Day 14 – Cinco de Mayo

May 5, 0 miles / 142.6 total hiked

Today, we are still resting in Silver City. We were planning on hiking out early this morning, but Keith had a shin splint flare up, so we decided to stay an extra night. He has been off his feet, taking Advil, and icing it. It may have been due to the 12 mile asphalt road walk that irritated it. Weird how the first week it was me that wasn’t feeling 100%, and now it’s Keith. 😉 Anyway, I love staying here so he did not have to ask me twice.

We are just taking it easy today which is so nice. I *really* think we both needed this today. After we got done eating breakfast here at the hotel at 9:30 AM, I took a nice nap until 1:30 PM which felt great. When I woke up, Keith said, “I’m bored.” Sigh… He had been sitting in the common area for 3 hours working on… are you ready for this?? A spreadsheet. He’s so silly.

Anyway, I’m trying to psych myself up for the next batch of miles we will be tackling. The next stop will be Doc Campbell’s Post which is like 45 miles away. We hope to get there by Tuesday before they close at 4:00 PM. We have a package waiting for us there. Oh and they have homemade ice-cream. 🍦😄👍🏼

Peak of the day:  Having another zero. 

Valley of the day:  Keith having aches and pains now. 

Day 13 – Zero in Silver City

May 4, 0 miles / 142.6 total hiked

Gina really wanted to take a zero today and since it will be about 250 miles before our next planned town stop in Grants, it seemed like a good opportunity to do so.

We are staying at the Palace hotel, which Gina describes as quaint and full of character (i.e. old, small, uneven creaky floors, minimal amenities, and requiring a certain mindset to overlook what would be completely unacceptable issues at a typical hotel). For example both the hot and cold water faucets deliver hot water, the mattress may be the original from 1882, and I have to duck when going down the stairs. That said, it is always interesting to see how much an old structure had been updated though the years.

The common sitting area has a large skylight in it, probably because it is in the middle of the building and it was built before electric lighting became popular.

The hallways are just a bit wider than my sleeping pad.

All that said it is nice to give the feet a break, even though mine have held up better over this first week than on any previous hike.

We finished most of the town chores like eating, doing laundry (while watching the latest Survivor episode), eating some more, getting food for the next leg, eating some more, and sleeping yesterday so we can hit the trail right after breakfast tomorrow.

Keith’s food for the next 3 days… I eat so bad while on the trail vs real life

Tomorrow we start the Gila alternate. It should probably be the official trail as almost everyone does this route vs the official route, especially this year since the official route will have a closure for a controlled fire burn.

The Gila is a highlight of the trail… We will hike up the river through canyons and cliffs for several days while fording the river more than 250 times.

It may be awhile before our next blog post as I don’t know when or what kind of internet or cell service we will have until we get to Grants.

Peak of the day: Sleeping in, eating, sleeping, eating, …

Valley of the day: Fighting with word press to make these blog updates… Way too much like work

Day 12 – Arriving in Silver City (Yay!)

May 3, 16.0 miles / 142.6 total hiked

We got up early at around 5:30 AM, but it’s TOWN DAY, so I did not mind too much. Last night, we had to back track less than a mile so we were not camping on private property. (Ugh – I hate back-tracking.) We knew we had about a 4 mile hike on a dirt road before reaching highway 90. We would walk on that asphalt road for about 12 miles into town.

Looooooong road walk into town…
Eat beef!

Listening to podcasts helped pass the time, as always. We did pass by a weird home address with old toilets lined along the driveway.

Outdoor decor 🚽

As we got closer to town, Keith called his Mom and had a nice chat.

Hi, Mom!

We arrived at the Palace Hotel front desk by noon. Not bad for a 16 mile hike day. The hotel was built in 1882. It is so cool! I love it! Antiques everywhere and different shapes and sizes of mirrors hung all over the walls. Our room is so “cozy” which means VERY TEENY TINY – but again – I LOVE it.

Palace Hotel – Built in 1882

First things first, after checking in – SHOWERS. My back is a little tender from the salty sweat and shirt rubbing against it. The water pressure isn’t great, but it’s wet and there’s soap. Ahhhh – to get all squeaky clean again. Feels awesome!

Next task is laundry, so we put on whatever clean clothes we do have and walked a few blocks away to do that. The wi-fi there ROCKS!!! We even got caught up on watching an episode of Survivor.

Laundry day!
Survivor

After laundry, FOOD!!! We ate at a little pub across the street from our hotel. It hit the spot. We then relaxed in our room for a bit before heading to the grocery store to get a few resupplies. We ended the evening in the common area playing rummy and once again, eating. 😉

Relax-time

Peak of the day: Arriving in Silver City for a ZERO and not having to move for almost 48 hours.

Valley of the day: Keith getting stressed out about fire restrictions on trail and what stove to use – if any. 😞

Day 11 – Pondering Ponderosa Pines

May 2, 10.1 miles / 126.6 total hiked

Today we finally hiked up to 7500 to 8200 foot elevations and hiked through some great, but short, stretches of legit Ponderosa Pine forest. Very reminiscent of the high elevation portions of the PCT dessert. A strong wind and cloud cover made the 2000 foot climb very unlike the hot cloudless desert traverse we were doing just two days ago. It was actually pretty chilly.

