Sure Stay Hotel(534.1) to Mt. Taylor Alternate(551.8) + 1.2 on alternate 18.9 miles Total miles: 420.8 miles
Once again I stayed up way too late last night. There are always last minute details to take care of and as a result I was up until almost midnight. Turtle and I got up around 6:30 to meet the group at Denny’s for breakfast. The plan was to get a later start out of town so Turtle could go to the Verizon store when they opened. We enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. I really enjoyed talking with Mangus’s wife about what Colorado will be like. She has hiked a ton of the 14ers(mountains that are 14,000 feet and above) and was a treasure trove of knowledge.
Mangus, Mrs. Mangus, Turtle, Me, and Shiloh
Mangus gave Turtle and I a ride back to where we turned off the trail. We could have walked it, but with the busy roads a ride was greatly appreciated. Shiloh will be staying in town until his dental issue is resolved. We planned on seeing Mangus later in the day after his wife leaves to return to Ouray, CO.
We enjoyed a nice 7 mileroad walk through town. It wasn’t as bad as the road walk into town thanks to a combination of sidewalks and bike lanes. The Verizon store was right off the trail and I left Turtle to get his new phone case. I planned to meet up with him a few miles down the trail. I really enjoy hiking by myself and after days of constant company, the solitude was nice.
Grants really seems to enjoy their road signs. I saw several amusing ones throughout the road walk. Most seem to point out the obvious, and one or two were helpful. I’d love to see the sign budget for this city.
Seems like a good idea
Helpful, even if the water was at a dog park. I can’t really complain though. I’d rather share with a dog than a cow
I saw this same sign 3 or 4 times. Makes it hard to get lost
I had planned on taking a break about an hour after I left Turtle, but I had to go for a lot longer before I could stop. The first time was because I passed an unofficial gun range on the side of the road. It was really just a spot where locals pull over and start shooting their guns. I saw two cars stopped and two people talking. I greeted them hello and walked past. Nothing seemed out of order. I walked about 30 paces when I heard the gunshots. At first I thought they had shot at me, but my next reaction was they shot at each other. I turned around to see the lady firing multiple shots across a deserted area. Well that certainly got my attention. I felt like I could have been given a heads up. I put as much distance as I could from them before I considered taking another break. I soon realized a break would not be in my near future as I walked past a prison. There was no way I was going to be caught loitering around a correctional facility.
Grants side of the road gun range
The rest of my day was magical. Once I got off of the road I had a nice climb to the top of a Mesa. Climbing up a Mesa is a first for me. It was a nice 1,000 foot climb and it was so fantastic to be back on trail and off of the road. Turtle caught up to me when I finally took a break before the climb. Since it is next to impossible to stick together while climbing a mountain or a Mesa I left before him. It was nice to stretch my legs and the view from the top was great.
On the way up
View from the top and a great big smile
I waited for Turtle at the top and we hiked together for most of the remaining miles. The top of the Mesa was pretty flat and while we sauntered along we chatted back and forth. Our plan was to hike another 9 miles and camp at the Mumm’s water cache. I am tired of dry camping and was willing to stop early so we could camp at water. Plus, we will summit Mt. Taylor and I didn’t want to camp any higher than 9,000 feet. I hope to get up before sunrise and summit just as the sun rises tomorrow. I had cut it a little too close on my water today and was getting pretty thirsty. I eventually hiked ahead of Turtle so I could get to the cache faster. I made it around 6:00 and was glad to have a leisurely night in camp. The weather has really warmed up and I was glad to not be shivering while I cooked and ate dinner.
Turtle on our way up the Mt. Taylor alternate
Turtle on top of the Mesa heading towards Taylor
Random stuff you find in the woods
The absolute highlight of my day was when I was struggling to make it to the water source. I was hiking a pretty fast pace and had my head down. The feel of the hike began to change. There was a different scent and feel to the air. When I looked up I was surrounded by Ponderosa pine trees and Aspens. It felt like home(it is weird to finally think of Colorado as home and not Florida). I was born in Colorado, but my family moved away before I could remember living there. I think my mom used to take me out for walks around Aspen trees, because whenever I see them it feels like I’m home. As luck would have it our campsite is surrounded by Aspens. As the sun set they began to glow in the dying light.
One happy Jedi Master
Mangus showed up to camp just as I finished cooking dinner. It was nice to have the gang back together again. We hope Shiloh catches up to us soon and is back to being 100% healthy. I’m really hoping that I can drag myself out of bed for a sunrise summit of Mt. Taylor. Mornings are not my strong suit, especially if I’m cold. I somehow manage to be an early riser while on the trail, but a sunrise summit takes a little more fortitude.
“No difficulty can discourage, no obstacle dismay, no trouble dishearten the man who has acquired the art of being alive. Difficulties are but dares of fate, obstacles but hurdles to try his skill, troubles but bitter tonics to give him strength; and he rises higher and looms greater after each encounter with adversity.”
- Ella Wheeler Wilcox