I didn’t need to hurry, so I didn’t start hiking until well after 8.
The hike was pretty much exactly the same as it was the last time I hiked it. Nothing new or interesting to report. Some twisted dirt road, some small hills, some gates, and eventually joining a dirt road where I neither continued onto the official CDT route (which I’ve never taken because it looks boring and pointless) nor went right down the dirt road to Aragon Well (like I did last year), but instead went left and followed the road directly out to New Mexico Highway 12.
I was looking to get a hitch to Reserve to get some lunch, but there was very little traffic in that direction. I walked down the highway a little until I was at the road’s high point, and dropped my pack on the hillside. There was no shade, so I sat in the sun next to a very noisy cicada on the hillside where I could see half a mile down the road. Every ten minutes or so, a truck or two would come into view, and I’d step up next to the road and stick out my thumb.
I got pretty lucky. Despite the few opportunities, I got a ride in about an hour from the sixth or seventh truck to pass. I climbed into the bed with my gear and rode the half hour trip to Reserve. It was wonderful seeing all the scenery go by and feeling the wind cooling my head. Better than any amusement park ride. At one point, I saw a lone elk mare grazing right next to the road. Fattest elk I’ve ever seen–it’s calving season, so almost certainly very pregnant.
When my benefactors dropped me at Uncle Bill’s Bar in Reserve, I asked their names, but didn’t talk with them any further, and thus instantly forgot.
It didn’t help that Chris accosted me the moment I walked away from them (“You look like you need a beer!”) and chatted with me for the entire time I was hanging out there eating lunch (nearly 3 hours). I learned about his digital nomadic lifestyle and passion for photography (especially astrophotography) and we convinced the bar’s operators and inhabitants to tell us all about the cool things it contained.
I also remember the name of our bartender Kayla, a big time Muay Thai aficionado who volunteered to play a round of hako on the bar with me. She also served me a plate of a dozen fried wings to keep me going.
Around 3, Mama arrived and, following the mandatory round of photos, whisked me away to Pie Town via a back route I had never seen. More fun scenery to watch.
We stopped in at the Toaster House to see who was around, then swung by the Pie-O-Neer just as it was closing to take out some slices of pie. Then, we took the CDT (Pie Town Road) and drove past El Malpais again because it happened to be the shortest route to Albuquerque. We got on the interstate on the south end of Grants without going into the town proper. From there it was just driving away from the sun as it set, with stops only for gas or bathroom breaks–no sightseeing.
When we finally found the correct hotel and checked in, it was 9pm, and the only food that was easy to get was from the Applebee’s down the street. We ordered ahead and I walked over to pick it up, even though my feet were as sore as ever, and the chafe bumps on my inner thigh were screaming any time cloth even wafted across them. But I hadn’t eaten anything but a few bites of (still unfinished) pie in the last 8 hours, so I figured it was worth it not to wake up starving.
After dinner was my first real shower in a week and then a long bathtub soak into the wee hours before a nice long sleep on a comfortable mattress.
Trail miles: 5