Date- October 19, 2019
Location- Davila Ranch
Elevation- 8,035 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 13.8 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,358.8 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, 60s, 70s
Pain level- zero
Wildlife encounters- kangaroo rat
Days without shower- 3
Days without laundry- 3
Today was such a leisurely day. We slept in past 8 am and walked down to the Pie Town Cafe for breakfast at 9 am. The husband and wife couple that owned it (I don’t recall getting their names) were probably the nicest restaurant owners/people I’ve met in recent memory. Real salt of the earth.
The trail truly does provide… and in strange ways sometimes. There isn’t really a resupply in Pie Town, and I didn’t send myself food like Jetpack did. This next carry is going to be around 130 miles, with a decent chunk of that being spent hiking through a river. It’s the toughest stretch in New Mexico. Basically, my plan was to go from Grants to Doc Campbell’s (over 200 miles) on what I could carry out of Grants. I know I have enough meals, but I was worried about snacks. That’s why I hiked Grants to Pie Town so fast, while eating as little food as possible. I literally only ate a jar of peanut butter, a bag of bacon jerky, 2 small cans of spam spread, 5 oatmeal cream pie cookies, and a handful of pistachios to get me 70 miles to Pie Town. That’s barely anything, and I still have a lot left. However, I wasn’t sure if it was enough for a 5 to 6 day carry through tough trail. It probably is, but I’m just so hungry all the time. I have this perpetual feeling of never having enough food.
NO MORE SNACK WOES
Low and behold, the woman who owned the cafe had no idea of these food woes of mine, and I didn’t tell her. Be that as it may… in a seemingly random way, she offered Jetpack and I all of these snacks that came from (in her own words) an “Oriental Market.” She happened to be from Hawaii. The snacks were these incredibly delicious, salty and sweet cracker cookies, and packs of roasted sheets of seaweed. She had huge bags full of smaller bags of these snacks and told us to split them all! Jetpack already had more food than she knew what to do with, so I helped myself and took what I knew I could fit in my pack. My snack woes are officially nonexistent. She even made me a lunch for the road, free of charge! It was egg and pork rolled into a huge ball of sticky rice, then wrapped in seaweed. It was unbelievably delicious when I ate it on the road later.
You may be sneering at the roasted seaweed sheets because you’ve never had them, or perhaps just don’t like seaweed – but these are delicious. They melt in your mouth with the perfect balance of savory and salty. They’ll be an excellent source of electrolytes.
Jetpack left the Toaster House at noon, and I left at noon thirty. We were just planning on going around 14 miles to a place called Davila Ranch. It’s basically a remote shelter/compound that this family set up for hikers and bikers of the Divide.
The 14 miles to the ranch was totally boring and uneventful dirt road miles. I walked them slow while I memorized two new poems and listened to a new book. I’m giving the nonfiction a break for now and listening to a collection of short sci-fi stories (novellas from the past 35 years). It’s nice to just be entertained every once in a while, without trying to soak up and focus on every word of nonfiction content.
I arrived at Davila a little before 6 pm, about an hour and a half after Jetpack. This place was not at all what I expected. Talk about unique!
It’s about a 500 square foot open air metal building with a stocked fridge, washer, dryer, propane stoves, pots, pans, cookware, utensils, plates, cooking oil, seasonings, flushing toilet, hot shower, a tapped well, power outlets, and a covered area with a cot-hammock. There are dozens of cans of beans and the fridge and freezer are stocked with dozens of steaks, packages of ground beef, hotdogs, dozens of packages of smoked bacon, bags of broccoli, over 100 eggs, cloves of garlic, and cases of Coca Cola. And what’s more… this little oasis is sitting all by itself in the middle of nowhere. It’s next to nothing, and anybody can come in and enjoy it with the option to donate money to a box (any amount) – or not. WHAAAT?
This is the most random and elaborate setup I’ve ever seen so far – from anything resembling modern civilization. It’s primitive, yet incredibly sophisticated for where it is. Like glamping for thru-hikers.
A LITTLE SKIPPY
I cooked up some eggs and bacon with some diced up garlic, had a can of beans, and then dropped some cash in the donation box. Now I’m lying in the cot-hammock covered in comforters on top of my crappy sleeping bag. I’m warm and snug. Just before we turned out the lights, a big kangaroo rat came bounding out of the kitchen area towards my cot – before doubling back and dodging behind the fridge. Jetpack had a problem with mice in her tent a couple nights ago and wasn’t impressed. She was even less impressed when I joked that I was as snug as a kangaroo rat looking for food in her tent.
The last “hard” stretch of the trail begins tomorrow. It will include the Gila River. There’s an option to go around the river, but I think I’m going to go against better judgment and go through it. I believe Jetpack is going around it. I’ll probably regret not following her. Wet feet and freezing temperatures are in my near future…
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