Pie Town to Grants

April 25 CDT Mile 424

I walked about 6 miles in a couple of hours on the same dirt road we hiked yesterday to arrive at the Toaster House around 8:30am. Perfect. After some photos in front of this iconic stop on the trail I walked inside to see my package waiting for me among others for future hiker guests. I saw Matt, who in my mind is Bear Rider (due his LEGO bear and hiker) and I chatted with him before heading upstairs to claim a bed and drop my pack. As I walked down to the highway I saw a cat near the RV park. Of course I called her over and we talked for a bit as she followed me over to the post office. Kitty love is the best. As I got on the highway kitty ran back to the RV park. Smart kitty.

At the Gatherin Place OB and I ordered breakfast burritos as Max got pancakes and eggs with bacon and hash browns.

Overall, it was a day spent lounging around and eating, which was my intent. I know I am ready for a zero day, but that can wait a few more days. It’ll make it all the more zeroliscious.

April 26 CDT mile 440

Larry and Charity own the TLC Ranch about 16 miles north of Pie Town. OB had contacted Charity asking about a water source and the next thing we know we are invited to dinner and to camp. Of course! Mike, a hiker we met at Doc’s who is kind of hitchhiking up the trail, hiked out of Pie Town with us and to the TLC Ranch. The four of us were made very welcome and Gracie, Larry’s granddaughter who is three, took me under her wing and showed me around the ranch. A very gregarious young girl and very keen on Brandon! I thought for a moment I might lose him to her but our connection is a strong one and he decided to stay with me.

At dinner, which was slow cooked pork loin and veggies with potatoes and jalapeños, we all sat together: four hikers, Ester, Charity’s mother, Tim and Yvonne, Gracie’s parents, and Lynette, Larry’s daughter. And Gracie of course.

After dinner Larry and Charity took us out to see the horses and we talked about their plans for the future of the ranch. These folks struck me as the kind of people who follow through with their intentions, and so I would not be surprised to hear that in a few years this ranch will be totally different. I love meeting genuine people who have dreams which they fully intend to live. Larry and Charity are such folks.

I drifted off into a deep and solid sleep in one of their RVs and woke to . . .

April 27 Cebolla Alternate mile 14.2

. . . Larry in the house making biscuits and gravy for breakfast. After I packed my stuff up I headed over to the house for breakfast. We chatted about life in New Mexico and ranching. This is probably a good time to say that Larry is a real deal cowboy. Through and through. And Charity is a no bs, tough as nails, sweet as can be cowgirl. I admire them so much and wish them the best in their endeavors.

Mike got a ride up to Grants with Larry and I hit the trail with the guys. Time and miles passed quickly as the road was mellow and I covered ground efficiently.

By the time 2pm rolled around I had hiked 15 miles with 5 or so to go. Instead of hiking two miles out of the way for water we found a decent source right off the road. Not the best option but certainly the only one as road walking has made my feet more tired than usual. Also, I really need new shoes so that makes my feet hurt too. Anyway, I’ll get new shoes in Grants in two days so that’s alright.

It looks as if it may be warm enough to camp with the rain fly off my tent. I’m going to give it a go!

April 28 CDT mile 535

I awoke to the sound of a coyote quite near, and after that I couldn’t really get back to sleep. I had not slept well and once I got going I felt so tired. I hiked 4 miles to the South Narrows trailhead and from there I went up on the mesa. Stunning. My feet were hurting way more than usual and while I was stumbling along the rocky trail OB said to me, “Look, you know you’re a badass. Ok? You know what you need to do.” I said I felt like a failure and he said something like, no way, you just need to take care of yourself. So I turned around and began to hike back to the parking lot where I was sure to get a ride into Grants from some day hikers or something. I ran into Max and he told me to do whatever I needed to do to “preserve the future of my hike.”

I love that!

So while I was hanging out in the parking lot all the sudden I started to feel nauseous. I thought it was from lack of water or bad water or something. Chewed up a Rolaids. Then a CDT hiker from 2015, Race, pulled over and offered me a ride. Oh heck yes! It was nice to pick his brain a bit about trail info, especially the trail north of the Ghost Ranch.

Race dropped me at the Southwest Motel here in town on Route 66. Get your kicks! Heh.

