Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Pagosa Springs, CO

Holy crap. That was a lot of snow. Holy CRAP, that was a lot of snow. From 2 to over 32 miles out of Chama I saw maybe 100 yards of trail. Basically, all of Colorado above 10,000 feet is covered in snow right now. Guess how much of the trail is above 10,000 feet in Colorado. So far, every single inch of it. At first, I was thinking how bad it sucked, and how I'd like to take a few days off and see if I could get a bus to go to a friend's wedding in Truckee (yeh, that'd be cool, showing up smelling like hiker with no spare clothes and no place to stay.) But the second half of the 65~ miles wasn't so bad. I've got 116 more coming up and I think they'll be just as bad. It's kind of cool just to be braving the elements, and if I could drag my lazy butt out of bed at the usual time I could do 20 miles a day, which is about what I expected. But the post-holing starts at about 9:30 and doesn't stop till I go to bed, so my shins are covered in scars, I get sunburned in some new place every day, it gets crazy cold when the sun goes behind a cloud, which is very frequently, the battery in the iPod died, etc. OK, enough complaining, because I can't wait to get back out there. I am having fun, it's just really hard. And to be honest, it's not as pretty as the High Sierra. It's all just white or brown. Getting a ride down from Wolf Creek Pass today to Pagosa Springs everything was green and beautiful, and way prettier than what I've been seeing at 11,000 or 12,000. I'll probably stay in town at a hiker's house tonight and head out tomorrow.

So, does that adequately convey the fact that I'm frustrated but still enjoying myself? Good. Because I fell in a partially frozen lake today on the way down to the pass. That sucked, but I still have all my fingers and toes, so it's all good.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Chama, NM pt. 2

Did I mention that I found an iPod on the trail the other day? Yes, it works, and yes, it was charged. Sweet! Only after a while I was like, "What!? Where's the Zep? How am I supposed to get the Led out? Not even any Skynyrd? How am I supposed to rock? There's not a single air-guitarable song on here!"

Anyway, things are good. I picked up $30 worth of athlete's foot stuff at the drug store and some socks at the dollar store (3 for $3 nylon Wal-Mart socks work great, so I hope 3 for $3 polyester Family Dollar socks are OK too.) Alright, I'm going to go hit the grocery store, get a burger, and try and get a ride back to the trail.

Chama, NM

To paraphrase: Up walked Huck carrying a dead cat. "Whatcha gonna do with that cat?" asked Tom. "I'm gonna cure New Mexico with it," said Huck. "How're you gonna do that?" asked Tom. "Well, when a wicked man's been buried, the devil comes to fetch his soul at midnight. When the devil comes, you heave yer cat after him and say 'New Mexico follow cat, cat follow devil, devil, I'm done with ye!'"
(The real Twain version, as adapted in a famous Christensen family road trip tape, was how Huck tried to cure warts.)

What does this mean? I'm done with New Mexico! (For now.) 662 miles or so done. I crossed the border into CO this morning on a forest road and then hitched back to Chama in NM for the nearest resupply. I picked up some warmer clothing, crampons, my ice axe, new shoes, socks, gloves, tent stakes, batteries, and trekking poles, and of course more Vitamin I (ibuprofen).

Sitting in the library warm and toasty I'm feeling great, but I've been freaking cold lately. It snowed/rained/sleeted the entire day on Wednesday, so since stopping would've led to hypothermia I didn't stop all day and did some pretty big miles. The next morning I couldn't get my shoes tied for over an hour after I started hiking. My fingers were fine, my shoes were just frozen solid and the laces wouldn't work. I'm tempted to get a hotel room in Chama, but I think I'll wait till Pagosa Springs in 65 miles where there's a hiker (a triple triple-crowner, no less) that hosts hikers.

Oops, library closes for lunch. I might stop back on my way out. Thanks everybody for the support.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Ghost Ranch, NM

Never get involved with a thru-hiker when an all-you-can-eat meal is on the line. I had something like 15 miles to do before 11:30 when Ghost Ranch stops selling tickets for lunch, so I hauled apples all morning and rolled up to the cashier at 11:31 without even bothering to look twice at my barbed-wire-gouged bleeding arm. I'm not usually one for fast mornings, usually I'm lucky to do 10 before 1, but not if there's an AYCE at stake.

Here's why I'm an idiot. I didn't apply for one of Patagonia's two $3000 "Dirtbag Grants" before the May 1 deadline. I'm an idiot because I am a total dirtbag. Not in the sleazy pedophile way, but in the old-fashioned cheap fly by the seat of your pants hopping over barbed wire fences adventurer sort of way. I rolled into Cuba, NM on Sunday and wanted to do laundry, only I needed to launder every item of clothing I have, and neither of the two laundromats in town had a lost and found I could grab some "loaners" from. So I found a pair of Dockers on the street and wore them while my clothes were in the wash. OK, they weren't literally on the street, but kind of on a park bench, and they were neatly folded and pressed, but still I'm guessing most people don't do stuff like that. Nor do you dry yourself with paper towels after taking a shower in a public place where you've got no towel, but that's what I just did.

