4/27 Tuesday, day 15—I forgot to bring in my Sawyer filter last night, fortunately it felt like 40 degrees when I woke and not the forecasted 33 (if our Sawyers freeze they no longer filter water properly). I did wrap up my wet shoes and socks in a plastic bag and put them under the foot of my sleeping bag (in hopes of not having to put on frozen socks/shoes in the morning). Although, the barometric pressure alarm went off on Adam’s watch at 5:30am, signifying a storm is on its way. It sprinkled on us a bit while we were packing our tents. On and off through the day we’d get a little rain, big gusts of wind, and even hail, but it always stoped after a few minutes. Another day with spectacular views in the canyon! We crossed the river many, many times (possibly 100 times). It was rough going on knees, ankles, and feet with the water crossings, slippery rocks, and other obstacles. Nevertheless, we had a huge day: 19.6 Guthook miles and 22 miles on my watch!
4/28 Wednesday, day 16–We woke the kids at 7am due to the rain & frost and finally got out of camp by 8:30. Because snow was in the forecast today, we opted to not walk the river for 8 miles and took an alternate to the Aeroplane Mesa Campground. While passing through, we visited with Mona Lisa who is getting off trail due to injury (maybe a bone fracture in her foot?). She was teary and we can definitely relate to how hard it is to pull off trail to let an injury heal! Her husband’s aunt and uncle live in Silver City, but are out of town, so their neighbor was driving hours and hours to come pick her up! We saw him as he drove up the road and he stopped to ask for directions. I asked if he was here to pick up a hiker and when he said yes I said “we call her Mona Lisa, that’s her trail name.” He said, “oh, I just talked with some other hikers and they asked me about Mona Lisa and I had no idea what the hell they were talking about.” The rest of the day was spent watching rain clouds roll in, getting rained and snowed on, brief moments of sun, then lots of snow. The kids talked us into stopping for dinner at 5:30, during a moment of sunshine. By the time we finished we could feel the snow hitting our faces. We were hoping to make it 20 miles today, but at 16.5 we saw a few big pine trees and ducked under to set up our tents. The snow was sticking to everything, it looked like a winter wonderland. Tristan said, “this is definitely not what I expected in New Mexico!” Fortunately, we all have our winter gear with us (some hikers wait until CO to get their warm stuff mailed out).
(My water report notes: Last good water is 81.6 then clear water in the green trough at 95.4 (13.8 mile water carry))
Camped at 85.8, 16.5 mile Guthook day, my watch said 19.75 miles
4/29 Thursday, day 17– It snowed, then stopped, then got really windy during the night. I woke kids at 7 and we struggled through the cold wind to get packed up. As I was helping Tristan pack his tent, I looked up to see a tall man in an English pea-coat standing a few feet away with a warm coffee in his hand. We were really, really far from civilization so my brain just couldn’t compute what this guy was doing here. He said he was a trail angel and that he had pancakes! Then he walked away. We packed up as fast as we could then followed a dirt road in the direction we thought the trail angel went. After five minutes, we couldn’t find him and I began to think he was a real angel and we misunderstood his message. But then we saw a sprinter van and smelled the pancakes (not just any pancakes, from scratch with lots of ground flax, SO good!). We visited with Guru (turns out he hiked the PCT in 2018) and found out he’s been a trail angel on the CDT for a few weeks but today is his last day because he is starting a new job (we really lucked out!). We walked away with full tummies, a few apples, a few pops, and a whole new outlook on the cold day ahead. It was so very windy! We got water at a cow trough (not too bad) and had lunch there because there was a bit of a wind block. A few miles after lunch, we crossed paths with Cheshire Cat again! He gave us pineapple and melon and helped loosen the laces on Sierra’s shoes (hopefully that’ll help with her blisters). Then more dirt road walking until we found a nice spot next to the cattle guard to camp (at mile 344.2). Today’s miles: Guthook: 19.83 miles. My watch: 50,616 steps, 23.08 miles (my water report notes: get water at Dutchman Spring to last 6.5 miles, tomorrow fill up at murky water 349.4 and go 15.8 to mile 365.2 Aragon Well).
