Day 23-26 You Can’t Eat That
Day 23 May 24th Post Grants
Positive sign after zero is that I’m motivated and ready to go. I didn’t need my alarm clock this morning. I grabbed a quick breakfast at Denny’s, prepped the rest of my stuff, and got a ride from the local shuttle bus to take me out to the northernmost point they go to. Which happens to be the prison.
Happy Ending (not what you think) was out in front of the hotel and hitched a ride with me and she was trying to get to the post office and do some errands on her zero day. She’s one of the dozen or so hikers I keep bumping into.
Plan was to do 16 miles to the top of Mount Taylor and then find a campsite shortly after. There was only one guaranteed water source on the way which was about 9 miles in. It was nice to be on a trail to start wasn’t very grueling in the train was pretty smooth. When I got to the water source I was pleasantly surprised with a case of PBRs and probably the best water I’ve had in a while.
So lunch consisted of a jumbo burrito from Walmart some Fritos and two somewhat cold PBRs. That’s a pretty good lunch.
The rest of the afternoon was spent ascending Mount Taylor. I’m what you call a flatlander and don’t get much work on climbs so while I don’t mind them it does take a bit out of me in the cardio realm. I took my time, took plenty of breaks and made it by about 4:30.
The views for Mount Taylor were pretty incredible I was able to send a picture to the family showing my great accomplishments. I made a short little descent afterwards that involved a little more snow than I expected but nothing too treacherous. Sort of like spring in Minnesota, you need to watch where your step and it’s likely you’re going to get some snow in your shoe.
I made camp at 10,000 feet and humped up enough water for dinner and 10 miles in the morning.
I totally spaced that Monday is Memorial Day so I’m going to have to push it the next couple of days in order to get into Cuba, New Mexico before the post office closes. If I can’t make it, I was thinking of reaching out to somebody already in town and seeing if they could grab of the box for me. We’ll see how it goes. I prefer not to spend two days in Cuba.
Best day ever
Today I spent some time thinking about my best day ever. Don’t include My marriage, birth of my children or that kind of stuff. And my favorite day is the day I took my family to see Hamilton on Broadway. About two years before then we really fell in love with the soundtrack to Hamilton. We used to drive around in our neighbor’s boat blasting it as we cruised along the canals in Merritt Island Florida.
Then I went to Al Dhafra UAE for a year without my family, and while I was there I kept my eye out for the opportunity to see Hamilton on Broadway. By then I knew we were headed to Virginia though I thought Southern Virginia originally. I remember having to wake up pretty early to log in and buy tickets. And tickets to Broadway musicals are obviously not cheap, but I was very excited about it.
To say my expectations about the musical were high would be an understatement. I was pretty grateful to be there with my kids who are also very excited to be there and and of course Alicia. But then I remember how good it was. It was really stinking good. I remember crying a couple of times; when Hamilton died, when I looked at my kids and saw how enthralled they were with the musical. It was a bit surreal.
We made our way to a steakhouse for dinner. And I remember telling Alicia to pick the bottle of wine. She picked one out but then after the waiter left she looked at me and said I think I looked at the glass price not the bottle. And I remember thinking, oh well let’s enjoy it. And we did.
Then on the walk back to the hotel My kids and I played the speed walking game. Where we race each other like speed walkers. No running allowed. They were at the perfect age where they’d still do goofy stuff like that but old enough to appreciate a great musical like Hamilton.
And full disclosure, being able to spend that much money on my family, without any real concern, to do something that created a forever memory, felt like success to me. I know if you measure your success by financial accomplishments they’ll get stuck in a terrible loop, but I also think there’s some great value and being able to do those types of things.
This is one of many things I think about since I don’t interact with people or have consistent internet access. Thanks for reading.
Day 24 May 25th coming down off the mountain
I camped not too far from the summit of Mount Taylor. Sort of expected to see someone else but it was just me that night. And it was just me the next day. Not one single human. How does that make you feel? I barely noticed.
My calculations and astute logistics planning have failed me once again. When I’m out my boxes out of Grants New Mexico I failed to account for Memorial Day. So now there is no rush to get to Cuba as I’ll have to wait for the post office to open anyways. I’m not sure if there’s a demand on the Cuba hotels for memorial Day weekend but I’m going to find out shortly. The good news is the guy who runs the local marijuana distillery also offers camping in his backyard for I believe $10 a night. Not really my jam but there could be worse situations.
After Mount Taylor the trail wasn’t very exciting. It was very New Mexico. Road walks and cows. I got my 20 miles in before 3:30 and decided to just hang out and read drink the last bit of Jack Daniels that I humped out of Grants and write my blog.
My game plan right now is to get into Cuba on Sunday in time for brunch, figure out where I’m going to stay, do some laundry, and hang out until the post office opens on Tuesday.
One of the things I haven’t been able to perfect as of yet is the amount of food to take when I leave towns. When I started out at crazy cook I had enough food for probably ten days. That’s not optimal when you’re only four days from town.
When I left Silver City, I had enough food for four and a half days and that’s not great when you’re six days from town. I feel like I’m pretty close with this current trip, but anytime I have to ration food that means I’m going to be thinking about it pretty much all the time. Which is what I think is the definition of hiker hunger. So even after I pound down a half a box of Velveeta shells and cheese a packet of tuna, a quarter of a Ritter sport bar and a granola bar, I could easily keep eating. They’re trade-offs with everything and I could carry more food but then I would have to carry more food.
