Peter on the CDT – Pie Town to Grants (Segment 5)

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For 2013 Hyperlite Mountain Gear is sponsoring one thru-hiker on each of the Appalachian Trail (AT), Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and Pacific Coastal Trail (PCT). Here’s the fifth update from the trail by Peter, Hyperlite Mountain Gear’s sponsored CDT hiker. Peter (trail name, “CzechXpress”) will keep all of us up do date with periodic posts and pictures from his journey. We hope you’ll check in regularly to follow Peter along the trail!

After stuffing myself with pie while in Pie Town and loving the Toaster House, it was unfortunately time to start the hike to Grants. We left late in the afternoon after seeing two other CDT hikers, Trip and Michigan Wolverine come into the cafe where we were having a late lunch. We chatted with them for a while and shared stories of the past section which is customary to do with other hikers. They are both great guys and I even bumped into Michigan Wolverine later on the trail. We left the Toaster House with a few new hiker friends named Virgo and Nicotine. We completed a 10 mile road walk until we called it a night near the road out of town. The next morning, we started our full day of road walking before we hit Amejo Canyon, which would be our camp for the night.We got water half way through the day by stopping at the Thomas Ranch. The Thomas Ranch is run by some of the sweetest people I have ever met. John and his wife live on the ranch and have for many years. They purchased the property from a flyer they happened to receive in the mail many years before. They ranched the property and lived in a large open shed that they converted into their living space. Everything was beautiful, compartmentalized, and decorated with antique, family pictures as well as an old west looking ‘outhouse’ inside. It was truly a wonderful place. We sat and talked with them for about two hours. We chatted about all the hikers that had come through the property since they started hosting visitors in the late 90’s. They had nothing but good things to say about hikers and the visitors they have had over the years. John told us stories about his time being a medic in Korea, expressing how proud he was of his service and his continued mission work around the world. John and his wife had so much love for each other, which glowed from their faces and their bodies, it was truly a wonderful place to rest our weary bodies. After the two hours of great conversation, we continued on our road walk until dark when we reached the Canyon and setup camp for the night.
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John and his wife with Peter at the Thomas Ranch
The next day, we headed up and over the ridge to Sand Canyon. Sand Canyon as you can expect was lots of walking on road and sand that just sapped the energy out of you. Virgo was a faster hiker than me, so he took off and we didn’t see him again until we arrived at Grants. Everyone has their own hiking style, so it was fine with me. We continued down the canyon and eventually started our road walk to the Rim Trail which gives a great overlook of the Ventana Arch and the expansive volcanic area called El Malpais National Monument. The black basalt terrain was created over the past million years from volcanic forces that created this vast landscape of cones, trenches and caves. The black volcanic rock was tough to walk on and proved to be too much for my shoes. Walking on the jagged surface cut up the bottom of my shoes which welcomed sand to enter them at any time. The going was slow, but the beauty of the landscape and its tough terrain was a great change of pace. After the four hours of walking across the El Malpais, we entered our final canyon which would take us to Grants the next day.
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Ventana Arch is New Mexico’s second-largest natural arch
We camped that night off to the side of the forest road with Michigan Wolverine who had caught up to us towards the end of our hike in the Malpais. The next day, we continued on the forest road but not before spotting my second snake of the trip. It was sunning itself on the road and didn’t seem to mind that we were near it until we stood and stared at it. It was still a young snake, so its rattle wasn’t loud and it didn’t seem too afraid of us.
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Peter with a pile of volcanic rocks at El Malpais National Monument
Walking into Grants, I was happy to back in a town that provided me with the opportunity to rest and relax before the next section of the trail. We stayed at the Travel Inn which was a good cheap place where we were able to do laundry. Our laundry needed lots of pre-soaking before we could actually wash our clothes because washing machines are designed for normal humans, not thru hikers.

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