5/16 mile 316.7

Happy two week trail anniversary to me.

I’m now on the Pietown Road Walk Alternative. So far it’s a dirt road with dust, rocks, ruts, etc. almost like a trail, but for two. Oh and a 1500 climb too just to make you feel inadequate. You always need something brutal. And the CDT does a good job at that.

I also thought I’d show you my showerless poor old feet after two weeks of traipsing in the wilderness. The white adhesive tape was replaced tonight. Making it stand out against the filth. It helps keep my big toe from punching a hole in my one and only toe socks. So I have an old blister on my left inside foot, another old blister on my right foot second toe, and a new blister on my left outside foot. I’ve also gotten some sort of rash on my left ankle. I assume it’s from some poison ivy I hiked through. Oh well these are all cosmetic and so far there is nothing stopping me from hiking. Mostly they are nuisances.

5/15 mile 292.3 Lots of ascents and descents

Well remember I said how yesterday was good because I was able to do 10 miles by 10 AM. Well today was the opposite. By 10 AM I had only done 6 miles. So many climbs all through the day. The ascents are so steep that I have to stop often to catch my breath. Note: I’m hiking at 8000-9000 feet above sea level. Then the descents require me to use my poles to slow myself down. At least I’m back on trail. I’m camping with One Pole tonight. Moxie went on another 3 miles to the next water source, but we were both too tired and have sufficient water to ‘dry’ camp here.

Also I’ve included a picture of this morning’s water source. Yup, a cow pond. And cows don’t remember not to poop in their water. So I filtered about 2 liters from here. Yummy!

5/14 mile 273.0 More roads

After the dramatic and extremely physically difficult Gila River canyon it was nice to just hike on some jeep tracks. I left camp at 5:40 AM. The sunrise on the high plain was a welcome sight. I finished 10 miles by 9:45 AM. Things were back on schedule. As a result I could relax and still make my miles.

During my afternoon break I accidentally sat on my bite valve and drained my Platypus bladder. It was only when I realized it that I had to hike an extra 2 miles to a known good water source.

I completed 22 miles for the day. A new CDT daily record for me. Even with the extra miles I was done just before 4 PM and could do camp chores. While I was filtering water One Pole and then Moxie also arrived. We are all camped here tonight. It nice to have some other hikers to chat and share stories with after a long day

5/13 mile 250.7 Leaving the Gila River behind

This morning I was in the beautiful Gila River canyon and now I’m north of it in T Bar canyon. I’m glad to be done with river crossings. My feet are especially happy. They haven’t been dry in days. Putting on cold wet socks and putting them into gritty sandy wet shoes was tough each morning. The end of river hiking was Snow Lake with toilets, fresh water, and garbage cans – those little touches of modern society we take for granted. After resting there talking to other hikers I left and walked up into these idyllic grass covered hills. I’m camping with One-Pole next to a pond.

5/12 mile 233.0 Stunningly beautiful canyon

I can only say that as I hike through the Gila River canyon just how stunningly beautiful and majestic it is. Most of the time I’m looking down to watch my step, but look up and see the towering rock walls soaring skyward.

The day was spent doing a zillion water crossings. Also hiking through rounded stream rocks slows me way down. Like hiking speed bumps. I also tried to get to 20 miles before 6:30 PM. I was just about a mile short. I need to recalibrate, because it’s no fun pushing all day to keep missing my goal.

One of my thrills or challenges was to get by a waterfall.

5/11 mile 214.7 Countless water crossings

Started hiking at 6:20. Went from trail to water crossing to trail to water crossing over and over. I had about 11 miles to get to Doc Campbell’s Post. Easy. I should have done it by 10:30. Instead I got there at 1 PM. I got misplaced (lost) a number of times. It was hot out and by then I was beat. I got 4 cokes. Then I got my resupply which I sorted and packed. Several other hikers were doing the same. By 3 PM I left and road walked 4 miles to the next section of the river. Still more water crossings. By 6:30 PM I called it quits. I’m not making 20 miles per day, but I’m doing the best I can depending upon the terrain and temperature. It’s hard, real hard trying to make my daily miles.

P.S. Other hikers: Footprint and Lola, Double Magic.

5/10 mile 196.0 Gila River Alternative

What can I say. Wow, what a day. I didn’t sleep well, but got up and was hiking by 5:50. I used MIO Energy for the first time. It has caffeine. I felt I was going to need it.

