Halfway through New Mexico

As of last night, I’ve covered the portion inside the blue rectangle

Last night (Sunday, 4/28) OB and I walked into Grants, New Mexico in the dark with headlamps, completing my longest day on any trail (32 miles).

This nondescript building is trail-side hiker support par excellence: hot showers, laundry, kitchen, fully stocked fridge (food, soda, beer) electricity to charge devices, etc.

Thanks to the town’s shuttle service this morning and the timely visit of beloved AT family Mav and Birdie, me and three other hikers (Cougar, OB and Colorado Matt) managed to complete today’s in-town to do list: visit the post office to collect packages from home, hit the laundromat to mask our trail smells for a day, resupply food and other trail needs, hit the ATM, etc. Grants is somewhat spread out so the rides came in very handy.

Colorado Matt, me, Cougar and OB piled in Mav and Birdie’s car to run town errands.
AT family Mav and Birdie with me and OB at the Grants Public library, after a visit to the local ice cream parlour.
Catching up with the aptly named Mercury at the laundromat. He carries a small pack, crushes miles and always has a smile for you. Fellow thru hiker/Merrill ambassador/trail angel Hakuna with the photobomb assist.
From a week or so ago: me at a shallow Gila crossing.
We saw a herd of 30ish Elk in this desert meadow a few minutes after this picture.
OB on one of many highway miles we had to log in this section. Tough going on the feet.
La Ventana natural stone arch

Whereas I spent the first few weeks of this trail trying very hard to see the “fun” in the hike, that fun started to materialize in abundance over the past week or two after connecting with the aforementioned hikers and seeing the miles fly by. We’re currently on northbound CDT mile 536 and gradually I’m starting to see trail legs emerge.

The TLC Ranch, home to some of the kindest folks I’ve met on the trail so far.
OB and I forged our own trail from the summit down the heart of this boulder scramble. Fun!
OB surveying the way down.

The day we left Pie Town, we had a chance to call in to the homey TLC Ranch, run by Larry and Charity along with Tim and Yvonne, Esther, Lanette and Gracie. Their ranch is right along the trail and they welcome in hikers for home cooked (family style) meals and warm conversations in their comfortable home. Larry sent us off the next morning with fresh made biscuits, gravy and prickly pear jelly! Some of the nicest folks I’ve met on the trail so far.

Cougar and OB in front of a historic stone cabin along the trail.

Soon thereafter we found ourselves hiking up to the top of a beautiful Mesa, from which we blazed our own trail down, scrambling over boulders in a dry waterfall to reach the bottom and a stunning view of La Ventana Natural Arch in the El Malpais (translation: the Badlands) National Conservation Area. It was a thrilling section and a nice change of pace from the lengthy road walks we’ve had on this a part of the trail.

Veggie giving my hair its first braiding since hitting the trail.

In addition to seeing my old AT hiker pals Mav and Birdie today, yesterday I was reunited with hikers who had been days ahead of me after my longer stay-over in Silver City when I was giving my feet some rest and attention. They had been off trail the past weekend attending the CDT “trail days” event back in Silver City. Not only did I get to catch up with a few of them, a couple (Hakuna and Undecided) brought us some snacks and drinks yesterday and drove our packs in to our hotel for the final 13 or so which allowed to high step it a bit and roll into town late, tired but happy.

My discarded old Solomons hanging on the shoe wall at the toaster house. RIP.

I find my confidence gradually building (as it did on the AT) and earlier today I picked up a care package from Wendy with gloves, warm socks and my sleeping bag liner. Managing clothing layers in a desert hike is new challenge for me. I need to wear copious amounts of sun screen during the day, but have been shaking ice off my tent most mornings as the evening temps drop.

Lush view from the Mesa near La Ventana Arch.

I hope that those reading along can find something interesting in all this. If you were sitting next to me in the beautiful new Grants Public Library right now you’d have the added dimension of my hiker odor-funk to paint the picture more clearly, but you’re probably content taking my word for it. Love and peace to you all. Max, finally starting to feel strong on the CDT.

13 thoughts on “Halfway through New Mexico”

  1. I just came back to read more on your journey and felt such joy reading how you enjoyed our home. Y’all are great! We welcome you to come visit any time. We are sending our prayers up daily for your safe travels.

    1. Thanks TLC family! OB, Locomotive and I were just talking today while hiking about you all and how much places like TLC mean to weary, thirsty hikers! Best wishes! Max

  2. Thanks for sharing the pics and stories! Thank you mostly, always, for your honesty. So glad you’re connecting with some fantastic people! Hiking people and those who provide support all along any trail restore faith in the pure goodness that can exist in the human soul. The hours spent on trail talking combined with the physical exhaustion are for me, the best therapy available. Hope you learn some new lessons to share with all of us! Mostly, hope the trail provides you magic and joy when you least expect it!

    1. Thanks Amy, definitely could not say it better myself, especially about restoring one’s faith in humanity! Max

  3. Yes Max!! I’m feeling antsy again reading your posts! Love the pictures and the stories – I’m amped that you’re making this happen. Can’t wait for the next update ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Swish! Sooo glad to hear from you and I hope your studies are going well! I’ve thought more than once how much you’d love the challenges of this trail. Also it’s great knowing you’re following along. Say hi to your folks too and all the best. Max

  4. Max, Thank you thank you thank you for inviting us “at-homers” along on your adventure!!! Love the photos!!! Kirk has mentioned much the same in regards that meeting up with you and Cougar brought sweet enjoyment to his journey on the CDT as well. The hiking community has a caring, helping, loving, supporting connection like I’ve never witnessed elsewhere. Thank you again for taking the time to put it all in writing so we could be a small part from the sidelines. And, just for the record, I know what you three smell like and was able to fully paint a picture in my head without experiencing that for real. he he he. Hike strong. Hike safe. Embrace every moment!
    OB’s wife, Mona

    1. Mona!!! I feel like I know you already from all OB has told me about you and your great family. I met OB and Cougar exactly when I needed to. I’m sure you’ve heard the ‘ol trail saw “the trail provides…” and it sure has been true so far. Love to all and congrats on your upcoming 40th next year! Max

  5. It has been such a pleasure hiking with you my friend – yep, this is OB . I absolutely love the conversations we have, the love you have for your family and the way we encourage each other along the way. Thank you for putting up with me and I look forward to finishing NM with you guys. As an extra bonus you introduced me to MAV and Birdie, such fun people!! Thank my brother – itโ€™s an awesome journey.

    1. I’ve said it before but getting to know you and Cougar has saved my CDT hike and reignited the inspiration I felt along the AT. Thanks again brother…wish you were continuing on north immediately but also glad you’re gonna complete this one the way you want on your schedule. Can’t wait to congratulate you on your upcoming triple crown!

  6. It is always a pleasure to find you anywhere we meet. I believe it may be 13 states now (may have to try all 50 states). Continue trekking on and see you soon.

    1. MAV and Birdie – thanks for shuttling us today, it was so much appreciated. I look forward to seeing you guys again!!

    2. Likewise Mav, you and Birdie are the best. Thanks for the help yesterday- it was great catching up and I’m looking forward to logging more miles with you!

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