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Grand Canyon bound

Hope to share the fun of the last few days at some point. Our zero day in Kanab got filled up with good food, postcards, Gabriel read The Monkey Wrench Gang. Good ol’ Hayduke is fresh in his mind. 

It also involved a BBQ with our motel managers, Don and Cassi, of the Sun’N’Sand. They are from Ballard! The SNS is a special place.

Rather than peck away at my phone, we hung out with them, Don’s mom (Cindy), brother Dan, and friends. It was a leisurely night and fun to talk with folks and learn what all brought us to Kanab, Utah on May 5th.

Next leg is about 8 days and 120 some miles down into the Grand Canyon. 

I sure hope this is 8 days of food.
Gabriel is marking our maps with Grand Canyon NP zones, so we can sync our camps with our permit.
Mukmuk wrote a lot of postcards.
BBQ time at the Sun’N’Sand. Thanks Don and Cassi!

A Tropic-al rest day

Yesterday on the road walk into Cannonville and Tropic we drafted a list of criteria for when to take a zero day. (We have fun with checklists.) 

Criteria include: how we feel physically and mentally, days since the last zero, errands to take care of, town vibe, oh and the weather. 

We added that last one as we walked down a bench with views of the valley and surrounding mountains. Dark clouds and a storm cell above the Paunsaugunt Plateau plastered the rock and trees with rain and snow. Today’s forecast called for a low of 24 (down low in town). Brrr… Tipped the scales for taking a rest day in Tropic. So here we are.

This afternoon we’ve watched a mild hailstorm and a few snow flurries from our motel room window. Fine to be out in. But all the better to be warm and resting up in comfort and taking care of digital errands. 

While not the oasis of Escalante, Tropic is very compact and convenient. The PO is next to the coffee shop (with super nice proprietors and beautiful postcards). The grocery store has spinach, sparkling water, and kombucha (at $5.49, we only purchased one, but gotta support the concept). The closest restaurant to our motel has waffles and veggie stuffed omelettes. 

In all, a good, warm spot to rest.

Day 31: 0 miles; 465.3 miles total. Best Value Inn in Tropic, Utah.

Thanks Wyatt and Dalton for the seaweed!
Mukmuk enjoying guacamole, at last! – Wanted some since looking afar at the house boat scene of Lake Powell; 160 miles ago.
Super happy to get a new toothbrush and special cat and hippo flossers in our resupply packages.

Wonders of the Gila

Day 9: Silver City to Sheep Corral Canyon, ~22.5 miles, ~167 miles total

This morning it was time to get back on trail. And since the CDT goes right through Silver City, I couldn’t resist stopping at Three Dog Espresso for an americano and breakfast burrito. Great coffee! And such nice women running the shop. I feel that EVERYONE we meet in New Mexico is incredibly happy and nice. There is something about this state.

Back to trail a la road, Gabriel and I walked out of town. Along the way we started devising a study to determine the most likely vehicle/person combo to give us a wave. Turns out there are a lot of variables to consider! And a lot of people wave to hikers; particularly truck drivers. The study devising ate up the road miles and soon enough we were back in the Gila National Forest.

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Silver City's planning department is at a former gas station.
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Where the sidewalk ends.
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Another roadside attraction.

Such beautiful country, even along the roads(!), oaks, junipers, pinyon pines, and ponderosa. We gently meandered red, twisting forest roads until early afternoon. A couple of raindrops even fell on us, not enough to get us or the ground wet. Too bad, the Gila and pretty much all of New Mexico is in a severe drought.

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We were happy to be walking this road.

We descended the road to a wide bending canyon, Horseshoe Bend. With its grassy floor and junipers, hoodoos rising high above us the landscape turned magical.

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Horseshoe Bend - this photo doesn't do the golden grassy flats, juniper and high walls justice.