So I got an inexpensive, clean room with a hot shower and cable. And WiFi. Matt from Denver is here too and OB and Max will arrive in a few hours.

So I’ve been vomiting all afternoon and I’m certain I have a fever since I’m warm one moment and freezing the next. Joy. I’ll be here recovering for at least two days and hopefully I’ll be 100 percent on Wednesday. If not I’ll stay longer.

Feet still hurt. New shoes tomorrow from the PO. Because my sweetie is the BEST!

Another stellar day on the CDT!

“Nothing is heavier than a bad attitude.”

-Mr. Clean

Doc Campbell’s Post to Pie Town

April 19 Gila River High Route mile 12.4

There was frost once again on my tent this morning. I think I was warmer last night though; the hot spring soak may have something to do with that. It was so nice talking to Alan, one of the campground hosts (his wife Carla also hosts) about the area ahead of us.

So this morning when OB and I picked up some last minute items at Doc’s, we were pretty keen to get to the cliff dwellings.


I’d never seen anything like this before. There were still wood beams in the structures! The Puebloans who built these dwellings lives here over 700 years ago. Teddy Roosevelt’s cousin was one of the first archeologists to inspect the site. Looters got there first, unfortunately. I also learned that Rosevelt made this site the first national monument, way before the national park system was around. I felt a definite sense of reverence there and after we left and got on trail I spent the rest of the day thinking about how life may have been for the residents of such a place.

It was a good day for hiking, although was pack is heavy with six days of food and a couple liters of water. I drank it fairly quick and was pleased to find a small water source 8 miles in. My water filter (Sawyer Micro) isn’t so great and it is very slow, which is disappointing because Sawyer advertised it as being almost as fast as the regular Sawyer Squeeze. So I just use my bleach and that works great. Oh well. I’ll pick up a Squeeze as soon as I can.

Well, it’s getting dark and dusky, the creek is gurgling, and some kind of bird is making a very cozy sound. Off to sleep. One more thing: Alan told me last night that Prior Creek, where we are now camped, had water. When someone local tells you that a certain place has water, I trust them. And that means something, to trust someone, a stranger, with important information like a water source.

It’s a beautiful thing.

April 20 Gila River Route mile 77

I broke camp around 6:30 and had great hiking for the 9 miles to the Gila River. The high route that OB and I took proved to be a smart move. It was really nice trail, good water sources, nice camping and it was about 12 miles shorter than the river route. When we got down to the river around 11 am we had 8 more miles of river hiking to get to Snow Lake, where we were thinking of stopping for the night. I’m so glad I only had 8 miles of river hiking. It is beautiful and fun, but 8 miles was definitely enough for me. We met another hiker on the high route this morning, Max Heap from Washington state. A very nice guy and it was nice to be hiking with him. He told us about his hike through the lower Gila River canyon and it sounded pretty scary to me. I’m so glad I made the choices I did concerning that route. I don’t feel like I missed anything.

OB and I cameled up at the Gila before leaving it and hiking to Snow Lake. We decided to stop here at the campground, it’s a little early but we both wanted to rest up a bit and have a bigger day tomorrow. Some RVers gave us water, which was great since there’s no water here at the campground and the lake is very muddy. Of course we have enough but I never turn down water. It is a gift. Magic.

I saw a great blue heron today and a hawk. Some turkey hunters we ran into told us about wolf sign they saw by the Gila. This is a reintroduction area, but sightings are few and far between. I wish I could just hear one. Maybe in Wyoming if I am lucky. I am excited to make some good progress tomorrow.

April 21 Gila Alternate mile 103.9 CDT mile 352.3

Well, we thought we were going to hike 21 miles but it turned out to be almost 28. I am whipped. Water. It’s all about the water. And I got it. Today was the first time I’ve had to flag a truck down for water. The source that was supposed to have water did not. And I had 9 miles to Dutchman Spring, about a mile from where I am now. On these back country dirt roads people stop. A father and two kids gave the three of us about 7 liters. So kind. And now I will submit to sleep, it is tugging at my eyes and making my hands slow. Goodnight long trail, goodnight tent. Goodnight dusty shoes. Goodnight fading yellow bruise. Goodnight Cougar.

