End of an era. The Appalachian Trail got me hooked in 2010. The Pacific Crest Trail made me swear I’d never do this nonsense again in 2017. Then my trail family called me and forced me into the Continental Divide Trail in 2019. My Triple Crown is complete and hopefully there are no other long distance hikes to coerce me into. (Let’s travel by boat or something…) This adventure is in the books and I’m homeward bound like Shadow and the gang. However, let’s get some final tales on the books before I throw these boots in the dumpster.
New Mexico Roundup! The final state is complete so it’s time to give out some trophies.
New Mexican Trail Town Extraordinaire: This highly prestigious award is going to the dot on the map (population 50) known as Pie Town, New Mexico. First off, there is an old, very unique house that a local Pioneer (lingo for a Pie Town native) has donated to CDT hikers to stay in free of charge. Second, there are no adult beverages for purchase within 23 miles of the town. This would normally knock a town down to last place, but fortunately we meet a guardian angel. The owner of the restaurant there is generous enough (after our ruining the smell of her place of business with our body odor) to give us her private stash… a half handle of mango Bacardi and a 5 pack of pineapple cider. FREE. Third, we convince the postmaster to party with us and that long story short comes to an end with driving out into the desert so we can shoot his semi-auto shotgun at crushed beer cans that we are throwing into the air. Fourth, the pie is pretty great.
New Mexico MVP: While sitting in the only bar in Reserve, NM (population 289) an older man dressed to the nines in cowboy gear sporting a Hulk Hogan worthy handlebar mustache, approaches us. We instantly realize that Rex is our new friend. We end up staying at his ranch for two days and travel all over to visit one of three things: every hole in the wall dive within an hour drive, his friends in high places, and his friends in low places.
Now for a slightly bigger roundup… Since my Triple Crown is complete, here’s my extremely biased opinion on the ranking of the three long trails.
Triple Crown Awards!
#1 Pacific Crest Trail
Pros: best path, best weather, breathtaking views every single day.
Cons: relentless sun, limited water, long distances between towns.
#2 Appalachian Trail
Pros: lots of great towns, nearly unlimited time frame to finish, very social, plenty of water, shelters to sleep in.
Cons: very few scenic views, difficult terrain
#3 Continental Divide Trail
Cons: all off the cons of the other two combined, plus the fact that the trail often completely disappears.
Now that all the awards have been given out, we can move on to the juicy stuff…
⁃ One day, we are looking over our maps and notice that the trail seems to make a major detour, far out of the way. After venting over the idea of “What are we even doing out here?!”, we discover that there is a dirt road that will cut off this travesty of a detour. We head for the road and are devastated to realize that there is a locked gate complete with multiple private property signs at the beginning of it. In desperation, we all decide that jumping the fence and venturing down the illegal road is the right play (sometimes we aren’t the sharpest tools in the shed). We walk for a couple miles and a cabin comes into view. As we are walking up to it, people start pouring out of it and we say hello. Nobody is responding. Next, a lady runs out and pulls us away from the cabin without saying anything. She quietly informs us that we have basically sabotaged a silent meditation retreat. After apologizing as silently as possible, we find a way out and reflect on the fact that “at least it was hippies instead of gun toting rednecks.”
⁃ One of the (many) downsides to no trees in the desert? Pooping. When everyone can see you within a mile radius, the event just isn’t quite as pleasurable.
⁃ I set my personal record: 70 miles in 2 days. My feet didn’t feel too hot by the end of it.
⁃ We are crossing a highway and upon checking our maps, notice that there is a small restaurant 15 miles down the road. We have a couple hours before dark so we decide to throw those thumbs up and hitchhike down for a meal. Then we would come back to camp just after the highway. A truck pulls over and the guy tells us to hop in the truck bed. We gladly oblige. Halfway to our destination, he stops. He tells us that we should skip these dinner plans and just go all the way into Taos with him. As I said in the previous blog; always respond “Hell yeah!” to locals. Our instant new friend Zach insists that we transfer to inside the truck because he’s already “riding illegal.” Very long story short, our night ends 12 hours later around sunrise blasting down dirt roads, blaring 90’s country, after hiking down into a canyon to a hot spring on the banks of the Rio Grande, with a bottle of Zack’s homemade moonshine.
⁃ As far as I can tell, there are hardly any advantages to being short. However, one day Boo Boo is walking behind me and all of the sudden it sounds like a tree falls on him. I turn around to realize that he has slammed his head into a low hanging branch (that I had just cruised under no problem) and nearly got knocked out. Chalk up a win for the short people.
⁃ We are staying in a motel one night to escape an 18 degree low temperature on the trail. Our bed setup is always the same: Michigan and Snapper in one, and Boo Boo and I in the other. (We have an unspoken agreement of alternating little spoon.) Around midnight, I wake up for a moment and realize Boo Boo isn’t in bed. I assume he is in the bathroom. Another 30 minutes go by and still no Boo Boo. I then assume he has moved to the floor because this roach motel bed was definitely nothing to write home about. I fall back asleep. Around 3am the door to our room opens and in comes Boo Boo. He looks extremely disoriented and announces “I just got kicked out of bed by some random guy in, what was apparently, not our room.” We immediately fall out laughing. He went on to say that the guy woke him up (freaking out) saying, “What are you doing in here?!” to which a thoroughly confused Boo Boo replied “Where are my shoes?”
This will be the hardest paragraph I’ve written in a while. It’s hard to put a punctuation on the end of these three life-changing adventures. I suppose I’ll start with a thanks to my trail family. There is 0% chance I would be writing this without them (because they dragged me into this tomfoolery). Thanks to everyone that has read all of these ridiculous ramblings. Your feedback is what keeps me out here on the worst days. THANK YOU. I’m going to fly home now and see what life throws at me next. As for anyone that’s made it this far with me and my writings: get out there and do what you love. It’s easier than you think to take the plunge and follow your dreams. Send me your excuses and we can talk them out. It doesn’t have to be walking across the country. Even if it’s just taking that salsa dancing lesson that you’ve been wanting to do… make it happen. You only live once (as far as I can tell) so carpe that damn diem and take that first step.
Until next time,