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Continental Divide Trail: Days 6-11

Day 6

Miles hiked today: 21.9

Total miles hiked on trail: 111.0

Unclear how, but that was my best night of sleep on trail so far. I think once the wind subsided in the night, there was no noise from my tent, and therefore nothing keeping me awake. It also was a pretty cold morning, so it was hard to rouse myself from my quilted slumber.

I'm waking up with a sore right foot because last night, while walking around camp with my Crocs on, some thorny desert twig on the ground lodged itself through the right Croc and pierced my foot. I put some Neosporin on it, but I don't think there's much else I can do but wait it out. I think it's more bruised than anything.

Our first stretch before a big break was 10 miles, because - you guessed it - that's where a water source was. I had surprisingly good service coming out of Lordsburg, so I called my mom and listened to podcasts to pass the time. I've tried to refrain from audio input so far, but I was in such a bad mood for some reason, I just needed a distraction. The miles just felt endless. Just like every other day, I saw a bunch of cow bones. It's becoming an exhausting experience.

I don't know why I kept my shoes on for the water break. It was long enough, I should have aired my feet out a bit. That was definitely a mistake. The water source was a trough that had clean enough water, minus all the dead bees on top. Bees kept flying around the trough and landing on the water, thus drowning themselves. Not really sure why they didn't go elsewhere.

The next 8 mile stretch was gorgeous and included our first multi-mile climb. It wasn't too steep, but it took me awhile, and I found my bad mood worsening as my feet and hip hurt more and more.

Hit 100 miles on the uphill stretch! Many more hundreds of miles to go still.

After 8 miles, we got to a parking lot with some gorgeous trail magic: water jugs, pop cans, and snacks. A group of us hung out there for hours, stretching and resting and hydrating. One of the guys, Judd, brought along a banjo that he crafted himself, intended to be lightweight and efficient. He played us some tunes, and it may be the most content I've been on trail so far. No matter how tired and burnt and dehydrated I am, good music and good company can turn my mood around.

After our long break, we only had about 4 easy and uneventful miles until camp. Double Dip and I picked a site close to the trail but a little further from the cow trough water source. Our sites were... under some trees? On some dirt? We were able to pitch our tents well? It was very unusual, and we were incredibly grateful for an easy end to the day. It's nice to not wrestle our shelters to pitch at the end of our miles.

Day 7

Miles hiked today: 16.1

Total miles hiked on trail: 127.1

Planning the miles over the next few days is frustrating. We have just under 50 miles until Silver City, but getting into town involves a long highway road walk, which we want to do in the morning before the sun warms the asphalt too much, and we also want to hit it in the morning so we can have an extra day there without paying for lodging, so our options are either huge miles or slower miles. We're opting for the latter option.

Even though we had a low-mileage day, I'm so tired. We had our first multi-mile, multi-thousand-foot climb today. Dang, am I out of climbing shape! But it was a beautiful stretch of trail. There were massive ponderosa pines that provided actual shade on the trail, and despite my exhausted legs, I was in such a good mood being in the trees! I've been longing for the forests after such brutal desert miles.

Despite having no views at the summit of the climb , we took a long break to congratulate ourselves. Right now, "we" is me, Double Dip, and Australian Will who still needs a trail name.

I took my first (but certainly not last, let's be clear) fall today. I just stumbled too hard over a rock while checking my phone for an upcoming intersection labeled "confusing." It turned out to be incredibly obvious, but the fall scraped up my knee pretty good. It hurt to bend fully the rest of the day, and it didn't help that tons of grit lodged its way in there for me to dig out at the next water break.

But this water break was amazing. It was our first natural water of the whole trail. Was it a trickle? Yes. Did it take over 5 minutes to gather a single liter? For sure. But natural water? In this desert economy? Priceless.

