My Life of Pie


Top of the World Convenience Store on the way into Pie Town

Day 19: May 12, 2019

Destination: Pie Town, CDT Mile 424.6

Today’s Miles: 13.1

Start Location: CDT Mile 411.5

Trip Miles: 348.9


I woke to my alarm before sunrise. I was alive!! My tent was still erect. I celebrated by kneeling in the vestibule and peeing out the door. I really need to get some camp shoes.... I learned nothing on the AT, apparently.


I packed up quickly, the reality of my tent situation and my blistered feet sinking in. I started to get a kind of frustrated angry. I realized that I had hiked 29.9 miles and got ticked off that it was a hair short of 30, after all of that! Hungry Cat’s ego needed checking.... I started future worrying about when I could get a new tent and how soon I could get out of Pie Town. I messaged my wife via Garmin and basically told her I was being a big baby while there was a beautiful sunrise in front of me. It always comes down to acceptance for me. The sooner I accept my lot and understand it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be, the sooner I get to the enjoyment of living. I decided to enjoy the sunrise and march on. I even started listening to a podcast called Up and Vanished that I got really into. I don’t use headphones on the trail, but I will on road walks if it is safe.


A quick aside: yesterday while trying to out hike the storm (hahahaha!), I ran into a cactus with my left foot. The needles went through my shoes and socks and “lightly” into my foot. I extracted them, but it got me thinking. Even when I was up at 8500 feet enduring the cold sleet, I saw a cactus staring at me unapologetically in the trail. Cactus are like the Joe Pesci of plants. Watch any mafia movie with Joe Pesci and he always plays the small, yet surprisingly violently resilient, thug. Like Pesci, the cactus looks small and unassuming, but it has the arrogance that Pesci has. It sits there with its needles out, just daring you to mess with it. And, like Pesci, if you do, you always lose.


In the movie “Casino,” wherever another wise guy went (Deniro sets up shop in Vegas), Pesci shows up too, looking for his piece of the action outside of New York. The cactus doesn’t settle for the desert! No, no! The cactus sees what the rest of nature has going on at 8500 feet in the mountains, and wants its piece too! So, it is in New Mexico. You can’t shake Joe Pesci the cactus. If you try and run through him, he’ll always come back at you harder. I pulled Joe Pesci out of my feet and thought about this.


I stopped at the only supply store near Pie Town. It’s called “Top of the World,” and is a convenience store 3 miles before town. I had a root beer and a banana moon pie, and picked up a few things: a fuel canister, some Advil, and a pair of dish gloves. Dish gloves??? Yep. I saw something on YouTube or read something about hikers using them to keep their hands warm during cold rain. I’ve had three days of cold rain, so I’m going to give it a whirl. I’ll let you know how I like it.

I hoped to call my Mom from the store. It’s Mother’s Day, but also her birthday. Alas, no signal. I walked on and my old friends began to appear - dark clouds in the sky.... Seriously? Yep. It began to rain. Then it hailed on me for good measure. Because I’m SO special that the universe does things specifically TO me (read with heavy sarcasm). I got over it and continued to enjoy my podcast inside my rain jacket. It was really getting good with all of the twists and turns of a whodunnit!

Wooden Yeti at Top of the World

I made it to a place called The Toaster House. This is a donation-based hostel run by a wonderful woman named Nita. A lot of hikers mail boxes here, myself included. She holds them for free and welcomes hikers to stay. I hadn’t planned on staying, but now I definitely would. I needed to deal with my tent and rest my feet. Radar was also here! If you remember, he is the volunteer who stocks the water caches in the desert. They were about to drive up the street to the Pie Town Cafe for lunch and told me to drop my stuff by a bunk and hop in. I did.


I had lunch with them and spent all afternoon at the cafe. Other hikers rolled through. It was fun, but all of the socializing made it a little hard to catch up on emails and this blog. I’m going to tomorrow, I promise! I only had WiFi, so I had to settle for texting my Mom. Sorry Mom! AT&T just isn’t made for the trail. I’m glad you had a fun time for Mother’s Day and your birthday! I had two pieces of pie in your honor!

I had egg rolls (weird, but strangely good with green chilis), green chili stew with a tortilla, a slice of coconut cream pie, and a slice of apple crumb pie with ice cream. I also drank a root beer and about 6 cups of coffee. I was FULL!


Penguin showed up and I chatted with her for a bit. Viper also walked in. Everyone I saw is at the Toaster House, including the French Connection, Samson the Bear, and Macro.

A kitty friend I met.

I emailed Zpacks and hope to connect with them tomorrow. I have some stuff to get organized for Grants. I want to find a good place to stay, order a new pair of socks (I wore a hole in one pair and can exchange it with Darn Tough, but I may do that after the trail), and think through winter gear logistics and Colorado. Right now, I’m thinking I might get a pair of snowshoes to make it into Colorado just across the border, then bail from Chama, NM and head to the last town in Colorado and hike north from there. Samson and I were talking about different plans and he had this idea. Steamboat Springs is the last trail town in Colorado and north of the Rockies. It would be a good place to hike north until Canada, and then come back to finish Colorado for the grand finale. I haven’t firmly decided on this, but it seems like a decent plan.


Tomorrow will probably decide how long I’ll be in Pie Town. All will be revealed in time, as it always is!

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