CDT NM 6th Section

Day 164: Mesa del Camino

I slept in for a while. I could hear trucks passing on the road, but my tent was somehow in the shade (because it was a very cloudy day, it turned out) and I was the perfect temperature, and I just didn’t want to get up. And I no urgent need to either. It was 10am by the time I packed up and left camp.

Weather wise, it was a perfectly average day. The kind of day where when the sun shined it was way too hot to have my winter coat on, but it shined less than half the time. And when the wind blew, it was way too cold to have my coat off, but it only blew half the time. Later in the afternoon, I removed the inner lining from my coat and just wore the shell for the first time ever. It was the perfect balance until the sun set and it was way too cold. Indeed, although it didn’t feel like it at bed time, it was set to be the coldest night of the week.

Just after leaving camp, I passed Big Eddy Boat Pull-Out along the Rio Chama. I popped down to use the privy even though I was not in desperate need yet, thinking to save myself some time later in the day for bigger miles. That would not work out as planned. I also relieved myself of what little bit of trash I had generated that morning in the trash cans there. Never pass up an opportunity to lighten your load, no matter by how little.

As I walked up the road into the canyon to meet the CDT, I noticed my nose was a bit stuffy and runny and felt weird. Sure, the air was cold and drier than I was recently used to, but it felt an awful lot like I was sick. My throat also felt a little sore, though perhaps only in that “snored all night in dry air” sort of way. It was like having mild cold symptoms that could have come about without the cold.

A couple of hours in, I joined the trail by crossing Skull Bridge over the Rio Chama. I soon left the road that crossed it for a much less maintained road that went up the canyon of the Canada Gurule. I stopped shortly after at a spring-fed cattle trough that supplied the easiest to collect water I expected to see all day. I had to tiptoe around the edge of a trampled-down pool day surrounded it to get to the flowing pipe without getting my feet wet.

Just south of here, the trail left the road through a narrow turnstile. So narrow that it ripped the mesh on the side of my brand new pack as I squeezed through. But I was headed into a wilderness area and the cattle weren’t welcome. Nor were any vehicles. The trail became a single track.

I ended up having to stop before lunch time due to gastrointestinal distress, and I went ahead and had lunch right after since it was time by then anyway. This was reason the second (after the late start) for my short mileage this day. Also, it fed into my belief that I must be sick, though again, it could have just been something I ate the previous day.

The next bit of trail was just following alongside the Canada Gurule for a mile or so, jumping back and forth across the little stream every hundred feet. It was not much of creek, just a little bit of clear flow over a flat sandy bottom. But soon, the trail turned off of this easy climb and started switching back and forth to climb straight up the side of the adjacent ridge to get to a road that ran along the edge of the Mesa del Camino to the Canada Camino cut.

As soon as I reached this road, I had to peel off for yet more gastrointestinal relief. I don’t know what was tearing me up inside, but I lost another hour here including the ensuing snack break, and it was getting pretty late in the afternoon. I had disassembled my jacket immediately after the climb up here, and I started getting cold as I walked down the road.

It was already past sunset when I reached the turnoff that left the road to climb up onto the top of Mesa del Camino, and I passed up a lot of great camping to do it. I had wanted to stop at 7, but there was no good camping from there until I was all the way on top, right up to the edge of the mesa.

It was 7:30 when I reached that beautiful flat area, pine straw strewn under tall pines next to the road that ran along the top. It wasn’t hard to find a good place to pitch a tent, though I did have to clear a lot of pine cones. I cooked dinner in the vestibule with coyotes yipping in the distance. The moon was bright and the temperature was supposed to drop, but it was all quite comfortable until I feel asleep.

Trail miles: 14.1

Distance to Cuba: 35.2 miles

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