Snow Lake to Pie Town, NM
I don’t mind the desert road walk.There can be many miles walking along camel colored dirt, sometimes packed down like hardened clay. Other times the route follows a forest service road, where gravel can be slightly frustrating under your feet, but it’s nothing to fret about. I enjoy these miles, mindless as they may be, as I can stare off into the sky and either daydream, meditate or turn my attention toward music or an audiobook. It’s life at three-miles-per-hour, and it’s therapeutic. And despite what might seem like a boring road walk, there are horizon lines composed of mountains, and instead of climbing it’s contours, I can simply take in the vista from an ants-eye perspective. The weather the last few days has been cool in the morning and streaked with clouds. I am grateful it is not blazing hot and instead adds texture and depth to the desert’s features.
After trekking along the Gila, and after walking beside it’s headwaters at Snow Lake, Early Bird, Squirrel and I continued north together. We hiked through beautiful canyons, the morning light illuminating the fields of straw grass. Sometimes there was trail, sometimes it was cross-country, but compared to 2011, there is certainly much more tread, and more importantly, I feel so much more comfortable out here. I keep my phone, and Guthook’s App, close by, but more often I try to rely on my maps. And unlike the Appalachian Trail, where I had barely a handful of flashbacks to my hike ten years ago, I can remember the anatomy of this trail. I remember windmills and trail markers, which now are faded and weather beaten in the five-year lapse. I’m seeing it in a different light of course, and literally seeing it as I had Lasik Eye Surgery in 2014, and because of this, it’s still a new trail in essence.
I’d been hiking with Early Bird and Squirrel for four days, and by the evening of the fourth day, I started to think it was time to move ahead. I absolutely adore those women, kind and joyous they are, but I could sense that hiking thirty mile days was wearing on them. I could sense that they really wanted to hike big mile days, as they’d hiked plenty of thirty mile days on the PCT in 2014. And although they were already in great shape, their feet and bodies were not accustomed to a day of such mileage, nor any of the ascents that took us up near 9,000-feet. I could also sense that they were trying to figure out how to balance personal space on a trail like the CDT where you won’t always share the same tread as the next hiker, and I figured it might be best to start hiking more miles solitary and allow this couple to sort things out by themselves.
The road walks allowed me to do this, and I quickly moved ahead, catching up to two other couples. Lolo and Footprint, from the Czech Republic, and Thunder Bunny and Swamy, from Colorado. Both couples I was excited to share a few miles with, and both of whom I was easily able to stray from the customary 50-questions game. Of course we talked about all the many, or few, miles that lay beneath our feet. But I enjoyed getting to know these hikers more on a personal level than their start dates. We leap-frogged with one another on the day prior to Pie Town, a quaint and charming town that the old CDT walks through, a town where few roads are pavement. I love it’s unique charm. It’s refreshing.
The night before Pie Town, I camped alone. It felt good to be among only my own company. Very peaceful. Complete freedom. But hiking with these couples enabled me to further see into myself, and what I want out of life and companionship. I found this clustering of couples to serve as lesson that the trail could further teach me, and I’m truely grateful to have an open mind to its power.
Well, there’s nothing else to do but to finish the last five miles into town. Yes, I’ve been typing this as I walk along one of those dirt roads I told you about. Anyway, it’s time for pie!