Without a doubt, our stay at Doc Campbell’s Post has been our best Zero of the trail (and 5th). Even though we slept on the floor, on our air mats and in our sleeping bags, it was one of the best night’s sleeps (Save our stay at Clifford’s in Breckenridge). We were warm, had immediate access to a rest room and no noise whatsoever.
As we were the only three hikers at Doc’s, we virtually had the run of the place. Good WiFi and a picnic table to ourselves, we looked at “news”, updated blog/video posts, drank coffee and ate till it was time to go back into the store for more food. It was the most relaxed we have been able to be in a long time. Nowhere to go or be for the day, and no pressure. No chores!
Our only goal was to make sure we had a sufficient resupply to make it to Silver City, and a long soak in the Gila Hot Springs…a mile away.
Homemade ice cream was our main course of “nourishment” for the day. I think Jan ate 4 or 5 pints. Doc Campbell’s makes a killing on their ice cream! Especially on a weekend.
After a leisurely “breakfast” and “lunch”, business/visitation at Doc’s got really busy. Not wanting to bogart the picnic table, for those who also wanted to enjoy homemade ice cream in the sun, it was time for a soak.
With camp towels in hand, we wandered down to the Gila Hot Springs. It was an easy/relaxing mile that led you back toward the river and the Gila Hot Springs Campground, where they have three separate pools in which to soak, for a fee. CDT hikers get a great discount ($7) for two hours of complete and marvelous “pruning”. The water was clean, and the pools were refreshingly hot and therapeutic. The only way it could have been better, if there was beer…or maybe even ice cream.
Sufficiently relaxed and pruned, we walked back to Doc’s. Once there, we noticed that it had become “over-run” by Boy Scouts. These Scouts (El Paso Troop #4) had just returned from a 50-mile hike of the Gila River. They were using the shower room to shower and clean-up for their return “party”/ new badge ceremony. One of the troop parents/leaders discovered that we were CDT thru-hikers and asked us to talk with the boys. We gladly obliged them.
They had many questions, but the best was from one boy. He asked Paul, “How do I get calves like that?”, referring to Paul’s “Popeye-esc” calves. “Walk a lot”, was Paul’s reply. When the Scout Master discovered we were CDT hikers, he asked us if we were interested in further talking with the boys and their families, and witnessing their badge ceremony. It also would include a steak dinner. Steak dinner?! How could we refuse?! He particularly wanted us to talk to the boys about resiliency and how important it was to get/stay outside and explore. Even if there was no dinner involved, we still would have accepted the offer. These young men, who ranged in age from 11-17 were some of the politest and well-mannered youngsters we have ever come across. Their troop leader and parents are definitely doing a great job raising these young men. There IS hope for humanity!
Just as the sun set over the ridgeline, one of the parents picked us up and drove us to their campsite. The boys were all sharply dressed in their dress uniforms and wore them with pride. They and their parents greeted us with enthusiasm. The parents were specifically enthralled, as they had never met or even really talked to/with people our age that have done long thru-hikes, let alone the CDT. For some, it gave them “hope” if not inspiration to take on a challenge such as this.
Prior to dinner, they all stood in formation, at attention, and recited their Scout oath. It was pretty cool to witness. Dinner was served buffet style, and once everyone had been fully satiated, it was time for the campfire activities. This included robust camp songs, a skit, and then our presentations. Paul, Jan and I each gave a presentation covering different topics. Following our presentations, was the presentation of new golden kerchiefs, to the boys who had completed their 1st 50-mile hike. Their parents got to present/put on the kerchiefs for their son. It was a proud moment for the boys and their parents. We would have stayed longer to talk with the parents further, but it was waaay past “hiker midnight” and we were definitely lagging. Besides, we had to get up early and start our trek to Silver City before the day started to get warm. Before we left, they offered to supply us with water, and breakfast burritos on “trail”, on their drive home in the late morning. Yes, and Yes!, was our reply.
Even so, we talked at length with the parents who gave us a lift back to Doc’s. They thoroughly enjoyed our presentations and were glad they and their kids got to meet us. We told them that we also thoroughly enjoyed the evening, as it was great to meet such fine young men and such a dedicated Scout Master as 81-year-old, Sam Snoddy, who has “created” over 175 Eagle Scouts since 1986.
As they parents drove off, we unanimously exclaimed, “Best Zero Ever!”