Near the top of the climb are the remains of a few cabins or houses.

Inevitably with trees came the first of the blow downs, aka trail obstacles.

The sun did break out eventually and words cannot describe how great it is to find a shady break spot pretty much anytime you want it. That combined with the aroma of sun warmed pine needles reminded us of the positive side of living in the woods.

We had to make a choice today between the Deadman’s Canyon (old CDT) route and the recently rerouted official trail that supposedly abruptly dead ends in the middle of nowhere leaving a section of bushwhacking before a long highway walk on hwy 180.

We had planned food for the older route and heard the associated road walk on hwy 90 into Silver City had less traffic than 180 so that is the route we chose. Unfortunately to avoid camping on private property that meant a short day for today and a 16 mile road walk tomorrow.

We made the most of it by stopping several times under nice shade trees, playing cards, and just listening to the wind blow through the trees.

Peak of the day: Sometimes it is nice to not hike non-stop all day

Valley of the day: Having to back track at the end of the day to avoid stealth camping on private property

Day 10 – Rag in the Tailpipe

May 1, 13.5 miles / 116.5 total hiked

Gina’s thoughts

Thank goodness for headphones, music, audiobooks, and podcasts.  They truly help pass the time while hiking mile after mile, all day long.  We have started listening to a podcast at the same time:  “Missing Maura Murray”.  It is a true story of a 21 year old young woman who crashed her car on February 9, 2004 in New Hampshire, spoke briefly to a passerby, who she told to not call the police and that she had already called AAA, and then disappeared shortly after. She has never been seen since. Anyway, in the podcast, they kept saying over and over and over again, “rag in the tailpipe”. Her older car was having issues so her father told her to put a “rag in the tailpipe”. So that’s what I have been hearing all day long. 🚙

Today has been a little overcast which is very nice.

We still see bones scattered everywhere – such a harsh, dry environment. 🌵🌵🐍🦎

We have seen so many more people today! We met Bud and his wife, Fret. A young gal named, Katie, a guy named Mac, another guy named B-Dub and a few other folks that I did not get their name. We all gathered around the water source. Anyone want a nice, fresh drink of water?? 😎

Peak of the day: Having an appetite back and eating nice, hot dinners (a zip lock bag/mixture of Ramen, chicken stovetop stuffing, and loaded instant mashed potatoes). Yum!

Valley of the day: Sweating like there’s no tomorrow. Lol

Day 9 – Finally North of Lordsburg

April 30, 18.3 miles / 103.0 total hiked

Keith’s thoughts:

There be trees in them there hills.

At around mile 100 the trail makes a radical transformation from pure flat desert to big hills/little mountains. With that terrain change comes, wait for it… Trees!

Yes, real honest trees. Something taller than me. Something without a spike laden defense system. Something you can actually get underneath to seek refuge from the sun. Something wonderful that you can’t fully appreciate until you suffer through those days in the bootheel.

But I’m getting ahead of myself… We still have about 15 miles of hot, shadeless hiking to get to the foot of the mountains that will be our home for the next several days.

After a nice sunrise and big breakfast at the Econolodge (Gina even ate this time), we loaded up on water and started the second segment to Silver City.

If only these could be scattered along the trail

After a couple miles hiking along the road out of Lordsburg we turned and headed across the slopes leading to the mountains we would be crossing on the way to Silver City.

Dinner with trees and cows
Our water source for the next 10 miles… It even comes with free algae salad!

Peak of the day: Trees!

Valley of the day: No more nice clean water caches

Day 8 – Walking into Lordsburg

April 29, 7.4 miles / 84.9 total hiked

Gina’s thoughts:

We woke up today around 6:00 AM.  It’s town day!!!  Mind you, it is the same exact town as we stayed at last Saturday and then again on Wednesday and Thursday nights, but this time, we HIKED here – and not hitched!!!  Woohoo!!!  It only took 7.4 miles to get here on foot, but after we arrived, and walked into the Econolodge front door, once again, I got teary-eyed.  This was a very big deal to me!  We hiked 85 miles in the past week to get here.  It’s not our usual PCT mileage, but I’ll take it!  After day 1, having thoughts that I could not even share with Keith (like wanting to stop, go home, call it quits), then arriving 1 week later, I was relieved that we made it thru somehow.

We went to McDonald’s and met a couple who is starting TODAY.  They are going Southbound then catching the shuttle back to Lordsburg.  They have to do it this way because the shuttles are all booked.  When Keith and I arrived at the hotel last Saturday, we met a few guys who just hiked in. I really wanted to be that couple – and now – we are!

Peak of the day:  Finally arriving at Lordsburg the way we planned – on foot. 

Valley of the day:  Not being able to sleep in tomorrow due to the heat.  It’s gonna be another hot one, so we have to hike out early. 

