Day 16 5/15 23 miles
I spent most of the day yesterday and last night at the Toaster House in Pie Town. This place is a really cool old house that Nita, a local trail angel, owns and lets hikers and bikers and travelers spend the night at. It was weird that after barely seeing any hikers for a week on the trail, there was about a dozen others staying at the Toaster House. I ate twice at the Pie Cafe yesterday and this morning I stuffed my face with a delicious breakfast burrito before leaving town at the Gatherin’ Place with Queen B, Silver, Trooper and Quiksilver. Queen B and I then headed out and walked along a dirt road into the desert. Shortly after leaving town we took a right onto the Cebolla alternate to head towards the El Malpais National Monument. About 15 miles out we stopped and had lunch and refilled our water at the Thomas Ranch. John and Enzy Thomas are an older couple that let hikers come by to fill up on water and while there they entertain us with the stories of their life. Tonight we’re cowboy camping under a juniper tree right on the edge of a huge open range. Also camping here are a bunch of fellow PCT ’15 alums including Catwater, an Alaskan snowboarder, as well the Ravens, a family of 4 that thru hikes together.
Day 17 5/16 27 miles
I woke to a chilly morning with a rather spectacular sunrise on the horizon and the sound of coyotes howling in the distance. The trail followed a dirt road along the open range for about 7 or 8 miles until climbing up through Armijo canyon and then back down through Sand Canyon into another huge open range. There were menacing clouds all around us but we managed to outrun (or outwalk) any type of storm. Plus Queen B is like a millimeter taller than me so I wasn’t too worried if it did start to thunder and lightning. We reached the road and out of harm’s way and there we filled up our water bottles at a cow tank. There was plenty of algae in the water and one of my bottles looked like it was full of Ecto Cooler circa 1990. After a few miles of road walking (the highway kind) we reached El Malpais National Monument and ascended up the rim trail. The rim trail was pretty awesome. Lots of great views of some massive lava fields and eventually we got to a rocky outcropping that overlooks La Ventana Arch. This is where we stopped for the night, eating our dinner at the ledge and camping a little further back in the trees. It was quite an incredible day. La Ventana Arch from our dinner ledgeQueen B hiking along the rim trailsurrounded by thunderheads
Day 18 5/17 25 miles
There was no rush to crawl out of my tent this morning since it was pretty cold so I got a later than normal start and didn’t begin walking until 6:45. I guess it was pretty windy up on the rim but I didn’t notice because I put to use some ear plugs that I found and slept soundly. Right away we walked or rock hopped down a steep drainage to the base of the magnificent La Ventana Arch. From there we followed the highway for a few miles before taking the Acoma-Zuni trail that travels across 8 miles of lava fields. Ancient Puebloan people set up cairned trails across these lava fields that still exist today to connect neighboring pueblos by trail. The lava fields were made up of hardened black molten rock with huge caves and crevices all over the place, it was a good place to be paying attention to where I was walking. We then turned onto the Bonita-Zuni alternate for about 15 miles before finding a campsite tucked in some woods at the base of a canyon wall. QB crossing the lava fields windmill producing some high quality H2Oview from our campsite
Day 19 5/18 10 miles
Last night was cold, maybe the coldest night yet. It had rained and sleeted through the night and the top of the canyon was covered in white once I faced the day. I followed a dirt road for about 10 miles as I walked towards Grants, NM and a few cars passed me covered in snow. It warmed up a little as the morning went on but not by much, it’s supposed to be unseasonably cold tonight so a good one to be inside. Queen B and I checked out the New Mexico mining museum in Grants and then ate some authentic New Mexican cuisine at El Cafecito. This place was legit! The sopapillas with honey are my new favorite food. Our friend Speed is meeting us here in town tomorrow and joining us for a section, so we’ll be spending the rest of the day relaxing and doing town chores; eating, bathing, eating, laundry, eating, resupplying, and eating. Walking out of Zuni Canyon this morning this could be me but I don’t have a motorcycle enjoying sopapillas and honey
Until next time,
PS All my love!!!
PPS Feel free to follow me on insta @endlesspsummer