Day- October 15, 2019
Location- side of trail
Elevation- 7,064 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 21.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,189.3 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- rabbits, cows, dog
Days without shower- 1
Days without laundry- 9
I was out the door and half a mile down the road having a breakfast of pancakes (with biscuits and gravy) before 8:30 am. I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but the trail goes straight through every town in New Mexico except Chama. So Chama is technically the last time I’ll have to hitchhike on this trail.
I had a 5 mile road walk on the side of a highway after breakfast. There was nothing special, but I did come across a small pregnant dog a couple miles in. It was dirty, a bit bony, and didn’t have a collar. It was snooping along the side of the rural highway for food, I suppose. She was skittish at first – but after I knelt down, she ran over to me. I spent 5 minutes petting and talking to her. Then, I gave her half my bag of tortilla chips (which she devoured). I wish I had something with a little more substance to give her.
I’ll tell ya… I had the strongest urge to scoop her up and take her with me. However, this was a 106 mile stretch of trail through the desert, and I wasn’t sure a pregnant dog would fare well. Plus, I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough food for myself on this stretch. I literally can’t carry enough to support my appetite anymore. As a result, I end up rationing what I have and going hungry throughout each day.
No offense to the town of Cuba, but this place isn’t exactly a thriving egalitarian community. A good chunk of it reminded me more of a favela than a southwest American town. What I’m getting at is… the condition of the town doesn’t affect me, but it affects this poor dog. I don’t know if she’s a stray, abandoned, or if she might actually live somewhere nearby. Either way, there were no services within the town that could have helped her – or at least none that wouldn’t have probably immediately put her down.
In the end, I had to look the other way and walk on. However, I made a post on social media with a video of the dog, along with her last known location. I added a plea for someone to help, if they lived nearby. I didn’t have the means or capacity to do much else, other than use my social outreach. It’s a long shot, but maybe someone will help. If not, maybe the pups will be alright. Raising puppies in the winter is no easy task though…
I eventually turned onto a dirt forest road. Within half a mile, a white pickup truck with an old man behind the wheel, pulled up to me. His name was Louie, and all he wanted to do was shoot the shit. This was fine by me, because he was a nice guy – so we proceeded to shoot the shit. We talked for about 15 minutes before he said something that was verbatim to something Dixie (a former girlfriend) had said to me last year. This was after she’d interacted with an older man somewhere in New Mexico (couldn’t remember where). So I described her appearance, how she spoke with a strong southern accent, and gave him her name(s), etc.
His face lit up with recognition, and what he said next almost had me falling over with laughter. He’d caught Dixie crawling under a barbed wire fence as she cut across his private land, while trying to skip a section of official trail and shave miles. He said hikers had been doing it for years, and that he didn’t mind – but that they usually ended up damaging his fences (and in some cases cut them with clippers). He also said he’d finally made a deal with the BLM and swapped some land with them. This deal would end up rerouting the trail to a nearby ridge-line (that he pointed out to me). No idea when that reroute will take place. We soon parted ways and Louie drove back to the highway, as I continued on with a chuckle under my breath. It’s a funny universe!
WORDS ESCAPE ME
The rest of the day was very low key, but I was blown away by the landscape. New Mexico might be frustrating in terms of navigating the trail at times, but holy moley is the landscape something to behold. The land of enchantment indeed! The sad part is that you can’t capture the best parts of it on camera – it’s just too big and interconnected to convey properly.
I don’t really know how to even describe the landscape. It’s almost too much for words – at least in the context of this blog. So I’ll let the pictures do the talking for now.
Originally I wanted to do 30 miles today. However – after playing with dogs, talking to strangers, and taking several breaks on top of mesas to breathe in the views… I ended up with just over 20 miles. I stopped with an hour and a half of daylight left.
I stopped early because I found a great spot to camp. Another hour and a half of hiking would have put me in a valley in the middle of a consortium of dirt roads. I opted for the side of a mesa, beneath two junipers on a bed of pine duff.
Tomorrow I’m going to strive for a big 30 or low 40 mile day. There’s going to be a magnificent full moon! If I need to night hike, there will be no better opportunity. It’ll be the last full moon of this hike, so I might as well enjoy it!
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com