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Miles Hiked: 7
Last night before I fell asleep I saw a huge owl land on a snag just above us. The full moon back lit the large clouds, and made the sky slivery and blue.
I had a restless night of sleep, waking up 3 times to urinate. I must have slept hard at some point, because it rained without me noticing. We were glad we didn't risk cowboy camping.
In the morning we packed our tents and both skittered in opposite directions to dig a cat hole.
We felt fresh, and in a better mood to take on the bushwacking adventure of Diamond Creek. We moved more methodically through the brush, talking about spirituality and death as the tall brush tore up our legs, and wet shoes squeezed out water through mesh with each step. The sun warmed our backs from the East and we took a short standing break to peel off a layer.
We bushwacked 2 slow miles to the confluence of the Gila River, where we forded the clear cool waters. We stopped on the far side to fill up water before our climb out of the canyon and splashed around, greeting our old friend, the Gila, which we hadn't seen since we hike the CDT last year.
We followed a side canyon up to the rim where we took a long mid-morning break to dry out our wet gear in the sunshine. We had a full-on garage sale, and draped every piece of clothing, tent, sleeping bag, and solar panel against rocks, branches, and positive surfaces.
We made what we called, "Stone Soup," with our extra food, combining supplies. We only had 5 miles to the trail head, then 3 more to Doc's which we were hoping to hitch since it's a side trip and not on trail.
At a junction 2.5 miles from the end, we parted ways. Toppy took the low route, reconnecting with another branch of the Gila, while I stayed high and enjoyed the upper plateau where it was hot and dry. Toppy likes the jungle-like adventure of bushwalking through the river corridors. I prefer dry feet and faster mileage.
I got sweeping views of the surrounding canyons and stopped to sob over a podcast that shot an arrow through my heart. Happens. I dried off my sunglasses and kept on. No time to waste moisture in the desert, silly.
I dropped followed a stock trail down to a horse corral, then employee quarters of the visitor center. A truck pulled up and the nice lady inside offered me a ride to Doc's, 3 miles down the highway. I quickly tossed my pack in the truck and threw my nimble body in as well. She drove for a minute, then stopped to hand me a sparking grapefruit soda and mini water bottle of a smoothie drink. I was stoked!
The road whipped by, and we slowed to offer a CDT hiker a ride to the store. He declined, because for him, this is part of the trail. "I can't." He said. I remember that feeling.
I hopped out at the store, throwing my light foodless pack overboard first, then myself, landing on the hard gravel. I thanked my driver, then wandered inside for my two packages and some homemade ice cream.
Doc Campbell's post is known for it's resupply importance for both the CDT and GET, and also infamous for it's crabby proprietor who often rattles off racist and xenophobic slurs through his ironic german accent. He's a dick wad. I hate him. But I have to be nice to him because he's my only chance at a resupply in the middle of a 150 mile remote stretch.
When I stopped here on the CDT last year, he looked over the shoulder of a middle aged female hiker, as she squinted in the poorly lit corner looking for her box, and shouted, "Hurry up, can't you read?!" I didn't have any issues with him last year, and the same went for this year. Perhaps because I'm a white male I have the ticket to be in his good graces.
He charged me $ 6 total for my boxes. One was a resupply box, the other had a few extra layers my Mom sent me upon request after our big store. I cannot express how awesome it is to have someone at home send you resupply boxes, gear, clothing, or odd and ends you can't easily get in tiny desert towns. Thanks Mom!
I sat on the picnic table on the side of the building and ate my butterscotch ice cream while I sifted through my e-mail inbox. I hadn't checked it in over a week and it was pretty full, mostly with fluff. It felt good to get rid of everything before getting to Silver City, so I didn't feel like there would be looming surprises awaiting.
Top Shelf appeared from around the corner and reported that I had driven right past her in the truck. She had yelled my name but I didn't hear hear. We laughed about this, and she accused me of ignoring her so I could get to the ice cream first.
The hiker I had passed on the road also showed up. His name was Matador and he is finishing the CDT, going southbound. He has also hiked the AZT this year, and expressed "feeling done" with hiking.
A trail angel named Cranberry popped up and invited us for drinks at the RV park across the street. He seemed excited to help hikers since he hiked the CDT last year so I suggested we go check out his camp.
He offered us a seat at his picnic table and pointed out a cooler nearby. I opened it to find ice cold beer and a few non-alcoholic bubbly drinks. Reflecting carefully on my recovery, I'm proud that I didn't even crave the beers, and was stoked to see bubbly drinks instead to quench my thirst and make my body feel alive.
We chatted about trails with Matador and Cranberry for a bit, then decided it was time to try our luck hitching the 1.5 hour drive to Silver City to take a zero day.
We set up at the highway in front of Doc Campbell's Post thinking that visitors on their way to Silver would have an opportunity to scope us out from the parking lot, raising our chances of getting a ride. Sure enough, about 5 minutes after posting up a pickup with an old rancher couple in the front offered us the bed of their truck. We threw our packs in and noted what a clean bed it was. Totally spotless of junk, so we didn't have to sit uncomfortably on top of stuff.
We kicked our shoes off and watched the pines and rock formations whip by in reverse. The road was windy and Toppy had to twist around and look ahead to stave off carsickness. Half way to Silver they pulled over in Pinos Altos to let some friends out and offered us a spot in the cab which we took them up on.
In Silver City we connected with my trail angel friend from last year and had a big dinner out on the town. She brought us back to her house where we showered and went to sleep. It was great to catch up with Joanie, who does lots of activism and leads a very lively and interesting life full of service.