Silver City to Pie Town

See license plate: apparently Pentecostals like muscle cars!

Before I dive into stories from the last couple hundred miles since my previous post, a few general observations. New Mexico is a diverse state. Hot, dry deserts, lush stands of ponderosa pines, spectacular mountain vistas and sweeping high plains with roaming herds of elk.

Stone cairn marking the trail.

I’ve been both surprised and impressed at the variety of what I’ve seen so far. By contrast, the people are universally kind. I come from a place that cites “Minnesota nice,” but we’ve got nothing on these folks.

Geez, I’m gettin’ old. My tent visible in background.

As for a yarn or two, it’s been an eventful stretch of miles and there’s way more to say than I’ll do justice via this phone update, but I’ll try to cover a few highlights.

The Gila river gave me some of my most challenging moments yet on the hike.

North of Silver City I entered what’s called the Gila Wilderness, including the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument a stretch of trail that crosses the Gila river hundreds of times. The most intense set of crossings I did included a set of 30 or so in very cold weather and intermittent rain, that ranged from knee to chest deep, the latter of which had current strong enough to pull you right down stream.

Doug, a Catholic hermit who’s been living in these woods for 20 years. He made me a great tuna casserole at his hermitage!

‘Scary’ doesn’t cover how challenging that was, made a bit less daunting by a very chill hiking companion, Matt from Colorado.

Colorado Matt on a less stressful Gila crossing. Awesome hiker!

Days later I met two other hikers with whom I’ve been hiking for some time and we’ve hit it off well. OB (old and busted) is a recent retiree from Georgia and Cougar is from the Napa Valley, CA area.

The fantastic Cougar and bad-ass OB crossing the Gila on a milder, sunnier day.

Both are working respectively on their hiking “triple crown”, having each already completed the Appalachian and Pacific Crest trails. They are exactly the kind of hikers I like to meet on the trail- conscientious, flexible, kind-hearted, generous, fun. Also, they’ve been willing to walk with the likes of me so I ain’t complainin’!

This photo does not capture the incredible vibe at the Gila Cliff dwellings National Monument.

At a place called Snow Lake, short on food due to a miscalculation on my part, I was approached by a woman who asked me if I needed any water or food.

The Barelas fed and adopted me as one of theirs. Love to you all!

What followed over the next hour or two felt like a reunion with dear family that I’d somehow not met ’til now. The Barelas fed me with sandwiches and cold drinks and sent me on my way with breakfast burritos, chips, trail mix, pistachios and so on. It felt like love in the form of food and drink. They took turns trying on my pack and we eventually said goodbye with a round of big hugs.

Snowy peaks in the distance and my near future.
Hail during a Mangas Mountain road walk. Cold!

I’ve got so much more to say, but the limits of phone typing and Pie Town WiFi constrain additional stories for now.

Me at the “Toaster House” in Pie Town, where I’ll sleep tonight.

Love and danger from your CDT pal, Max.

14 thoughts on “Silver City to Pie Town”

    1. Thanks Cougar! And thanks for all your positivity on the trail. You’re a hikers’ hiker!

    1. Amy! I don’t think we get too close to it but I’ll need to check into it. Meanwhile, all the best from 25 miles north of Pie Town!

    1. Thanks Mav! Need to connect you with Cougar and OB, almost certainly gonna see them on the trail later. Love you brother!

  1. How’s the foot doing since your last update? I’m assuming it’s better given you didn’t talk about it and you’re still moving forward.

    1. Thanks Chuck! Feet are definitely better- the time off in Silver City ended up being a good decision. And from this morning I’m walking on the new shoes mom just sent. Congrats on the progress at work! Mom filled in and it sounds great! Love you!

      1. And now I know I need to put something else to identify myself as Charlie from Prime, not another Charlie, lol. Glad the feet are better.

        1. Ha! Sorry ’bout that Charlie…had you confused with my youngest, ha! How are things in software land?

          1. Do you remember the start-don’t start-start again-don’t start again feeling of 2016? It’s happening again in 2019. 😉

          2. Yep…remember it well. Hang on there and hopefully it’ll still be a great year! Send my best to all!

    1. Paula: Thanks Sis! Yes, Wendy sent me a message I got on a mountain peak when cell reception kicked on. I’m sending you a separate text so look for that.

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