April 22 CDT mile 375

Back on the trail. Tomorrow I will take another alternate, the Pie Town Road Walk Alternate. There are more water sources on this route and apparently there is a trail angel who invites all hikers to come to their ranch for showers, laundry, WiFi, food and charging devices. How grand! I’ll be there in a couple of days. Tonight I am camped at another water source shared with cattle and I imagine all nature of critters who call these desolate lands home. Desolate is not a bad thing, don’t get me wrong. Today I took water from a water source that was more like a cow pond. I do what I need to do to keep going. Oh, and there was a dead coyote nearby. But no worries, I filter my water.

OB and Max pointed out a large herd of elk this evening right before we got to camp. I talked to some horses and I don’t think even they know they belong to someone, somewhere. The elk sure don’t. The sunset is beautiful and there may be some showers.

April 23 Pie Town Road Walk Alternate mile 20

Everything was frozen this morning. It rained for a bit and then cleared and the temps dropped fast. No worries. I was boiling water for my morning oatmeal and it warmed my tent right up. Thank you universe for modern backpacking cooking methods!

I hit the alternate after a mile or so and when we crossed highway 12 I thought about how remote this trail really is. Like nothing I have experienced before.

I love it. And I love that I am hiking with two awesome humans with whom I have so much in common.

After lunch we began a climb up Mangas Mt, up to 9,600 feet, the highest we’ve been on this trail thus far. We had decided to take a break on the side on the dirt road we were hiking on when a car came around the corner. Whoa. The car pulled up and a woman rolled down the window. OB jumped up and whooped as she said, “I found you!” Turns out Cashmere, the driver, and OB met on the PCT and she just finished the Arizona Trail and decided to track OB down and bring some trail magic. She had a good idea of where we might be because we had a signal yesterday and OB posted something on social media about where we’d be. But damn, it takes some serious talent to find someone out in this stretch of trail. Cashmere brought chips, oranges, bananas, candy bars, sodas, and some really great energy. I was so happy that OB got to see his friend and that I was there to see this pretty incredible exchange. And my first trail magic besides water! Yay! Thank you Cashmere!

I had more hiking to do so we climbed up and got hailed on and it was cold! I was happy to descend and now here I am all cozy in my tent. Tomorrow morning I’ll hit the trail angel’s house and hopefully get showers and laundry. It’s been over a week since I’ve done laundry and about a week since my last shower.

April 24 Pie Town Alternate Mile 34

Serious ice sheets covered my rain fly this morning and when I packed up I didn’t even bother to shake them off. I got a bit of a later start which was fine since I was only hiking about 6 miles or so to the Davila Ranch. A somewhat unexpected experience. I knew that it was there but wow, trail angel John really did a great job. A toilet, shower with soap and hair stuff, washer and dryer with soap, two refrigerators, one with sodas and beer and the other with eggs, potatoes, spinach, onions and garlic, condiments and more. The freezer was full of bacon and hot dogs. There were cans of beans and soup. Two propane stoves. Running water outside to drink and clean dishes. I cooked up scrambled eggs and spinach while OB made bacon. After microwaving a dozen hot dogs I chopped them and dumped them in a pot with some baked beans.

Just wow!

Once I was stuffed I took a long hot shower and dove into the internet for a spell. After laundry and lounging, it was time to get a few more miles before calling it a day. This alternate has been almost all on dirt roads so it’s kinda nice just to put on the headphones and cruise. OB, Max and I are camped about 5 miles shy of Pie Town where we’ll take a nearo (nearly a zero day) and rest. This has been a challenging stretch and I feel like I am a stronger hiker now than when I began. It’s a trend I could get used to!

Made it to the Toaster House at Pie Town! Yay! What a stretch!

Silver City to Doc Campbell’s Post

April 15 CDT mile 161 Silver City

A zero day today. Zero miles hiked. I needed this today and while I am waiting for Keith’s Big Agnes tent to arrive I am resting in the Silver City RV Park with Boomer. Some GET hikers (Grand Enchantment Trail) have arrived and I’m asking them about the Gila River. Is it too high? Yes. Is it cold. Oh heck yes. Is it swift? Yes. I’ve been researching an alternate route to Doc’s and I think I have found one. I don’t like dangerous river crossings.

