Del Prado Inn(642.8) to An actual stream(665.8) 23 miles Total miles: 534.7
Once again I did not sleep so well last night. I have a nagging dry cough and I hope I’m not getting sick again. Mangus and I had made plans to hike out at 5-5:30am. When my alarm went off at 4:30 I immediately turned it off. I had decided to sleep in. A few minutes later he texted me and said he was running behind and wouldn’t be ready to go until 5:30. When I responded that I was still in bed he suggested we just meet at McDonalds at 6. I was glad to get the extra sleep. After all of the town food yesterday I didn’t have much of an appetite. I settled for a coffee and egg McMuffin. We didn’t start hiking until 7am. Today started off like any other day hiking out of town. We started on a paved road. Luckily, it didn’t last too long before we hit a nicely graded dirt road. We gained about 1,500 feet of elevation over 8 miles. As my friend Airlock would say, “easy, peasey”.
Nice start to the day
Spotted an Iris early on
Mangus and I took a nice long break at a trailhead parking area. We had a 2,000 foot climb ahead of us. I wasn’t concerned about it at all. The AT taught me to love short, steep climbs. I really embrace and love the challenge. My goal is to always keep the same pace whether I’m hiking up hill or on flat ground. My friend Outro is a beast when it comes to climbing mountains. I could never manage to keep up with her, but I like her philosophy of never stopping until you reach the top. My goal was to hike the 3.3 miles to the top without taking a break or slowing down. We haven’t done much climbing yet, so I wasn’t sure how it would go. Turtle joined Mangus and I just before I headed out. I was excited to get started and the scenery has really begun to change.
Excited to climb a god damned mountain
Within minutes of starting uphill I had to stop to take pictures. I had hit a real and natural water source. This is only the second one since starting the trail.
I was absolutely gobsmacked by how quickly the scenery changed. Just yesterday I was hiking along Mesas and today I am in an alpine wonderland. Energized by the fresh mountain air I powered up the climb. I was able to hit my goal of keeping up a 3 mph pace and finished in just over an hour. I was rewarded with great views and a beautiful mountain stream with water made up of snow melt. I was in heaven and grinning ear to ear.
Can you tell I’m happy?
Aspens, fir trees, and Ponderosa Pine
The temperature was comfortable all day. We had a nice breeze that made it cold in the shade and comfortable in the sun. I made it to the top of the mountain about an hour before the boys. I had just about given up on waiting for them when they finally showed up. We hiked the next 5 miles together. I don’t think I have mentioned our hiking styles before. Since we all hike at around the same pace and take the same amount of breaks we usually hike together. Turtle likes to be in front and I usually take up the rear so I can take pictures more easily. Today I just wasn’t feeling the follower the leader style of hiking we have adapted. I really enjoy hiking solo. I can go my own pace and stop whenever I want. Playing follow the leader I’m not really going my own pace and I don’t stop as often to look at things or try to get cool pictures. Turtle wasn’t feeling great today and his pace was a lot slower than usual and the climb seemed to tire out both of the boys. I was super energized from the climb and scenery that I wanted a faster pace. Finally after a few miles of our usual follow the leader style hiking I broke away. We had all decided on a spot to camp so I knew I would see them later. I spent 7 glorious miles hiking alone. I was really in my element. I can appreciate and enjoy the desert, but I love being in the trees and climbing up mountains. This has been a great transition before we start Colorado and I hope the new scenery sticks around.
Great example of how I spent my day
Crossed a few snow fields
There were a few areas with snow that still hadn’t melted yet. The lowlands were pretty sloppy with the recent melt. I imagine last week hikers going through here were covered in mud. The last 5 miles of my day were mostly downhill. I expected to hike through a nice pine forest, but I was wrong. The western pine beetle has absolutely destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres across the western forests. The area I hiked through was devastated, as was I. It was so shocking to see the damage up close. It looked like a tornado or tsunami had rolled across the mountain. It was slow going and hard to navigate.
Very small example of the damage
Lots of climbing over and around broken trees
I’m still in shock about how devastating and expansive the damage was. This downhill really strained my lower back. It hasn’t felt this sore and tight all of New Mexico. I made it into camp at 5:30. This is one of my earliest days yet. I really wanted to camp at a water source for a change. It really makes camp chores much easier. I’m trying to not get my hopes up, but I think water will be much easier from here until after Colorado. As I type this I’m listening to a babbling brook from my warm sleeping bag. Life is good!
A hint of what I’ll see tomorrow
I ate dinner as quickly as possible so that I could get to bed early tonight. These late nights and early mornings are starting to take a toll. Tomorrow will be another long day I’m sure. It is hard to do lower miles since the days are just getting longer. I had more than enough time to hike another 4 miles today. The only reason I quit early was to stop at the water. It looks like if we hike 25 miles tomorrow we can camp on a river, with pit toilets and picnic tables. That is pretty good motivation to make some miles.
Dinner of champions: Beef Ramen with Flaming Hot Cheetos tossed in
The climb from this morning
“Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.”
- Henry David Thoreau