Day 14: the Ponderosa flats at 8400 feet to Golina Canyon, not back to tracking daily miles yet, ~265 total
I’ve heard it takes 14 days to create or break a habit, maybe longer. Likely that phrase is fallacy. But it’s day 14 of our CDT hike and Gabriel and I have a rhythm to our days on trail.
A typical day has us waking with sunrise (~6:00-6:30 am). Packing up camp and hiking a little before 7:00 am. We walk for 2-3 hours and stop to eat breakfast when we are either warm enough, reach water, or are too hungry to walk another mile. Hopefully this first break is at an aesthetic resting spot.
Then it’s back to walking until early afternoon. Stopping for water, a pretty spot that suits us or (on warm days) shade that looks too good to pass up.
Then more hiking (it’s what we do). A few more breaks and then we stop to make camp between 7:00 and 8:00 pm. The exact time depending on good ground, flat surfaces, and how tired we are. We put up the tent if it’s likely to be cold or wet, but our preference is to sleep in the open, better to see the stars. We dine en plein air as the sun sets.
In bed by 9:00 (hiker midnight). Laying down, we are ready for sleep. Sometimes I stay awake a little longer and read a few pages from Ed Abbey’s The Journey Home.
Today was one of those typical trail days as far as rhythm goes. The details rich. We started with much road walking and ended up on an alternate trail close to water. The similar pace and water availability have us hiking nearly in sync with seven other hikers. We leap frogged throughout the day with Data, Southern, Brother Bear, Texas Poo, Hikesawhile, Seeking, and Seminole. (Of the nine of us, I am the only female.)
Hiking from Collins Park to the Tularosa Mountains we crossed the Continental Divide and rejoined the official CDT. Stopping at Dutchman Spring Tank in the early afternoon, the last confirmed water source for 22 miles, we met the rancher who leases the grass from the Forest Service. Such a nice man! And his dog Nellie was real sweet too.
The rancher sat and chatted with the nine of us (like many animals, hikers tend to gather at water sources) and gave us a few gallons of fresh drinking water. Far nicer than the green cow poo water we’d picked up at the tank and would drink later on. Thus man had worked hard to pay for his ranch and cattle. He had fond memories of training at Fort Lewis before going to Vietnam (drafted). He said he’d liked the hiking around Puget Sound and he liked the town of Olympia. I assured him it was still a good place to call home.
All the ranchers we met today stopped to ask us if we were doing okay and if we had enough water. Genuine. Good. Well meaning.
Much to think about the health of these Southwest forests between fire management, drought and grazing.