Through the Lava Fields and the New Mexico Heat
May 16: 16 Miles
Well, we did eventually make it out of Pie Town after pie for breakfast and some more chores were completed. We headed out on a road walk at about 3 in the afternoon. Even though it wasn’t that hot we let the heat chill off before we left the comfort of the Toaster House deck. We actually managed to do about 16 miles that afternoon. The next water was provided from a trail angel’s home 16 miles down the gravel road so that is where we ended up. We did finish the day in the dark and went to bed later than usual.
May 17: 26 Miles
All but one mile of today was on roads. Damn. The first 16 were on gravel. I haven’t decided if I like the gravel road or the paved roads more. Next time I do this trail I am going to be hiking New Mexico in road running shoes.
We had two great water sources today. Both solar pumps pumping water into a cow trough. Thankfully both pumps were on as we walked up and got fresh water from the ground. I have yet to clean any water since Pie Town.
I switched out my Sawyer for Aqua Mira at Pie Town. Crazy story. I dropped and broke my Sawyer on a rock the day we were dropping into the Gila River. The next day I find a Sawyer screwed on to a Smartwater bottle lying on the riverbank. Naturally, I grab it and claim it as my own. However, the flow rate for this Sawyer was poor and it tested my patience. So I ended up finding Aqua Mira chemical treatment in the hiker box at the Toaster House and I grabbed it. This water is nasty around here so some chemical treatment or filter is completely necessary. I’m looking forward to see which method I prefer.
We continued road walking on the highway and eventually ended up at a trailhead for the rim trail. At this point we hopped onto a trail and climbed to the top of a cliff band. The 100-foot cliff band gave us wonderful views of the lava fields to the west, and the highway below looked tiny. Seeing the sun set below the horizon miles away was a beautiful sight.
May 18: 22.5 Miles
The sun woke us up, per usual. We followed the trail along the rim and eventually got a view of the arch to the east. We descended to the floor via a cross country route and took in views of the arch from below. Also, at the adjacent parking lot we enjoyed use of the trash cans and pit toilets. There we joined the highway once again for three more miles and found the trailhead in which we diverted from the road to a trail. Although this wasn’t much of a trail. Those lava fields we looked across yesterday we would now have to hike across. With the terrain trail building seemed impossible so we were tasked with following cairns through “the badlands,” as the Native Americans called it in the 1500s. We explored some lava tube caves and the hiking was slow moving through the tough terrain. Our afternoon was spent tackling the seven-mile section of lava travel.
We then found our way to another trailhead, where we jumped onto a dirt forest road. We finished the day with about eight miles on this road. Our last water source of this section was a cow trough windmill where we filled up with four liters of water for the next 20 miles into Grants. The wind was blowing and we collected water straight from the pipe. I was able to do this entire stretch from Pie Town to Grants without filtering any water. We spent the night cowboy camping in an old pasture land. The stars filled the night sky with the Milky Way draped across the nightscape.
May 19: 15 Miles
Always wake up early on a town day. That leaves you more time for fun in town. I was up and hiking before 7 a.m., and my brother was ahead of me. It is a cold morning. I hiked the first hour in the shade with all my warm clothes on. I had on my beanie, buff, puffy jacket, rain jacket, leggings, and gloves. I hiked bundled up for the first hour until the sun finally crested over the valley and warmed me up. At that point, of course, I had to quickly strip down to avoid sweating. Then, in classic New Mexico CDT style, we road walked into town for 12 more miles. Good news is that I was able to call my parents as we road walked through the suburban neighborhoods of Grants, New Mexico. Once I got into town the Sonic restaurant caught my eye so I wandered into there for a snack. Two large orders of tater tots and a frozen lemonade did the trick. A divide biker joined me and we talked about our recent trail adventures. There’s a bike route that runs adjacent to the CDT and occasionally we run into these bikers. It’s interesting to hear about their ride; while so similar to our hike it is quite different when they are easily covering 100 miles a day.
We are staying in Grants tonight. Brian and I are splitting a hotel room with our hiking buddy Hurculeas. Grants also has two all you can eat Asian buffets. Naturally we went to the one that was closer to our hotel room and we went there to fix our calorie deficiencies.
I am heading out of town today. Brian is planning on taking a zero today. We are splitting up for a little while. At this point it has become evident that we want different things from this thru-hike. Brian enjoys strolling along with 20-25 mile days. While at this point I would like to be up in the 30-35 mile range. I also am wanting to train for something crazy I’ve been planning recently, but I’m going to keep it under wraps for a lil while longer.
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.
Good post, nice easy style! Happy Trails