Day 7: Goat Camp windmill to Silver City, ~32 miles, ~144.5 miles total
A chilly morning. One that warranted an extra layer. Confirmation that somewhere along the gradual ups and downs of the last day we’d gained 2000 feet of elevation.
Gabriel observed a coyote run through the wash, less than 100 feet from our camp! Alas, I only saw the coyote a good ways away, trotting away from us. I wonder if this place is part of its regular morning jaunt and we surprised it. Still, I like proximity to meso-carnivores. More love for the Gila!
We winded through gorgeous juniper, live oak, and beargrass for the first part of the morning.
Eventually the trail reached the Burro Mountains and we had the first on trail opportunity to get to the top of something deemed to have a summit.Seven days for one peak is not our normal ratio.
Gradually gaining elevation, I admired the changing life zones. Yuccas faded in abundance as more live oak flourished. The cholla at 7000 feet seemed greener and more robust than those at 4500 feet. At approximately mile 122 and above 7000 feet we saw the first Ponderosa pines! Beloved species!
We meandered over rolling summits with beautiful duff of Ponderosa needles and last season’s Gambel oak leaves. Soft cushy duff, but not too much. Gabriel and I like duff so much we stopped to enjoy the first patch we saw after walking over Burro Peak (8020 feet).
The forest was so beautiful. And refreshingly novel after 100 miles of (also beautiful) desert. We didn’t want the woodlands to end. And yet even with breaks, we found ourselves on Tyrone Road around 2 pm.
Sigh. It was wonderful while it lasted.
Now we had a 16.4+ mile road walk to get to town. Somehow I’d imagined it would be on a road with oaks and pines shading the way and easy access to camping on public lands away from the sight of cars. Wishful thinking!
Four miles of sandy gravel road and 12.6 miles of asphalt to get into Silver City. No big trees and only patches of shade. Road walking is not the highest pleasure on a thru-hiker’s list. But it had to be done.
We’d thought we could break it up and get into town the next morning by camping off the road. Not the case, Hwy 90 is bordered by private land and signs requesting no trespassing for the 12.6 miles to town.
Both Gabriel and I recalled our last big trail road walk: A detour around the Dollar Fire on Mt. Hood, Labor Day weekend of 2011. Then we’d had our friends Chili Dog, Goodness, Pepe Lopez, Seahorse and Zm to walk with and make it fun. We’d kept ourselves entertained with riddles and games, such that our thoughts were not on weary feet.
I found a few distractions along the way this afternoon. The ecology and culture of roadsides can be intriguing.
And they certainly helped me keep my mind off my very sore paws. For the last 100 miles I’ve been walking in shoes with insufficient padding for my feet. Sore with every step as if I’ve walked 2,100 miles and not a mere 130+. The road didn’t feel good. But the only thing that was going to resolve the foot pain was getting to Silver City and buying new shoes.
Just when I was feeling pretty sore and we stopped to rest in a shady ditch a voice called out, “Is that Marmot?” It was Rainer! Fellow PCTer from 2011. He started two days after us and was now crusing to Silver City. It was great to catch up and share a few stories. Just the mental boost I needed to walk another two hours (six miles) to town.
Got into true downtown Silver City before 8 pm. We were immediately charmed with the place.
We hadn’t planned to hike a 30+-mile day the first week on trail. But easy terrain and thru-hiker mindset have us walking farther than what we’d scheduled ourselves to do. So tomorrow we’ll take a zero day to average out the miles.