It was nice and cool in the morning and I snuggled under my sleeping bag until after 6am. I wasn’t really comfortable because of the whole feet-above-head thing, but I didn’t seem to want to get up either.
When I did, I halfway packed up, put on my slippers, and went to the activity room. There was a pair of trekking poles leaning outside and a hiker I hadn’t met inside.
“Hi, I’m Blitz.”
“I thought you might be. I’m Blast.”
“Oh? Banshee must have mentioned me. I got in at midnight last night.”
“And how is it I passed you on the trail and never saw you?”
“I took a long nap through the middle of the day and didn’t start hiking again until late.”
“You came in at midnight and you’re already packing up to leave at 7am, walking up that hill instead of getting a ride?”
“I hate walking in the heat. I’ll get a few miles in during the cool hours and catch up on my sleep when it gets hot out.”
“But the first of those few miles is straight uphill…”
“I know. I just can’t wait. I want to be in Silver City in two days.”
“I’m in no rush. I’m fine with getting in on the third day.”
“I started so late, and it’s always like this. It was so hard to get here in the first place. I had to go to Mexico… I just feel a constant pressure to go faster and make up time in case I never make it out here again.”
“Well, I’m gonna make some coffee.”
“I had some coffee too… but not that real stuff, just instant. Anyway, I’m headed out. See you in Silver City.”
I did make coffee. Hot fresh coffee full of sugar and creamer. Like 24 ounces of it. And I was just sitting down to drink it when Banshee came in.
“You just missed Blitz.”
“Oh, I saw him last night. Did he already hike out? I guess that’s why he’s called Blitz.”
I found a water bottle under the sink for Banshee to drink coffee from, so he started setting up the coffee maker for other pot while I sat quietly drinking all my coffee from my Nalgene I had brought for the purpose. He pressed the button on the maker, wandered aimlessly around the room, headed for the bathroom…
I turned around and saw the light on on the maker and nothing happening.
“Hey, did you fill that thing up with water?”
“Oh, crap!” He dove for the button and started filling the pot in the sink. Classic Banshee.
“Well, it seems my coffee has done its job. I’m off to the bathroom….”
“Oh, that guy from last night said he’d make us breakfast at 9.”
“Then I’ll try to make sure I’m packed up by then.”
It was actually 10 after 9 when I went over to “that guy’s” trailer. His name was Chris, by the way. Chris Hamilton. He was already up and cleaning the window.
“Did you see Banshee already?”
“Yeah, he came over here seeing if we were doing breakfast. We weren’t.”
“Ah, well, I just came to see if you were still offering that ride up to the trailhead.”
“Sure, as soon as you’re both ready. Banshee said something about getting water.”
“I’ll go see about the gate code then. Mind if I leave my pack here?”
I went to the camp store first. (On the way I met a man with an owl feather in his cap. I hope he doesn’t get caught because the fine for keeping a feather like that is outrageous.) I bought a couple of cans of root beer and a breakfast sandwich for cash. And the lady wrote the code for the back gate lock on a post-it for me.
I took the frozen breakfast sandwich to the activity room to cook it in the microwave, and there I found Banshee just sitting at the table writing in his journal. I started the sausage and egg cooking and told him about the store. I assembled the biscuit and cooked the whole thing and told him Chris and I were ready to ride. I drank one of the root beers and told him to meet us at Chris’s trailer as soon as possible. And then I went there myself.
When I got back to the trailer, Chris’s son wanted to come out and say hi to “my friend.” He asked me questions from inside the trailer door, real stumpers like “Where are you going?” I didn’t see how to meaningfully convey to a three-year-old child “to the trailhead so I can walk to northern New Mexico and then down through Montana, Idaho, and Wyoming after a brief detour through Northern California” so in lieu of all that I pointed meaningfully at the picnic table then walked to it and sat down.
“Yeah I’ll be back in a few minutes!” Chris shouted through the door. Then to his son, “Go inside and keep that door closed.”
“Can’t let that air conditioning out,” said I.
“You’re probably going to wish you had some of that soon. Making me feel kind of lazy knowing what you’re going out there to do.”
“I just saw Banshee in the activity room. He’s probably buying breakfast now.”
“Is he coming here or should we go pick him up?”
“Well, I told him to come here, but if you’re all ready, we let’s just go.”
I loaded my pack in the back of his ATV, we took a selfie, and then we drove over to the activity room. Banshee had just started microwaving.
“I’d say give him another minute or two,” I told Chris, knowing that’s how long it took to microwave the breakfast sandwich. Then I went to go take pictures. Chris got involved in conversations with other guests in the meantime.
When the sandwich was cooked, I showed Banshee where to stick his pack. Then he sat down to eat the sandwich while I went to meet the dog the man Chris was talking to had been walking. Then I got involved in the conversation. It ended up being about all the hikers that came through and topics of interest to me. But I was still glad when it ended. The minute or two had turned into ten, and it was getting hot out already.
Finally, we were driving up the hill. I opened the gate, gave Chris the post-it to get back through later, and we were out into the domain of the cows and climbing that steep hill without any effort on the part of our legs! Totally worth it.
Chris and I got so engrossed in conversation (about things such as what he liked to hunt, how bad javelinas smell, how best to barbecue them, how far it was to the nearest highway, how nice it must be to live in that community…) that we drove right past the trail and none of us spotted the signs. We passed another road that I didn’t remember seeing. I looked at the off road GPS but failed to orient correctly and didn’t realize we had passed it. We had gone another quarter of a mile before we figured it out and turned around.
It was past 10am by the time we were unloaded, and Chris was headed back home. Banshee and I applied sunscreen and started walking.
It had only been a mile when we encountered a Debra at the next road junction. Banshee knew her from Lordsburg. She said I had talked to her husband the night before, and I think I might have but I hadn’t gotten his name. It was Hawkeye, it turned out, due to a once passing resemblance to Donald Sutherland, and he was hiking that day the section I had done the day before. She was trying to leave him a note on the sign, but I explained he would probably be taking the previous road down to the campground and wouldn’t even see it.
Banshee and I left that spot together and then leapfrogged all day. We were like the tortoise and the hare: he hiked slower but I took longer breaks and he always caught up again. (Blitz, meanwhile, is more of a gazelle I suppose. Very fast hiking, very long breaks. We didn’t see him all day. There is a fourth category of hiker too, but you only hear about them from the people they passed ahead of you–the ultralighters who set out to proof that humans evolved to be long distance endurance runners.)
It wasn’t long before lunch and there was no shortage of trees under which to have my picnic. I picked one well off trail, so sometime after lunch I came up on Banshee confused as to how I got behind him. He was stopped at a small water cache containing the last water we would see all day. My bag was still full so I took a liter in my Nalgene.
He caught me again at my afternoon snack break and passed me as I was finishing my dinner break. Somehow I managed to drop my pack on a cholla I couldn’t even see, and it was pricking my back through my shirt. When I caught Banshee at his next break, I took off my shirt and asked him to check my back for spines, but they are small and he didn’t know how to look. I managed to get a couple out of my pack but I could feel one more pricking me the whole rest of the evening.
I knocked off at 8pm and found a flat open space perfect for a tent. Banshee came by while I was setting up and found a place nearby but out of view.
For some reason, I couldn’t get to sleep at the normal hour. I think I laid awake until 11pm or later after knocking off from the day’s blogging and watching a video. I could hear from the snoring in the distance that Banshee had no such problems. My guess is that I had just stayed up way too late and gotten started hiking so late that my clock got shifted somehow. I would strive to reset it soon.
Trail miles: An easy, comfortable, slacking off 15.3
Distance to Silver City: 21.7 miles