Day 27: Jones Canyon Spring to Del Prado Motel in Cuba, New Mexico, ~15 miles, ~504 miles total
Already the sun is warming the fields of big sage brush as we hike toward Mesa Portales. The comforting sage brush fragrance of the West masks the odor of us two sweaty sticky hikers and the smell of cattle dung.
The trail is amazing and we are in awe and delighted that its builders selected a route into and up the mesa. Winding through white, gray, black, red, buff and yellow rock. Scrambling at times, we find handholds cut into the sandstone and stairs masoned out of surrounding rocks and rebar. It must have been labor intensive to build. But it is a pleasure to go up.
We stop for breakfast along the rim and look out at the cliffs and forms that are now below us. Magical country these mesas. We need a geologist with us to explain the erosive processes that have led to these formations. (Any takers?)
Back to hiking sand and slick rock. Juniper in the sand. Ponderosa on the slick rock. I watch a chipmunk scurry across the path, but it is too fast and illusive for a photo and won’t come out during the time I stop and wait.
One more shady rest and then we wade across a sandy arroyo to a jeep road for a few miles of sagebrush pungent road walking. Onto Hwy 192 and its asphalt, trash and cars zooming by. Somewhere in those 4 miles to town we unceremoniously reached 500 trail miles.
We don’t stop until we reach the Post Office around 1 pm. The PO staff are so friendly and helpful in Cuba. Packages picked up, trail register signed and it’s off to find the hiker loved and approved Del Prado Motel.
After a few hot, dusty, dry days we were ready for showers. Clean clothes.Water from a faucet.
We went to work on our trail chores. As we did we’d stop as other hikers came in each with their experiences from the dry stretches and prescribed fire. The Del Prado Motel is a hiker hot spot and recharge center.
For dinner, Gabriel, Voyageur and I walked up the road to El Bruno’s. Amazing food! A good IPA. This was a fitting place to celebrate 500+ miles. I can understand why one hiker in our Yogi guide had said it was the best Mexican food along the whole trail. The next time I come to/through Cuba, I will look forward to El Bruno’s!
Upon returning to the Del Prado we could see the Marshmallow parked across from our room. Smudge was reunited with Groceries and Lucy. I popped in to say hello and ended up joining them for a glass of wine and steamed broccoli (an ideal dessert for this veggie loving marmot). It was lovely to enjoy the company of these two great women and their very sweet dog.