We left the Toaster House in Pie Town and headed out into the New Mexican abyss for another stretch of hiking towards Grants. Our bags were loaded down with extra water as we took off into the nothingness that exists in central New Mexico. Several times I wondered if I was on some sort of treadmill as the scenery seemed to go by without changing as we walked endless miles of gravel road.
We enjoyed a zero day in Grants and prepared for another stretch – this time with an actual mountain involved!! We decided to take the Mt Taylor Summit alternate to get a view from the top.
We were happy to finally have a change of scenery on the mountain, but the views were short lived. We continued north of the mountain drifting through wide open spaces and not much else.
Miles and days blended together as we continued northward on the CDT. Just when we were about to die from a mix of dehydration and boredom, we were glad to see a slight change in the landscape. After so many miles across the top of the mesa, we began a descent into a colorful canyon full of fascinating rock formations and an endless supply of sand.
We were happy to arrive in the small town of Cuba after this 100ish mile stretch of mostly nothingness. While New Mexico does have so much beauty to offer, it’s kind of strung together with miles of wide open spaces in between. We intended to hike out of Cuba that day, but our friends convinced us otherwise. We were really glad we decided to stay as the afternoon brought a strong storm complete with hail and rain all through the night. We happily spent the night in yet another cheap motel enjoying food and beers before our last 150 mile stretch to the Colorado / New Mexico state line.
The next day we left Cuba and were in shock as we climbed up a mountain and into a meadow complete with streams and trees. After weeks of 20 mile water carries from cow trough to cow trough, a flowing stream and green grass seemed like paradise. We were both somewhat shocked and overjoyed with our new surroundings.
We descended from the mountain sadly leaving the meadow behind and continued towards the Ghost Ranch. We decided in Cuba to split up the 150 miles with a quick stop at the Ghost Ranch, a nearby tourist attraction complete with dinosaur bones, an exhibit on former resident Georgia O’Keefe, and a beautiful landscape featured in films like 3:10 to Yuma, City Slickers, and Wild, Wild West. Although we’d been discussing increasing our daily walking average, we walked towards the Ghost Ranch considering a brief stop in Santa Fe a mere two hours away via bus.
When we arrived at the Ghost Ranch the next morning, we were torn by our ambitions to hike and our desire to soak in all that cities have to offer. Unsurprisingly, we decided to catch the bus towards Santa Fe for the night. As luck would have it, we caught a ride from a like minded traveler directly from the Ghost Ranch to Santa Fe saving us a couple hours of bus rides. We got into Celeste’s car with broad smiles and were delighted at her suggestion to hop into the nearby reservoir for a quick swim.
Our evening in Santa Fe felt like it was over as soon as it began. The next morning proved somewhat of a struggle as we all tried to make our way back to the trail via bus, missing our first bus, then being vortexed into REI. We didn’t make it back to Española until about 4:00 pm and weren’t too keen on waiting for the bus to the Ghost Ranch for nearly two hours. We were so thrilled when Diane let us climb into her truck for the final stretch of the adventure back to the trail. We made it back with daylight to burn so we hiked on down the trail only 90 miles away from Colorado.
We decided to try to make up for our slacking off by pushing two 30s and a 26 mile day to get us just past the Colorado state line to a highway where we could hitch to the nearby town of Chama, NM. We were pleasantly surprised with our abilities to accomplish such big mile days back to back. Suddenly the long stretch across the desert floor where this journey began seemed so far away. The landscape had totally changed, and now grass and pine trees replaced sand and cacti.
I reflected on the miles south of me to the Mexican border grateful for the experience to discover yet another state on foot. And while I’m thankful for the experience, I am quite pleased to have New Mexico and this long desert section behind me. To Colorado… and beyond!!!
Miles Walked – 617
Number of Days – 33
Biggest Day – 30 Miles
Number of 0 Days – 2
Daily Average – 18.7 Miles
Daily Average w/o 0s – 19.9