10/10: 19 mi (39.8 – 20.8 Pie Town Alt…”original” CDT route)
It’s been a while since we’ve been able to sleep in but that’s what we did at the Toaster House. We slept in till 7:00 a.m. and had breakfast with my father at the Pie Town RV Campground. Breakfast consisted of breakfast burritos with fresh smoked salmon. What a treat. Funny thing is while we were eating breakfast it started to snow. Not lightly, but pretty heavily for nearly two hours. It was weird watching light fluffy flakes pile up on the ground outside. For a short time, 2 inches of snow coated the ground. Not enough to halt our egress this morning from Pie Town though. Fully satisfied, we exited my father’s camper to pack up and reorganize our resupply. By the time we had finished packing, almost all traces of snow had disappeared.
We had to reorganize our resupply, as my dad was going to meet us at Highway 12 in three days. This meant that we really didn’t have to carry that much food. 2 and 1/2 days worth, to be exact, as opposed to five. The rest of the stuff that we sent to Pie Town for resupply we boxed up and gave to my dad. When we meet him where the trail crosses highway 12, he will take is into Reserve to complete the resupply and bring us back to the trail. That meant when he meets us in two and a half days we get to have fresh food again, which is an absolute treat. I’m glad that my dad was able to meet us and be a part of this trail. He’s quite the adventurer himself and I guess I kind of take after him in that way.
The route out of Pie Town is just a simple road. The hardest part of this mostly graded dirt road walk was trying not to trip and fall. There’s nothing to trip and/or fall over, but the changing wind direction made it somewhat annoying and hard to get in a rhythm for the required “zombie” walk.
Halfway to Villa Ranch, we encountered two hikers walking toward us (Pete’s Dragon and Bags). They had left Pie Town the day before, and after waking up to snow, decided to turn back. Temperatures were supposed to get down into the 20’s this next week at night, and they wanted NO part of that. They were going to hitch to Silver City, walk to the border and then hitch back to Silver City to walk the Gila NOBO. They figured that the “cold spell” would have passed by then.
We were amazed at the pace we were walking. This meant that by 4:00pm we’d arrive at the Villa Ranch, where, rather than spend the night there, as planned, we would water up, take a break and continue probably till 6:00 p.m. More miles we can get on the day the better. That will translate to the more time we’ll have to relax when we meet up with my dad on Highway 12.
While we were taking a break at the Villa Ranch, we realized we made a math error. Somehow we had added 20 miles onto this part of the road walk. Villa Ranch was at mile 26. This meant we had 26 miles left to go before we intersected with hwy 12. We sent a quick message to my dad via the Garmin to let him know that we were going to be actually a day earlier. And, considering the fact that my dad is the kind of guy that turns on his phone only when he needs it, I doubled down and sent one to his wife Jill knowing that she for sure would get the message and then talk to him. With that, we ate more food out of our food bags. No need to carry three days of food when you only need two. That also meant less food to buy in Reserve when we go in for the resupply.
We walked all the way to the water faucet, which is an odd thing to find on a dirt road…and camped. According to our map we had 20.3 miles to go till we hit Highway12. It should be an easy walk tomorrow, with a little bit of uphill to the fire lookout at Mangas Mountain, and then downhill the rest of the way.
10/11: 23.8 mi (20.8 – Hwy 12)
35° this morning and ice crystals on the inside of our fly. We could see our breath. It was hard getting up and going but we had 20.8 mi to do today, including Mangas Mountain with an 1,800 elevation gain to 9,600 feet. So, with headlights on we marched up the dirt road. I don’t know how it happened between the three of us, but collectively we missed the turn and had to backtrack a mile and a half, making it a total of three bonus miles. Last night I looked at all the icons…well, most of the icons. I guess this specific turn off Chavez canyon road didn’t register with me, or I didn’t click on that icon. Had I done that maybe we wouldn’t have done these three extra bonus miles.
As the morning brightened, we could see that quite a few of the cow ponds have ice on their edges. I’m surprised that our water bottles didn’t freeze. We also noticed with the increasing daylight that there were footprints in the mud back tracking just like we had to. Apparently, we weren’t the only ones that missed this turn. So much for an easy 20-mile day. We inadvertently added three additional miles and we hadn’t even started on time.
After either four (or six miles) we arrived at the Mangas Mountain fire lookout. The wind was howling and it was bone chilling cold, but the views were amazing
We stayed there in the hot sun and dried out our tents and sleeping bags as we ate our fill…because we could. As we had great cell coverage, and my dad had his phone on, I was able to get ahold of my dad and confirm that we would be by Highway 12 at around 4:00 p.m. .
I climbed the stairs of the lookout hoping to catch a view of where we had come from. While access to it’s interior was locked, I still was able to marvel at the terrain we had covered.
Prior to leaving Pie Town, we had confirmed with Trail Angel Jetta, that she had placed a cache of water near Valle Tio Vences campground.
As the campground came into view, we were happy to see the cache. We enjoyed lunch at the campground, then continued on our way.
I got to say, it’s still astonishing to see ponderosa forests and mountains in this part of New Mexico. We still can’t get over how much this topography changes.
Eventually the road turned to crap with mud and deep ruts from the massive deluge they received recently. We could see sticky footprints from the day’s previous hikers who got caught in the rain, snow and mud. Eventually we made it to Highway 12 and my dad’s truck.
We were met with thirst quenching beer. He also surprised us with getting rooms for us at the Mountaineer Motel for the night, so we didn’t have to worry about setting up our tent in cold weather. The wind was supposed to howl furiously and the temperature was supposed to drop into the teens that evening… and it did.