Day 38: May 31, 2019
Destination: CDT Mile 714.0
Today’s Miles: 21.6
Start Location: Ghost Ranch Alternate Mile 4.0
Trip Miles: 610.8
I set my alarm and woke up just before 4:30. Ghost Ranch serves breakfast between 7:30 and 8:30 only, so I knew I had to hustle to make the 7 miles by 7:30. I figured I would leave by 5ish, and walk 3.5 miles per hour for two hours. Done! What I didn’t do was look ahead at the waypoint notes in Guthook (my GPS map app). If I had, I would have been prepared for the trail to disappear.
I started hiking at a brisk pace down the dirt road I started walking yesterday. I probably began hiking at 5:10 - 5:15. It was still chilly, and I enjoyed seeing the sky slowly start to show signs of life and warmth. I kept an eye out for Dutchman and Mouse, but figured they, too, might have their eyes set on breakfast. They were probably ahead.
I checked Guthook and it informed me that, at a particular junction, I was supposed to leave the dirt road and turn onto the trail. When I arrived at said junction, there was no trail. I walked up and down the road looking - nothing. I looked at comments other hikers had left in Guthook, and one of them said to just point myself in the general direction and climb up over the hill in front of me. That’s what I did!
The bushwhacking was good fun actually, but I was sweating making it to breakfast on time. I walked as fast as I could, given the circumstances, and trying to avoid the myriad of Joe Pesci cacti trying to goodfella my feet. After I climbed the hill, I hiked down into a ravine, then had to climb back out to get down to the road. Right before the road I finally found the trail, only to lose it again across the street at The Living Museum. This place is ironically named, because it is completely dead! It looks like something out of The Walking Dead. There is an empty bus parking lot with weeds growing out of the concrete, and an abandoned building to go with it. I am not sure what type of museum it used to be.
I then had to figure out where to go. I read some Guthook comments and walked around in front of the museum. I figured out that I needed to enter what appeared to be private property via a cattle gate, and then follow blue marked posts. I found the gate, and there was a clear trail path inside, for a while. It wasn’t too long before the trail disappeared again, and I basically bushwhacked my way to Ghost Ranch. I checked my map periodically just to make sure I was on track. I brought a small compass for situations like this, so that rather than checking my phone all the time, I can just take a bearing and follow it. It uses less phone battery. Since I was going to a place to charge my phone, I didn’t use the compass this time.
Ghost Ranch is a big facility! They seem to host lots of corporate team-building type events, and offer Georgia O’Keefe tours. Apparently she had a house there for some time. I think they said 50 years.
I went inside the visitor center and saw some hikers I knew. I was supposed to buy a breakfast ticket, but breakfast starts at 7:30 and the visitor center doesn’t open until 8.... Instead, I got in line and noticed the ticket was just something people were putting in a small box. I figured I could just pay for breakfast after, so I proceeded to chow down. I had about 8 sausage links, two omelettes, oatmeal with brown sugar, yoghurt with blueberries and granola, and a cinnamon roll. It was delightful!
After breakfast I went to pick up my package at the visitor center and pay for that and breakfast. I talked to a few hikers as I organized my resupply, charged my devices, and took care of sending Zpacks pictures of my torn rain jacket. I purchased a root beer and a Butterfinger from the gift shop. Then, who came through the door but Dutchman!
It turns out that Dutchman and Mouse had camped behind me at an established campground off of the dirt road. I must have walked right by them in my hustle to find a spot to camp and hide from the storm.
I caught up with them for a bit and set my gear out to dry outside. Tourists cycled in and out. The visitor center was super convenient with the internet and a nice cafe area to sit . The staff were all very kind and let us dirt bags sit inside and stink up the place to use WiFi!
Finally, after about 5.5 hours of resting, eating, charging, drying, socializing and interneting, I hiked out. The path out of Ghost Ranch transitioned from road, to box canyon, to climbing. LOTS of climbing.
The desert mesa walls were spectacular with their mottled reds and oranges. The strata on the rock cliffs made me crave bacon! I basically spent all day going up, and the trail transitioned from colorful desert, briefly into a cactus field, and then to high country birch trees and cattle-grazing ranch land.
On the climb out from Ghost Ranch today I found a stick of Burt’s Bees lip balm in the middle of the trail. I’m guessing it belongs to one of the hikers that left this morning. I snagged it, and at camp decided to draw a face on it and give it a name: Wilson. It would help me make sure I didn’t get it mixed up with my lip balm (also Burt’s Bees). I also decided that Wilson would have adventures and I would document them (photos, etc). I figured I would see the hikers in front of me again in Chama, and it would be fun to find Wilson’s hiking partner and show her/him Wilson’s exploits. Anyway, maaaaaaybe I’ve been in the woods too long.
I saw a huge porcupine as I was getting close to my stop for the night! I followed it off the trail trying to get a better look st it and a good picture, and then it climbed part of the way up a tree and stared at me. I felt bad for scaring it, so I moseyed on. I took a picture but the sun was behind it, so it came out pretty dark.
In my tent tonight I looked up and noticed that one of the two new tent braces that Zpacks sent me had already broken! This is exactly why I asked Zpacks for a spare set. Of course, they weren’t willing to send more than the replacement set. Gillian is helping me communicate with them about my rain jacket. I’ll just add this to the list tomorrow. I‘m a little frustrated that I anticipated this and asked for spares and was denied, but it is what it is. They’ll probably give me some spares now!!
Today the weather was great, the scenery was beautiful, and Ghost Ranch was just what I needed to get fueled up for the push to Chama! I’m a little nervous about this section as it takes me into Colorado, but only by 3 miles. I’m hoping the weather holds, though I think the forecast is crummy for the next few days. Off to bed I go - can’t stay awake!