Double Dip and I played our first full game of canasta. It's a card game she's been playing since childhood and I'm still learning, but we have a bet that whoever has the most points between towns gets a beer on the other player. She obviously stands to benefit more from this bet. I ended up losing, but not too badly, and that, for me, is a win! I'm excited to understand this game better and develop my own strategy instead of constantly being on the defensive.

At camp proper, we played a card game called kaboo. On the Appalachian Trail, I was taught this game, and it was so fun to re-learn. I think it's more luck than skill, but I'm ok at it! Super fun to have the chance to play some games before bed.

Been seeing a ton of bear scat, which is surpsing at this point in New Mexico. Either way, glad to have my bear canister with me to make food protection easy!

Last note of the day: today was the first day I didn't see any animal bones or carcasses. I didn't realize how much seeing those has been stressing me out. Just a constant reminder that animal life is unwelcome here. But today I feel ok.

Day 8

Miles hiked today: 16.2

Total miles hiked on trail: 143.3

Did I just... sleep through the night? Did I just wake up at 6:30 in a panic because I slept in too much? Why, yes I did!

I was hoping to get a little earlier of a start because we dry camped last night, which means we weren't by a water source to get more water; whatever we carried with us from the previous source was all we had. The next water source wasn't for another 6 miles, and I was hoping to get those miles over with in the cool morning. I definitely got pretty toasty on that section, but at least I was well-rested!

This was our second natural water source, for anyone keeping track. Its flow rate was substantially better than the one yesterday, and for one of the first times this trail, we had an abundance of water and a relatively short carry until the next source.

The miles went by slowly, despite how pretty they were. It was definitely in the 90s today, and I felt sluggish in the heat. It's hard to fully enjoy being outside when you're in the process of overheating.

We went through a riparian area. I'm not quite sure what that means, but it was marked on our guidebook, and all I care about is that the water in this area was excellent.

After gathering as much water as possible before a long afternoon break, I met a man named Stewart in the parking lot for the riparian area. He's part of a hiking group for retirees. At 71, he's the youngest member. While he was waiting for his friends to finish their hike, he was sitting in the shade and offered me a chair. I'm not one to turn down back support. I didn't give him much information about myself - while he seemed very kind and didn't set off any alarms in my head, I was still alone, and I try to give pretty vague answers to direct questions - he mentioned a trivia night in town, and even though I told him we were just passing through town, I knew I'd see him there, because I love trivia!

Our afternoon break was long indeed. Because we only had a few more miles before camp, which would set us up advantageously for tomorrow's road walk, we were in no immediate rush to leave. I think we were there for 4 whole hours, resting our feet and trying to stay out of the sun.

I'm beyond ready to spend some time in Silver City! Even though I just showered a few days ago, my body is so covered in dirt, grime, sunburn, dry skin, and blood, and I'm ready to be clean.

The next 3 miles of hiking were a breeze. The trail was just a flat dirt road, so Double Dip and I hiked it in about an hour. It seemed that this was the popular place to camp, as 8 of us pitched our tents in the wash behind the trail. Seems like we're all in the same boat of trying to beat the heat and miles tomorrow.

Many of the hikers at dinner were new faces, but I had fun connections to some of them! One, Bus Driver, was a ridge runner in Maine when I was on the Appalachian Trail, and we actually talked in the Bigelow range. We'd connected on Instagram a few weeks ago, so it was great to catch up in person! Two of them, Hamilton and Highlander, were told by a mutual friend from the Appalachian Trail to be on the lookout for me. That trail continues to provide!

We all retired to our tents early and set alarms for well before the sunrise.

It's now officially been a week on trail. The days are getting more doable, even though they're difficult in ways I wasn't totally prepared for. For example, yesterday continues to be the only bone-less day; saw some more toward the end of the day. The heat is ever-present and ever-debilitating, and I'm ready to be out of it. Starting with a 4:00 a.m. alarm to hike in the dark.