April 16 Gila Alternate mile 9.6

I found OB at the post office right when it opened this morning and we walked back to the RV park to say goodbye to Boomer, who is leaving the trail for a couple of weeks while his feet heal. Instead of jumping back on the CDT we took the Walnut alternate for seven and a half miles to begin the Gila alternate. I love all these alternates! So great. Today was an absolutely stellar day to be alive and hiking. Nice trail, perfect weather and an interesting change in scenery. About a mole from our stopping point we sat on some rocks and looked out over a huge valley full of hoodoos and distant peaks. Wow. Just wow.

We turned a corner and came to the “Regis-Tree” which is a mailbox covered in bark containing a trail register. It was sitting on top of a nice piece of juniper that had been cut to fit the registry. We signed in and looked around at some great tenting spots. I dropped my pack and started to set up. All of the sudden I hear someone coming down the trail. Tris guy just walks out of the woods. He introduced himself as Doug the Hermit. He’s the keeper of the Regis-Tree. In the next two hours OB and I learned all about Doug’s life out here and he really is an honest to god hermit. He leaves the mountain once a year for two weeks to “do things like go to REI and see my kids.”

He’s very devout and gave OB and I a Benedictine pendant on yucca twine that he made. Apparently St Benedict protects against the forces of nature such as floods, storms and things like that. Thanks Doug!

April 17 Spring Canyon Alternate mile 4

We climbed all morning. Up and down, then up some more to Tortoise Ridge at almost 8,000 feet. It started to snow. Oh, last night we had thunder and lightning and rain all night. It makes the land smell amazing. We lost the trail and did some bushwhacking to find it again then it was cruiser trail for a good 6 miles. We had cold windy weather all day and when we finally dropped down to the Gila we happily turned east to the Spring Canyon trail that will take us 8 miles to a road that will then take us to Doc’s. The idea of having to cross a waist, or even chest deep Gila about 75 times in 20 miles in the cold did not seem reasonable to us.

So we’re on an alternate to the alternate, which is pretty great because it is gorgeous out here and there is nobody on this trail. I saw some slot canyons and majestic rock formations.

What a day. I’m in my sleeping bag getting ready to read myself to sleep, a notion that seems like such a luxury out here.

Tomorrow we get to Doc’s.

April 18 Gila River Alternate mile 38.9

After shaking the frost off our tents, OB (stands for Old and Busted) and I were hiking over hills towards road 15. This Spring Canyon Alternate has been fabulous. Lots of great views, no people, lots of wilderness. We got to the road around 9 and after grabbing a couple of liters from Sapillo creek we were ready to road walk 14 miles to Doc’s. I don’t like road walks but this one was pretty ok. Very little traffic, lots of shoulder and shade. We got about 12 miles in and Redwood, who is a trail angel, stopped and offered us a ride. Molly Molly, a Grand Enchantment Trail hiker who I met in Silver City, was getting a ride to Doc’s. Nice to see her again. We got ice cream, I got my package thanks to my outstandingly wonderful boyfriend, and after organizing everything I headed down to the Gila River Hot Springs and Campground. It’s great here. OB are tenting on the river with two other CDT hikers, Greg and Dustin, a father and son duo. I chatted about water sources and trail alternates with Allen, the owner. Everyone here is so nice and it makes me very happy to find such people. We’re getting a ride to the cliff dwellings tomorrow from some other campers and so we don’t have to walk 5 miles on the road. So that’s nice.

Words cannot express how soaking in hot springs felt so I’m not even going to try.

And they have baby goats! Everywhere!

Hiker Mike’s good luck charm.

Lordsburg to Silver City

April 11 CDT mile 106

I hit the 100 mile marker today! It was written in tape on the side of a cattle trough that was also my water source. Yay! I’m still surprised at my mileage, I guess I thought I’d have to work up to these kinds of miles but here I am.

Boomer and I left Lordsburg around 7:30am and I was pleased that our 3 mile road walk had a generous shoulder for us. I don’t like rod walks and this trail has a number of them. Sigh.

We cut across the desert slowly climbing and ran into Trail Dog and Marmot, and OB. We all took a break together in the sun and marveled that it wasn’t too hot. It’s supposed to cool down in the next few days and we all welcome the change.

