Daily Miles: 22
Total Miles: 1668
One of the most important parts of the navigation app that we use (Guthooks), is the comments that other hikers leave on the app. The comments can be about town amenities, but most importantly, they leave their observations about water sources. We also leave our comments for hikers behind us to be able to use.
Given that we are in NM on the early side for southbound hikers, we are starting to get into areas where there are no recent comments from other hikers about water. Up to Cuba, we had comments that were only a few weeks old, which is really helpful. Since Cuba, the most recent comments have been from June, although we can look at comments from previous falls to infer whether we can count on the water. That strategy had worked up until this morning.
We came to our first expected water source just a few miles into the day…sadly it was bone dry. We each had under a liter of water left from the previous day. We sat down and looked at our options for water, since we could tell that today was going to be a rather dry stretch of trail.
We decided that we would aim for a water source about six miles ahead on an alternate. We would load up our maximum capacity of water (12 liters combined), and use that water to get us all the way into the town of Grants tomorrow (27 miles). We had pretty high confidence that that water source would have water, but didn’t have enough confidence in any other water source before town. This plan would add on an extra four miles to our route, since we would need to get on the alternate trail.
We figured we would just sip at our bottle of water and make it last until we got to the spring we were counting on. As luck would have it, we were walking down the road (yes, we still had four miles left of our marathon road walk we started yesterday), and along came two trucks. We were surprised since we hadn’t seen anyone since we left Cuba four days ago. The trucks stopped and we asked if they had any extra water. Turns out they were out to collect pinyon nuts and they were super nice. They gave each of us a liter of water and a can of Sprite. We were very thankful for their generosity and we were happy to know we could stay hydrated until our next water.
Shortly after that, we got onto the alternate trail, which was actually a nice dirt road. The alternate trail is meant to be a way for hikers to cross the summit of Mt. Taylor (11,300ish feet) if they want to. Our water source was well before the summit, and since we would be loaded up with water, we wanted to avoid the big climb. So, we ended up taking a forest road from the spring back to the CDT.
When we were walking back to the CDT, we noticed arrows on the ground created with flour, we think. We have seen this before on another ultramarathon route, so wondered if there was a race going on. Then we saw some water jugs out that were marked for the Mt. Taylor 50K Ultramarathon. Turns out that it must have happened just before we got on the route. We saw a finisher getting applause when we passed a parking lot later in the day.
Once we got back on the CDT, we had really nice trail for the rest of the day. We were in pine forests for most of the day which was a nice break from the exposed desert. It was also a bit cooler today, and that combined with a breeze and more shade made for a more pleasant day of walking.
We stopped to camp around 6:20pm. It is nice to have time at camp to just slowly set up and get cleaned up. We had about an hour before it started to get dark and we enjoy that down time before bed.