It’s interesting to look at the miles I’ve hiked (or think I’ve hiked, sometimes all I can do is guess) compared to the “official” CDT mileage. Because I took the Gila alternate as compared to the Black Range, and the roads compared to the longer walk over the lava flow, my milage is over 100 miles less to this point that others that took both of the longer routes. Again, not that one is better than the other, they are just different hikes…I can truly see that almost no one hikes the same Continental Divide Trail, there are just too many choices to make on a daily basis that impacts mileage and routes!
I hiked out of Sand Canyon where I was perched on a ledge out of sight from the old road below, and the hiking was serene and beautiful. There were less clouds in the sky than the previous few days…but no clear sky by any means. I had a feeling I would be seeing more rain.
I arrived at highway 117 and was in for a LOT of miles on the pavement. I tried to mix it up by walking on the grassy/sandy shoulder of the road sometimes, but often those were uneven surfaces, and it was just easier to walk on the edge of the road even though it gives the feet a beating.
I followed the road around to the towering Natural Arch that has formed in the side of the cliff. There was a pull-out and short trail to take a closer look at the arch, and a bathroom! and garbage cans!!! The simple things just make me explode with joy sometimes.
I continued on the road to a parking area where I took a nice long break and had to decided if I would take an alternate that took me over some lava flow and up a canyon to the west side of Grants (but possibly NO water on that 23 mile section) or continue up the road, there was at least one water source, but I wasn’t sure about camping options since most of the land was Acoma Reservation land; I wasn’t about to poach that. When the rain started to come in again and distant thunder was in the air, I opted for the road walk. Ok, maybe I’m a weenie when it comes to lightening, but oh well. My choices to make! From there I looked up on my phone (oh the power of smart phones!!!!!) a public land map to see where along the 15 miles of road could be a place to camp for the night. I found a pocket of BLM land was mapped…probably my only choice for a legal camp spot, so I continued up the road.
Just 4 miles later I found a sign that said BLM Campground. Huh! I didn’t know that was there, it was the answer I was looking for. Granted it was a few miles short of where I wanted to hike, but I knew not to look a gift horse in the mouth. And as if the world wanted to let me know I had made the right decision, there was a momentary break in the clouds and rain, and the sun came out as I hiked up the road to the campground. Thanks world!
The spot was free and I claimed a square of ground. Soon after I met fellow traveler, Lou, who is bike-packing around the west. What a treat! The next 3-4 hours we talked each other’s ears off about adventures, plans, trips, and more.
When I woke this morning on my sandy little spot of paradise, I quickly pack up…I was going to town! Now I know I just left Pie Town, but there are towns where you have to wash your hair in a trickle of warm water with dish soap, and there are towns with hotel hot tubs, Dennys restaurants, and just about any kind of fried food imaginable. Oh yeah, Grants is that kind of town!
I pulled up to the Highway 40 intersection with 117 to find a Subway!!! Actually Restless Wind had sent me a text letting me know the Subway was there (He’s about a week ahead of me on the trail), so I ordered up my 6″ sub and reveled in the ability to sit in a chair at a table. (the little things!)
I hadn’t looked too closely at the map….I thought I was closer to Grants than I was…but turned out town was another 5 miles away. Ugg. Ok. Pack on, rootbeer in hand, I kept walking.
The road is KILLING my feet. Ouch. The pounding.
I finally crept up to the Travelodge to get a room for the night. Hot tub, laundry, continental breakfast, walmart and Dennys right next door, it was no suprise to find this was a popular spot for other hikers. The woman at the front desk told me the local news had been in to do a segment on the trail just yesterday and they had a whole group that had been staying there.
I just wanted to chill, so I got a few beers, some snacks, epson salts, and various other goodies, and only left the bed and cable TV to take two showers and an epson salt bath.