The last few miles today were a struggle. I was tired and my feet hurt from the cross country miles. The CDT isn’t always a nice clearly seen path. Lots of times it’s just signs every 500 yards or so. This kind of trail is rocky and well, there is no trail. Ugh!

When Boomer and I got to the water source it was a pond. Not the good kind. It was super windy and it took me 5 tries and about an hour to get my tent up. I had a minor meltdown and Boomer helped me get it pitched, finally! I decided then and there to ask Keith to send me his Big Agnes tent. My ultralight tent is proving to be lacking in certain areas that I find crucial in a tent. One of them being it requires a lot of finesse and patience to pitch correctly and usually at the end of a hiking day I just want to pitch a tent and get in it.

So yeah, I’m appreciating this tent now but I know our days are numbered!

100 miles!

Brandon enjoying a nice foot soak.

OB and Flat Mona (his wife).

April 12 CDT mile 123 Burro Mt. Homestead

I broke camp to the sound of OB, TD and Marmot passing by on trail. We caught up with them soon and we were all merrily hiking down some pretty nice, well marked trail. Cruiser trail as I like to call it. I just cruise down trail. Soon we came to our first trail magic of this trail: a water cache. Radar left five gallons of water next to the trail under a tree. The best! We all cameled up and said goodbye to Boomer, who was going to try to find a ride to Silver City. His feet have lots of blisters on them and he needs them to heal. I’ll see him again on Sunday when I get there.

As OB and I reached the base of Jacks Peak and Burro Mt it started to snow. Just small flakes floating through the air. Nothing sticking or anything. It made the 2,000 foot climb up really nice. Beautiful. As I climbed the landscape changed and soon I found myself in among tall pines and cedars. It smelled like home. I felt elated! Soon we reached the summit of Jacks Peak and evaluated our water situation. I had enough to make it the four miles to the RV park, as did OB, so we donned our warmer clothing and gloves for the descent. But first we had to climb a short distance up Burro Mt. Then we dropped down and took a well marked dirt road down a mile to the RV park. So nice. We found the camp host, Dave, and he told us where to pitch our tents and where to find the free showers.

After getting set up I took a long hot shower. Utterly divine.

The sun is down and it’s supposed to be cold tonight. Goodnight!

April 13 CDT mile 143

It was incredibly cold last night. There was ice on the walls inside my tent. This tent is single walled, which means you don’t put a rain fly on it. It doesn’t need it. The company that makes it recommends leaving the rain flaps open to reduce condensation, which is what I did. Big mistake. Every time I got up to pee I hit my head on the icy walls. My sleeping bag got wet. So after about four hours of hiking this morning I laid it out flat in the sun to dry. Good to go!

Anyway, tent drama aside, today was a great day hiking. I had cruiser trail most of the day and have found a lovely spot to camp for the night out of the wind.

Tomorrow I’ll hike into Silver City! Yay!

I find sooooo many of these things on long hikes. Litter.

April 14 CDT mile 161 Silver City

Last night was not nearly as cold as the night before so I actually got a good night of sleep. I packed up and walked 6 miles down a small canyon that opened up as I dropped in elevation. Huge granite rock formations lined the canyon and I realized that the desert here is a body and mind connection: the landscape is the body and the light is the mind. Morning light makes the rocks speak. As the sun gets higher and the canyon floor is exposed the junipers change color and their fragrance is a bit muted. The cows stand behind me as I fill my water bottle from their trough.

Thanks cows!

I got to the highway and prepared myself for the 13 mile road walk into town. I started walking and soon realized that this road walk sucks. Big time. Just as I was thinking this a truck pulled over and a young woman asked me if I needed a ride. I jumped in and Mary Jane drove me town. We chatted about how nice it is to live in the mountains and she told me how she usually picks up hikers on her way to work. I thanked her as she dropped me off at Denny’s.

After inhaling an omelet, I texted Boomer and I met him over at McDonalds. Soon OB walked in, he got a ride to town too. Looks like most of us are going to take a zero day (zero miles hiked) and head out on Tuesday, hopefully, if I get my tent.

The next stretch is an alternate that follows the Gila River. The river has been pretty high this spring but it is dropping steadily and should be safe for us when we pass through. We’ll cross the river around 200 times, so it’s important that it is low enough.

