10/17: 28 mi (37.9 Gila Alt – Silver City)
Because of the continuing chill (often below 30°F temps), we elected to not rejoin the Gila Alternate, but to road walk the 41 miles to Silver City, via Hwy 15. For SOBO CDT’ers this is relatively common.
By now, we are itching for home, and with less than 200 miles to finish, more “direct” routes to the border, and the finish of this brutiful trail, tend to be employed. We were no exception. It would, for the most part, be a “dry” walk, but we were assured to be supplied with water later in the day by the exiting Boy Scouts.
This road walk would not be without its challenges, as it would require two 2,000-foot climbs for the first part of the morning. The CDT, no matter what, requires its “pound of flesh”.
So, with the morning light beginning to grow, and dressed in compression socks (to hopefully mitigate potential shin/foot pain) and several layers (for warmth), we set off. As it was an early Sunday morning, the road was without traffic. This allowed us to walk briskly and casually across the two lanes without worry for several hours.
One thing that we have found rather interesting is the amount of litter on the side of the road, during our New Mexico road walks. Even more interesting, is that the litter is almost exclusively that of Bud Light beer cans and bottles. Paper and wrappers are relatively non-existent; however, beer cans/bottles of the Bud Light variety are abundant. This has led us to believe that maybe in addition to the warning labels imploring one to “drink responsibly”, there must be an exhortation to propel ones empty Bud Light container onto the side of New Mexican roadways. We stopped to examine one of the cans and found no such instruction.
By the time the Boy Scout parents caught up to us, we had completed well over 15 miles, and it wasn’t even noon. Traffic was still non-existent, and the weather was cooperating with us and staying fairly cool. We visited with them once again, as we consumed the burritos and other remaining food they had. We filled our water bottles and chugged down a Gatorade (or two). Soon it was time for us all to get going. We bid them farewell and got back to the business of walking. Traffic was beginning to pick up, but it wasn’t a worry.
Rather than walk the entire 41 miles with full packs, we had read that Brendon, the hostel owner/operator of the Triple Crown Hostel will give rides to hikers from the hostel in order to “slack pack” the last 20 miles of this road walk. By the time were within a mile or so of the Cherry Creek Campground, my foot/shins were screaming. Cherry Creek became the destination, but the thought of maybe slack packing the remaining miles was still a thought. So, we put out our thumbs, on the off chance that we could get a ride all the way into Silver City. If successful, we’d spend the night inside, after having consumed beer and fresh food. And, if Brendon was willing, get a ride and slack pack the remaining miles the following morning.
Success! A gal, who was returning from hiking a portion of the Gila with friends, picked us up. She gave us a ride into Silver City and dropped us at The Triple Crown Hostel. The magic of this trail seems to be limitless and perfectly timed!
When we arrived at the Triple Crown Hostel we settled in immediately. Brendon had two rooms available, and we (us/Jan) booked ourselves for three nights. We were lucky that he had availability. Timing is everything. We would have booked our stay earlier, but we weren’t sure when we’d arrive, or how long we wanted to stay. Three nights felt right, and necessary. Jan took the “studio” room, while we took the single room with a queen bed.
The Triple Crown Hostel is a wonderful facility. A separate kitchen served our “side” of the compound, that included two separate rooms, and the “studio”. Another kitchen area served another room, and bunk area, as well as a common area in which to lounge and watch TV. There is a massive back patio area, wherein tents can be erected, if necessary to accommodate “crowds”, and/or to just enjoy and gather outside without having to sit in the dirt. The Hostel is located centrally to the Historic downtown area of Silver City. It is within easy walking (or bike riding) distance to any and everything a hiker would need. Groceries. Brewery. Outfitters. This place has the potential to become a vortex. We will have to be careful.