Thoughts on the trail

Welcome to the world, it’s not all I’d have given you.
Just shining pieces of a dream, that almost coulda been…
And still might yet come true.(J. Barlow, A. Pessis).

Mount Taylor: approach (Taylor in background)

That touchingly somber- but ultimately hopeful- song has been playing often in my mind’s soundtrack during this stretch of days. I’m not sure what sentiment my subconscious is suggesting, but those lines definitely resonate. Perhaps its because I haven’t yet reached the level of passion toward the CDT that I felt from the first mile on the Appalachian Trail.

Mount Taylor: ascent

Having said that, the hike has improved measurably since I’ve had more chance to walk with others. Recent hike companions like OB (Old and Busted), Cougar and Locomotive ignited some new energy and though the three of them are all off trail now or about to leave, I’ve just met a couple more hikers (Impala, Hammer and Not Guilty) with whom I’ll be heading back to the trail tomorrow morning out of Cuba, NM, from which I’m posting this entry at Cuba’s charming public library.

Mount Taylor: summit, my highest climb to date.

This section featured a climb up Mount Taylor, the tallest peak in New Mexico on the CDT. The summit is over 11,000 feet and while we managed to avoid snow on the way up, we were postholing in knee-to-waist-deep snow for some time on the way down. My understanding is that there is much more in my near future (tomorrow).
Another recent brightspot is that the past few days of terrain have been the most beautiful I’ve seen so far.

Mesa beauty

This area is comprised of picturesque mesas of differing heights, some of which we’ve walked atop for miles at a time, others we’ve climbed up and over, and many others we’ve viewed with awe from close by.

More mesa beauty

The floor between mesas still looks very desert-like with loads of dust and sand, cactus and very little water, but the rock formations have provided incredibly eye candy throughout.

Huge phallus rocks

In addition to meeting several new hiker buddies, we also met another great trail angel yesterday, just before walking in to Cuba.

Drank three liters from this cow trough.

Toward the end of the day we had just descended from 8000 feet up a mesa, tired, hot and extremely thirsty. As we made our way through grazing cows toward an “iffy” water source, from a vehicle with California plates parked along the dirt track emerged a hippie looking guy asking if we needed a ride.

OB and Locomotive atop a mesa.
A single blooming cactus.
OB climbing up a mesa.
Eventually, you get to know hikers by their footprints!

Turns out it was Cheshire Cat, a fellow hiker there solely to assist other hikers. We turned down the offered ride ride but accepted with greedy hiker drools his oranges, fresh-cut pineapple and water. And as we ate and chatted, he introduced his dog as Stella Blue.

From left: Stella Blue, Cheshire Cat, OB, Locomotive.

I’ll spare you the esoterica but this marked him as a fellow Deadhead and- needless to say- we got along famously. If this is unfamiliar to you, see this one of my old Dead tour blogs or that one for more insight into one of my life’s lingering obsessions.

Finally, I thought it may be interesting to explain exactly what I carry in my pack. The below photo shows it all.

My pack and all its contents, fashionably arrayed in my 1970’s motel room.

From right to left: my empty pack in background, blue extra water bottle for emergency, white tyvek groundsheet for tent, grey and yellow sit pad, tent in the green case, sleeping bag, liner and pillow in the blue case, air mattress with white writing on the case, “puffy” down jacket, orange bag containing an extra set of clothes, gloves and rain jacket, red case containing everything else I carry except food (toiletries, extra glasses, first aid kit, fix-it stuff, rain cover for pack cover, toilet paper and shovel, headlamp, extra batteries, etc.) and finally, my aqua blue food bag with (in this example) five days food. The three bottles in back next to the pack are the three liters of drinking water I’ve been carrying (triple what I normally carried on the AT.) And that’s everything.

Ok, my next post will be in a few days from Ghost Ranch, the former home and studio of Georgia O’Keeffe, as well as the subject of some of her paintings. And after that, the last town I’ll hit before Colorado is Chama, NM. Cheers! Max.

4 thoughts on “Thoughts on the trail”

  1. Absolutely LOVE the quote from your mom, so very fitting. I have really enjoyed hiking with you and getting to know you and your amazing family through our time together. You have such a wonderful history (back story) and I have been blessed by your pleasant personality and humored at times with your dancing down the road in front of me with your tunes on. Thank you for stepping into my life and enriching my journey. I hope to see you again when I return to the trail in a few weeks. May God continue to keep you in good health and Bless your journey north.

    1. Geez OB, I am so glad to get to know you and hike with you! I’ve told you already that you and Cougar stepped in to rescue my hike and gave my first really fun days on the trail as well as passing on a lot of great info on your many hikes. And you and Mona sure have a great thing going…you should do a blog for your year of living large next year for your 40th! All the best and I know we’re gonna hike together again! Max

  2. Love your posts, son. One of O’Keeffe’s quotes…..” I’ve been terrified every moment of my life – but I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing I wanted to do”……. I would love to see Ghost Ranch….the scenery looks spectacular. Read all about Cuba….another interesting spot. God speed…Love you lots.

    1. Thanks mom! I love that quote and am excited to see Ghost Ranch. Say hi to Tom for me and happy early mother’s day! Love you too!

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