Friday, November 8, 2013

Day 145 - MEXICO!

Reached the border today

Will write more later, but we finished! Sky and I finished our triple crowns! And Gangles has a double crown! Thanks to Pony and Sparkle Cat for the glittery, wonderful crowns.

Mileage: 11mi from near Tres Hermanas to Mexico

Day 144 - Chili peppers and coins

Along the road today, saw signs we were closing in on Mexico. Roasted chili peppers scattered every few yards. Coins on the shoulder, mostly pennies, nickels, with an occasional *peso* mixed in.

Increasingly agricultural. Stands of pecan trees. A field of cotton plants. Flat, straight road. And for the first time since we started, we are below 4,000'. Creeping back down to sea level.

Got a ride back to Deming with Martin, who works at an algae plant in the desert. Nice guy. We bought him a beer at the local brewery. He invited us to his BBQ on Saturday.

Only 11mi left to Mexico.

Mileage: 26mi from Deming to near Tres Hermanas

Day 143 - Deming

Back on the dirt road. Just a few more days left until we get to Mexico.

Stopped in at Blake's, a NM institution. Ordered the green chile cheese burger, the signature dish. It was too spicy for me. Plus, Sky, Gangles and I couldn't finish it. We are losing our thruhiker hunger.

Decided to take the afternoon off, and see Deming. Visited the St. Clair Winery, where we met the amazing sommelier Megan. She's a former art teacher, now full-time wine enabler, painter, mother. She specializes in oil paintings, still lifes with skulls. She gave us a tour through the red wines, and patiently and insightfully answered our questions. Neat woman. Fun afternoon.

Megan also warned us to be careful here; dangerous being this close to the border. Heard the same warning from a pair of border control guys we saw today. On high alert.

p.s., Thanks to Miriam and Sam for the awesome care package

Mileage: 16mi from dirt road to Deming

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Day 142 - Wigs and bees

I'm starting to realize that the Gila was the last backcountry experience I will have on this trip. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, as the weather gets colder, I'm ready to sleep inside. On the other hand, I do miss lolling around in open meadows, looking at mountains and mesas.

But the character of the trail has started to change. Due to zoning issues, the trail has ceased to follow the actual Continental Divide. As a result, the trails are mostly dirt roads patched together with short windy sections of trail. We're going to carve out our own route, and get to Mexico on an improvised route.

The terrain is yellow and dry, and the walking fast. The walking is tedious, since the terrain doesn't change much. Luckily, Gangles and Sky are nearby for company. Plus, we've decided to make this more fun. At Walmart, we acquired costumes and a portable speaker. Hearing music is a deeply emotional experience, after hearing very little (maybe a few songs a week) for five months. I could imagine that not hearing music would make you go crazy. I was brought nearly to tears hearing so much music from my sister's collection. Old school rock n' roll (Carl Perkins, Sam Cooke), jazz (Sarah Vaughn, Nina Simone, Dinah Washington), and some random hits from this century (Goldfrapp, last year's song of the summer). Plus, we downloaded some podcasts, most notably RadioLab, and listened to some thought provoking episodes on waste disposal, MIDI and the conundrum of blame and neurological abnormality in the the modern criminal justice system.

Music and external intellectual stimulation, two things I've missed on the trail. We're starting our re-entry into the civilized world.

Mileage: 29mi from San Lorenzo to dirt road

Day 141 - Columbus

Here's the plan. We hit the border by Friday.

Sparkle Cat has stepped up her already extensive trail angeling, and will be slack packing (i.e., transporting some of our gear by car while we walk) us to Columbus. There is no official Southern terminus for the CDT. The most popular points are Antelope Wells, Columbus and Crazy Cook.

Antelope Wells is the Southernmost, and seems to be chosen for bragging rights. Columbus is the easiest choice logistically with bus access, and is the route prescribed by Jim Wolf / CDTS. Crazy Cook has a monument, and is the Bear Creek / CDTA route. Based on my quick skim of Nobos this year, CC was the most common choice this year. However, due to the untimely passing of Sam Hughes, longtime CC trail angel, the logistics of getting to the border and caching water are unknown.

As a result, some Sobos have gone down the CC route, but Columbus will likely be the more common choice. Water is also an issue on the Columbus route, hence the serendipity of Sparkle Cat slackpacking us.

We are going to Columbus. Water, logistics, and the excellent company of Skarkle Cat made this the right choice for us.

We decided to embrace this choice in gonzo style, which means... costumes. Trip to Walmart tonight to cherry pick the best of the post-Halloween leavings.

Oh, and we saw a javalina running across the road today. I was worried; I don't want to get mauled by an ill-tempered pig, but it scuttled off into the woods in a hurry.

Mileage: ~22mi from Spirt Canyon Lodge to San Lorenzo

Monday, November 4, 2013

Day 140 - Hitting the road

While we were at Doc Campbell's, literally every local person we saw at the store told us *not* to take the trail out of there. The trail was severely damaged by the flood, leaving steep cut banks and sections of missing trail.

So, we're on the road, headed South.

Oh, and my foot seems to be healing a bit, but still tender. Less blood.

Mileage: 22mi from Doc Campbell's to Spirit Canyon Lodge

Day 139 - Gila Cliff Dwellings

Woke up to a bright, crisp morning on the ridge. It was relatively warm, probably somewhere in the 30s. I was cheered by thinking that yesterday *might* be our last time at 8,000'. I could see my breath only for the first hour or so but the day warmed up comfortably.

The hiking today was relatively smooth, walking through long mesa tops. Which is good, since I've somehow worn down the skin of my right foot. It is painful when I step. My feet have been so wet from the river crossings that they've been exfoliated down from the hard, horny callus to the soft pinkness of new skin. And the soft skin has been abraded by the small rocks, sand and wetness of this section. All this despite the fact that I wear gaiters.

The other major note was our crossing of the West Fork of the Gila River, where we walked our last few trail miles down the canyon to the Gila Cliff Dwellings. As we emerged from the trail, we saw... Skarkle Cat! We joined them for a tour of the Cliff Dwellings with volunteer ranger, who really brought the space to life.

In at the RV park for the night, cleaned and bandaged my foot.

Mileage: 12mi from near the Middle Fork of the Gila River to Doc Campbell's