It looks like pizza delivery for dinner tonight and a good sleep. Tomorrow I’ll pick up a few things at the outfitter here and camp at the RV park here in town. Feels good to relax after this challenging week.

Thanks for reading,


Southern Terminus to Lordsburg, NM

April 6 CDT Mile 16.2

The rain that started about 10 minutes before I pitched my tent did not last long. We could see it ahead of us, and we had no choice but to walk into it. Shortly after I had thrown my things out of my pack and into the tent the rain cleared. The clouds literally disappeared and now it is clear. I have my tent doors open listening to a mourning dove in the distance.

Tomorrow I hope to see a roadrunner.

So much has happened today, and I am so exhausted all I can do is observe. The telling of such a day will have to wait until I can be more articulate.

This is a divine feeling. This observing.

April 7 CDT mile 39

Wow! We ended up camping at a cow camp which is not one of the water caches the CDTC set out for us, but we didn’t want to do a 12 mile day or a 29 mile day so here we are. I am camped with the hikers I’ve been hiking with since the southern terminus: Dan (The Governor) and his mom Vic, and JD and Boomer, two retired hikers who met on the AT. Many CDT hikers have hiked other trails but this is Vic’s first. I hiked with them most of the day, the guys were a bit behind us.

The Continental Divide Trail Coalition (CDTC) has set up five water caches in this first 86 mile section; this comes with the shuttle that I paid for, as well as a goodie back with hiker stuff in it and a year long membership. They work super hard for hikers and they are much appreciated by this hiker.

I am worn out and done with all my hiker chores (filtering water, making dinner, cleaning off my feet, stretching, this all after setting up my tent.)

Off to sleep.

April 8 CDT mile 58.3

A good day. I was hiking in the dark this morning and saw a jackrabbit the size of a small deer in the trail. Now I understand where the whole jackalope thing came from. And about an hour later an owl swooped right in front of me while I was hiking up a wash. Vic and Dan caught me about a mile from the third water cache and I hiked with them for a bit. They hike fast! I was still tired from yesterday and they wanted to do 24 miles. Not this girl. I stopped at the fourth water cache and I’m so glad I did. My feet thank me. It was super hot today and along the trail ranchers set out tired filled with water for cows. And hikers. I took some time to cool off and boy did it make a difference! Bringing the core temp down makes me feel so much better.

Boomer was behind me and he should be here any minute now. It’s nice to camp with friends.

Tomorrow I’m going to get up super early and hike hopefully half of the twenty miles I need to hike to the next and last cache. There are some more tires with water along the way so I should be good. It’s just so much better to hike in the dark. So much cooler.

April 9 CDT mile 78.4

Today was hotter than yesterday and I was glad to be up hiking at 4:30am. A good day. I must have lost the trail at least two dozen times in the first four miles. Frustrating. Boomer was not far behind me and we found Dan and Vic at the water trough that I had briefly considered yesterday. We all hiked together for a few miles to a sweet water source for cattle. This tower and pump were solar operated and while the tower created shade for Boomer and myself, the solar panels created shade for D and V. The water was delicious and ice cold. We all soaked ourselves. Boomer and I congratulated ourselves on getting 10 before 10: ten miles before 10am. A first for me! Whoop!

After that we ran into Trail Dog and Marmot who I met when I first got off the bus. They found Vic’s trekking pole. Hopefully Boomer can get it back to her in town. They hike so fast we may not catch them.

So here I am just past the last cache, waiting for my Mac and cheese to cool so I can wolf it down.

Tomorrow I’ll get up early again and hike the eight miles to Lordsburg. McDonalds is calling me.

April 10 CDT mile 86 Lordsburg

Well, here I am chilling out at the Econo Lodge in JD and Boomer’s room, waiting for my room to be ready. I ran my hiker errands at the Dollar General and now I’m ready for the next stretch to Silver City.

Earlier we were in McDonalds and we ran into Radar, who organizes the shuttles and water caches for the hikers. We told him about Vic’s trekking pole and he said that maybe later today he could figure out a way to get it to her. Radar seems to know where any hiker is on trail at any given time. He’s also a great resource in terms of trail knowledge and alternates. It’s nice to have someone like him around, for sure.

Thank you friends for reading, and until next time!