Date- October 20, 2019
Location- Side of trail
Elevation- 7,126 ft
Distance Traveled Today- 27.4 miles
Distance Traveled Total- 2,386.2 miles
Weather/Temp- clear, windy, 60s, 50s
Pain level- Zero
Wildlife encounters- None
Days without shower- 4
Days without laundry- 4
Today was another relatively UN-inspiring day. Surprisingly, I didn’t sleep that great on the cot-hammock. I think I woke up around a dozen times for no particular reason. It was strange because I wasn’t uncomfortable. In fact, I was very warm and comfortable – my mind and body simply didn’t want to stay asleep. I don’t know why…
I was off the ranch and hiking by a few minutes after 8 am. It would be dirt, gravel, or rocky forest roads for the next 27 miles. Didn’t see a single animal or person. I didn’t even have a vehicle drive by me for the entire day! However, I did see a few vehicles and hunting camps tucked into the woods, within the last 8 miles. Jetpack had a 2 hour head start on me; I didn’t see her until camp.
I took my time with a steady pace and only three 20-minute snack breaks all day. The terrain was fairly mild, but not very desert-like (at least not in the way it has been). I was surrounded by junipers, pinions, ponderosas, and other conifers.
APPROACHING GILA RIVER ALTERNATE
Today was kind of like a “travel day.” It was boring, but necessary in order to get to the good stuff. Tomorrow should be the start of a little bit of the “good stuff.” We should be back on real trail in the morning, tackling real climbs again. We’re not planning a huge day, but it ought to be a little challenging. It’s going to put us at the beginning of the “Gila River Alternate.” This alternate cuts around 75 miles off the CDT, but it’s the route that 99% of hikers take. That’s because this stretch is the coup de gras of New Mexico, which includes ancient cliff dwellings from the Anasazi.
THE PATH LESS TAKEN
This alternate actually splits into two alternates: One will put you down in a canyon with the Gila River (crossing it over 150 times! So I’m told); the other will keep you above the canyon. It’s about a 50/50 split for people going high or low on these alternates. This time of year, most people are going high. Jetpack has decided to go high. I’m going to go low and get into the river. From what I hear, the low route is the cat’s meow in every sense of the phrase. It might add a day or two onto this stretch, but I’m going to give it a go. I haven’t seen anything saying you shouldn’t do it alone, but I guess I’ll find out on my own (whether it was a good idea or not).
At this point, neither of us is expecting to see any other hikers for the rest of this hike. We know who’s ahead, and they are all too far to catch before the end. We’re also aware of who is behind, and unless we take multiple zeros somewhere, they are not likely to overtake us. We’re down to the last two weeks, and there’s no rush – other than the deadline we put on ourselves.
I don’t remember if I mentioned it, but I have a finish date in mind. I’ve never planned a finish date, but I kinda have one this time… and for the most foolish reason I could possibly come up with. I’ll share the what and why with you — if I happen to hit that day.
I feel good, but tired in the grand scheme of things. The miles today felt like nothing. It’s funny how anything under 30 miles feels like a day hike at this point. I suppose that would change if the terrain cranked up a notch – which is about to happen. We’ll see if it still feels easy.
This hike feels as if it has flown by. However, when I think of individual places or events – it feels like a lifetime ago. That’s the time warp of long distance hiking for you.
Still going strong with the cowboy camping. I’m currently under two junipers listening to a distant pack of coyotes and a nearby elk whining its bugle calls into the night air. Tomorrow should be filled with beauty…
You can read my current and past posts, and see my photos by clicking this link and going to Boundlessroamad.com