Sunday, June 2, 2024

Grants to Cuba

I woke up crazy early and worked on catching up on my journals. After another shower and packing up we headed to the Mount Taylor Coffee shop where we knew we would get a free coffee. There is a doctor in town who has offered to pay for every hikers first coffee.  We like fancy expensive coffees so we fully expected to have to pay the difference but was surprised when we were told we could order whatever we want! While sitting and drinking the coffee someone in scrubs came in and we overheard him ask to pay up. His coffee bill was $128 and he had been in a few days ago to pay up too! TBD got her phone ready and as soon as she could thanked him and asked if we could take a pic. He told us about the snow up on Mount Taylor and a route that would avoid it and mentioned he might bring some beer up the mountain later today! I wonder if he is also the one bringing the water up. Thank you! We ended up buying a second round of coffees before heading on the red line (the official trail on the map is red and we call it the red line) to a Mexican restaurant for our last town meal. We had imagined  fresh mexican food but it was a fast food chain and we got bean burritos, onion rings and tater tots. lol! After the fast food we stopped at the grocery store for one last sugary drink and saw Big Spoon and Slay who were also heading out of town. They headed out a few minutes ahead of us and we could clearly see them for most of the 5 mile road walk to the trailhead. We knew they had planned on getting water near the jail and were surprised to see them heading back in our direction. It turns out there was no water there and  the next water source was about 17 miles from town. They were turning back to get water while they could. Just as we reached the trailhead they returned with water. Someone had picked them up and then someone else had brought them back! Grants is filled with kind people! 

It was really nice to be back on actual trail even if it was going up! 

Most of the afternoon was a gradual up and started out looking very desert like but by the time we set the tent up we were in a proper forest. It was really nice! We saw Chopsticks hiking today and then later saw a tent set up fairly early with a pack that looked like his. Maybe he wanted to sleep low to stay warm? We ended up at 9,200ft and I’m sure it will be a cold night.

The next morning was cold. Our water wasn’t frozen but it was cold enough that I didn’t want to get up anytime soon. I’m sure we started walking an hour later than usual. We were headed to a nearby water cache but there was no water left when we got there. Fortunately we were only around two miles from a stream so we continued on stopping for breakfast at the stream and topping up our water.   At lunch we had only gone 7 miles but it was pretty. We were hiking on real trail through a woods across a mountain. We also had to load up our packs with water as the next few sources looked sketchy. On our aftrnoon break we met a day hiker who had finished all of Colorado and was working on the New Mexico section. He parks his car and has to hike there and back to get each section. He told us that tomorrow he will drive up our road walk and if he sees us will top up our water. Thank you! Shortly after we saw Big Spoon and Slay who said they had slept up near the top of Mount Taylor and froze! I’m glad we chose to stay where we did! The rest of the hike turned out to be a road walk on a dirt road. TBD had just learned about Camp Oasis ahead and was frantically searching for comments about the food. Camp Oasis is a temporary set up for a week where they feed hikers nonstop. We will probably arrive there on Thursday so TBD has lots of time to imagine all of the things she can eat! She definitely has hiker hunger. She has been doubling up her breakfasts and often still finishes my dinners for me. As the sun was setting we spotted some trees ahead and decided that would be our home for the night.

We woke up early to try to get the miles in before it got hot. We would be on a dirt road all morning. We were low on water and the next water source was over half a mile off trail when the section hiker we met yesterday drove up with Slay (she had hurt her knee and was skipping the dirt road). He brought water! It was perfect timing! He was dropping her off a mile up the road so we made plans to have our lunch with her. After a long lunch we headed up a little hill and took another break at the top this time for a nap. Then we hiked on nice trail for the rest of the afternoon. Around dinner time

we came to the edge of a cliff and slowly made our way down.  There were awesome views the entire way down. We hiked till dark and set up with our headlamps. The next day was Camp Oasis day! We only had 10 miles to hike to get there but there were so many ups and downs that it took a long time. The trail went up and down over cliffs and the scenery was great but we were so low on water and probably both a little dehydrated. We drank our last water 3 miles before arriving at the camp. On the hike in we met two new hikers, Stephen (Wolf Food)from Seattle who has been hiking huge miles everyday and Hot Hands who got his trail name when his bear spray went off in his backpack. At Camp Oasis we were welcomed by several volunteers and shown straight to the soda cooler. Perfect! They also had lots of snacks and fruit available and a menu board with five different full meals to choose from. Another hiker we  hadn’t met named Aimless arrived with his dog and then Free Will, Packrunner and later Batona arrived. It was like a reunion! We told them we had booked a hotel for Cuba for tomorrow night and soon we were agreeing to split it. There was a trailer set up with cots and we we could have stayed and had breakfast in the morning but…. There are still 30 miles to get to Cuba where the hotel is already booked. It was sad but we had to leave the oasis and hike in the hottest hours of the day.  This stretch has been beautiful, we have been going up and over the cliffs but because it’s been so dry and the water sources are scarce it feels like we have been marching from one water source to the next. On top of that we have needed to drink a lot more water. The humidity here is 2%. The minute you open your mouth the moisture just gets sucked out! Even if you down a litre of water your mouth feels like you’ve eaten a persimmon a minute later.  We hiked till after sundown stopping to mark the location of someone who had pressed the SOS button on their Garmin and was waiting to be rescued. This is the second hiker in a week we know who has had to be extracted. After dark we stopped as I didn’t want to go up or down any cliffs with just the light of my headlamp. We had wanted to get closer to town but tomorrow is another day. 

We set an alarm for 5am and packed up to get as many miles in before it got hot.  It seemed like a very long day because we were in a rush to get to town. We barely stopped for breaks and  my feet were sore by the time we arrived in Cuba and I had even tried wearing TBD’s camp shoes for part of the road walk. I think it was just way too long to go without a break. In town we found Batona, Free Will and Packrunner right away at the first restaurant we came to. After a plate of fried a a root beer we headed down to the hotel. The afternoon was mostly filled with chores, showers, laundry, sorting out our food for the next section. There is a reroute due to a fire coming up that will add miles and that took awhile to sort out as our interactive maps haven’t been updated and the CDTC’s last update seems outdated compared to the messages we have been getting from hikers we know who are ahead.  But we think we have it figured out as long as the fire doesn’t spread.  We took so long doing chores that the restaurants were closed by the time we were thinking about dinner so we went to the convenience store and bought chips, salsa and bean dip and called it a night.

Day 25.  17 miles/27.3km

Day 26.   20.3 miles/32.6km

Day 27.   26 miles/41.8km

Day 28.   22 miles/35.4km

Day 29.   17.7 miles/28.4km

506.2 miles/814.6km so far!


“On your journey to your dream, be ready to face oasis and deserts. In both cases, don't stop” Paulo Coelho