Either way the first restaurant in Cuba, New Mexico that I walk by on Sunday is going to get a massive order from me.
Day 25 May 26th Theo’s birthday
My bestest buddy turned five today. It’s a good thing dogs don’t have any idea it’s their birthday. Otherwise he’d be very sad I wasn’t there. I think he’d like New Mexico though I think he probably get into the thorns the barbed wire and probably the cactus.
It was a good day on the trail I hit my 10×10 milestone, there wasn’t any rain, and after two days I finally saw other people; Lobster (whom I started with) and VW who I had met only briefly at the toaster house. They must have been just behind me for the last two days.
They told me that there was a trail magic that was about 35 miles ahead. I also informed them that Monday was a federal holiday and the post office in Cuba, New Mexico would be closed. They made the same mistake I did and didn’t plan accordingly. Lobster considered putting in a 50 mile day in order to get there and not have to zero in Cuba.
But I think we all agreed after looking at the Far Out app that there were better options either piling into a hotel room or camping out at the local RV park. I’m not sure if the town of Cuba gets busy during memorial Day weekend but we never know about hotel availability. Either way we’ll find some place to stay.
I spent most of the day either thinking about food or whether I should focus on making money for the next five to seven years. I know that’s a pretty big split and what’s going through my mind but as I mentioned earlier hiker hunger is a thing. So even after I eat a meal an hour later I could probably eat at least one more.
But when I think about my best day ever it wasn’t cheap. I’m sure I could duplicate that with a less expensive experience, but frankly amazing experiences tend to be pricey. And while I don’t expect every weekend to be like that it would be nice to have the flexibility to do that type of thing awful times a year. And that takes money.
I know Americans aren’t fond of talking about money or salaries or whatever but it’s my blog. Without any hard evidence I think my salary range for my next career is anywhere from $90,000 a year to $180,000. There are some choices in sacrifices on each end of those scale. Some of the $90,000 opportunities might be in the field of conservation or environmental protection which are things I’m passionate about, they don’t pay him amazingly. On the other end of the spectrum you have some of the larger consultant companies banking and some of the larger corporations in the Twin Cities. Some of those corporations I’m really excited about. Some not so much.
I am not entirely sure which direction I’m headed with my next career but I’m going to keep thinking about it when I’m not thinking about huevos rancheros and huge garden salads with ranch dressing and fresh baked bread.
Day 26 May 27th Trail Magic
I was a bit restless the night before and camped in a pretty lazy spot so I decided that I was going to make a beeline for the last day of trail magic hosted by the Albuquerque hiking club. My alarm went off at 4:00. My tent was down and I was ready to go by 4:20. I had ten miles to make the trail magic and I was a bit concerned that they were going to wrap up early and I wasn’t going to get any.
I’m made pretty good time and showed up about 8:30 and luckily they hadn’t completely wrapped up yet. Though the selection wasn’t very thorough and I think they were sort of disappointed that I was showing up kind of late I guess There was plenty of donuts, Oreos bananas, some peanut butter and a couple of sodas.
I’m going to tell you what I ate and you might not believe me. I ate two donuts, two muffins, two bananas, one of them with peanut butter, a hard boiled egg, some grapes and probably ten Oreos. To wash it down I had a Dr Pepper and a Mountain Dew. There aren’t a lot of times in my life or I can remember eating that much junk food in an hour.
There was a pretty long water carry of 17 miles after the trail magic so a top all that yummy food I chugged down a couple liters of water before Heading out.
Right after I saw a huge rattle snake. You know the snake is badass when they don’t move when they see you.
I didn’t feel so hot for the first 45 minutes or so, but once I got warmed up I had quite a bit of energy and was doing pretty good. I stopped about 12:30 caught a little nap and let my sleeping bag and tent dry out from the condensation night before.
After that it was a lot of up and downs. Man this part of New Mexico is pretty sweet but it was a bit of work and after about the fifth or sixth plateau climb I was over it. I could have taken a thousand pictures today and it’s still probably wouldn’t capture the incredible scenery.
I planned on a 28 mile day but ended up hitting 30 just because I was looking for a much better campsite than the one that had last night. And so far so good.
Heading into Cuba, New Mexico tomorrow. Think I’m going to try and stay at the RV park to save a little money and I don’t think the hotels are worth it frankly. Though I’d love to find a place with a gas grill to burn some burgers and dogs on memorial Day. We’ll see if I can make it happen. If not I might have to settle for McDonald’s.
Paruresis–this next section is not about thru hiking.
One of the weird things about suffering from paruresis is that you never have to go to the bathroom in an emergency. Because you’re always thinking about going well in advance of actually having to go. It’s like a double-edged sword: You’re nervous about going the bathroom and you’re thinking about going the bathroom which makes you want to go the bathroom but you’re nervous about going so you don’t want to go.
The interesting thing about being alone essentially all the time is that my more ‘normal’ urge has returned. Multiple times I’ve stopped on the trail and been like oh man I really got to go.
I told my pee-buddy that this trip was the most extreme measure to avoid public bathrooms ever. It wasn’t my intent but it’s worked.
Thanks for reading.
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