Ghost Ranch, NM to Cumbres Pass, CO
It’s early morning, about an hour before sunrise. There’s a beautiful pink hue on the horizon, and a few clouds streak it’s contours. The birds have been singing their songs for over an hour now, starting at 4:30am, and it’s been a sweet melody to drift in and out of sleep to.
I camped along the ridge above the San Antonio River. I hadn’t expected to hike that far, and in fact, I hadn’t expected to hike 30-mile days at all this section. I figured with the elevation gain, and with the occassional snow, 25 miles would be pushing it.
As it turned out, I did indeed catch up to three groups of hikers, all part of the tail end of this year’s herd of hikers. And they were all FAST! And when I hike with others, my pace is often faster than my usual stroll. So from Ghost Ranch, I first met the Warrior Hikers, a group of five men who have served in the war and are now out here on a beautiful, and therapeutic experience. They range in age, as well as years served, and the stories that they can tell can send chills throughout your body. But that’s what’s great about the trail. Despite the tragedy, and despite the effects of PTSD, the trail can heal. It can help calm, build confidence and bring a depth of perspective to help alleviate some of their difficult pasts. I was glad to spend an evening hiking with Lucky, getting to know this amicable man, and finding that we share a similar interest: writing. We both can tell a story that no other person can, and I hope he finds comfort and relief in his writing. I hope to see his book on a shelf one day.
The next day I met a big group of female hikers. These ladies all started on the same day, April 19th, I think. All similar in age, and two from Oregon, they include Rampage, Hiker Box, Dust Bunny and Butte. I also met Handstand, a man hiking with this posse of ladies, who is from Germany. He should consider himself lucky to be among such a strong group of women. They are a fun group, again all very fast. I enjoyed the energy and no-fuss attitude of Rampage, and I greatly appreciated Hiker Box’s compliment of my well put together, and color coordinated, hiking attire. Look good, feel good, hike good. I have my very dear friend Heatha to thank for my stylish ensemble in the backcountry.
And then, after enjoying a quiet morning watching antelope bound and hummingbirds dash to and fro, I met five more hikers. They are also wildly fast, but take many breaks to enjoy a boardgame, or if in town, as rumor has it, many a brew at the local watering hole.
So now I’m sitting at Cumbres Pass, elevation 10,015 feet, several hours earlier than when I thought I’d arrive. The pass marks the NM/CO border, and what a great feeling it is to walk into yet another new state. It has taken 24 days to walk here from the Mexico border, and in those days I have hiked approximately 660 miles. I have an accumulative average of 27.5 miles. It took hard work and dedication, and it is now time to enjoy a day or two with my feet up. I worked hard, and I thoroughly deserve a little R&R.