Day 8: May 1, 2019
Destination: Silver City, NM. Mile 161.7
Today’s Miles: 24.4
Start Location: Stealth Camp Mile 137.3
Trip Miles: 161.7
I won’t keep you in suspense. The dixie-whistling bears did not come for me. Instead, I woke up to condensation in my tent and on my quilt for the first time this trip. I think it was because I camped in a valley between two hills, and there was a lot more moisture around, even if it didn’t feel like it.
I was up quite early to try and make sure I got to Silver City at a decent hour to maximize my time. By 6, I was on the trail hiking. After about a half mile I walked up on Dave. He was breaking down his camp. I told him about the bears and how I still didn’t quite believe it. He agreed that it seemed too far south. But, neither of us really had done the research. I had some googling to do in town!
Dave said he was going to hitchhike the road walk. Since my goal is continuous (or continuously connected) footsteps to Canada, hitching is not an option when the road is the trail. I joked with Dave that he should toss something out of the window at me as he flies by in his ride. Maybe a hot dog bun, or a stuffed cheetah. You know - the normal stuff people have in their cars.
I hiked on and enjoyed the morning. I started descending a bit and came around a corner to see a giant vulture perched on a huge rock outcrop overlooking the trail and a vast view of the desert below. He looked like that famous Lion King picture of Simba sitting on his cliff. I took a picture, but it didn’t do him justice. He soared away, unamused by the paparazzi.
The hike lead me to a dirt road, which then dropped me down to a trail that flushed into a canyon. Just like that, I was walking in Saddle Creek Canyon! It’s funny how quickly the landscape can transition out here. I’m still amazed on a daily basis by the diversity of the terrain. The canyon was gorgeous, and I think it’s a precursor to what the Gila River alternate will be like. There were small rivulets of water on the canyon floor. They all seemed to have a common goal, converging and gradually getting thinner and thinner, until a small, delicate steam of water just seemed to stop and disappear underground.
As the canyon widened and the stony floor gave way entirely to sand, tire tracks became visible. Then came the cows. There were groups of cows here and there, and many cute calves, too young to be afraid of me yet (until their moms told them to be afraid).
I saw a couple of hikers resting as I passed a water tank, my last chance at a refill before getting to town. I didn’t stop. I planned to make the 24.4 miles with 3 liters, plus a small bonus amount that I had chugged this morning at camp. I knew carrying extra water wasn’t necessary and I didn’t want the extra weight to make the road walk anymore painful.
As I exited the canyon, I was about to stop in the last bit of shade for an early lunch break. As I paused and then walked to a spot, I heard gunshots. Yikes! I saw a truck but couldn’t see what direction the guy was firing in, so I decided not to stop and eat in the middle of a firing range. I pushed on to the dirt road and kept going.
The dirt road wound around to highway 180, which I would hike into Silver City. I stopped in the heat to eat, yep, you guessed it - another peanut butter burrito. I limited myself to two tortillas and a few spoonfuls of peanut butter and the whole thing went a lot better.
While I ate I watched a ranch hand drive cattle (specifically, two cows) on the other side of the highway. I heard a string of expletives. It seemed that the cows had maybe been naughty and were being taken to task. For me, it was pure CDT entertainment! My wilderness boob tube.
The 13 mile road walk was hot and long. A bike race passed me, which was cool to watch. After that, a van pulled off the road when I was about 6 miles to town and a guy hopped out and yelled something like “yeeeeeeehaaaaa!” It was obvious he was waiting for me to get to the car, and that was the direction I was going in anyway, so I continued.
When I got there I didn’t even wait for him to say something. I asked, “is Dave in there?” Yep. It was Dave. I laughed and the guy said they just wanted to know if I needed anything. They offered me a cinnamon bun and water, but at the time I felt like I was good to go on all fronts, so I politely declined. It was awesome of them to stop though. Had I needed water, they would have saved me!
When I got to the turn off point in town, I still had to walk a mile and change to my hotel. I booked a room on the walk in at The Palace Hotel. It’s on the main drag and is an older place with some character. I drank a bunch of water in the lobby and then got settled in my room. It felt so good to just lie back and relax!
I got myself organized and went out to the laundromat around the corner - Laundryland. I wore my rain jacket and wind pants with my briefs under them, because they are kind of see through. I definitely caught some looks as I walked to the place. Inside, I slipped into the bathroom and took of my briefs so I could wash them. I was now just wearing the see-through pants, but, when standing, my rain jacket came just low enough. Sitting was another matter. I had to keep a bag on my lap.
While laundry was happening, apparently the owner came by and locked the bathroom. When my laundry was done, I needed to change again. Hmmmm.... there were about 6 people inside, but it was a big place, so I ran to the other end and ducked behind some machines. I quickly took my wind pants off, then slipped on my clean shorts. Whew! Just in time! Someone was headed my way. I grinned as I walked out. Capers are fun!
I went to eat at a restaurant near the hotel and had a burger, salad, and root beer float with Joe Dirt and two other hikers. Joe saw me there and called me over. He told me he and Fluffy were hiking out the next day. I forgot the other two hikers names. They were a couple from Boston and the CDT is their first they-hike. They really seem to be on top of it! They started the day before I did.
Time for rest! Tomorrow will be full of chores and rest. I’m so grateful for the comfort of a room and the chance to recuperate. Silver City is a pretty cool town as well, with a funky, artsy vibe.