This cold weather is killin my spirit.

Just when you think you have things figured out the trail will throw something else at you. Left Cuba, MN feeling pretty good did only hiked about 5 of the up hill miles and camped. Turns out that was a better plan than doing the whole 12 miles up and over the mountain.


Nice spot before things went south.

The next morning we thought we’d just crank out the next climb. Wrong. As we climbed things just got worse and worse. On the upside I saw my first bear! I saw him first and when in started making noise he ran. Anyway we crossed a stream getting our feet wet but thought they’d soon dry out, wrong again! For the next 5 miles we were in, surprise, snow. Not just snow but also melting ice cold run off. It was SO cold. You don’t know cold til you’ve walked in ice water for an hour. Seriously we were postholing in icy water up to our knees at times. Our feet were numb, so we stopped changed our socks and put plastic bags over our feet.


Bags on feet….photo cred Kelsey

Treeman caught up to us soon after. He is a super nice German guy with long legs and pretty fast. He was just plowing through the snow with his neoprene socks. He left a whole day after us, that’s how slow we were.

This was easily our worst section. The plastic bags added insulation but did nothing to stop them from being wet. It took us most of the day to complete that climb and start down, what with the blow downs on the decent. At one break we just sat and laughed (to keep from crying) at the ridiculousness of it all. There was no out, just through. I have never been so glad to get to camp.

This section weighed heavily on us as we knew it was just a precursor to what awaited us in Colorado. We camped that night with Youngblood who asked what our plan was for Colorado. We have none. Both Yougblood and Treeman are getting off trail for a week to wait for the snow to melt. They also both have ordered snowshoes for Colorado. Neither Kelsey or I have snowshoes. I don’t want them as I don’t have any idea how I’d carry them.

Trail being the trail the next day we descended further to warmer temps and spectacular views. We headed for Ghost Ranch,  where Georgia O’keeffe’s paintings come to life.

Of course while hanging at Ghost Ranch the clouds rolled in rain and cold temps followed. Why is it so cold, not good for my morale.  Now that we have received our cold weather gear (re: extra weight) we will pause and try to figure out what to do next. Just plowing through the San Juan mountains might not work, there is still much snow. In the Sierras on the PCT I just plowed through (highly unprepared) I had no idea what I was getting myself into. Ignorance is bliss.

Grants, NM to the Cuba vortex

This trail section has been interesting to say the least. Leaving Grants we passed two correctional facilities, which I suppose explains  the no hitchhiking signs. One one the ladies from the women facility did wish us good luck our journey as we passed.
We were treated to some great views and varying terrain sand, dirt trail, and hard sandstone. I’ve been trying to remember to take more pictures but they just don’t do it justice. It totally looks like West World. Man, if only I had a horse.

Now on the weather, seriously we had it ALL. Started out with warm days and wind. Then it got overcast and windy. Next there was rain, hail and wind. See a theme. Kelsey’s tent was blowing away, with her in it. I had staked down my tent, but this only created a mini sand storm in my tent. On the upside we camped right by a water cache, so no filtering and Pop tarts! Thanks trail angels! [A trail angel is a kind-hearted person who performs a good deed (for example, gives a ride into town or back to the trail) for a hiker.]


When we got into Cuba, we ate McDonalds and got to our motel. We stayed at the Del Prado motel, much needed after a cold rainy day. Now the next day we got our supplies, packed up and were headed for the trail. We got as far as the Frontier motel, half a mile away!

Zero day in Cuba (A no-hiking day is sometimes referred to “taking a zero” or hiking no miles that day.) Why? Well, for one thing we are fast approaching the San Juan mountains, our first snowy section in about a week. I’m excited and concerned. At the next stop I pickup my ice axe, micro spikes and winter gear! It’s about to get real. Plus the next 12 miles we hike gradually uphill. We ended up going up to well over 10,000ft, so yea. Basically we are slowing the pace hoping for more snow melt. Outta here tomorrow…let the slow crawl begin.

Route 66 water kicks!

So I almost forgot about our water situation a while back. Things happen fast out here. So we were hiking through El Mapais conservation area, it was a day of snafu’s. 20170504_185700First I miscalculated what I thought would be a short cut. Then we hiked by multiple ponds, not getting water, because we had planned a 22 mile hike to a well. Camping at the well meant water that night and for the next day.

Unfortunately I did not read the comments on the water report that stated the well was dry! The next “possible” water was 20 miles away and we had none. So we hike another 2 miles to the freeway and caught a hitch to the nearest gas station….where we had Soda Pop, of course!! A nice guy bought us chips and cookies, he had thru hiked the Appalachian Trail!

We spent a bit too long there leaving just as it got dark with plans to stealth camp as we were still a ways from town. So we whipped out our headlamps and began night hiking Route 66. However New Mexico loves it’s fences so finding a spot was, well a challenge. Thought we found a spot under an overpass, but it was right by the rail lines…not safe. So we climbed what Kelsey called a ladder(it was actually a drainage screen). Back on the road we noticed rail security coming our way and hid behind some bushes! Once he was gone we climbed a fence finding a nice sandy spot to cowboy camp (Sleeping outside without an overhead shelter, such as a tent or tarp).

All in all it turned out to be a great spot. I slept great considering I’m not a fan of cowboy camping. Oh the joy of thru hiking….you just never know how your day will go, or where!

