5/11 Tuesday, day 29– Ruby’s birthday! We left camp at 7:25am, saw OT and Jacobie at the first water source (it was a .4 one way hike to Los Indios Spring). It took so long to get and filter water that we just decided to have an early lunch. While we were there, Moonshine, No Keys, Lone Wolf, and Fire-hazard walked up. It was fun to visit with them and catch up on their hiking adventures. The trail seemed to follow a straight, flat path for about 10 miles then took a steep drop down a mesa. The view was fantastic! Ojo Frio Spring is where we stopped for dinner and to camp. We chatted with Moonshine and Fire-hazard a bit before they took off to log a few more miles. Tomorrow is Fire-hazard’s 31st birthday so they are trying for 31 miles. Ruby gave Fire-hazard her birthday tiara to wear tomorrow . Guthook miles 18.1, my watch 50,465 steps and 23.16. Camped at 585.3
5/12 Wednesday, day 30–Beautiful day! The scenery was spectacular! We had a strange encounter with a horse. We don’t know if was wild or just lost, playful or angry, but we hurried out of his way! Painfully long water carry day. One of our first water sources had a dead cow next to the trough, so we opted to fill up at the next source. Unfortunately, the most recent Guthook comment on that was that it was a working spigot…but it was not working. Thankfully there were a few liters left at a water cache. We got to visit with a nice hiker named Stormdasher, from Ogden, UT. He was the one who went ahead from the cache and texted back to say the spigot wasn’t working. We had barely enough water to get us the 15 miles to the next spring, so we pushed on. We set up camp at mile 603.3. Passing the 600 mile mark was exciting!! Guthook miles = 18.1, my watch = 47,227 steps and 21.67
5/13 Thursday, day 31– We left camp at 6:45am and made it to Jones Canyon Spring at noon. Long water carry, very hot. At the spring, we got to visit with NoNo, Cake, and So Good. Long siesta included drinking as much water as we could, playing Uno Flip, and eating lunch AND dinner. Muir happily takes the blame for lengthy siestas, it was just too hot for a dog to hike! When it cooled down, we logged a few more miles and set up camp in the dark. Tristan loves it when he can cowboy camp! Guthook miles = 17, my watch 44,002 steps, 20.19 miles. Camped at 620.3.
5/14 Friday, day 32–made it into Cuba by noon. First stop was “Food for the Soul”, a yummy food truck where we each got a taco for $3 (but wished we could have eaten 5 more). Cake, So Good, Moonshine, Fire hazard, and Earl Grey Goose were all there. Then we loitered at McDonald’s for a while, trying to figure out where 4 pairs of new shoes we ordered were. Fortunately, I opened the Facebook app and saw that Moonshine had posted about packages being rejected as general delivery if sent by UPS. Turns out, our shoes were across the street from the post office at a temporary UPS location. Unfortunately, we had to wait for a driver to return from his delivery route before we could ask about our shoes. So we loitered at the grocery store. The kids all got a $21 budget to buy whatever food they wanted for the next 3 day stretch. They were so excited! We also met a lot of very interesting locals. It took a few hours, but we finally got packed and made it to UPS. A very kind driver gave us 3 pairs of shoes, with no sign of the 4th pair we ordered. Bummer. I tried to get Sierra to take the new pair, but she said the toe box is too small so she is going to stick with her original pair for now. Tristan was testing out a pair of shoes for Vasque that hasn’t hit the market yet. We mailed back his old pair so they can see where the shoe wears out after 530 miles of rough use. He really likes the shoes and was excited to get another pair. Ruby also got new ones, a whole size bigger (hopefully that’ll help reduce the blisters on her poor little toes!). We loitered around the library to charge battery packs in their outdoor outlets…then went back to McDonalds for dinner (we met a bike packer who told us to download the McD’s app to get a bunch of free food, so we did that). Lots of going back and forth across town and strange interactions with people had us worn out and ready to get outta there! We made it about 3.5 miles outside of town, had some trouble with loose dogs, but found a place to stealth camp in the trees. Guthook miles = 12.5, my watch 39,339 steps and 17.84 miles. Camped at 632.5.
5/15 Saturday, day 33– Left camp at 7am, packing out all our heavy town food. Pickles on the trail are Adam and I’s new favorite! Bagels with cream cheese and cucumbers just don’t fuel me as well as Gatoraid bars and Cliff bars tho. We are amazed with the beauty of the San Pedro Parks Wilderness Area. San Gregorio Reservoir had happy people swimming and fishing all around it. We got to chat with Doggone, Gravity, Zig Zag, and learned we have bus problems ahead of us (because of COVID they only allow 4 people on the bus, no exceptions, but we will worry about that later). We saw a herd of elk and met fly fishing backpackers. All of us were postholing in patches of snow and walking through very wet sections of trail. I love my new waterproof shoes! Guthook miles 15.2, my watch 44,497 steps and 20.11 miles. Camped at mile 647.6, elevation 10,400 ft!
5/16 Sunday, day 34–Left camp at 7:25 and loved hiking through beautiful meadows! The kids are getting along so good, quizzing each other on the periodic table and the capitals of all 50 states. Had only made it 18 miles when we stopped for water/dinner. Wanted to hit 22 miles. Abandoner walked up to the water source having left from Cuba that morning, over 36 miles! We pushed on for another 3.6 and found a place to camp in the dark. Guthook miles = 21.6, my watch 57,358 steps and 26.22 miles. Camped at 669.2.
5/17 Monday, day 35–As we packed up camp, Sierra pointed out that there were strange bugs all over. Turns out, they are the nymph exoskeletons of cicadas! We could hear the cicadas making clicking sounds as we walked through the forest. I thought Brood X was only on the east coast, but apparently New Mexico joins in the fun too! We took Skull Bridge over the Rio Chama, with a note from Guthook informing us that it is the FIRST major water source we’ve crossed in all of New Mexico! There was a river raft company there, just dropping in for a short trip. Adam and Sierra were delayed behind the rest of us when a rattle snake refused to move from in front of the bridge. Eventually they made it passed and chatted with the river guide and his guests. A few miles down the road, the driver of the river raft company’s van pulled over and asked if we wanted a ride. He said he could only drive us about 3 miles, but he thought our family was very inspiring and wanted to chat with us! He has two young daughters and would love to do a long distance trail with his whole family someday. He’s even started making his own backpacking gear. After he dropped us off, we made it a few more miles then stopped for lunch. It was a short break, because it started to rain. We decided we’d rather be walking in the rain than sitting in it. Then the rain turned to hail/slush. Just then, a big truck pulling an empty trailer pulled up and asked if we needed help. The driver was Brother John, a monk from the Monastery of Christ in the Desert just up the road. He was on his way to Española to pick up a tractor and was happy to give 6 stinky hikers and a trail dog a lift (he particularly liked Muir). It was SO interesting to hear his life story, conversion, view on fasting, prayer, and world religions. We drove past the beautiful Ghost Ranch, famous for the movies shot at that location and Georgia O’Keeffe’s art gallery. Brother John dropped us at Walmart, we pigged out at Taco Bell, then took two different buses to Santa Fe. We did get to ride on a HUGE tour bus with giant windows into Santa Fe, with a great view of the capital, art galleries, and statues. Beautiful city! It was a 2.5 mile walk to Days Inn, and so very cold! But we are showered, clean, and ready to enjoy a ZERO day tomorrow! Guthook miles = 5, my watch = 32,907 steps and 15.23 miles.