Hiking Through the Enchantment of New Mexico
May 20th 17 miles
Most trail towns operate as a black hole of your time and money. Grants was no different. We woke up from our motel slumber and sorted ourselves out. We raided the donuts and coffee from the motel office which was our “continental breakfast.” i had a few more things to take care of so I used my time wisely on the wifi. Brian went to the office to pay for another night as he decided to take a zero here. We have been planning on splitting up today.
My last order of business on the wifi was to order a pizza. I ordered a large pizza for lunch and we said our goodbyes as I headed out. Of course I finished the entire pizza for my lunch. I then continued the long walk out of town to resupply. After a quick resupply for the 4 day stretch I headed out to climb a mountain. The trail did continue on a roadwalk for a few miles before turning off and on to a real trail. This was the beginning of the ascent to Mt Taylor, a 11,000ft tall peak.
I was able to get most of the climb out of the way that evening and I set up camp 3 miles below the top. There are a handful of hikers in the area here. It is an important spot because the wonderful water cache that has been placed here. I’ll be filling up my bottles in the morning.
May 21st 31 miles
After three short miles of climbing I summited Mt Taylor, 11,000 feet tall. This is the tallest peak so far and it’s quite amazing it’s such a tall peak situated in New Mexico.
Further into the day I got rained on, three times. I addition to the rain I also was hailed on. It was quite an interesting day. When it is raining it is hard to stop so you tend to keep hiking all day, it does get quite tiring. I was really glad to be carrying my umbrella as well, that thing is perfect for the rain. At one point I sat cross legged under my umbrella with my pack on the ground in front of me. I had an avocado from town which I cut into an enjoyed under my crude shelter. Eventually I got too cold so I had to continue on shortly after. The mud here in New Mexico turns to a skating rink when it gets wet. It is like walking on ice, so I kept to the side and walked through the grass instead.
I found a spot to camp as the sun peaked out as it began setting below the horizon.
May 22nd 34.5 miles
I had a slow morning. I wanted to lay in bed until the sun hit my tent to provide warmth and respite from the coldness left over from yesterday’s rain. Unfortunately that never quite happened so I packed up in the chilly air. The cold air always makes me hike faster so I can provide myself with warmth.
I was walking fast on this day. The landscape changed drastically. The first half of the day was spent walking on great trails at about 9,000 feet. The tread was fantastic and the walking was easy. Late into the morning the trail came upon the end of the mesa. I could see for miles across the desert landscape thousands of feet below me. The area resembled Monument Valley in a way.
At about 7:30 I finished up my day and found a spot to lay my head for the night. There was a thunderstorm across the way in an adjacent mountain range. The lightning provided a show throughout the night.
May 23rd 26.5 miles
I successfully solo cowboy camped last night, I believe that is a first for me. I was moving north by 6:30 and on a mission. I had a new hip belt pocket waiting for me at the Cuba post office. The post office closes at 4:30 so I had to knock out miles early. I meandered around and over mesas. The trail winded around exotic desert architecture. The desert has some of the most interesting rock landscapes. Sandstone is prominent out here. The trail was often crossing slabs of the stuff. It reminded me of southern Utah. I only took a couple short breaks to get water and snack. I did feel a little sore from the long day yesterday. My muscles aren’t sore necessarily, the pain more comes from the joints. Hopefully new shoes with more cushion will fix this problem.
I did see a little rattlesnake today. It was hiding behind a cairn that was marking the trail. I was able to stride away from it and didn’t have any issues with the snake.
Mentally today I felt I lacked a deep motivation. I just felt kind of in this situation that was forcing me to hike and that is what I had to deal with.
I did make it to town at 3pm after a 5 miles road walk into town. First stop was the post office where I gathered my package. Then I found the grocery store to buy real food. I bought a large salad mix, tomatoes, hummus, chips and salad dressing. It was delicious. I then bought about 2 days worth of food. Although I managed to buy too much. I’m still eating about 3,000 calories a day, and that is enough to keep me going. My hiker hunger really hasn’t set in too much.
I headed away from town and to Rebel’s Roost where you are allowed to camp at this guy’s house with a donation. He also had rooms inside available, but I opted for the cheaper option of camping. There was only 4 of us hikers there and we hung out outside until it was “hiker midnight”. This term is used to describe hiker’s bedtime… usually this comes at 8:00pm.
May 24th 10.5 miles
I was planning on sleeping in but the sun woke me up as soon as the rays hit my tent. I tried to fall back asleep however that was impossible as my tent quickly turned in an oven. I hung out and meandered about town all day. A couple friends came into town and we chatted for a while. Once all my devices were charged and everything was packed I headed out. I didn’t reach the trailhead until 4pm so I was only able to hike 10 miles. The trail climbed up about 3,000 feet and which put me camping at 10,000 feet. There’s a real forest up here! Huge conifer trees and aspens galore! It looks almost like Colorado. It got cold quick so I ate dinner huddled in my quilt.
May 25th 31.5 miles
Well I was woken up at 1:30am from the sounds of an animal. Loud high pitched bark type sound could be heard all across the meadow. The shallow valley only added to it by the echo. I could heard the feet pounding against the ground as it scurried about. I was up for about 20 minutes ready to start screaming if this creature came within vision. I never saw the thing despite the moon being bright. Eventually I fell back asleep.
It was cold last night. Condensation froze on the inside of my tent. It was a could morning as well so I was slow getting out of bed. After everything was packed and ready I was moving north by 7:50am.
This area does not look like New Mexico. The tall pine trees bordered the broad open meadows filled with grass. A patch of aspen trees here and there gave a splash of bright green amongst the dark pines. In the middle of the meadow a small creek meandered through. This looks more like colorado, wyoming or even montana. The beautiful surroundings made the walking easy and the hours melted away.
I stopped for a lunch break where to other thru hikers were doing the same. These two I haven’t formally met before so we talk about the usual thru hiker stuff. This typically includes talk of other trails, gear, food or stories from recent days. I felt I had a slow enough morning so i start walking after a 45 minute break.
The landscape quickly changes after as we descend again and end up back in the desert. The low trees give no relief of the afternoon sun and the next climb happens to go straight up. I take my time with it and stop several times to rest. I stopped at a spring at the top which provided some delicious water. The water sources recently have been great. I actually saw a couple real springs today.
Of course after all the climbing the trail descended 2300 ft to the canyon floor. I finished the day walking out of the canyon into an open expanse. The mountain sides were littered with stratified bright red, yellow and vanilla colors upon the cliffs. I then came upon the Rio Chama. The first river of the trail. It is quite respectable as a river, i think it qualifies. I camped on the river bank. I did set up my tent to deal with the obvious bugs the water brings about. There also is a snake in the area so hopefully it’ll stay out.
The sound of the river relaxed me to sleep last night. I really am struggling to wake up early, but I have been refusing to set an alarm. I was walking by 7am today and had 11 miles to reach Ghost Ranch. Ghost Ranch is conference center situated in rural New Mexico. The area was made famous by Georgia O’Keeffe’s landscape paintings. Although it is not on the official CDT route many hikers use it as a resupply location. I sent myself food from Silver City to this location and I am hoping it is there waiting for me. Most of the 11 miles was gravel road and easy walking. I stuck up conversations with a few other hikers and that always makes the miles go by easier. Upon arrival I picked up my food resupply box and bought a soda. While I was in Grants I ordered new shoes from REI which, much to my dismay, are not here. Apparently the package had some issues so REI is sending another pair to Chama, the next resupply stop.
I will be heading out here in a little bit. I am roughly 94 miles from Chama. I am also very excited to cross into Colorado here in a few days!
This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!
To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.