been! Thanks for taking me along when you have these experiences! You do it so well! Happy trails, Katie!

  5. Post title gave me a laugh and great blog all the way through! What a day and glad those dogs didn’t nip you. Great pic of your folks! Bob and I have one taken there during our 2016 Rome visit! Happy 42 anniversary to Yoyr Mom and Dad! God bless all!
    Ps. Enjoy Pie Town and the hospitality of The Toaster House. I think owner name is Anita, kind & generous lady!

  6. Those dogs would have been the death of me! Sorry they were so persistent - glad no butt bite though!! Cool that you got to do the fire tower!

  7. What an exciting day, people to talk to after a long time. The fire tower had to be interesting and Patrick probably enjoy showing you what he does. Another neat experience for you. The dogs a bit worrisome. Glad you are close to Pie Town and maybe a little down time. Thanks for the anniversary shout out and the picture.
    Love you, be safe.

  8. Yoda--so happy to see you back on the trail!!!! This might be really messy to deal with, but magnesium oil on your muscles might help alleviate some of that tightness and pain. I use a brand called Ease that I ordered off Amazon. Hannibal and the General might be able toss it into some small nalgene bottles and send you a little bit at a time. You're doing great!

    1. Tammy, I looked for ease on Amazon but only found spray. Yoda’s mom Jeanette

    2. Jeanette,
      I ordered some and sent it your way :) It's from Amazon and should arrive May 9th. With as many issues as she's been having with her calf/hamstring, I would send her the whole bottle. Tell her to spray the muscle liberally with it and then massage it into her muscle. For some people it helps them sleep, so I suggest she puts it on at night. I'd send it to her with a couple of zip lock bags so she can store it in that--I'm not sure how "hiker proof" the bottle will be :)

      By the way--you guys are awesome parents, and it's so great that you're supporting her with this!!

    3. Tammy, thank you. We received it, but it didn’t say from who. I had looked at Amazon and thought maybe I had ordered. We are in VA for a few days. I will send in next resupply box. Very thoughtful of you!! I’m sure Yoda will appreciate.

  9. It is really good to read out. You can also check out here for any home supportive accessories for older and walking disable persons. You can use ramps for going high for them. You can also use walking sticks, walking frames for walking supportive.