4/30 Friday, day 18– We woke to a clear, crisp morning! Such a soft trail today. Dirt roads aren’t too hard on the feet, but there is nothing like a bed of pine needles and soft dirt on the trail! We had brief moments of cell coverage as we hiked through the hills around Govina Canyon. It was so great to call and visit with family. At mile 349.1 we had a big decision to make: take a short cut on the dirt road around John Kerr Peak (saving maybe .5-1 mile) or continue on trail to the murky water at mile 349.5 (some of the comments on this water per Guthook: “Nasty, but it’ll work in a pinch” and “Collected 2L in the dark. Found a tent site…then found leaches. 3 on the bottle, 2 inside, and 1 already eating my finger” and “plenty of water, but yikes”). We decided we had enough water to take the shortcut and push on another 15 miles to Aragon Well. I found a muddy puddle and barely pulled out 1L with my scoop. At dinner, I filtered it through a bandana twice, then through my Sawyer filter. It tasted fine in my oatmeal, but a bit earthy when I just took a swig from my bottle . 22 mile water carry, 21 mile Guthook day, my watch says 54,842 steps and 25 miles.
5/1 Saturday, day 19–Whew! We were moving slow today and feeling the effects of the altitude gain & loss and long water carry yesterday! We made it to the Valle Tio Vences campground at 1:30, and lo and behold, Cheshire Cat was there! He got us hooked up with bananas, apples, honeydew, and cantaloupe. We settled down for a lunch siesta and didn’t get out of there till 4:30! As we were leaving, Catwater, OT, Jacobie, and Top’O were just walking up. We chatted for a bit while we filled up water at the water cache. A kind trail angel named Jetta drives 25 miles of bad roads to supply this cache. She left her number there so that hikers can let her know when the water gets low. There were less than two gallons by the time our friends and us wrapped up, so I texted her. I also mentioned that she needed to get a Venmo account going so that hikers could contribute for her time/gas/water. She was all over that idea. It reminded me of when a hiker on the PCT suggested to a group of trail angels at a water cache that they needed a Venmo account and one of them liked the idea and shouted “THE FUTURE!” . I didn’t take many pics or videos today because my phone was low on charge and my battery pack is dead! Hopefully we will get all charged up tomorrow at the Davila Ranch CDT rest stop. Camped at mile 16.7 on the Pie Town Alt.
Today’s Guthook: 18 miles. My watch: 48,229 steps and 21.78 miles.
5/2 Sunday, day 20–left camp at 6:54am. We got trail magic from JohnBoy about a half mile before Davila. Kaia’s face just lit up when he said he had Mtn Dew and oatmeal cream pies. When we got to the CDT rest stop, the guy who runs it for the Davila family was there. He was very nice and was just blown away that Ruby has logged so many miles. We cooked up eggs, potatoes, and baked beans they have stocked there for hikers and he told Ruby to eat extra. We started a load of laundry and got quick showers (all in this three sided shed with propane burners and a fridge). Then Aaron Rogers (the news reporter for Silver City) arrived with Muir and there was a very happy reunion! Aaron stayed for about 3 hours, chatting with us and interviewing the kids for a possible future story. Great guy! Lots of other hikers arrived while we were there: Catwater, So Good, Cake, OT, Jacobie, Fried Green Tomato, 13, Top O’, and Ladybug from Quebec (we got a pic with her and Ruby). Fun group of hikers! After making ourselves more eggs/potatoes/beans, we hiked out another 5 miles and camped at mile 31.1 on the Pie Town road walk alternate). Total of 14.4 Guthook miles, my watch says 41,720 steps and 19.14 miles
5/3 Monday, day 21—We walked 9 miles into Pie Town with awesome views of Allegros Mountain, Castle Dome and Capital Dome. Our parade of 7 headed straight for the Pie Town Pies bakery. It was PACKED with hikers! I guess after the Gila River section, lots of hikers take a zero or two here. We had planned to just grab lunch, our resupply packages, and head back out to the trail. But we got sucked into the vortex. First, we had a delicious lunch and wanted more. Second, we realized a package hadn’t arrived yet and thought it might be at the post office. Thus, we’d have to stay the night and check there at 8:30am tomorrow. Third, a storm hit with strong wind, cold temps, and rain/snow. Sarah (the owner of Pie Town Pies) invited a bike packer to also join us under the covered porch and even brought out a space heater! So wonderful! We bought more burritos and more pie and more muffins. Exceedingly delicious! One of the packages we received was from a trail angel we met in the PCT, Sugar Mama. We met her on Easter Day and she gifted all my kids Easter baskets. She asked if there was anything she could send us this year on the trail and I mentioned that Ruby’s birthday is May 11th. Sugar Mama mailed a birthday party in a box, complete with a cake Ruby got to frost herself, a birthday tiara, a stuffed animal, and party favors for the whole family (even dog bones for Muir!). She even sent plates, napkins, and forks!! Unbelievably wonderful! Total of 9 Guthook miles. My watch says 29,114 steps and 13.43 miles.