We watched coatis cross pools of sometimes flowing Bear Creek (here here for the hyporheic zone!). We meandered up gorgeous wooded oak canyons. These are seemingly still, quiet places. Our footsteps cushioned by a forest floor of oak leaves and Ponderosa needles. Soft light filtering to the ground. As we hiked up out of one canyon we found ourselves in a vast garden of red and pink rock. Hoodoos. Terraced rock out croppings. Hedgehog cactus, century plants and cholla amid alligator juniper. This land is beautiful and invites one to slowdown. Stop. Savor. Explore. We poked around some.  But this area warrants days, weeks, a lifetime.  I plan to come back.

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A coati inspects us from a nearby slope. Nine others crossed our path near Bear Creek.
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Oh to know the story of this cabin.

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Gabriel looks over Turkey Flat.

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Marmot amid the hoodoos.

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Lovely bright red hedgehog cactus. We often noticed them in more reclusive spots.
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Century plant, at long last, prepares to flower.
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Good water.

In the evening, as we hiked out of Sycamore Canyon we met Doug and Adrian. Gila locals. Doug has lived on a private inholding for 15 years and knows well the details of springs, old mining claims, and the tribes that lived here. Adrian is a cattle rancher with a Forest Service lease on the grass, he was out this evening looking for a neighbor’s lost cattle. Both men know, love, and depend on the Gila Country for their livelihood. Meeting them enriched the day. Gabriel and I were once again struck by the magic, of seemingly-chance encounters that occur with far greater frequency, when one journeys by foot.

A few more miles up trail, we encountered the first Douglas-fir of the (~mile 164)! Far ranging species and most reminiscent of home. Another good friend to meet while walking.

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First Douglas-fir of the trail at ~mile 164.

Up and over a pass, we looked back at the amazing country we’d just had the opprtunity to meet. Turkey Flats and Devils Garden, were now in the distance. I promised myself I’d come back.

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Magical Gila Country.

We headed down Sheep Corral Canyon and camped amid gamble oak and ponderosa. Soft comfy duff. Lovely to watch the sunset through the trees as we ate our dinner in the forest.

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Dinner view.

A note from the shady corner of Doc Cambells’ porch that is closest to an outlet and the wifi:
Sorry if there is sometimes a backlog. I find that at night,  I’d rather watch the bats flicker about or track the stars as they move through the sky rather than look at a little glowing screen. Hence, there will be lag time in posts from time to time.

Lounging around Lordsburg

Day 5: Lordsburg, 0 miles, about 85 miles total

Since we got into Lordsburg ahead of schedule, it is time to rest. Let our bodies ease back into walking 12-plus hours a day.

Town day. Time to lounge. Do as little physical activity as possible. This is a rather difficult task for me to do; I’m not used to having much down time. Fortunately, I have Gabriel to learn from! He is a champion lounger.

This is where and how Gabriel spent much of the day. I think he got up to eat.
image[Gabriel putting as much effort into resting as possible. He’s an excellent instructor. /caption]

With so many people out on the CDT this year (there are an estimated150 NOBOs and SOBOs total), staying at the Econolodge feels like we are back to PCT culture. Lots of hikers around, at least 20 here today. Including another Marmot from Seattle! She is very, very nice.

Tomorrow we set out for Silver City. We’ll get our last taste of this desert and then meet the storied Gila National Forest. Home once to Aldo Leopold, wolves, and Pueblo people. Home now to the first designated wilderness in the US.

Same Marmot, new tricks

As I sit at the Greyhound Station in Tucson waiting for the bus to Lordsburg, it seems now is a good time to figure out how to blog on the 5+ oz of smartphone I’ll be carrying along on this hike.

As much as I prefer an analog life on the trail, I accept that this little device will come in handy.

Time for this marmot to learn a few new tricks.

Like loading photos…

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Grandma, Grandpa & Lindsay (er, Marmot) outside the station

Looks like we are boarding in a few  minutes. Lordsburg here we come!