Day 14: mile 78 (Gila alt)-337.1
Total trip miles: 260.2
Today I spent over 95% of my time walking on dirt/gravel roads, and it was fantastic. Yesterday my body took a bit of a beating and I was exhausted and a nice calm day was just what I needed. Today turned into a great quiet day of introspection and just watching the clouds roll by.
I woke up around 3 and couldn't fall back to sleep until almost 5, what a bummer. I do have an alarm usually set for 6 but it's on my watch and if I'm at all tired I sleep right through it. That was obviously the case today. I was grumpy that I overslept and quickly packed up. The worst part of the morning was yet again putting on cold socks and shoes but with no creek crossings today they should dry quick enough. I filled up all my water, there are a few creeks the first few miles today then it's back to potentially 20+ miles between water sources. I almost miss the river.
I didn't wait for anyone, just headed out into the cold morning. Lots of small pack and shoe adjustments and a generally slow first bit, but I did see a coyote. Rafiki quickly passed as I left the dirt road for a rocky climb up a canyon. Then Bigfoot sped by and I was back to solitude.
I slowly climbed my way out, accidentally ending up at Gail Pond (tank?) even though I didn't need the water. Not a terrible detour and soon enough I was on the first of many fire and forest roads. Wide open country full of clouds and gusting wind, a gorgeous way to spend the morning.
I caught up to Rafiki and Bigfoot taking a break. The three of us are in the more dire shoe straights than Moist or Thatch. Mine are starting to fall apart at the seams. With holes comes lots of extra grit and rocks which create potential blisters and burn holes through socks like no other. My shoes tended to last 500-700 miles on the PCT but this trail eats shoes. Between the rocky cross country and those days in the river I'm pretty darn disappointed Pie Town has only pie. Someone would make a killing with a pop up food/gear cart on us hikers. Either way the road isn't quite as harsh on shoes so cross your fingers they make it to Grants where my shiny new pair are waiting.
Moving slow Thatch and Moist caught up to me early on. I took another break and walked with them for a bit. It was as I was struggling to keep up with them on a climb that I had my first nice moment of clarity. Why was I pushing? The last few days in and out if the group had been fun but I could see myself easily sacrificing my hike for the group. Between breaks, hiking pace and possible changes in resupply plans I could easily drift away from what I actually feel up to doing. The group is fun but not why I'm out here.
I was pretty darn content going exactly the pace I felt like. No need to keep up with people just enjoying my day. Feet were feeling good and miles rolled by. Passed a fire crew clearing trees and saw Moist, Thatch and Thirsty Boots but continued solo. I was still feeling good and at around mile 25 arbitrarily decided to stop at mile 28. My day would end with a nice climb and I would officially finish the Gila River Alternate and end up back on the official CDT. So on a climbed, a nice mellow climb up over 9000 ft. Can I say again how much I'm enjoying the road walks?
I make it to 28 miles, only there is no where to camp. Rocky steep slopes and road. As I'm debating Thirsty Boots and Rafiki appear, they had gone the wrong way and were backtracking. We headed out, no great spots and then I was stumbling through a huge burn area and down an even steeper slope. This is what happens when you wait to long to camp!
At least sunset was beautiful.
Finally it leveled out a bit and there were Moist and Bigfoot. As we were setting up Thatch appeared too. So after all my happy solo time I still ended up with the group and am feeling good. Tomorrow is another day, I don't know what miles I'm hoping for but it probably won't be two 30's in a row. Easy road walking helps but now that I'm back on the CDT I'm just assuming I'll spend a good chunk of tomorrow simply finding the trail. So who know, but Pie Town soon!
Oh and I've officially been on the trail two weeks! Woohoo!!