Podcast giggles

So my podcast is out on Hike Like a Woman! It was my first time doing a podcast interview. We did the interview back in December, so I was still in trail prep mode. Rebecca is a great interviewer, checkout some of her other interviews they are more informative. I was nervous, if you can’t tell, thus all the giggling. Listening to myself was strange, my own voice sounds weird to me. Hindsight being 20/20 I wish I had answered some questions not differently but more completely. Oh well, hope you check it out! It’s good a chuckle.

Rolling on…..

Well, Pie Town has great pie, but the sweetest thing there is the local residents! Anita at the Toaster House is the nicest lady.  Thanks for great place to rest and recharge. Jeremy  and Jennifer a local couple invited ALL 10 of us hikers over for a great stir fry dinner. Then the whipped out their guitars played and sang, they have skills. We were well taken care of. Jeremy  quote: “Now you all are out here on this trail to find yourselves, or whatever…..we are here to help you on your journey.” There are so many people who were very generous with their help out here it is beyond words.
We finally escaped the Pie Town vortex, mmm pecan pie. Headed out towards a town called Grants. We took the alternate route which included a long dirt road walk but Western New Mexico’s gorgeous, rolling terrain, a lot of ranch land covered in ponderosa pine and juniper, with spectacular views of natural sandstone bluffs. There is also a lot of cows, cows we share shade and water with.


Moooover, we want water too!

Fingers crossed my water filter still works. It may or may not have frozen with dip in temperatures. It’s questionable if they work after that. I do have iodine tablets as a back up. I have to get better with handling my water issues…..more on that later!

So 2 Canadians and a S. African walk into a hostel….

If my info is correct about 250 attempt to hike the CDT every year. Compare that to the over 2000 that take on the PCT and 3000 on the AT. Seeing, well anybody, on this trail is rare. In the last 5 days we have seen only one other hiker. Top that with the fact there is no signal (what up Verizon, just sayin). You are so on your own out here.

It really hit me on that 7 day stretch between towns (I’m using that term loosly). At one point we were 2 days walk from well, anything. Have you ever been that isolated?

I have to say I’m glad to have Kelsey to hike with. She’s a great hiker, done both the PCT (where we met) and the AT. She knows how to work the digital maps that I’m still figuring out. (I’ve always just used paper maps).  Best of all she has a good sense of humor. When things go bad out here (getting lost, running out of food/ water, being wet for hours, freezing….) It helps big time to have someone to laugh through it with. Our common phrase is: this is gonna be funny later.

We made it to Pie Town, I think there maybe more Hikers here than towns people. But they are nice people, they have pie and a nice hostel called the Toaster House. Some of the Hikers even helped a neighbor with some yard work.

So the other hikers, right. There is Fun Size she is from Alaska, Treeman showed up he went Trail Days so we got ahead of him. He tells us there are a bunch of hikers about a week and half behind us. (Guess nobody is eager to face the San Juan snow) There is also Canadian brothers Ian and Liam hiking with Kate from S. Africa. So international…..The Trail Unites Us! Oh and Jordan who is road tripping his way to AT trail days. So the hostel is fullish.

We all decided to take a zero day (no trail miles) and just kick it at the hostel. The Canadians convinced us, hmm. The closest grocery store is 20 miles away. But yeah Jordan is taking us to get ‘supplies’. Looking forward to a rest day, cards (spoon tournament) and socializing.

Cold snap

Things have not been going all that well since this seven days stretch started. It was chilly waiting for Doc Campbell’s store to open, but we needed to get our packages. Glad we had them as it would have cost a small fortune to resupply there. I left there feeling I still had things to do, i did. Like my phone and pocket battery both were not fully charged, couldn’t make any calls (no signal only wifi), and no laundry, sink showered put back on dirty clothes.

So first off it’s been REALLY windy and cold. We took the High Route, as it had only one river crossing, but was crazy windy. Seriously the wind has been going full blast for like 3 days. Oh did I mention I dropped my phone, yup, landed right in a stream, great. It was kinda wonky for a bit, all the wind helped dry it I think. It’s mostly working except my GPS map won’t show my location, agh. [Update: changed a setting and GPS maps are working!]

Just when we thought we could deal with the wind came the cold. It was so cold on the 3rd day, we hiked ALL DAY in our puffy jackets, rain coats and all our clothes. (Bty, i forgot my wool cap, darn it) With no phone signal we really had no idea about the weather. So as we’re walking along this jeep road, headed for the hills a guy in a truck pulls up.

Guy: you girls ok?
Us: yes
Me: how’s the weather? (pointing to dark clouds gathering in the distance)
Guy: oh, storm coming….snow in the high country, bye.
Us: well great

Yea never really know what to expect out here. Last week I  was melting in the desert, this week, snow. People have made fun that I carry cold weather gear the whole hike. But I was so glad to have my long pants, gloves, and multiple shirts….i wore them all to bed the other night! See we got to camp setup our tents….thats when the thunder started, then the hail, then the snow. Turns out the low that night (at close to 9000 feet) was 30°!  New Mexico, prepping us for Colorado I supppose. We are about 50 miles from Pie Town our next resupply stop. Can’t wait….i need a weather break, and shower.

Trail lesson: things might be tough today, hang in there a change is gonna come.