The day started with a difficult 6 mile climb. It took me hours. It was so steep I would count 30 steps up and then wait to regain my breath. Repeat a million times. It was rocky and uneven too. I ascended from 6500 to 8000 feet. At the end I was so out of it I missed my turn and continued up the wrong trail for another 0.2 mile before I realized it. That was a total waste of my precious energy.

Then came the 7 mile downhill. This was similarly uneven, rocky, and steep. I had to plant my poles each step to slow myself down. That took even longer. I descended from 8000 to 5200 feet. By then I should have been done for the day, but…

At the bottom was the Gila River. It was delightful. The river meanders and the trail switches from side to side. You have to make numerous river crossings. Most are ankle deep, but a few were mid-thigh. The water was cool and refreshing, but now I have wet socks and shoes to put on tomorrow. Also one of the other hikers fell in. So far I haven’t. I’m only a few miles upstream and have crossed over a dozen times. I hear that there are over 85 crossings. At least I don’t have to worry about water to drink.

I was trying to get my 20 miles in for the day, but I finally had to stop out of sheer exhaustion.

5/9 mile 177.7 Little Walnut Creek Alternate

I woke early at the hotel and planned the day’s hike. I was expecting to only do about 13 miles to the first water then stop since I’d be getting a late start about 9 AM. Several other hikers were doing the same (or so I thought)

But first I had a package to pick up at the Post Office. It contained socks (remember the nighttime desert caper?), Body Glide (I haven’t mentioned but chafing is an issue in your delicate areas), and a tent stake (it’s like losing a sock while doing your wash, just where do they go). I got to the PO at 8:15 and waited with another hiker, One Pole, until they opened at 8:30. Since I had been fortunate to have Radar give me a few things in Lordsburg I sent back home the duplicates: USB cord and a rag. So by 8:55 I was back to the hotel, checked out, and hiking out of town.

Out of Silver City I took my first Alternative, Little Walnut Creek. This was a 8 mile first asphalt, then dirt road walk. As with all road walks it sucked. Finally we were in the forest on regular trails. Well maybe not regular. They were hilly, rocky and steep. At one point I slipped and tore the crotch of my pants. Great, another thing to fix or have sent to me. Finally I got to Bear Creek, the water stop, but no one was there. The others had gotten their water and hiked on. So I decided to continue for a few more miles. Finally I was done and set up my cowboy campsite alone in the Gila National Forest.

As I sit here and type this I’m on the top of a hill looking out on some natural beauty.

5/8 mile 161.3 Road Walk

The CDT is an opened ended sort of trail. It is only 70% complete and over the years people have mapped alternatives. Your job as a thru-hiker is to hike the CDT and any of the alternatives you wish. It’s like “create your own adventure”

Yesterday night I camped on Jacks Peak with Turbo. We were at 8000 feet and the night was chilly. He mentioned that the trail leading into Silver City was only partially complete. He said he was going to leave the trail before it ended abruptly. This would require a 12 mile road walk into Silver City on NM-90 highway.

So I to decided to do this cut-off too. And it wasn’t even an official alternative. I woke early and was on my way at 5:45. Turbo and I hike separately. I had to climb over Burro Peak in pre-dawn light and find the start of a dirt road after 2 miles. That went fine. However as I descended this road I missed a crucial turn. I continued on over a mile maybe two until I reached a locked gate saying No Entry Blasting. Then I realized my mistake. So I hiked back up the dirt road and found where I goofed. Then it as over 5 miles on this dirt road to NM-90 and 12 miles on asphalt to Silver City. By the time I got there I was beat.

While I was doing this I realized that I’d get to Silver City on Sunday and the Post Office wasn’t open until Monday morning. That means I would just have to kill time by getting a hotel room at the Palace Hotel, meeting and eating dinner with other hikers, and taking a much needed shower.

P.S. Remember to never pick-up an accidentally dropped GU packet and put it in your pocket so you can throw it out when you get to town. Being the good person that you are. And then have it leak inside that pocket causing an awful sticky mess.

P.S. Hikers who I have met so far: ThunderBunny and Swamy, Turbo, Moxie, One-Pole, Deco, ? and Lola.

5/7 mile 120.0 A day of many climbs

Today I skipped breakfast and started hike at first light. In a few miles I filtered water from a picturesque windmill and ate my breakfast then. I seemed to hike even slower today. The trail reminded me of the PCT in that it was very well built and maintained. As I looked what was ahead I realized that I had a very big climb right at the end from about 6200 feet to 8000 feet in 4 miles. I did it, but I had to stop a lot on the way to catch my breathe.