Day 9

Miles hiked today: 14.8

Total miles hiked on trail: 158.1

My alarm was rendered useless when I woke up around 2:00 after barely keeping my eyes closed, and I couldn't fall back asleep. Nearby cows seem to be in the habit of fucking all night long. Sometimes, the rhythmic sounds were punctuated by yelping coyote packs. Additionally, I often found myself in fairly uncomfortable positions, and since my old sleeping pad is egregiously loud, and we were around so many other people, I rarely adjusted my position to something more cozy. Disregarding all this, I was already on edge because a few of the comments we'd read about this site said that some locals seem to find entertainment in coming to the nearby parking lot and doing late-night shooting practice (not at anything or anyone in particular, just lots of unsettling noise). Either way, I was more than ready to get up at 4:00, ready to spend more hours hiking on a highway than I did sleeping.

I'd assumed Double Dip would wait for me to leave, but when I'd gotten back to my pack after peeing, she was gone. I was definitely hesitant about walking alone in the dark. The first mile was a dirt forest road, and I was nervous about encountering a mountain lion. When I hit the highway, I was very aware of how alone I was when cars sped by. I didn't plug any music in for the first several hours. I decided to wait for it to get light outside first. I know sunlight would not protect me from highway-speed vehicles while I walked the shoulder, but it made me feel better. We were along Highway 180 for about 12 miles, and then we still had to hike residential roads for about 2 miles.

I hate asphalt road walks. They're so bad on my joints, and there's nowhere to hide. Need to pee? Hope you're ok with public indecency, or you just have to hold it. Need to hide from the sun? Too bad, no shade. And how am I supposed to respond to oncoming vehicles? Do I smile awkwardly at the driver? Do I stoically stare ahead at the road? Also, road kill smells worse than it looks, can you believe?

I've never been a thru-hiking purist. When it comes to road walks, I'm happy to hitch. If the thru-hiking powers that be wanted me to hike a road, they'd have built a trail alongside it for me to hike on. I decided for this one that I wouldn't actively try to hitchhike, but if someone pulled over and offered me a ride after the first 5 miles, I would accept the ride. Perhaps it was because I was walking on the shoulder of the lane of oncoming traffic, but no such offer ever came.

Our early morning efforts paid off, and we got to our airbnb by 10:00. The last few miles were definitely warmer than comfortable, but I was glad to be done before the scorching afternoon sun. We dropped our packs and immediately went into town in search of a big breakfast.

My biggest chore for the day was buying a new sleeping pad. Mine has served me well since buying it in 2019, but it finally seems to have an irreparable leak in the valve, so I had to drop the $200+ to replace it.

After doing that errand, we went back to our airbnb for long, well-earned showers. During hers, Double Dip discovered that her big toenail wasn't just gross from dirt; it was actively infected. The one toe has been rubbing against the top of her shoe, and it's been exacerbating whatever swell already existed under her toenail. She went to urgent care, and she, Will, and I walked the 6 miles round trip for her antibiotics. She walked even more than we did; she walked about 3 miles back from urgent care before we went to Walgreens. Turns out, without our backpacks and hiking clothes, it's a lot harder to catch a hitch.

Found a goofy book and the one page says "A new love is like a new pair of boots: you never know where it's gonna pinch or rub a blister, but you know it's gonna do both."

Our original plan was to "nero" in today (if you can call 15 miles a nero, but it felt like it because we got to town so early) and then actually nero out tomorrow, but with the toe situation, we decided we'd take a full zero tomorrow and then hike out sometime the next day.

Our evening, and every hiker in Silver City's evening, was spent at the Little Toad Creek brewery for trivia. We named our team Tres Toes. I think the host thought we were really into sloths or something. Anyway, we did really poorly at the beginning. Like we missed 6 of the first 8  questions. When I found Stewart and his friends playing too, I jokingly told him that if we won, we'd give him our brewery gift card. Somehow, some way, we ended up winning. I guess the residents of Silver City are not that good at trivia. I also slayed the mid-trivia crossword, which was just a bunch of Looney Tunes characters, so I'm sure that helped. All in all, a very fun night!