Day 7 – Figuring This Trail Out

April 28, 16.0 miles / 77.5 total hiked

Keith’s thoughts:

With a long hike you quickly learn to adapt to the trail or be punished. I like to be in control of things in the real world but being forced to adapt to the situation, and succeeding, is one reason I like thru hiking – you have to hike the hike you are dealt and that requires being flexible. Case in point… Thinking you can hike to your own schedule like 7am to 7pm. The reality is 1:00pm to 5:00pm has been miserably hot to hike in, especially since the temps here are 40-50 degrees warmer than what we left at home. That is made worse when there is little breeze (i.e. cooling) but occasional strong wind gusts (i.e. cannot use the umbrellas).

The heat comes from all directions. Like the two heating elements in an oven, you can choose to forgo the umbrella and be broiled from above or use the umbrella and be baked from a bubble of reflected hot air and body heat that accumulates under the umbrella till a puff of wind clears it.

If you are following the Delorme track you will see us stop in the afternoon, sometimes for several hours, then resume and hike until 8 or 9pm after the worst of the heat has subsided.

While taking that afternoon siesta we have been getting dinner out of the way so when we find a spot to camp we just pitch the tent and climb in.

Hiking in the good hours of the day has been great! You often see the target for the next day or two as a small feature on the horizon across a massive flat plain.

Our target for the day is the pyramid shaped mountain, about 10 miles away
A constant reminder of the harsh environment is the daily sprinkling of Bones we encounter

We always have to be careful about water planning as we are going through a lot of it but occasional solar wells give the option of avoiding cow troughs between the water caches. This one served double duty as we hid in a small pool of shade for an hour while eating some lunch.

Peak of the day: Seeing Gina starting to hike like the thru hiker I know she is

Valley of the day: the unrelenting sun… and it has not even been really hot by New Mexico bootheel standards – I feel for those starting later this week

Day 6 – Slowly But Surely…

April 27, 15.9 miles / 61.5 total hiked

Gina’s thoughts:

Today, I felt a little more like a hiker. Whew – this past week has been a blur. We have met so many nice folks which is a true blessing. Radar and Peru dropped us off at water cache 3 which is where we got picked up on Wednesday morning. (No miles missed – Keith would NOT let that happen.) 😉. The day started out as overcast which was very nice. I love clouds! We just started slow and put one foot in front of the other.

Keith has been very patient – a great hiking partner. Me, on the other hand, stinks as one. (I’m sure he has wanted to trade me in several times by now.). But he has seen me in the past so he knows I can do this. He did make a comment, though, that “Polar bears don’t do well at the equator.” Hmm… think he was referring to ME??? Nah…

We hiked like 7 or 8 miles before taking a break under a tree. All I have been wanting to do when we stop is to try and take a nap, but it is not that easy. Flies and bees buzzing around, sometimes cows are nearby just staring at you, rocks to avoid sitting on, etc. But I have to at least give it a try, right? 😴 At least we are off our feet. (Yay!).

After our break, we hiked another 5 miles or so until we came upon a dome tent set up by trail angel “Apple”. Can you believe he lives in Ohio, 10 minutes from us?! He also does trail maintenance on the Loveland Bike Trail. He is retired and has been a trail angel for like 10 years or so, if I remember correctly. We had just got back on the trail in the morning, and I didn’t feel qualified to receive any trail magic, but we did. Apple is an awesome person. One day, Keith and I hope to pay it forward and be trail angels ourselves. 😇😇

Peak of the day: Meeting a trail angel/neighbor from Ohio!

Valley of the day: Still not feeling 100%, but starting to come around.

Day 5 – Unplanned Zero in Lordsburg

April 26, 0 miles / 45.6 total hiked

Keith’s thoughts:

Gina is doing better today, although when I tested the waters that we could probably find a ride back down to highway 9 today she just gave me her “don’t you ask me to skip a zero” look. So the plan is to ride back down to highway 9 / water cache 3 with the CDTC folks doing a water run tomorrow.

These are the same folks, Radar and Peru, that picked us up after Gina got to the point of needing an unplanned pitstop yesterday.

I can’t say enough about the people and community of this trail. Lisa, who runs the Econolodge we are at, is amazing. She embraces the hiker community and gives exactly the support we need to make his journey possible.

Thru hikers have to be the most unprofitable clientele for a hotel… We stink, eat a lot at the included breakfast, and probably scare more civilized clientele away. We loiter in the common area basking in the amazing thing called “air conditioning”.

Lastly, you know someone is really dedicated when they will take a biohazard bag of your hiking clothes and wash them for you.

While she is dealing with biohazard waste, her husband Ray is often out ferrying people around as we thru hikers ironically hate to walk a few miles in town.

Meanwhile Radar and Peru live at the hotel for several weeks at the season start so they can coordinate the shuttle runs down to the border and keep the water caches filled. It is an amazing operation to support the 300-400 people crazy enough to do this hike.

Thank you Lisa, Ray, Radar, and Peru for all you do!

Peak of the day: Air conditioning, a big waffle, pizza, (and of course Gina feeling better)

Valley of the day: Doing zero miles