Monday, May 14, 2018

Day 29- Ultra Hiking

Sunday May 13, 2018
Actual stream San Pedro Wilderness(665.8) to Ghost Ranch(696.9) 31.1 miles Total Miles: 565.8
Elevation: 6,480 ft

Today was my longest day yet. When I woke up I had a pipe dream of hiking an ultra marathon. I really didn’t think it was a reality, but the thought stayed in the back of my mind all morning. One of the main reasons I even considered doing it was so I could make it to Ghost Ranch, my next resupply point. I had my parents send a mail drop there, but the package isn’t scheduled to arrive until tomorrow. If I could make it there tonight I can have a nice relaxing nero and hike out once my package arrives. 

The morning started off very cold. The temperature seemed to plummet around 3am. It took a lot of convincing to pull myself out of my sleeping bag. Mangus and Turtle had already left camp. I have decided to hike your own hike(hyoh). We all seem to do the same mileage and hike around the same pace, so there is a good chance I will still camp with them and see them throughout the day. 

I’m trying to work on building up my endurance. After a month on the trail I feel stronger than ever and have my trail legs underneath me. I still feel like I’m taking too many breaks. My plan for the day was to hike at least 2 hours before breaking and taking shorter breaks. I started off hiking through a nice piney forest, but that only lasted for a few hours. The terrain was pretty flat and I kept my puffy on until my first break. It didn’t take me very long to catch up to Mangus and Turtle. Mangus was so cold when he left camp that he didn’t bother to eat breakfast or make his coffee. When it finally started to warm up he stopped and took a long break. Turtle likes to hike for about an hour and then take a break. I think they were both surprised when I didn’t take a break with them. I explained that I was working on my endurance and planned on stopping in another 3 miles or so. 

Nice piney forest

First glimpse of Pedernal 

I was really hoping to have cell phone reception today. I had climbed up in elevation a little, but was still below tree line. I had one more insignificant climb ahead a figured that would be my last chance for cell service. At the top of the climb I got basic cell reception. It wasn’t strong enough to post my blog, but it was strong enough for a phone call. I was able to call The General and wish her a happy Mother’s Day. I have the best mom ever. She has always been so supportive of everything I have ever wanted to do. Thanks for all you have ever done for me Mom. I love you. 

After my short break to call home I kicked up my pace a notch to make up for lost time. I usually don’t listen to music, audiobooks, or podcasts so early in the day, but I needed a boost. My nice piney forest disappeared and once again I was hiking through desert terrain. The Abiquiu region is breathtaking. The Mesas have so many layers of colors. It is not surprising that painter Georgia O’Keeffe fell in love with the area. Pedernal and the surrounding Mesas were some of her favorite subjects. Before leaving my piney forested area I walked through a canyon with a nice flowing stream. I took my longest break of the day in the shade of a pine tree and processed a few liters of water. 

Transition back into Mesaland 

Leaving behind the piney forests 

I made excellent time the rest of the day. I listened to a combination of music and an audiobook. The afternoon just flew by and my body adjusted well to my new hiking schedule. I was able to admire Pedernal and the Mesas from a distance and didn’t have to climb over any. In fact most of the day was spent slowly bleeding elevation. I was really looking forward to crossing the Rio Chama, our first major water source since Mexico. I would cross over the river via a bridge named Skull Bridge. I imagined it looking like something from Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom. I was greatly disappointed when I finally reached it. 

Skull Bridge. We have bridges just like this in Florida for Christ’s sake

Colorful Mesa

I got to our prearranged camping location around 2pm. I had about 9 more miles to go before Ghost Ranch so I decided to go for it. The remaining miles were spent mostly on a busy dirt road. There was a ton of traffic from kayakers leaving the river. I had 5 cars stop to ask me if I would like a ride. My response was always the same, “no thank you, but if you have a cold drink I wouldn’t say no to that”. I scored a Gatorade, Vitamin Water, Redbull, Mt. Dew, and peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was glorious. The remaining miles were very enjoyable after that. Plus the views were incredible. 

Rio Chama

Abiquiu Region along the Rio Chama

I made it to Ghost Ranch a little before 6:30. It was by far my longest day on the trail to date. I had hardly even made it to the visitors center when I met, Chuck. He is hiking a section of the trail southbound to Cuba. He had a few questions and I answered them the best I could. All I really wanted to do was get dinner before the cafeteria closed, but he was so nice I stayed and chatted with him for awhile. He offered to let me share a room with him and I great fully accepted. I know some of you must be thinking, Yoda you can’t share a room with a man you’ve only known for 5 seconds. Well, things are different in the hiking community. Plus Chuck was about 70 years old. With my sleeping arrangements settled I went in search of food. The welcome center had just closed so I couldn’t purchase a meal ticket, but I decided to try my luck in the dining room. They were just closing up, but offered to let me eat for free. I just couldn’t believe my luck today. Free drinks, a free room, and a huge dinner. I feasted on salmon, rice, brussel sprouts, and a salad. I also got a few slices of what I thought was bread, but it ended up being tofu. I’m not sure how people eat tofu, but I chocked down a piece. 

Nice healthy dinner 

Salad, I promise you there is lettuce underneath

Once my appetite was satisfied I went to find a shower. Since I was staying with Chuck the shower was free. I had the best possible ending to a great day. Turtle even showed up just before dark. A nice woman named Mo let him stay in her room. Ghost Ranch has been one of the beat trail stops I have ever had. 

Great view to end a great day 

“Mothers were meant to love us unconditionally, to understand our moments of stupidity, to reprimand us for lame excuses while yet acknowledging our point of view, to weep over our pain and failures as well as cry at our joy and successes, and to cheer us on despite countless start-overs. Heaven knows, no one else will.”


  1. Sorry about Skull Bridge. Great deals on the drinks on the road as well as the dinner food and room for the night. And you do have the most amazing mother!

  2. Thank you Katie for the sweet shout out😊 you made my day with your call. A big day for you in miles. You do know your dad is in that age group, not old, by any means!! People nice met have you.Yoda(speak) Great pictures.

  3. Glad you had a wonderful day and signal to call your mom!
    Blessed to have amazing and loving daughters as well and get to know some of their awesome friends, lik you Katie! Go Yoda!

  4. Fantastic pictures! Glad things went so well for you today! May the Force continue to be with you Yoda!!

  5. The hiking community restores my faith in humanity! We take care of one another.

  6. You’re a beast! What a lucky day you had! Wow! Loved your view too. Keep on hiking!

  7. Keep it up. You are really doing an awesome job and also inspiring many. You can use different mobility aids to keep on hiking without any injury. There are many accessories that can support way on your way.