Closing Out Gila days 11-13

Day 11 May 12th.

It’s Friday yay. Maybe that’s why I saw a few more day hikers on the trail. I moved out of the Gila River Valley. My feet did pretty good through all the wet of the River Valley but I think there’s going to be a few more river crossings tomorrow.

I wish I’d worn pants for this portion of the trail because there was a lot of bushwhacking that needed to happen to find the trails as I crossed the river. The flooding really did a number on the trail. The good news is you barely had to use any navigation because you just went north and found the trail as best you could. I did find this type of hiking to be pretty taxing because you requires you to find a fixed point and then pay very close attention to where you’re putting your feet and your poles and move methodically. I tried not to worry about my mileage today but I still did pretty good. I’m feeling it right now.  This portion of the trail has been brutiful.  Both beautiful and brutal.

Day 12 May 13th

I’m camping with other people for the first time. They’re all previous PCT thru hikers. One is from France, Slytherin, one from Oregon, Taters, one from Colorado, Die Hard.  Thru hiking is very much like kindergarten. You just make friends with who you’re next to.

I started the day with some pain in my shin that felt like a Charlie horse. Decided I’d give myself a pass on mileage and take it easy with no pressure. But I ended up doing 24 miles because that’s the way it played out.  15 turned into 20 because of water and 20 became 24 because of a camp site.  

A key takeaway is what James Clear mentions about just getting started.  A 15 minute workout is better than none.  Instead of saying I’m only doing 10, I said I wasn’t going to worry about miles.

Tomorrow is mother’s Day.  Hopefully all the mom’s reading this had a great day.  I’m planning on a 20, then hitching into Reserve to take a zero the following day.

Day 13 May 14th

I don’t think I made it 20 miles today for a number of factors. Last night was the first night I camped near people and I’m a little bit let’s  say awkward when I’m around new groups. I didn’t want to be the jerk to woke up really early and then got everybody else up so I kind of laid in bed waiting to hear somebody else arise. That got me going much later than normal. The Trail is going fine ,nothing to brag about. A cool thing happened around lunch time, when a couple of turkey hunters stopped and did some impromptu trail magic.

For those of you not in the know trail magic is anytime somebody does something nice for people on the train. These guys had Dr Pepper, some frozen lasagna, vegetables and dip, meat and cheese and some water. It was a nice treat to get some veggies.

It started raining about 4:00 p.m. or so. And it didn’t let up so I called it a day around 6:00. I’m a few miles from the highway into reserve and hopefully I’ll be able to get it hitching in the morning. I’m taking my first zero on Tuesday. I’ll be back on the trail Wednesday. K Two reasons with the zero: One, physically I need the break. And two I need some more food to make it to Pie Town. 

Physically I’m doing okay just not optimal. Part of my long-term thinking is that I should be getting stronger during these first couple of weeks and not breaking down. So the last couple of days have left me more broken down than stronger so that’s a good sign to take a break. 

I’m still a beginner

I’m still making tons of mistakes out here. From how to treat blisters, to cooking my meals to, where to set up my tent, I could go on. But I remind myself and give myself permission to be a beginner. Most of the people I’ve interacted with have done thousands of miles and I’m still in the lower hundreds. I like learning by trial and error and also by learning people’s processes. 

I’m happy with where I’m at right now but I will make some changes and think about them pretty critically over the next couple of days.

Hunters and hikers

Let me talk about these two hunters and what they did a bit more. Environmental conservation has a lot of different facets to it. A couple of dudes in their ’70s spending their weeks driving around Arizona and New Mexico looking to shoot a turkey really isn’t that different from a couple of 30 olds spending 4 months walking around New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana. 

A critical part of problem solving is finding a common ground.  I think there’s a ton of common ground between hunters and hikers. It’s very likely that if we didn’t have duck hunters we wouldn’t have ducks. That might be counterintuitive but who do you think spends the most money on protecting wetlands for ducks? Ducks unlimited. And they’re sole purpose is to shoot more ducks. But you have to have more ducks to shoot them. 

I haven’t perfectly thought out what I’m getting at but I think it’s important that we build people’s connection with the outdoors so that when we need to make tough policy decisions they have some connection. It’s one thing to say save the Boundary Waters it’s another thing to say hey we’d really like to protect this one place where you canoe every summer. 

Those two guys were great. The classic outdoorsman. Tons of camouflage a couple of shotguns, a handful of fishing rods a cooler full of whatever. But also the kindness to stop and chat up a couple of hikers and make their day. 

There are so many things that connect us that we allow a handful of things to divide us. Separate yourself from civilization for handful of days and the things you find important probably change rapidly.

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Comments 9

  • Jakob : May 17th

    Great work! Thanks for sending the link. You’re making great progress already, I didn’t think a longer thru hike was for me but reading through what you have so far is starting to change my mind… Clear skies and tailwinds

    • Jon : May 19th

      You’d crush it.

  • Christopher : May 18th

    When I get the link in the morning for your website, it always makes my day. It’s a perfect way to wake up and hear what’s going on in “the world” it’s better than reading the newspaper with all the dour news that’s there. Thank you for shining light on the positive

    • Jon : May 19th

      Thanks man.

  • Leone Marie Quigley : May 18th

    Hopefully you got a little rest in and your lower extremities are healing. Thanks for the newsie post. Thinking about you with love. Mom

    • Jon : May 19th

      You’re welcome. Thanks for following.

  • Rosetta : May 19th

    Wowee! Lucky you for being lucky enough to find some trail magic. I happen to know a lot about magic (being an inter-dimensional being and all), but this one is pretty new to me! Also, good on you for critically thinking about your mistakes! That’s always a great way to handle problems that may arise, and you’ll be nothing but thankful for it in the future.
    Rosetta the Rat

    • Jon : May 19th

      You da best

  • Katie Schmoeckel : May 21st

    Take it easy on yourself and learn along the way—-that’s what life is about!


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