Date- October 18, 2019
Location- Pie Town
Elevation- 7,740 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 41.6 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,345 miles
Weather/Temp- cloudy, rain, hail, 50s, 60s
Pain level- low
Spirits/Morale- I feel strong
Wildlife encounters- none
Days without shower- 2
Days without laundry- 2
Another big day in the books. I was almost tempted to call it a “monster day.” However, after hiking 72 miles in 24 hours – anything less than 60 miles just seems like a “day” now.
TIME KEEPS ON: Slippin – Slippin – Slippin…
I was awake early (before 5 am) and ready to go. Then, I laid on my back for a moment – gazing at the Milky Way. The next thing I knew… I was opening my eyes again, and it was almost 7 am. Damn it!
I packed up quick, dove under the barbed wire, and was soon trudging down the highway at a fast clip. I’d gone maybe a little more than 3 miles when a gold colored van pulled up next to me. There was an upper middle aged man behind the wheel who asked me if I’d seen any elk. I told him I hadn’t, and then we proceeded to have about a half hour conversation on the side of the road about elk hunting. The man’s name was Dennis. He hunted just about everything you could hunt in every state. He even had a deep freezer chest inside his van.
This little roadside chat cut heavily into my day, but I was happy to have it. I learned some important information about a myriad of things regarding hunting elk and acquiring tags in different states.
I had around 10 miles of paved highway walking that morning before the road turned to dirt or gravel for more than another 30 miles. On either side of the highway were barbed wire fences. Before that 10 miles was up, I’d thrown my pack over them and climbed under them five times: Once when I broke camp and got back on the road; twice when I had a bathroom emergency; thrice when I was finished taking care of bathroom business; a fourth time when a nasty storm rolled over me and I ran to take cover behind a big juniper; and the fifth time when I got back on the road after the storm abated.
Speaking of storms, it rained or hailed on me intermittently for around 4 hours. The first time was the worse, and when I took cover. After that, I was on dirt roads in the wide open desert with no cover. I used my umbrella when the wind wasn’t too strong – but for the most part I just had to take my lickings. The wind was strong enough to dry me out in minutes.
Aside from hiding from the rain for 15 minutes and talking to Dennis, I took one 20 minute break to snack and filter water at a solar well around 18 miles into the day. After that, I did 23 miles without stopping and only drank one liter of water.
DULLER THAN DIRT
I thought people were exaggerating when they said New Mexico had a lot of roads. If anything, it’s an understatement. New Mexico has felt like one big road at times. It’s crazy how much road walking is in this state. It’s fast, but good grief… it’s hard on the feet – even on the dirt roads.
The hiking itself was duller than dirt. I listened to books and memorized a new poem and practiced all the ones I’ve already memorized. I think I’m close to 20 or so really good poems committed to heart. Some of them are really quite long. The more I learn, the faster I memorize new ones. The brain really is a muscle that you can hone, exercise, and improve.
The gravel/dirt road portion ended up being a death trap waiting to happen. Random vehicles were speeding by intermittently, not slowing down one iota. They grazed past me, spewing dust and gravel, without a care. At one point I was hit with a rock so hard (on the side of my leg), that it stung for minutes on end. What I would have given to just toss up a handful of gravel in front of those careless speeders who didn’t give a damn about my safety. Alas, most of them were probably hunters who were packing. Doubt I would have made it off that road alive if I tried to be a retaliatory smart ass out there.
There were random ranches and side roads that I assume led to houses, but there weren’t many to see. At one point, I passed by a family cemetery where there was a lone man paying his respects in front of a headstone. It was an old cemetery, and I reckon his family had been in the area for generations. This is old country.
I stayed relentless with my pace and lack of breaks; by dark at 7 pm, I had only a little over 4 miles to go. Soon the Milky Way was glowing above me and I was trekking down the roads in the star gleam. The moon hasn’t been rising until much later lately.
I was aiming for a place in Pie Town called, “The Toaster House.” It’s a very eclectic, free hostel. A woman’s son used to live in the house, but he passed away and she couldn’t bear to sell it. So she lets hikers and bikers stay there for free, although you can donate if you’d like.
Jetpack had been there since before noon, and I rolled in around 8:30 pm. There was nobody there but us. We slept on mattresses laid out on the second floor loft. Aside from all the spiders crawling around on the ceilings and walls, it’s a pretty cozy place!
I feel great. My feet are sore and my joints a bit stiff, but that’s just road walking for you. I think we’re going to take tomorrow slow and do another short day.
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com