We got a ride back to our airbnb and promptly fell asleep upon turning out the lights.

Day 10

Miles hiked today: 0.0

Total miles hiked on trail: 158.1

Zero days are a scam. We technically hiked 0 trail miles (which actually is untrue, as the road between our airbnb and the town center is part of the trail, and about 1.3 miles in length), but we really ended up hiking almost 10 miles throughout the course of the day. Turns out, when you don't have a car, and the town doesn't have many (or any? Unclear) Lyft or Uber drivers, you have to walk a lot. We went from our airbnb to breakfast in town to the outfitter to the airbnb to the outfitter to the grocery store to the post office to the brewery. Each segment was at least a mile.

To pass the time, Double Dip, Will, and I played a bunch of kaboo. We're trying to make plans around Double Dip's toe situation. As of now, her infection hasn't gone away (it's only been like 18 hours of antibiotics so makes sense) and she only has a 5-day prescription. Our plan options are: if her toe is better tomorrow, hike until next weekend, when Mitch is picking us up to go to Albuquerque, or get a ride to Albuquerque now to go to a hospital and skip this section. I know she wants the first option, but we're trying to be smart. There are no outs through the Gila, and bunches of river crossings, so if her infection isn't cleared, it's not gonna get better, and she'd have to do many days' worth of hiking before getting to a road to get out.

We ended the day with a homemade shakshuka dinner and a movie night. The three of is crammed around my phone so we could watch Aladdin. I felt very relaxed, but I'm sure Double Dip did not.

Day 11

Miles hiked today: 12.2

Total miles hiked on trail: 170.3

After all the exhaustion of decision-making in Silver City, we landed on secret option C: we all left for the trail today, and Double Dip is planning on getting off in 2 days after her antibiotics run out. My high school friend Elise lives in Albuquerque and has offered to drive her to her home. Elise also hosted my Appalachian Trail tramily when she lived in Blacksburg, so we keep joking that she'll have to move to California in a few years to host me when I do the Pacific Crest Trail. My husband and Double Dip's boyfriend are coming to Albuquerque next weekend anyway, so the plan will barely be changing for us.

After some last-minute town chores and an extra beer to go, we finally hit the trail around 1:30. It feels really good to be back!

The trail out began with our favorite thing: a 7-mile road walk. Double Dip and I ended up hitchhiking the last 2 or so miles because road walks really put the ass in asphalt.

The remaining 5 miles were really pretty: gentle hills, big pines, and dirt. The campsite we ended up at was apparently the place to be; 14 hikers spent the night there. There was tons of space and lots of flowing water - the first really good water so far. Mere seconds to gather a liter!

On the AT in 2021, since covid precautions were still in place, there were no international hikers on trail. At this campsite, there were people from Australia, Germany, Sweden, and England. It's been really cool meeting people from all over the world who are drawn to this crazy, stupid activity and are willing to fly across the world to chase their ambitions!

Today was a rather uneventful day, but we're coming up on an exciting part of the trail! For the next many days, we're departing the main trail and taking the Gila Alternate. Many people have said that the Gila Alternate was one of their favorite parts of the whole trail, so I'm getting really excited for it! From Silver City, we're heading north up to and through the Gila River. I think, at this point, most people opt for this trail alternate. For better or worse, it cuts off about 100 miles, and it's significantly more scenic than the main route. I don't have experience with river crossings, so I'm a little nervous about what's to come, but I'm more than excited for a break away from the grueling desert landscape and conditions.

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Taylor Jarosz
Taylor Jarosz
14 thg 5


Reading about this experience is incredible!

Day 9 sounded eerie and a wee bit scary...

Days like day 11 and the reflection of what's to come is something to keep you pushing!!

Keep living your best life. Can't wait to read about the days to come of this adventure.


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