Ghost Ranch is a pretty rad education center/retreat near Abiquiu, NM. Georgia O'Keeffe lived here for a long time. It's up there with Stehekin, WA on the list of cool places on the trail that normal people (my folks included) would like for a vacation. Also, if anyone ever happens to pass through Cuba, NM for any reason, El Bruno's has perhaps the best Mexican food I've ever had.

I've apparently hiked 577 miles so far. I'm having a really good time. If my sister ever expects to get a phone call from me, she should quit sending me job announcements :) I'm having small problems (I got a raging case of athlete's foot from the shower in Pie Town, it eats away at the hard dead skin on my feet, making them softer and more prone to blisters) that prevent me from doing huge 35+ days, but I never do really short days either, so things are OK. I've seen some beautiful mesa country in the past few days where I've had to go 28 miles without water, and I've also battled my way through snow at the tops of Mt. Taylor and San Pedro peaks.

No more time, I've got to get moving.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Grants, NM

Greetings from Grants, NM, where the houses aren't just pre-fab, they're pre-fabulous! Marcus has kept you pretty well up to date, so I'll just fill you in on the last couple days. There was a terrible thunderstorm on Monday on my way out of Pie Town, but I happened upon a dilapidated cabin by the road (all was flat for miles around, there was no way to lose elevation) and chilled there till it passed. I knew to expect daily afternoon storms in CO, but I had no idea they happened in NM too. I got a little lost in the afternoon when the CDTS books and Jonathan Ley's maps didn't really line up, but no biggy. Yesterday I chilled in a picnic area port-a-pottie for a few minutes waiting for the storm to pass, then walked along the very cool rim of the Narrows near La Ventana natural arch and crossed the El Malpais lava field, and there was a good bit of paved road walking yesterday and today. Roadwalking down a paved canyon where the ditch is full of trash with a forty mile an hour headwind and crossing over major freeways (I-40) is awesome.

Other than the fact that paved road and lava walking is totally painful, everything is going well. I've seen 17 other thru or big section hikers (in reverse order the names I remember: Mark, Jim, Crazy Horse, Snappy, Puff-Puff, Skygod, Red, Gary, Haiku, Greyhound, Koop, Nemo, Pouch, Bams, Witch Doctor, and I started at the border with Cheers). I'm a day ahead of schedule, and I'm doing close to 200 a week, but I'd like to be doing more. I picked up my next bunch of maps at the PO, and I'll be headed out after a meal.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

May 13: Pie Town, NM

Pie Town has two pie restaurants each of which opens on alternating days to share the booming pie-serving business. It also has two or three churches and one post office. That's about it. Garret walked in, consumed "the best pie ever," took a shower that the proprietress of the diner offered him and is waiting for the post office to open tomorrow morning to collect his resupply.

He says the trail is scenic despite being mostly walking on infrequently used gravel roads. He's seen elk, antelope and various small mammals and is right on schedule with his planned hundred mile weeks.

Friday, May 11, 2007

May 9: Doc Campbell's (Silver City), NM

Garret left a message on my phone around noon. He was a bit angry because camera "goes on the fritz" fairly often, but besides that he seemed good. It was raining when he called and he had forded the Gila river which was mid-thigh deep "fifty-some-odd times in the previous twenty-four hours." He says nobody picks up the phone when he calls.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

May 7: Mimbres, NM

I got a call fom Garret the other day. He's doing well. He says that the CDT is generally more extreme than the PCT. He mention that it's hotter and colder, drier and wetter, but thankfully not windier than the southern parts of the PCT. He got surprised by snow a couple of days ago and realized that while titanium tent stakes are incredibly light to pack, they are also ineffective at keeping his tarp tacked down. He emphasized that he's really liking the hiking.

Friday, May 04, 2007

May 4: Deming, NM

From Garret:

I'm in Deming. I was late getting to El Paso, but my ride waited, so
all was well, and I got to see several F-16's land in the impromptu
stop in Tuscon. I left the border at 8 PM on the 2nd, camped at
Pancho Villa SP in Columbus, and yesterday walked most of the way to
Deming. I did half the "trail" section and roadwalked the other
half--it just seemed way out of the way, trail-less, and kinda
pointless. Saw lots of hares and a few coyotes; got barked at by
thousands of dogs, thankfully all well fenced. A little sunburnt, but
all is well. Onward.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

I totally don't have time for this

I should totally be packing since I leave tomorrow, but these pictures are funny, and I do have to clear my camera's memory cards, so here are some pictures from my friend's baby shower. My friends are awesome. Here's pregnant Lindsay about to whack into the pregnant pinata that Marcus brought,and here she is pulling out a baby doll and discovering that the pinata really was pregnant. With triplets. Good times.