CDT Day 120 — October 23
New Mexico to Olguin Mesa
Wait, There’s Snow in New Mexico Too? Camp to Flyby Camp
Miles hiked: 26.7
Total miles: 2084.9
Our first full day in New Mexico was a pretty sweet cruise. We haven’t hit the desert yet, that’s for sure, but we are out of the mountains now. Gentle ridges through the forest was the predominant trail style of the day. Plenty of open views held my interest too though. Despite still feeling a little off physically and mentally, the day treated me well and has me excited for the days to come.
After an awesome and peaceful night of sleep on our patch of snow in the woods, SpiceRack and I got hiking around 7:20am with the sun just barely piercing through the dense trees. We were soon off of the rough dirt road, back onto trail for a descent to a huge frozen meadow. I disturbed a small herd of elk on the way and I wanted to scream at them, “Run! Be afraid! There are people out here trying to kill you!” Not us hikers, of course, but hunters. They got the idea eventually, but probably just after getting a whiff of me.
We cracked through some ice in the meadow to access a stream for water, but the day was warming up quickly. I stripped off my layers on the gradual climb to a grassy ridge that boasted huge views back into southern Colorado. The big mountains of the CDT were hidden over the horizon, but plenty of others shined and gleamed under coatings of snow across distant valleys and state lines. I sped along the flat ridge, thinking about the terrain change and wondering what was next.
We pulled up for a relaxing break at a scenic overlook to eat the heavy food on our backs. Feeling warm sun on the soles of my feet, propped on my pack might have been the highlight of the day.
More walking back in the forest brought us to lunch at an empty Lagunitas Campground. More eating and a touch of gear maintenance, then more hiking. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel great for the rest of the day. Maybe I ate too much, maybe the dehydration was still working out of my system, or maybe I was suffering from a stomach bug, but I felt lethargic and bloated. Too much food probably. Hopefully.
The trail stayed easy from there, meandering between tall tufts of brown grass with tree views galore. The rest of the border crew caught up with us just before the last water source for the day, then we all filtered back to the trail for the only sustained climbing so far.
Sunset came as Spice and I moved up through a huge stand of aspen, weeks after their prime. Brown-yellow leaves coated the ground, rustling with the wind and every step. We passed Rooster and Crunchberry setting up camp, then the rest of the crew an hour later. We kept going though.
We got a little lost trying to navigate a wide meadow by headlamp, cow trails difficult to distinguish from our trail, but we made it to a stand of trees. The wind was blowing now, so we needed the cover. We set up the tent expecting a dry, but cold night. My stomach still felt a little off and I had zero appetite. I forced down a couple tortillas and peanut butter anyway because I knew I had to. With these temperatures and distances, it takes a lot of fuel to keep me going. My appetite will come back, I know. Hunger is a hiker’s second shadow and it hangs around day and night.