CDT Day 141: Doug the Hermit’s corral to Silver City, NM – Endless Night Camp to Comfort Inn Burrito Camp
Miles hiked: 18
Total miles: 2552.6
Remember that road we really could have used last night? Well, we found it today. Turns out we pretty much slept right on it. But you wouldn’t guess why the road is there at all. We certainly didn’t, not until he introduced himself. Doug the Hermit, a bona fide hermit, showed up out of the trees and invited us back to his cabin for tea and warmth. Another quirk of the CDT. But with town a-calling and miles left to get there, we left him to his hermity ways. Roadwalking, a van extraction, tater tots, and a burrito. Silver City, we made it. A little worse for wear, but happy.
The cold desert returned and I awoke to a frosty world. I slept well, but not long enough. Snoozing from the alarm at 5:30 to 6:20am helped that a little bit, but Damn, so much for an early start. With town on the agenda, I was hoping to get moving early, but some mornings just don’t allow that. Some mornings bring the unexpected. I got up to search for the hidden water source, finding the stagnant pool hidden in a crevasse of rock. When I got back to the corral, not much had changed. Campfire was felt dead after a terrible night of sleep. She was sick with a stomach thing and in a generally rough state. Yesterday was tough, but today was likely going to be tougher for her. SpiceRack and I took as much of her heavy gear as we could, but Campfire would still need to get herself out.
We were just getting ready to go when someone hailed us from nearby. Doug the Hermit introduced himself as Doug the Hermit. I had read about this dude yesterday in some Guthook comments, but had forgotten about him completely in the trying hours since. Town and the many miles to get there were impossible to ignore, but we eventually caved, agreeing to warm up at his home and try some of his fresh bread. It is safe to say, that his shack was not what I expected. It was much nicer and well-equipped what the term “hermit” typically evokes. I was thinking a cave or log cabin, but this was a decent-sized shed, built with modern materials one might find at a Home Depot. He even proudly showed us his kegged beer, which he brews on the premises like the monks of old. Our visit was difficult to keep short. Doug might not talk often, but it was clear that he likes to practice when he has the chance. His story was fascinating and it was amusing to watch as he turned Spice’s question about the tomatoes hanging from the ceiling into an endless web of other stories ranging from desert gardening to road building and tuna melts. Each tangent began with a smile of remembrance and gleam in his eye. I was enthralled and wished for more time, wished to hear more. 26 years living alone in the wilderness, there are stories there.
It was difficult to pull away, but we needed to get going. Burritos were calling and Campfire really needed to just make it to town and rest. At 8:30am, Doug walked us out a little way down the road he built for his ATV, pointing out the trickier aspects of construction. We left him at the viewpoint for Devil’s Garden, the same field of lumpy rock spires that hid our trail last night.
The day warmed up as we cruised along Doug’s road, then down a creek to another dirt road. Roads for days. Campfire was moving slow, but she toughed it out. When unhelpful thoughts stressed me about our pace, I reminded myself to be happy where I was and experience the moment. It is true that I spent more time looking at, and appreciated more, the sunlight through the oak and juniper branches than in all the previous days since the Fall colors in Colorado. You will get to town today. Town is overrated anyway. Why rush?
The road rollercoastered steeply and mostly up after leaving Bear Creek. Taylor Swift pumped from Gronk and we made note of the first insects in what seemed like an age. At the top, a shred of signal enabled Spice to make a call to RoostBerry in Silver City to arrange an extraction just a mile ahead, where the road turned from rocky, 4×4 dirt to smooth, sedan dirt. The dudes, plus El Matador, met us there in a big white van, bringing with them fruit and smiles. Campfire loaded in with them, to be whisked away to a hot shower and comfy bed for some r&r. Spice and I remained to finish the 10-miles into town before getting some r&r of our own.
Smooth, sedan dirt to pavement. Walnut Creek Rd guided us down, past a needed privy, and into Silver City. Friendly honks from passing drivers came with thumbs up. This town knows what’s up! Spice and I made use of this time to make phone calls home before being drawn, like moths to a flame, to the first fast food that came in sight. I got tots, fries, and 5-gallons of limeade at Sonic, Spice struck out at the doughnut shop. We both struck out when we learned that the Taco Bell was permanently closed. *sigh* 😦 But, you know what? The trail provides. Don Juan’s gave me a better burrito anyway that was gone before I walked into the CVS across the street. I made plans to go back for more that night.
We found Campfire doing well at the Comfort Inn. Her hike on the CDT was over and I was happy to hear her say that it was a positive experience despite the rough ending. Undeniably, she hiked the most frustrating section of the CDT in New Mexico, if not the entire trail so far, and did so without complaint. Spice and I, with months and thousands of miles on trail behind us are not superheroes. If one does something for long enough, they get good at it. Campfire is a superhero for pushing herself way past any struggle that I’ve experienced on this trail. The Gila was hard, straight up. She did it. Nuts.
I showered, Spice took care of laundry, and the burrito place was closed. I bought PB&J stuff, though, and Spice donated her burrito to my cause, so I did alright. Oh yeah, I ate a pint of vegan ice cream too. Yep, I did alright. Some work on the computer in the lobby, then bed. Too tired to even care that the bed is, of course, too comfortable and the room too hot. Happy for my time in the Gila with two amazing ladies. I wonder what Doug is up to right now?